Disney Parks are known throughout the world for being tonnes of fun and having amazing levels of service. Families will often save up for years to visit, so naturally they expect only the very best. Having to fulfill their exceptions as a Cast Member is difficult. They expect you to exceed their expectations. Your customer service skills have to come along very quickly when you accept a job at Disney. Nothing is ever too much trouble, which can be a challenge. But after a day of work, no matter how easy or difficult, there’s nothing like having unlimited theme park access to help you chill out and have the time of your life.
The reality of working for a company that accepts nothing less than perfection can be tough, but it’s also an amazing learning curve. If you’re going to get thrown in at the deep end (after extensive training), then why not do it with one of the best companies in the world?
By the way, if you’re looking for someone who’s going to moan about the Walt Disney Company then you’ve come to the wrong place. I adored my time working in Florida and it was a literal dream come true for me. Yes, there were highs and lows just like in any job, but overall it was one of my favourite life experiences to date. Read on to find out about the good, the bad, and the magical parts of working for Disney.
- My costume. I really wanted an outlandish costume that could only be Disney, and I definitely lucked out. I wore a long light blue skirt and matching shirt with a pink pinstripe, with a white apron that had some dinosaur embroidery over the top. This was finished off with a matching headband and huge black kitchen shoes that didn’t match at all. It made me look slightly ridiculous and I LOVED it.
- Getting to go into the parks whenever I wasn’t working. I also bought myself a Universal annual pass so I could go anytime over the three months, too. When I had an early finish shift, usually 11am to 5pm, I would sometimes quickly change out of my costume and into normal clothes and enter Animal Kingdom as a guest. Even though there were usually only a few hours until the park closed, I could usually fit in a few rides on Expedition Everest, eat at the Yak and Yeti quick service, and catch the last showing of Festival of the Lion King before heading home for the evening. A pretty amazing way to chill out after work.
- My roommates! I lived with seven other girls from the UK and we all got along really well, even though our apartment was out to get us with various breakages. It was great to be able to make plans with them on my days off and go exploring the parks together. Even all these months later, we still talk in our group chat nearly everyday.
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- Being constantly tired for three months. We had a mantra in our apartment saying that ‘sleep is for September’ i.e. when we weren’t in Disney anymore. I tried to pack in so much into my days, but that generally meant I was sleep deprived and a little cranky for a high proportion of the time.
- Closing the kitchen at work. To keep up Disney’s high standards, literally every part of the kitchen and restaurant had to be cleaned every single night. This was often hard work. I spent hours scrubbing ‘the clam’, which was used to cook chicken and fry onions. My manager said I was particularly thorough with cleaning the ovens, though I always had an irrational fear that they could turn on when I was leaning right inside to scrub them. But closing the topping bar was always the biggest challenge and I could never ever get it done on time. It involved putting away and cleaning all the sauces, the hot plates, the small fridges, the drinks stations and cleaning everything. It’s making me feel tired just thinking about it!
- The buses. Disney put on free buses for all Cast Members staying in Disney-owned accommodation, which is obviously amazing as you never have to pay for transport. However, their reliability was never particularly good. I was once on a bus that broke down on the side of the highway, and heard about another that caught fire (which may or may not have been a rumour). The worst part was always when I would finish a shift at Animal Kingdom and go to catch the bus back to the apartment only to see a bus just leaving the lot. I once had to wait an hour and a half for a bus to come as the ‘J’ bus which served Animal Kingdom had the longest route, and it was rarely a wait of less than 45 minutes. The joy of a bus arriving at the Cast stop five minutes after you arrived was unparalleled.
- My favourite position at work was ‘greeter’, where I got to manage the line of people coming into the restaurant and tell them which counter to order their food from. During busy times, this would mean I would get to chat to every single guest for a few minutes. I got to meet some great people and hear all about their vacations. Whenever someone with a birthday button would come along, I would yell at the top of my lungs to the packed room of about 300 people and everyone would sing happy birthday. It definitely wasn’t the time to be shy!
- Cast member appreciation was amazing. From getting to see the Cast Member-only parts of the Magic Kingdom, to special events at Animal Kingdom where I got unlimited Mickey ice cream bars and about 9 rides around Kali River Rapids in one evening after the park had closed to guests (I was beyond soaked). One of my favourite parts was after our ‘graduation’ near the end of our program when I walked around the parks in my graduation ears and all the Cast Members congratulated us and wished us well.
- Being a part of the Disney family, no matter how briefly. To get a name badge that said ‘Lisa, Shrewsbury, United Kingdom’ on was a literal dream come true. I was so proud to work for that company, and I still think about how lucky I was to get the opportunity. It seems silly in some ways because I literally had one of the lowest ranking positions in the whole resort, and yet it was such a major achievement for me and one I will never ever forget.
Would you like to work for Walt Disney World? Or maybe you have already? Don’t forget to share your experience or ask any questions in the comments!