Things All Disney Cast Members Can Do

Working with my sister at the Animal Kingdom's Island Merchantile.

Working with my sister at the Animal Kingdom’s Island Merchantile.

So, you want to be a Disney Cast Member…

Every Disney Cast Member learns the basics of doing the ‘Disney Point’, navigating the Parks, and interacting with guests during their training. However, there are many other skills that Cast Members tend to pick up on the job. Things you might not consider to be terribly useful in everyday life often turn out to be very handy when you’re dealing with thousands of theme park guests on a daily basis.

Here’s a list of some of our talents that we learned after just a few days in our role:

1. Speaking in Acronyms
Cast Members love acronyms, particularly those with three letters. Many popular acronyms assume the word “ride” is tacked on to the end of an attraction to get the right number of letters. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is “DAK” (pronounced like it rhymes with “pack”). Kilimanjaro Safaris is KSR, Dinosaur is DTR (adding “The” as well as “Ride”), and The Great Movie Ride is GMR. Since these don’t make pronounceable words, you just say the letters.

If you work in the rotation that includes Aladdin, the Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, you’re at ATT. String enough of these together and it’s almost incomprehensible to someone who’s not a Cast Member.

1 + 1 + 1 = ???

1 + 1 + 1 = ???

2. Counting the Number of People in a Group in Seconds
Sure, you always ask “how many,” but you also go into the grouper position knowing that a lot of people will get the answer wrong. Guests also like to answer with math problems like: “two here, and three behind me, and then a kid”, instead of just saying “5”.

Needless to say, it’s handy to have a good eye for figuring out which groups are together and determining how many are really with the guest in question.

OK!  Tall enough to ride this year...

OK! Tall enough to ride this year…

3. Judging Children’s Heights at a Glance
Any Cast Member who has worked at an attraction with a height restriction is sure to have a special talent for identifying children who fall under that height. Cast Members typically figure out where the height restriction falls on their own body. That way you know any child who comes past your waist is good to go, while those who are mid-thigh definitely need to be measured. This skill is handy on the job, but is awkward when you unconsciously eye up the kids in line with you when you’re riding attractions in your off time.

4. Sensing Nausea from Great Distances
Cast Members who work on attractions with motion sickness warnings tend to hone this skill particularly well, but the ever-present heat and humidity in Florida can make guests green at the gills just about anywhere.

After just a few weeks on the job, Cast Members can spot that glassy-eyed look from a distance. You always hope you can get to the guest before he has a hand over his mouth, so there’s at least a small chance of getting him to a restroom in time. (That rarely happens!)

5. Determining Any Nationality in Under a Minute
Cast Members get to meet guests from all over the world. After you’ve had some experience chatting up international visitors, you’ll notice some commonalities in dress and mannerisms. This skill has nothing to do with determining someone’s heritage, so skin color and facial features don’t really apply.

You can usually tell from someone’s choice of clothing or footwear where they’re from. If you can’t guess before talking to them, you’re sure to figure it out after you’ve heard their accent. Non-English speakers also seem to know certain English words that change depending on where they’re from.

The flag of Brazil

The flag of Brazil

6. Spotting Brazilian Tour Groups
Enought said.

Alice with Push the Trashcan (look him up!)

Alice with Push the Trashcan (look him up!)

7. Scooping Up Trash Without Missing a Step
Picking up stray pieces of trash on the ground is an essential Cast Member skill that goes all the way back to Walt himself. The ‘man behind the mouse’ was known to pick up litter in the streets of Disneyland to keep up the flawless appearance of his beloved Park.

Naturally, Cast Members are expected to follow suit. This skill is really handy anywhere, but it does get you some strange looks from your friends when you keep falling behind at the mall because you’re reflexively picking up every crumpled napkin you see.

Even after you leave Disney, you'll still find yourself doing the Disney Point!

Even after you leave Disney, you’ll still find yourself doing the Disney Point!

8. Pointing with Two Fingers
All pointing is always done with two fingers whether giving directions, leading the way, or answering guest’s questions.

