Cast Member Storiesby Shoshana Lewin, staff writer
The madness of summer is gone—bring on the madness of Halloween! Despite the change in seasons, warm memories of Disneyland and Walt Disney World continue. The collection below shows the myriad ways cast members and characters have made an impression on park guests.
I have been a frequenter of Disneyland ever since my family moved to Orange County from the Netherlands when I was a child. One of my favorite food places to go is the Cone Shop in Main Street, next to the lockers. It's not open all the time, so whenever I see an open window, I jump at the chance for my favorite treat: apple slices drizzled with caramel.
About 10 years ago, I remember seeing the cutest girl serving me at the cone shop. I was smitten, but being a guest, I didn't have the guts to say anything. But being a passholder, I always looked to see if she was at the cone shop, and if so, I'd buy something from her.
Over time, I saw her again at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, the Fruit Cart and even the Corn Dog wagon. After, literally, a few years of seeing her, buying something from her and never having the guts to say anything, I finally decided that I was going to say something the next time I saw her. Well, alas, the next time I went back, she no longer worked there (I found out later she was working there during college while pursuing a teaching degree, and left Disneyland after getting a teaching job). Needless to say, I was disappointed.
Well, some time later, I was setup on a blind date, and you wont believe who it was!
We dated for a year, and I asked her to marry me during dinner at the Blue Bayou. We enjoyed a Walt Disney World (WDW) honeymoon, and we're coming up on our third anniversary. We just recently purchased a DVC membership at Saratoga Springs for many more magical years together.
I still chuckle every time I pass by the Cone Shop!
Disneyland has always been a special place for my family. Especially when our children were little, there was always some interaction that made the visit extra special. My favorite experience happened about eight years ago when my youngest daughter was about 4.
We were at the park one last morning before our flight out. We had each done our "favorite attraction" one last time and were heading down Main Street to exit the park. As we passed the Main Street Magic Shop my young daughter spotted Minnie Mouse just coming out for a greeting session. My daughter yells out to her, "Minnie!" at which time Minnie gets down on one knee, opening her arms out wide waiting for a hug.
My daughter ran into her arms, was picked up in a hug and spun around. Minnie held her until I could fumble my camera out of my purse for that magical picture of a star struck child and Minnie!
My other favorite encounter happened three years ago. Same daughter, now 9, decided to wear a very large, puffy, Minnie Mouse bow head band of her sister's that had been out of production for several years. We were first in line at our turnstile for park opening when a cast member selected her to come in before everyone else and announce the official opening to all the park. If that wasn't great enough, as we came upon Mickey greeting guests in the Town Square, he came over to us (by this age the kids are more focused on getting to the rides as fast as possible, we usually go right by the characters) and stopped us to admire her bow. We took the requisite picture, after which he offered her his arm to escort her. He escorted her across the Square to Minnie to show her the bow, at which time we nabbed the rare in park photo-op of our girls with Mickey and Minnie together.
I was just reading some of the stories from or about cast members at WDW and I would really like to share mine with you. My son, Tristan, has Asperger's Syndrome. One of the symptoms of this can be social problems. In Tristan's case, he reaches out to others desperately for friendship but is often teased, rebuked and ignored.
We were in WDW in August 2006 and were present early for the pirate tutorial.
Tristan and his twin, Perry, helped set up the ropes with the first "pirate" that showed up who was fantastic with both boys. I should mention Perry has high-functioning autism. Tristan was chosen by this pirate to learn how to be a pirate.
He was also lucky enough to be picked to fight Captain Jack, who was also wonderful with him. I don't know if it was just luck that he was picked or the pirate sensed something in him but that moment meant so much to him, you can't even imagine. They both interacted with him with such gentle humor and understanding, it was incredible. It brought some self-confidence to a lonely little boy and made him feel very, very special.
I can't thank these two men enough; they were just so fabulous.
At Epcot, Perry was picked to talk to Crush. Perry is never picked for anything. He felt so important and he was so excited.
The cast members have the ability to cause such happiness in the children that come to WDW and I hope they realize the joy they infuse. They made my boys feel very happy. Thanks again.
We took a big family trip to WDW in 2005. We arrived on Saturday, but didn't have any park time planned until Monday. By Sunday night it was apparent that the trip in the cargo hold of the plane had done serious damage to a piece on my son's wheelchair. It could be repaired, but we hadn't brought any tools with us.
My husband was about to give up, but I encouraged him to go to the front desk to see if we could borrow the needed tools. He came back empty handed, but five minutes later a repair/maintenance guy came to our room with a whole toolbox.
He stayed with us for at least 30 minutes fixing my son's wheelchair, tightening things and getting the chair in tip-top shape for my son's date with Mickey. Absolutely the best customer service in the world. We will never forget it.
I wanted to mention a few cast members who added to our WDW stay during our February trip
1) Gustavo from Guatemala who is a waiter at Crystal Palace. He was so friendly and wonderful. We were celebrating a birthday (my 50th) and I was treated just like one of the little kids sharing my special day. It was so much fun.
2) Mary from Jersey City, N.J., who works at Boardwalk Inn was also great. She saw me with my refillable mugs and made certain I knew we could refill inside the hotel. I was told otherwise and had been going outside to bakery the previous two mornings.
3) Susan from Hingham, Ma., at the Contemporary's Kona Cafe, made sure I got a good cup of java.
4)Vanessa from Boston, Ma., at the Liberty Tavern in the Magic Kingdom. She was a super server and also made sure my 50th birthday was celebrated.
Everywhere we went, we found cast members to be warm and welcoming. As always, cast members are a highlight of our Disney vacations.
Hi guys, love the site, here's my recent cast member story:
In a trip to Magic Kingdom in January 2007, we stopped at Sleepy Hollow for some funnel cakes and popcorn, right after the Wishes fireworks display. We were Disney Resort guests, and were about to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours. I had been toting a backpack around that had nearly everything in it: spending money, bottles of water, cell phones digital camera, you name it. As we left from Sleepy Hollow, we headed toward the Haunted Mansion, and just as we were about to enter, I realized I had left the backpack at the table we were eating at back at Sleepy Hollow. I scrambled out of line and rushed back to the diner, and looked for it right where we had been sitting and my heart sank as it wasn't there.
That's when, out of the nowhere, a Cast Member named Bill (from Nigeria, I believe) came toward me with a big smile and asked, "You miss your backpack, sir?" If you imagine a thick native African accent, it really completes the picture) I exhaustedly said, "YES!" and he took me over to a place right behind the tables and said "I save it for you here!" still smiling, of course.
I thanked him immensely and he said over and over again, "No problem, no problem" as I was walking off. To make things more interesting, there were a few other diners who were witnessing this whole scenario unfold, and began applauding him after he had handed me the backpack.
As I went to meet up with the rest of the gang at the exit of Haunted Mansion, not only was that quick-thinking cast member a life (and money) saver, but he was so kind and I'll never forget that big toothy grin and his extremely positive attitude, it really made the night special!
On Feb 6, we ran the following letter from Sharon, Jennifer, and Ciara:
We are looking for a cast member by the name of Jeff Clark. The last time we were at the park, we were told that he no longer drove the boats from MGM to the other resorts, but that he was working at Animal Kingdom, on the safari ride. He was very nice to help me and my daughter and granddaughter to see four parks in two days. Your help will be very appreciated.
If anyone knows Jeff at Animal Kingdom, please have him contact Cast Place.
We received this e-mail response from Jeff:
I wanted to respond to let them know that I left Animal Kingdom and I am now working for the Monorail System at Magic Kingdom.
OK ladies, contact Cast Place and we can get you his e-mail.