The opportunity to write this article came at a perfect time for me, as I’ve just finished up my stint on the Disney College Program and am preparing to move back home, and back to “reality.” Working at Disney was the best nine months of my life, and I would give anything to be able to experience it all over again. The following list includes my picks for the ten coolest things about working in a Disney park:
It probably comes as no surprise that one of the best things about working in Disney is the discounts. Cast members get discounts on nearly everything—merchandise, dining, resorts, park tickets, behind the scenes tours, and recreation. There are stores that sell cast member exclusive merchandise, and certain times of year (typically around the holidays) when merchandise discounts increase. Dining discounts range from 20% to 40% off depending on the promotion and restaurant.
9. Sense of community
I felt a sense of community among myself and other cast members at Disney than I ever felt at any other job. At most jobs, your coworkers are simply people you work with. Maybe there’s a couple that you’re really good friends with, but for the most part you don’t feel any special connection to them. This isn’t true in Disney. Even other cast members who might not have been my friends outside of work were like family to me, because there is such a sense of community among all Disney cast members that is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it personally.
8. Getting to know people from all over the world
When you work for Disney, one of the most popular tourist attractions on earth, you have the ability to meet people from all over the world. This is not just limited to guests either. During my time working at Disney, I was able to work with, and get to know, other cast members from all over the world. I have not had any other job where I’ve been able to have this kind of experience. At Disney, every day you’re talking to people from all across the globe, and that in itself is pretty cool.
7. Going to the parks for free, whenever you want
Getting to go to Disney World for free is definitely one of the coolest things ever. The first time I went to a park for free, I went to the Magic Kingdom, the day after our first training that every cast member must go through before they start working, and I have never felt more special in my entire life. While I worked at Disney, I spent so much of my free time at the parks, just because going to the parks was free (and I wanted to of course.) It’s weird thinking, “I could pay $14 to go to the movies, or I could go to the Magic Kingdom for free.”
Training to work at a Disney park is unlike training at any other job. During my training before I worked in Animal Kingdom for instance, we took a class that involved an in depth tour of the park, complete with a ride on Kilimanjaro Safari. I can’t think of another job where I would have paid training that includes riding attractions, and learning more about one of my favorite places.
5. Wearing a fun costume
I guess this really depends on the costume you wear, but even though I hated one of my costumes when I started working for Disney, I grew to love it in a cheesy sort of way. When I found out that I would be working merchandise in Dinoland, I was definitely not happy with the Chester and Hester costume. Now that I no longer work for Disney, and I treasure the memories I’ve had in Dinoland, I kind of love the costume. I don’t love it in the sense that I’d ever want to wear it again, but I love it because it reminds me of all these good memories I had working there. Some costumes really are fun to wear though—in merchandise I was able to pick up shifts anywhere, so I picked up shifts in a couple of locations simply because I liked the costume.
4. Learning more about how the parks operate
When you work in Disney you’re able to learn firsthand more about how the parks operate so smoothly. It wasn’t until I worked in attractions that I really understood the importance of how Disney cast members control the crowds at the parks. Even during opening and closing meetings managers would tell us different things that have worked and things that haven’t worked, and it was a whole different perspective on the parks that you really can’t get as a guest.
3. The ability to go above and beyond
My roles at Disney allowed me to go further above and beyond to help guests than other jobs I’ve held in the past. There were very few instances when I was working at Disney that I was unable to help a guest with whatever he or she needed. (And keep in mind some of these instances were just crazy situations, like a guest who insisted I find a Disney bus to take him to Universal.) Disney cast members have so many resources at their disposal, which makes it so much easier to help guests out.
2. Having fun on the job
Working for Disney was incredibly fun and rewarding. One of my favorite things about working at Disney was when I worked at Fantasmic, and I saw the looks on guests faces while they enjoyed the finale scene. It’s going to be difficult to work somewhere else where your customers are truly that happy. There are also special events for cast members only, and I got to have fun interacting with guests on a daily basis.
1. Making magic
The coolest thing about working for Disney was having the ability to make magic. When I worked at Disney, I could make a child stop crying simply from giving him or her a Mickey sticker, and I would make little girls’ days when I greeted them as princesses. There were times when I was able to go above and beyond to do something special for a guest at my attraction, to make their vacations even more magical. The ability to make magic for guests is what I will miss most, now that my college program with Disney has finally come to an end.