Epcot Illuminations:  9:15pm!

Epcot Illuminations: It mus be 9:15pm!

9. Figuring the Time Based on the Sound of Fireworks in the Distance
Walt Disney World has at least three fireworks shows every night of the year. In certain spots on WDW property, you can even hear more than one. For example, Cast Members can often determine the time at night by figuring that if the wind is carrying the sound of Illuminations fireworks over from Epcot, it must be 9:15pm.

10. Guessing What a Guest Will Ask Before They Get the Question Out
In certain positions, a Cast Member’s whole role is to answer questions. Cast Members in guest relations, the greeter position of an attraction, front desk areas in the hotels, or stocking shelves in a gift shop all tend to get lots and lots of the same questions throughout the day.

After a while you pick up on what the guest is asking long before the question makes its way out. This is especially useful in cases where the guest himself doesn’t actually know what he’s asking. The literal answer to “When is the 3 o’clock parade?” is “3 o’clock”, but without the eye rolling.

All Cast Members are a part of Walt's living legacy.

All Cast Members are a part of Walt’s living legacy.

Adapted from Theme Park Tourist:  http://www.themeparktourist.com/features/20130917/14414/9-strange-things-cast-members-learn-do
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We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.
We included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.
Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tale

Do’s and Don’ts for On-Duty Cast Members

Working with your best friend makes the time fly by!

Working with your best friend makes the time fly by!

The DCP internship can make you or break you. Plenty of DCPers, at least 10-15% every semester, don’t even make it a week or two into the program, and self-term or are terminated by Disney before their program ends!

We think it’s all about having realistic expectations and a positive attitude.

Every DCPer goes through the ‘Traditions’ class and knows it’s important to uphold certain behavior standards while wearing your costume.

Here’s our list of Do’s and Don’ts for on-duty cast members.

DO:
Remember the Four Keys: Safety, Efficiency, Courtesy, and Show! If you are performing your duties while keeping the Keys in mind, you’ll do great!

Make a commitment to performing Magical Moments for guests every day. They may not remember the 100th time they rode “Pirates of the Caribbean”, but they will remember a cast member who made their day special.

Acknowledge guests’ celebration buttons. There are at least seven current celebration buttons (I’m Celebrating, Happily Ever After, I’m Engaged, etc.), and many guests wear their celebration buttons from previous visits. It’s an easy way to make guests feel valued and special.

Talk to little kids. They can sense your passion for Disney will be very excited to tell you all about their favorite characters, rides, and the best part of their day at the Park.

Carry your CM ID with you always! You will need it to get backstage, to clock in, etc.

Always take pride in your costume! This falls under “Show”, and you should always be in the ‘Disney Look’ while at work. You never know who, i.e., managers, VPs, etc. could be walking around in guest clothes and see you!

Share your magical stories with your coordinators and managers. They write “recaps” of the day and your story could make it into those recaps, which get sent to all area managers for review.

Remember that “Safe-D Begins with Me”. Putting a yellow caution cone by the front door or an extra mat down when it starts to rain could prevent a guest from slipping. Be the first to go get the broom and the dust pan when something breaks. Practicing safety the “Disney Way” is the easiest way to get a Four Keys Fanatic Card.

Remember when you “See something, Say something”. If you see a fellow cast member doing something great, say something to their manager!  It’s how we earn our Four Keys recognition cards! 🙂

Remember to use your Two Finger Point when directing guests to attractions or restaurants in the Parks.

Remember your water bottle and to bring your lunch! Break periods are short and you should make the most of them.

Pick up trash off the ground. It’s what Walt would want (remember, no trash can is more than 30 steps away!).

Smileyou work in the happiest place on earth where dreams really do come true, and that’s no joke! 🙂

DON’T:
Be late! Always allow extra time for getting to work and never count on the buses to get you to work on time! 1 minute late = 1/2 point on your card!

Forget to call in if you will miss a day. Remember, it’s one point if you miss a day and you only get 3 points per reprimand!

