Most emails don’t have the power to make you jump up and down, scream, and cry. Only one made me do all three of those things and I received it two years ago. It told me that I had a summer job in Walt Disney World in Florida, which is a widely regarded as being a bit better than down at the local supermarket. I was exstatic. The recruitment process was fierce, so there was no guarantee I was going to get a place despite my passion for everything Disney. But, over seventeen years after I first waddled down Main Street as a three-year-old, my journey had come full circle and I had become a Cast Member.
I could write endless essays about my experience working for my favourite company, but I’ll restrain myself for your benefit. Instead, here are some of the highlights of my experience.
Cast Member Perks. Animal Kingdom was never my favourite park, but when I started working there it really started to mean something special to me. One day, all the managers in the park put together a special cast appreciation event to show that they really valued all the hard work we put in each and every day. To celebrate, they opened up the Kali River Rapids after the park had closed and all of the guests had gone home for the day. We got to ride as many times as we wanted, and I managed about nine! I have never been so thoroughly soaked in my life. Plus there were free Mickey ice cream bars, chips and drinks. What more could anyone want?!
Family reunion. My mum, dad and sister came out to visit in the middle of July for two weeks. The whole time they were over was great, not just because I was driven around everywhere rather than having to catch the slow cast buses! One moment that stood out from their time with me in Florida was when we went to go and meet Anna and Elsa, the two stars of Disney’s Frozen. They always have a huge line to meet them, which really built up the anticipation. My younger sister Alice and I were wearing the same dress but in different colours, with corresponding hair styles and bows to match the characters. They knew straight away when they saw us, and Alice was excited about it for the entire day. It really was a dream come true moment!
Graduation. Disney put on a graduation event for everyone that successfully completes their programme, and it was really fun to go to. We had to wait over two hours to meet Minnie and Mickey in their graduation outfits, which was a downer on the day, but after the party was over my roommate Ainsley and I went to Magic Kingdom and had an awesome evening. We had our graduation ear hats on, so all the working Cast Members congratulated us. Plus, we got to ride the speedway twice without even waiting in line once, and then got fastpasses for three other rides in the park. We did Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion in no time at all, then went over to Hollywood Studios where there was a short wait for the Tower of Terror, and another kind Cast Member let us skip the line for the Rock and Rollercoaster because we were celebrating. I really felt special the whole day, and we rounded it off with the Frozen fireworks and Fantasmic. It doesn’t get much better than that!
The Training. No-one does training like Disney. In other jobs I’ve had a five minute speech and then had to figure it out as I go along, but at Restaurantosaurus, the Quick Service Restaurant where I worked, every new hire gets trained by another member of staff for five long shifts. This is so useful because it brings the number of questions down from a hundred every time you’re asked to do something new, to just a few. By some twist of fate, I was one of two international cast members to be trained in both front of house and in the kitchen at Restaurantosaurus (or Rest-o for short, as I’ve discovered)! This had some pros and cons – I wasn’t limited to just working on the counter or cleaning tables, but on the other than I can spend a whole day without talking to any guests in the boiling kitchen.
My job. Although my job had major highs and lows, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience overall. My most common assignment was being on counter, which is when I would get the trays of food that the kitchen had put together and find the guest that ordered it. Then I had to grab any drinks and desserts that they ordered, and send them on their way. Or I could be bussing, which is pretty repetitive. It’s just wiping down tables, sweeping the floor, answering questions, trying to look busy and talk to guests… It’s fine for a little while, but after a few hours my brain starts to shut down. My favourite position, though, was greeter. I would stand at the front of the restaurant, welcome people in, and chat to them for a little while until space opens up for them to place their order. The guests are most happy to talk here, and there are fun things you can do like singing happy birthday and playing games. I met some really interesting people here, and often I didn’t want to send them to order their food because we were having such a good conversation.
Possibly best of all: Unlimited access to all the Disney theme parks all the time. This meant I could be walking through Animal Kingdom ten minutes after my shift finished getting amazing food from the Yak and Yeti restaurant, watching the last Lion King show of the day, or riding Expedition Everest over and over again. I would always spend my days off in the parks having fun with my new friends or going it alone and getting to do exactly what I wanted. When you visit Florida for a holiday you get to have two amazing weeks, but I got over two months worth of Disney magic. It was literally a dream come true!
Would you like to work as a Cast Member at Disney? Leave me a comment if you have any questions or if you would like to read more about my experience working at Walt Disney World.