Cast Place: WDW Guest Storiesby Shoshana Lewin, staff writer
As we enjoy the crazy days of spring break—when the lines are longer and everyone’s patience levels are shorter—let’s remember that there are cast members out there who do want you to have magical vacation.
So my wife and I spent our honeymoon at Walt Disney World (WDW) last October and we had several Disney magic moments as we were just blown away by the southern hospitality. When compared to Disneyland here at home—there is no comparison. However, one cast member moment in particular stands out.
While visiting Animal Kingdom, we kept "running into" a cast member (whose name escapes my mind right now). He was most likely a customer service rep or security as he was dressed in jungle attire and had an electronic earpiece. When we saw each other roughly the third or fourth time, we laughed at the situation. We asked how the shows were and if two adults would enjoy them. He asked us, "Have you seen the bird show yet?" which we hadn't—so he quickly escorted us into the arena where we were given a great seat near the front. Needless to say we loved the show.
Now, Animal Kingdom is quite big, so a fifth encounter is just plain improbable—well, maybe not. This time, when we bumped into this cast member, he asked if we had seen The Lion King show and of course we said, "No." He was appalled and the three of us took off in a crazy-fast sprint to the back door of The Lion King stage. He made a quiet comment to the cast member watching the door and before we knew it, we were whisked away into the theater where we were given priority seating right in front of the sound board!
I have to say, The Lion King show was great fun, but the extreme courtesy shown by this cast member was downright unforgettable. While his name escapes me today, we did make sure to stop by Guest Services on our way home and left a positive comment card for him.
Ashley Meyers’ Story
My family has visited Disney World six times and we are planning to go again next week! One Disney memory I'd like to share with you happened in June 2006. I was 13 and my brother, Ryan, was 10, it was our fifth trip to Disney World and we were in Epcot.
After touring the World Showcase we went to Innoventions. While at Innoventions, Ryan and I played an interactive game called "Build Your Own Robot." To play the game you make your own robot on a computer and when it's finished you compete in a race with other guests. To make your robot move, you need run on a mat. So both of us took our lanyards off because we didn't want them to bounce around.
Then we headed off to the Universe of Energy and Ryan noticed that he didn't have his lanyard with all 10 of his pins he had collected the year before from Disneyland. Each pin cost between $7 and $12. To make matters worse, one of these pins was a special one for the 50th anniversary found only in Disneyland. He started to panic. My dad said that he'd go back to Innoventions and see if he could find it while the rest of us went on the Universe of Energy ride. After going on the ride, my dad informed us that he was unable to find the lanyard.
Then Ryan started to cry. A kind cast member named Gary, noticed this and asked him what was wrong. Ryan explained what had happened and Gary said that he'd go get his manager, Mark, and see what they could do.
Mark and Gary were just wonderful. Not only did they give him a new lanyard free of charge, but Mark let Ryan pick five pins off his own lanyard. Then he took us to Mouse Gears (a gift shop in Future World), where they got out a special board covered with pins that were not only from Disney World, but Europe as well! Mark explained that this was a special board with pins that were not available for trading. They only took the board out on special occasions. Every CM in the store gathered around to see it. Ryan could pick whichever pins he wanted. They let him pick five more pins, so he had 10 pins total, which was the number he started with on his original lanyard.
Mark and Gary really saved the day and the rest of our trip for that matter. It was the highlight of the entire trip. Thank you, Mark and Gary for everything!
Vance Cope’s Story
While we were eating at Mama Melrose at the Studios, our waiter took notice of my wife’s and my lanyards. Mine was filled with the villains (gotta love ‘em) while my wife is a collector of Tink. My wife told him that she had been looking for one of the Tink Year of a Million Dreams (YOAMD) pins but we hadn't won one, and the two times she spotted them on a cast member lanyard it was too late and the person in front of her traded for it first.
Well the waiter took our orders and before long the manger came walking over with our server. He introduced himself, and talked us up a little bit. Then he told us that he heard that we were looking for a certain Tink pin, reached into his pocket and pulled out the elusive pin, a YOAMD Tink on a dark blue pin.
My wife was delighted, but before he would give it to us we had to answer two out of three WDW trivia questions correctly and he would give it to us(where's Lou Mongello when you need him huh?).
We got the first one no problem (it was an Animal Kingdom question), but missed the last two (MGM questions, so maybe Hochberg would have been better), but he gave us a bonus question, Who is the best manger in the world... so of course we said him and he gave us the pin.