Don’t call out sick or personal, and then go to the Parks on the same day. Never ever do this!  Deployment sends a note to your manager when you call out, so it is easily tracked if you use your Main Gate pass to get into the Parks. You will be termed for doing that.

Forget all the requirements of the Disney Look when you’re in costume. They will send you home if you show up in a wrinkled or dirty costume, if you look bad/unkempt (i.e., hung-over), etc. You are the face of Disney while at work.

Be rude to any fellow Cast Member. If you’ve having a tough day due to the crowds or whatever, chances are they are too!

Lose the magic. Working at Disney is hard work, but the rewards are worth it. If you find yourself losing the magic, it’s time to rethink your attitude. The DCP internships are short, just a semester. You’ll never get a second chance to ‘make Walt proud’. 🙂

Always point with two fingers!

Always point with two fingers!

 

The Do’s and Don’ts for Off-Duty Cast Members:  Do’s and Don’ts When You Are Off Duty

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bookstore (2)

At our book launch in Boulder, Colorado.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430687055&sr=1-1&keywords=two+girls+and+a+mouse+tale

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Getting Crafty with Disney Celebration Buttons

Getting Crafty with Disney Celebration Buttons

Magnetic Buttons cost just $2 at Walmart.

We’ve blogged previously about how great we think the free Disney Celebration Buttons are: https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/disney-celebration-recognition-buttons/.

It’s fun to collect them on special occasion Park visits and, with an inexpensive package of magnetic buttons from Walmart, you and your roommates can decorate your apartment refrigerator (and those mini storage lockers in your closet!) with them.

Use 2 magnets per Celebration Button.

Use 2 magnets per Celebration Button.

Put them on your refrigerator to remember the good times.

Put them on your refrigerator to remember the good times.

It’s easy to bring home a whole bunch of celebration buttons!

I celebrate something every week at DCP!

I celebrate something every week at DCP!

Getting crafty with Pressed Pennies: https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/pressed-penny-bulletin-board-pins/

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 Two Girls

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

  by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.

http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430687055&sr=1-1&keywords=two+girls+and+a+mouse+tale

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

***

Why Disney Characters are Champions

Hot, hot day and not a droplet of sweat on Snow White!

A hot, hot summer day and not a droplet of sweat on Snow White!

We think that the CMs in character roles – both face and fur – have some of the toughest jobs at Disney.

Whenever we watch the 3pm parade in the broiling sun, when it’s 95 degrees with 90% humidity out and we see all those princesses wearing their heavy 10 lb. + velvet costumes, seeing them smiling and waving to the crowds and looking as cool as a cucumber…it’s just amazing!  They are weather champions!

And, then there are the guests:
(from cracked)
In general, there seems to be a weird desire by guests to “debunk” the idea of Disney characters, like they’re blowing the lid off of some scam.

The official position of the Walt Disney Company is that all characters are real and there is only one of each of them, and the whole Park is organized so that no one will ever see two of a character at once — Mickey is never dining in a restaurant at a character breakfast and walking by in a parade at the same time.

We always have to be ready with an explanation of their schedules, because adults try to trip you up, saying they just saw a character across the MK Park, and now here they are over here as well. You have to try to keep a straight face while pointing out that, “Well, you had time to walk over here, so Mickey did too!”

I think just seeing someone in costume messes with people’s brains. Visitors would whisper insane stuff to me, like “So glad we got to see you, the kids don’t know we’re getting divorced after this trip” or “We haven’t told the kids yet that their mom has cancer.” Why the heck would you tell Mickey that…or a MK Park CM dressed as Mickey? [Most of us are in our early 20s and are not psych majors at college!]

Gay Mickey (2)

Speaking of Mickey, every single terminally ill Make-a-Wish kid gets to meet him, and that’s hard. Because of how many sick kids visit the Park every week, it can be a painfully regular thing to see.

make-a-wish-logo (2)

But, the Fairy Godmother has it hardest: Kids ask her to cure them of their [often fatal] disease. If I made it to the second set without sobbing, it was usually a good day.

