Quick! When you think of the phrase "Disney World," what's the first thing that pops into your head? Probably "The Happiest Place on Earth," right? The rides, the bright, vibrant colors and incredible sets, 3 o'clock parade, the gleeful children and families running around, the incessantly cheerful, helpful cast members...
Yeah, about that. Having been a Walt Disney World (MGM Studios represent) cast member during my college days, I can tell you that most people would never be able to handle working at Disney. They could not even. Never.
Not surprisingly, you receive a ton of training to prepare you for a life in costume and "on stage" (if you're in a visible area where guests can see you, you're considered to be on stage). But an entire lifetime of training can't prepare you for some of the wacky questions and complete weirdness you're expected to roll with on the daily as a Disney cast member.
Here's a sampling of the questions Disney cast members get asked daily.
"Why don't you guys close the dome when it rains?" - A surprising number of guests think Disney World has a biodome over the entire park to control the weather. An...invisible biodome, apparently.
"What time does the castle rotate?" - And other guests are under the impression Cinderella's Castle is on a gigantic hub and rotates throughout the day. Yeah... Yeah.
"Do you work here?" - Seriously?
And, the number one question asked more often than any other:
"What time is the 3 o'clock parade?" - Just try keeping that chipper smile plastered on your face the fourth time you get asked that before 11a.m. Just try.
CLEANUP IS A BITCH
One of the things cast members have to clean up regularly in the Haunted Mansion are ashes...
Guests will often scatter the cremated remains of their loved ones all over the Haunted Mansion ride. People, stop doing that. Just stop. Your loved one ends up in a vacuum bag in an industrial dumpster, and some poor cast member is still frantically trying to scrub the awful off a month later.
And every cast member, particularly the janitorial staff, lives in fear of a "signal V" because of a "protein spill". Translation: Someone just puked all over and it's your turn to clean it up. Haaaaaave fun!
YOUR NAME MIGHT BE CHANGED
Disney World is Disney World for a reason, and that reason is about 19% whimsy and 81% hardcore adherence to the rules and regulations, no exceptions. But did you know one of those rules is that your identity can be taken from you on a whim?
Okay, maybe that was a little hyperbolic. But it's true that no two cast members working at the Disney reservation center at the same time can share the same name. To avoid confusion from guests, one of the cast members is simply given a different name. Yep.
Ahhhhh Disney World. Come for the guest services, stay to watch the cast members slowly descend into an existential crisis.
YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO POINT
One of the first things you're taught as a Disney cast member is that pointing with one finger is bad. Like...asking an overweight woman when she's due or getting naked and trying to climb the Tower of Terror bad. At least by Disney standards, which, if you haven't figured out by now, are incomparable to the standards by which the rest of the world runs.
If you must point as a Disney cast member, you're to do it with two fingers or gesture with your whole hand. It's easier to see than pointing with one finger, and in some cultures it's considered rude. This mandate came from none other than Walt Disney himself, who considered pointing with one finger rude.
To this day, I still have a brief moment of red-hot panic when I catch myself pointing with one finger. Thanks, Walt.
...OR NOT HAVE AN ANSWER
Congratulations! You've been hired as a Disney cast member. First things first, you'll want to be turning in the sentence "I don't know" at the door, because you're never allowed to use it. Ever.
Disney created the OG phone-a-friend option: You are NEVER allowed to say "I don't know" in response to a guest's question. If you don't know the answer (which you should), then you're supposed to hop on the nearest park phone and call the Disney info hub and FIND that answer, no matter the question. If you're a cast member who can't physically move from your location (like a food vendor) and you don't know the answer, then you're to direct the guest toward an information line or another cast member who can help them. But never "I don't know."
Seriously. The guest could ask, "What's the square root of the weight of all the purple cheese on Jupiter?" and you still can't say "I don't know." Not even once.
I can't even begin to imagine the poor bastards who worked in the info center before Google existed.
Don't get me wrong, the semester I worked for Disney was the best time I ever had in my life. But just remember, Disney cast members are human, too. So there's a good chance that on any given day, one of them is doing this inside: