Cast Member Storiesby Shoshana Lewin, staff writer
We are just bursting with stories—thank you summer travel season!
Even if you don't win an Enchanted FastPass or an overnight stay in the Mickey Mouse, you can still enjoy magical moments thanks to some wonderful—and sometimes not-so wonderful—cast members, as the stories below can attest to. And keep sending us your great stories.
Our family went to Walt Disney World (WDW) during the holiday season 2005. Even though I could easily visit WDW every week and still get goose bumps, we live in Ohio and can only afford to visit every few years. I actually seek out friends who are planning to visit Disney World and help them plan every moment of their trip just so I can talk about Disney! This Magical Moment was at Epcot during our visit with the characters in Future World. My then-13-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son walked up to Goofy to get his autograph and photo.I had purchased a fat pen for autographs and it was one with four different colors in one pen. Just having a moment to interact with a character is magical, but Goofy went above and beyond by signing his name with all four colors which required him to sign his name four times instead of one.
I have an incredible photo of my son looking at Goofy's autograph and his mouth is wide open in amazement and excitement while Goofy did the same autograph for his big sister! As an adult, I realize that Goofy must sign hundreds of autographs every day and to have him go above and beyond for our family by taking the extra time truly made this a Magical Moment!
Last year I was planning my vacation to WDW and booked directly through Disney because of their excellent customer service. I have always had a pleasant experience with them and I will continue to book through them in the future.
It had been a few years since I had been able to go to WDW and so I had a lot of questions. When I had a question I would call Disney directly and would usually be given an answer by a friendly agent.
One day I called with a question about a restaurant and was surprised by how rude the agent was. Her tone was very rude, she told me she didn't know the answer to my question and when I asked if she knew someone else who could answer my question, she said no and disconnected our call.
To say I was surprised by this was an understatement. I had such good experiences until then and was in disbelief. I thought about it and after a couple of days I decided to contact Disney customer service to let them know of my experience. I did not expect a reply other than the typical automated reply you get from most large companies.
I was in total shock when only a day later I was called by a customer service manager who apologized for my experience and wanted to do anything she could to correct the problem. I didn't ask for anything, I simply told her that I was just contacting Disney to let them know that I was surprised by the way the agent acted and it was very unlike what I usually experience. The woman I spoke to was very friendly and personal. She insisted that she give me 50 Disney dollars to make up for my experience.
It impressed me that even though Disney is a large company, they actually take the time to read letters from their guests. I was in total awe over the way they were so eager to correct a problem I had. I am one person, they did not need to contact me directly. Even if they didn't, I would still have continued to go to WDW. They made me feel like I was special, that they valued my business and this experience has stayed with me for a long time.
People have bad days and I know that it must be hard for someone to act happy and chipper day after day. I am sure that the agent I spoke to was just having one of those bad days but the fact that Disney thought I was important enough to personally respond to one e-mail I sent, made me feel special and I urge others to go to Disney directly if they have a legit complaint or comment. Disney really does read our e-mails and cares about what we have to say!
While dining at Cinderella's Royal table for breakfast in June 2005, my then 7-year-old daughter was in amazement at how the napkins were folded like crowns on the plates when we got there.
Well we ate, met some princesses and even Mary Poppins. My other daughter (4 years old and the princess of the family) was very shy but still had a great time meeting her favorite princesses and eating in the castle.
One of the cast members who was distributing the bills came by, and we asked if there was somebody who could show my daughter how to fold the napkins like crowns.
She put down everything she was doing, took two napkins and walked my daughter through the process—step-by-step. My daughter did one right along with the cast member and I videotaped it since I knew we would forget it before we got home.
When we got home we had to go out and buy big cloth napkins so that they could make the napkin crowns for our meals. I didn't get the cast members name, but we really appreciated the time she took to teach us this secret of the castle.
I have just been reading your section on Cast Members. It brings to mind two occasions one with each of my children on their first visits to WDW. We took our daughter there in December 1997 when she was just short of her 4th birthday. Apart from very heavy rain for most of the vacation we had a wonderful time. Our daughter was very much into Sleeping Beauty and every day we would ask if she had woken up somewhere in the park.
After being told on four occasions she would be somewhere in the park, on the fifth occasion that she did not show, my daughter had the screaming ab-dabs in the City Hall on Main Street. A cast member, seeing how upset she was, disappeared into the back room and reappeared with a Sleeping Beauty doll, which she still has, and offered to arrange for her to have breakfast with her good friend Cinderella in the Castle. My wife and I, at that time not knowing the need to book immediately for this treat had missed it, were delighted that we had been offered such a treat and our daughter begrudgingly accepted it.
The Sleeping Beauty doll was the main thing that helped her overcome her disappointment. In 2001 it was my son's turn to have something special but not quite what he was expecting. He was just 3 and we were at WDW again at Christmas and it was raining heavy. We were in the Vault Disney area opposite the City Hall on Main Street, and Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty appeared with very few people around.
David is a charmer, even more so at 3, and Snow White gave him a big kiss on his forehead just like she does to Dopey in the film! My son was not expecting this and buried his head in his mum's shorts. When we extracted him he had transferred a perfect lipstick print to the shorts on her backside pocket.
The best thing was my daughter, on her second visit, got to talk to Sleeping Beauty for the first time and for several minutes as the parks were so quiet.
Let me start by saying I am a native Floridian and a lifelong Disney World fan, having taken my first trip to the Magic Kingdom in 1972 at the age of 4. In October of 2005, my husband and I finally decided to take our son on his first real Disney World vacation. He was 5 years old then and has severe autism. Due to his autism, our son had never spoken more than one or two words at any single time and sometimes what he said was not appropriate to the situation he was involved in.
We were excited to take him and bought tickets to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party which was happening during the time we were there.
Two days prior to our vacation, Hurricane Wilma was forecast to be a direct hit on our area in South Florida. Not wanting to leave our home with a hurricane approaching and needing to put up shutters and such, we rescheduled the day before we were to arrive. Disney was wonderful. They didn't charge us any fees to put off the trip until February and with the extra time we could afford to upgrade from Port Orleans to Animal Kingdom Lodge. We could not return our tickets to the Halloween party, so we figured it was a loss we would have to deal with.
The hurricane was awful. It knocked out power to our entire county and made a mess of homes, trees, and roads My son didn't understand any of this and was quite terrified that things had changed, since continuity is so important to autistic children. My husband insisted I take my son to somewhere where he could have a semblance of a normal life after we were told it would be weeks, perhaps longer, before power would be restored. My husband stayed home with our pets and to look after our home while I packed my son in the car and went to my father's home in Altimonte Springs, right near WDW.
We still had the tickets to the Halloween party, so on Oct. 27, my stepmother and I took my son. We weren't sure how he would respond to the characters, he knew who they were, but had only seen them in photos, on the Internet and on television.
As soon as he saw Goofy out in front of the Magic Kingdom, he ran up to him with his arms open looking like it was staged for a Disney commercial.
The magical moment happened when we headed down the Alice in Wonderland Candy Trail between Toontown and Tomorrowland. It was quite late at that point and the White Rabbit was standing alone on the trail. As my son approached him, I explained to the handler that my son was autistic. She whispered this to the character who got down on his knees to interact with my son. The White Rabbit began to tickle my son gently, which he laughed at.
My son then said, while wagging a finger at the character, "You behave yourself, Mr. Rabbit," his first full sentence ever! It still brings tears to my eyes when I remember this important milestone in his development and, as a Disney fan, I'm so pleased it happened at my favorite place on Earth.
Last year my Carolyn (best friend No. 2) and I decided to get Gerry (best friend No. 1) a Disneyland Annual Pass, and at the same time get one for ourselves.
At first I was kind of weary on the whole Annual Pass thing. I was like "How many times can someone go to Disneyland, anyway?" It was the most amazing purchase I have ever made. We probably went to the park about four or five times that first week alone. We had talked about all the things we could do now that we had our passes.
During a weekend excursion, we had just left Buzz Lightyear and decided to sit while we planned our next move. Right in front of the Little Green Men store is a vendor that sells sodas and churros. So we sat next to the vendor and begin planning our next move, when we heard: "Sorry folks but the only thing I have left is Diet Coke."
We all turned and the cast member gives us this look of utter exhaustion. After all the customers left, she turned and began to talk to us. She explained to us that her shift should have been over 30 minutes ago. So we joked with her about it. She then tells us that her last shipment of supplies is late also, but that she isn't going to accept it because her shift is over.
Sure enough, a few minutes later another cast member strolled by with this huge cart full of stuff. The first cast member said, "Oh, no I'm sorry, but you are late and I'm off. So you better take that back."
You can tell that she was trying to be as polite and as rude as she could. The other cast member got a look on his face like he couldn't believe he just lugged this huge cart out and now he has to take it back. The three of us chuckled a bit and the cast member with a cart gave us a look like, "Oh well, it's not the first time."
He left, but the whole time the original cast member was still trying to sell the remainder of the goods. Someone would come by and ask if she had Coke or Sprite or water and everytime she would say, loud enough so that anyone standing in line can hear, "I only have Diet Coke left." But people would keep asking her for other drinks. My friends and I couldn't believe it. Doesn't anyone pay attention?
Suddenly the cast member yelled out, "All I have left are Diet Cokes and six churros," and without missing a beat the customer at the front of the line said: "I'll take six churros." From the back of the line we heard someone else say "She bought all of them, what's wrong with you?" The three of us started laughing; even the cast member had to laugh at that one. After that, the line broke up and the cast member began to close up shop.
It's one of those things that if you sit long enough at Disneyland something like that was bound to happen. So you see it may not be one of those romantic stories or one about someone's first time at Disney, but for my friends and me it will be a story that we remember forever.