We think that the Fairy Godmother is the oldest face character.  Most princesses are in their early 20s, but she always seems > 60 years old.

We think that the Fairy Godmother is the oldest face character. Most princesses are in their early 20s, but she always seems > 60 years old.

To read more about working at Disney: http://www.cracked.com/article_21011_6-things-nobody-tells-you-about-working-at-disney-world.html#ixzz35hkWwSG6

Do’s and Don’ts for Off-Duty Cast Members

IMG_5359

Go to the Parks as often as you can during your program!!!

One of the greatest perks of working for Disney is getting free admission into the Parks whenever you want. But when playing at the parks or resorts, it’s important to uphold certain behavior standards.

Here’s our list of Do’s and Don’ts for off-duty Cast Members.

DO:

  • Recognize outstanding CMs for their hard work. Tell a Manager, Coordinator, or Guest Relations if you receive exceptional service. You would appreciate it, and so do they.  Caroline constantly asks for a blank Fanatic card to recognize when CMs go out of their way to give us an amazing experience!
  • Acknowledge guests’ celebration buttons. They might expect it from working CMs, but it makes them feel really special when other guests acknowledge them too!
  • Talk to little kids. They can sense your passion for Disney will be very excited to tell you all about their favorite characters, rides, and the best part of their day at the Park.
  • Use your knowledge to your benefit. If you see a large crowd heading in one direction and you know a shortcut, go for it!  As long as it’s ‘onstage’, of course.
  • Always ask if your CM discount is applicable! You never know where you might save a few bucks.
  • Do learn which are the “light crowd” days for each Park.  Always check that you – or your guests – aren’t blocked for the park you want to visit.
  • Follow any and all instructions from working Cast Members.  We set the example for all other guests.
  • Pick up trash off the ground. It’s what Walt would want (remember, no trash can is more than 30 steps away!).
  • Enjoy the Park as if you were on vacation! Wear celebration buttons, book FastPasses, buy a balloon, and wear your Mickey ears. Have fun – you deserve it! 🙂

DON’T:

  • Wear your Company ID. You could get in big trouble.
  • Go ‘backstage’ for no reason. You’re in the Park as a guest, so please use guest walkways.
  • Be rude to any Cast Member. EVER. You need to set an example for the other guests.
  • Violate character integrity. Talk about it when you get home, not in the Park where children could overhear you.
  • Offer unsolicited advice to guests.
  • Don’t ever sell your Main Gate guest passes!  EVER!!
  • Expect special treatment. You do not deserve to cut the line, get a table where you don’t have a reservation, or get a front row seat for Fantasmic! 10 minutes before showtime just because you are a CM. Please allow guests, who don’t get to spend every day at WDW, to enjoy those opportunities.
  • Openly announce the fact that you are a Cast Member, unless it comes up in conversation. It makes you sound pretentious, and it might make guests feel uncomfortable.
  • Litter, run, feed the ducks/birds, stand in walkways, leave untidy merchandise all over the store, yell or scream for no reason, or do anything else that would piss you off if you were working and a guest did it to you. 🙂
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    bookstore (2)Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

       by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

    Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

    We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

    We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

    Book link on Amazon.com:

    http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430687055&sr=1-1&keywords=two+girls+and+a+mouse+tale

    ***

 

Cinderella Castle Suite

The stained glass windows in the suite.

The stained glass windows in the suite.

While it wasn’t on our DCP Bucket List, during our Spring 2014 DCP program, Disney ran a contest open to any Cast Member to win a night’s stay with a guest at the Cinderella Castle Suite.

(Note, it’s not not ‘Cinderella’s Suite’. It is the ‘Cinderella Castle Suite’. That’s because this isn’t where Cinderella lives, but rather it’s where her guests stay when they come for a visit. Cinderella actually lives upstairs. Guests enter the suite using a Castle elevator activated by a key-to-the-world card.)

