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10 of the Strangest Things I’ve Seen at Walt Disney World

The Walt Disney World Resort is often touted for being “twice the size of Manhattan” but that’s not the only NYC comparison the parks and resorts have… The people watching in Disney is truly up there with what you’d see in the big city! Lots of strange things are always happening around the resort, and these are just some of the most fascinating ones I’ve seen in recent years:

 

 

1. Naptime… on the ground

There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve come across guests taking a nap… on the ground. During my Disney College Program, I actually ended up alerting security about a man on the ground after I attempted to wake him to make sure he was okay to no avail. Security was able to wake him up to which the man responded that he was simply taking a nap (on the pavement in DinoLand U.S.A.). Another “popular” place for guests to nap is gift shops at the exit of rides. I assume the guests that do this are waiting for their family on the rides, and at least this “ground” is usually indoors, but it still isn’t something I would recommend doing. 

2. Making an exit

Every time a ride stops (even if it’s only for a couple of seconds) guests are quick to claim that “it broke down!”. In reality, breakdowns are hardly ever a reason for a ride to stop. Sometime when the timing is off for guests loading or unloading the attraction, certain vehicles stop to make more space between them. Other times, rides stop to let a guest on who is not able to transfer to a ride vehicle on the moving walkway. One of the strangest reasons for a ride to stop is when a guest gets out of the ride vehicle. I can’t imagine jumping out of any ride, but it happens much more often than you’d think!

3. Not a drinking fountain

For your own safety, let’s all just assume that any water fountain that does not look exactly like your everyday drinking fountain is not somewhere you’ll want to drink from. The Walt Disney World Resort is full of decorative fountains, many of which guests put their hands in, throw coins into, and who knows what else. These decorative fountains often recirculate the same often chlorinated water, so if you stop for a sip you’ll be taking in the germs from coins, other guests’ hands, and really a number of things we probably would rather not think about. 

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4. Cast Members in costume but off the clock

You’ve probably heard that Cast Members have some pretty strict rules for what they can do in their costumes. While this is certainly the case, it really varies by park, location, and role, and even within these guidelines they are still probably more lax than you realize. While Cast Members in the Magic Kingdom have the most rules for where they can move around the park in costumes, the other parks are much more lenient. And for convenience purposes, Cast Members are really only required to remove their name tags when they’re not working. 

The Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot all have very separate Cast Member parking areas and entrances, so you’ll never see them going to or from work, but at Disney’s Animal Kingdom the Cast parking lot is close to the guest lot, and Cast Members often walk by the main entrance in costume to get to work. If you stay off Disney property while visiting Orlando, you may be surprised to see Cast Members at places like Walmart, Publix, or local restaurants in their costumes. As long as their name tags are removed this is allowed, and even while I was sometimes one of these Cast Members during my College Program it still felt strange to see costumes outside of the parks!

5. Lines to nowhere 

Ever get in a line without knowing where it actually goes? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Every day at the Walt Disney World Resort, guests line up for well… nothing. Sometimes they even line up for things they have no interest in experiencing. When I worked at Lights, Motors, Action! there were times where some guests would spend about 30 minutes waiting in line for seating to begin, only to turn and see the stadium and say “This is a show?” and leave because they thought they were in line for a ride. 

Sometimes guests line up along the curb on Main Street because they see other guests sitting there and they assume an evening parade is taking place (while there hasn’t been one in years). And for guests who are interested in limited edition merchandise lines are nothing new, but when new items come up guests who have no desire to shop often end up confused when they reach the end of the line. 

6. Where are you climbing to?

Remember when a guest in Epcot climbed up the pyramid in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot? This is probably the most extreme instance of guests climbing on things they are not supposed to, but really some form of this happens every day. Whether it’s something simple like climbing over barricades or stadium seating (which you shouldn’t do because it’s dangerous), or something worse like climbing into or over a fountain, some guests always seem to be on the lookout for their next climb, and that’s a little strange!

7. To share or not to share (turkey legs)

Sharing food at the Walt Disney World Resort is a great way to save some extra money and try lots of different things without filling up. One food I always think is strange to share though, especially when the whole family is involved, is turkey legs. These classic Disney “snacks” are not easy to eat- they’re meaty, but they also come with the bone, and lots of tendons, skin, and other unsavory bits that make it less than ideal for sharing. Still at over 1,200 calories a leg, it’s easy to understand why the thought of sharing them is appealing. As a self-proclaimed germaphobe however, my family is welcome to a handful of my popcorn or a piece of my churro, but you won’t catch me passing around a turkey leg. 

8. Don’t take the ice

There are two different kinds of ice in Walt Disney World- the ice that is served to you in your drink, and ice you should probably never ingest. The ice that is used to keep drinks cold at merchandise carts is quite simply not clean, and yet a surprising number of guests pick up handfuls as they walk by to add to their cups or simply to munch out. This ice comes out of a machine that is entirely separate from the ice in restaurants and is then handled by multiple people as it’s positioned around the drinks in the carts. You may feel strange asking for a cup of ice from a quick service restaurant, but believe me when I say this is not nearly as strange as taking a handful on the go!

9. The importance of character integrity

In case you are not familiar, character integrity is what Disney Cast Members use to keep the magic alive for guests meeting characters. It dictates that the characters are indeed real, and as a result there is only one of each character. While Cast Members (on and off the clock) respect character integrity because they understand it’s purpose it is always strange to see guests who do not even try, especially when they have young kids. Comments about how hot the costumes are, or why Disney wouldn’t just put out more characters to make the line go faster are not only strange but they are totally inappropriate and can easily ruin the magic for other guests.

10. Low prices and sales?

This point may be the strangest item on the list! Did you know you can actually find sales on occasion at the Walt Disney World Resort? It doesn’t happen often, and I would not stress about seeking them out during your trip, but sometimes you’ll come across an item in a shop with a red price tag with a markdown price. You may also come across discounted festival merchandise in Epcot after the events have passed, lower-priced jewelry that fits many adults (if you buy from the kids’ section), and even some purchase with purchase sales that are surprising good deals. Of course, if you are spending any time off Disney property, you can always check out the Disney Character Warehouse at the outlets for even greater savings!

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a graduate of St. Anselm College, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in History. She completed two Disney College Programs, one at Dinoland U.S.A., in Animal Kingdom, and one at Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Hollywood Studios. She is the author of “Brittany Earns Her Ears,” a memoir about her experiences on the college program, and she currently resides in Massachusetts.