That was a great moment, only to be stopped five minutes after we left the restaurant, my wife looking at her new Tink pin was stopped by another cast member noticing all the Tinks and gave her a YOAMD Tink on a light blue background pin. Of course I never got any YOAMD pins, but as we both know as long as the wife is happy, I'm happy.
Audress Johnson’s Story
Recently I spent a day at Animal Kingdom with my parents and 10-year-old niece. I had a whole chain of great experiences with cast members—truly an amazing day.
Up to that point, my niece had shown little interest in pin trading, but she suddenly was drawn to a sparkly Tinker Bell pin on a cast member's lanyard. The man kindly asked her if she had a pin to trade him.
"No," she replied.
"Yes!" I interjected.
I pulled an old pin out of my purse—the one pin I'd brought with me, and gave it to my niece. The cast member immediately took off the Tinker Bell pin and gave it to my niece, explaining that the pin was a special limited edition that couldn't be bought in stores. In fact, it was a "Pixie Dust" pin that cast members could give away to guests who were observed to do a kind deed for others.
My niece was thrilled to have it.
The cast member then escorted us to Kilimanjaro Safaris. At the entrance to the (hour-long) standby line, he explained that he was a member of the Dream Squad. No, we had not won an official Disney Dream Giveaway, but he would be delighted to take us through the "back" entrance and bypass the line. As far as I was concerned, we had indeed scored a dream.
Fast forward to later in the day: My father was in line to buy popcorn when a stranger handed him two coupons good for free popcorn, then disappeared. Dad showed them to me, and I suddenly realized these had probably come from one of the coupon books that Disney gives to cast members each year around the holidays. The unknown Good Samaritan was a cast member enjoying the park on her day off. I got the description from Dad and took off to find her, to no avail. But my wandering look attracted the attention of another Dream Squad member who asked if I needed help.
I quickly explained that a stranger had given us the coupons and I wanted to thank the person who had been so kind. The Dream Squad member smiled and said, "You'll probably never find her, but take this for the next time you see someone sharing the magic."
She handed me a package—with two new Tinker Bell Pixie Dust pins, just like the one my niece had spotted earlier—and explained that I should keep one and give the other to a kind guest. I was floored.
And sure enough, I had a chance to do that less than an hour later. Dad and I were debating whether to line up for Everest one more time. They were out of Fastpasses, and the standby line was growing. Out of nowhere, a stranger gave me her two Fastpasses. And quick as lightning, I opened the package of Pixie Dust pins and gave her one, passing on the magic that had begun much earlier in the day when my niece traded an old pin for some new Pixie Dust.
Just goes to show how very small things can add up to great magic—especially at Disney World.
I don't know when I'll be going back to WDW, so I'm really glad I was able to experience the magic and help spread it to others, albeit in a small way.
We had a magical moment where a cast member went above and beyond.
We were having lunch at the Flame Tree BBQ and while my mother and I went to get the food, my father and my son went to find a place to sit. When we arrived with the food, we found out that we were sitting at the water's edge area—perfect view of Expedition Everest. Well it seems that my father was picking up my son James to show him the fishes and turtles that were in the water and one of his Disney trading pins came off him lanyard and fell into the water.
My father is a huge pin trader so to him this was like him losing a child.
A cast member over heard my father going on about the lost pin and went out and got a very long grabber utensil to see it we could get the pin out of the water. It almost worked but not quite. My father wanted to go over the edge of the railing to get a better angle which I had to stop him from doing he has a heart condition. They tried several things but to not avail, we actually left my father with the cast member and a manager who was trying to help him get back the pins he lost.
I was just glad that they we going to such great effort for such a small thing.
My family and I recently returned from six days in WDW. We had a blast, but there were a few early disappointments.
From watching and listening to Disney's Year of a Million Dreams promotion, I thought everyone won something. Or at least it seemed that way. Imagine my disappointment when we won nothing after being there a few days.
However, I learned that our Magical Moment wasn't monetary. Our 4-year-old daughter discovered Goofy's Barnstormer Roller Coaster. She loved it. She rode it once with me then went back that evening and rode it 13 times in a row with my husband. The next night she rode it 10 tines in a row. There was no one else in line so the cast members let her stay on it until the park closed.
She also got a chance to dance with Cinderella at 1900 Park Fair during dinner. And she was head over heels when she met Belle at the Norway breakfast. Both of these ladies made my daughter feel like she was the only little girl in the room. They are great at their jobs.
We can't wait to take our 18-month-old back to WDW in a few years so she can have the same experience that her sister had. This was our first family vacation and we are looking forward to another one. Not all Magical Moments come as a stay in Cinderella's Castle or a shopping spree. The best ones come as memories that money can't buy and you will never forget.