We both entered the contest every day, but didn’t win. 😦

Disney is very hush-hush about who has stayed in the suite. But, some celebrities who have stayed there are:

  • Tom and Suri Cruise, on their WDW vacation in the summer of 2012
  • Kevin Jonas and wife Danielle, celebrating 1st anniversary December 2010
  • Neil Patrick Harris, hubby David, & twins, April 2013
  • Nick Cannon, wife Mariah Carey & twins (they have also stayed at Dream Suite in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle Disneyland), 2013
  • Katy Perry, July 2014
Katy Perry staying in the Cinderella Suite on 4th of July.

Katy Perry staying in the Cinderella Castle Suite on 4th of July.

Katy:

Princess pizza party. @ The Cinderella Castle Suite Walt Disney World http://t.co/dIKGknYjwn

Omg I have the wifi password to the Cinderella castle @WaltDisneyWorld. Dreams do come trueeee!

Checking out of the suite the next morning.

Katy checking out of the suite the next morning.

 

Watch a video tour of the Suite:  Cinderella Castle Suite

Some history of the Cinderella Castle:
Disney World first announced the creation of the Cinderella Castle Suite in 2006. The space which is now the Cinderella Castle Suite was originally intended to be a place that Walt Disney and his family would stay in the MK park. Sadly, Walt never got to see his creation as he died in December 1966, almost five years before the Magic Kingdom opened.

Before 2006, the suite space in Cinderella Castle was generally empty, although at times it was used for storage and was once the home of the Disney telephone operators for a short while.

With the launch of The Year of A Million Dreams in 2007-2008, Disney wanted something as a very special prize for a select few lucky guests. Someone was randomly chosen at the Park each day to spend the night, with up to 5 guests, in Cinderella’s Castle Suite.

Since then, mostly various contest winners have stayed there. You can’t reserve the room – Disney has to offer the suite to you. It’s considered the most exclusive hotel suite in the world.

staying at castle (2)
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working together at DAK

Working together at DAK.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430687055&sr=1-1&keywords=two+girls+and+a+mouse+tale

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Taking Disney Classes in the Parks

Taking Disney Classes in the Parks

CP Moment:  Taking classes during your program.

As part of the Disney College Program, you can sign up for free classes at Disney University.

Disney University in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Welcome to Disney University in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

At the Florida DCP program, taking a Learning Class is optional, while at the California DCP program, taking a class during your program is  mandatory.

Depending on your major, some colleges will give you credit for both taking a class during your program (3 credits) and for the DCP internship itself (3-5 credits). You must ask your academic adviser about this option!  As we weren’t hospitality or business majors, our college, the University of Colorado-Boulder, wouldn’t give us any credit for doing the program.

The learning classes at Disney University are different than the Disney Training Classes online that all cast members must complete during their program.

Attending Disney Traditions classes with Caroline.

Attending my Experiential Learning class with Caroline.

Caroline is ready for class.

Disney Program Field Trips

We had several of our Disney learning classes held at the Parks. The first one was during Traditions when we toured MK in a large group. Touring MK as a Cast Member.

A few months later, one of our Experiential Learning classes was held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Field Trip to Hollywood Studios.

They were a lot of fun and we learned a lot of backstage Disney trivia.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 11.30.25 AM

Our learning class required a group project.

We had group presentations on our last day of class. Only one guy in our group was taking it for university credit; we other three were just auditing the class. But, we would have gotten an “A” in the class! Probably the best part of taking the class was that Caroline and I always had Thursdays off together!

T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney.  First time eating there.

T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney. First time eating there.

To celebrate, our group went out to the T-Rex Restaurant in Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs).

Our group.

Our group for Experiential Learning class.

Caroline’s Cotton-tini drink being made (vodka and cotton candy)!

Caroline’s Cotton-tini drink being made (vodka and cotton candy)!

We’ll be going to the service celebration where the DCP students officially graduate from the program. Mickey, in cap and gown, will be there to give us a diploma and our graduation Mickey Cap! Can’t wait!!

To read more about the class we took, click here: Disney Experiential Learning Class.

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working together at DAK

Working together at DAK.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

***