Today, I was thankfully scheduled for only a 6 hour closing shift, working 2pm to 8pm. The saying on the program is that the CP in the DCP doesn’t stand for college program, it actually stands for ‘Closing Person’. I work a lot of closing shifts.
There have been heat advisories posted all week for Florida. With the air temperature around 96 degrees, coupled with high humidity, the “feels like” temperature in the afternoons has been around 117 degrees! It’s just miserable to work outside all day long in the summer heat.
On days like these, it’s so important to stay hydrated. I wear my cast member water bottle on my hip at work and try to refill it with chilled water every hour, especially since I don’t like drinking lukewarm water.
The only air conditioned place at my entire work location at the front of the Animal Kingdom is the stockroom located in the Outpost building.
I had just started my afternoon shift and was working merchandise when a cast member came running in and ran straight into the stockroom and shut the door. That was pretty strange.
A few minutes later, the coordinator comes walking in very fast and she also goes straight into the stockroom. A few minutes after that, the manager comes hustling into Outpost and she too goes straight into the stockroom!
I had a feeling something bad was going on with the cast member – probably she wasn’t feeling well from the heat, but I knew it wasn’t my place to ask so I stayed out of the stockroom and kept ringing up guest’s merchandise at the register.
A few minutes later, two guests from the United Kingdom come running in carrying their infant daughter. She looked to be about eight months old.
The mom holds out her baby and starts screaming at me.
“My baby’s sick and she needs air conditioning now!” she screams while holding the baby up to my face.
I look at the baby and can see that she’s very overheated as she looks really red and splotchy.
“Do you need me to call 911?” I ask her. I start to tell her that we can call an ambulance or she needs to immediately go to First Aid, which is back into the park, back at Discovery Island.
“No! She just needs to cool down,” the mom yells at me. Well, too bad for her because there’s no air conditioning ANYWHERE close by!
I ask her what they had been doing and if they had been giving the baby plenty of water since it’s so hot outside today.
The mom tells me that the baby stopped drinking water from her bottle at around 11am (over three hours ago!) but they decided to continue on with their park visit even though the baby was getting fussier and fussier. They realized that she was not well after getting off the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, way at the back of the park, over twenty minutes ago.
I look at the baby and tell the guests to wait just a minute while I talk to my manager, who is conveniently still in the stockroom behind me.
I walk into the stockroom and am totally surprised at what I see.
The cast member is laying on the dirty stockroom floor and the two supervisors are standing over her, talking about how she is going to get home.
There is a huge, 55 gallon trash can in the middle of the room. But, judging from the wads of paper towels all over the floor, the cast member had missed it by about three feet.
The cast member drove herself to work in the morning and was resisting the manager’s suggestion of having someone drive her home as she was laying there on the stockroom floor.
“I’m feeling better,” she keeps saying while making no attempt to get up off the floor. My manager makes a call on her iPhone for custodial to come and clean up the mess.
I quickly tell the manager about the guests and their sick baby out front.
The manager comes out of the stockroom with me and basically has the same conversation with the guests that I did about calling 911 or taking the baby to First Aid. As we were talking, one of the stockers brings over a cool, wet towel from the back to put on the baby’s face and arms to help cool her down.
By this point, the mom has laid the baby on my checkout counter and is stripping off the baby’s clothes. I turn to my manager and say, “Well, the closest air-conditioning is at Guest Relations. Can I bring them over?” The manager gives me the go-ahead and I escort them from Outpost all the way into the park to Guest Relations.
When we get to the turnstiles, I tell the cast members there, “Medical emergency”. Because they recognized me, they allowed us all through without checking tickets or security checking their bags and stroller.
Luckily, I could see that there was no line at Guest Relations so I went up to a cast member and ask if the VIP room is available because this baby is too overheated to go all the way back to First Aid. The CM leaves to go check on the lounge’s status. I wait with the parents who were still dabbing the cool towel on their now naked baby.
Located inside Guest Relations, right next to the Balloon Babysitting* room, is a secret, air conditioned room used for when VIPs visit the park. I call it the Tom Cruise Room. For example, if guests were alerted that Tom Cruise was visiting in the park that day and were following him around taking unwanted photos, he could hang out in this comfortable, private room until the crowd goes away.
(* Balloons aren’t sold or allowed inside DAK because they could get away from guests and into where the animals are, who could then eat them. But, guests that are park hopping frequently arrive at DAK with huge balloons, especially if they are coming from the Magic Kingdom. Gate security takes any balloons from guests and safely stores them in the Balloon Babysitting room backstage until the guests are ready to leave. This is also where guest’s selfie sticks are now being stored with the new Disney parks ban on selfie sticks that started last week.)
The VIP room is unoccupied and the cast member signals me to bring them back to help cool down their baby. He okays me to perform a “No Strings” magical moment for the guests. I went and got them one of the wet cooling towels that we sell and two chilled water bottles. [No Strings means that the guest doesn’t have to pay for the merchandise. It’s theirs to keep, free of charge.]
Once they all got settled in and the baby was looking better, I go back to the Outpost to continue working at my assigned position. About fifteen minutes later, I see the same Guest Relations cast member walking towards me. He says that everyone is feeling better and they have decided to take the Disney transportation bus back to their resort.
I go over to the stockroom to update my manager.
I walk into the stockroom and not much has changed in thirty minutes. The cast member is still laying on the floor looking pretty pale and nothing has been cleaned up yet.
The cast member sees me and makes an attempt to stand up, but immediately gets super pale and almost passes out again. She stretches back out on the floor. I notice that neither supervisor has gotten her a bottle of chilled water or a wet cloth.
By now, the cast member’s position out at carts has been abandoned for over 30 minutes. The manager looks at me.
“Caroline, you go out to carts and work there until a rotation can bump you out,” the manager says to me.
Dang it! Standing out in the heat and sun with only a small cart umbrella to shade me is my least favorite thing to do at work! All I could think is that now I’ll get heat exhaustion too!
I put on my straw work hat, check to see that my water bottle is filled, and out I go.
I still have four hours left on my shift until I can clock out. It’s going to be a long, hot afternoon.
Read more about my roles at DAK: Working Stroller Rental 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.