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10 Things A Walt Disney World Cast Member Might Never Tell You

1) Complaints about their roles

When I’ve worked for other, small, family owned companies, it would not necessarily be the worst thing in the world (although it wouldn’t be the best either) to admit to another employee or a regular customer that you’ve had a long week, or you’re working a double that day. However, in Walt Disney World, complaining about your role in front of or to guests is something that would never happen. While most cast members are genuinely happy with their jobs, there are always going to be the little things that would bother a person about any job—being on your feet all day, the weather being uncooperative, working a longer shift… however these are all complaints that you’ll likely never actually hear from a cast member.

2) Homesickness

Of course there are some Disney cast members who are native to the Orlando area, although the vast majority of them have moved to Florida from other states or countries. Given that so many cast members have moved a long distance away from their friends and family at home to work for the company, it is understandable that they might at times be homesick—especially during the holidays. Cast members’ homesickness is definitely not something guests need to know about though, and you would be hard-pressed to find a cast member who actually does tell you about how much he or she misses home.

3) Costuming struggle

Cast members at Walt Disney World are able to pick up costumes from a central costuming building, wear them for their shifts and return them for clean ones if they would prefer to exhange them rather than wash them for themselves. Something cast members will not tell you is that many of the costuming locations are overwhelmingly huge, and sometimes finding your size in the costume you need can be difficult. Although you probably don’t notice it as a guest, some cast members occasionally end up with slightly ill-fitting costumes for a short time until they are able to find a better size. And even though the costumes can be laundered for them, many prefer to hold onto the costume pieces that fit them best just to be safe.

4) Commute times

Working at a Disney park comes with a bit of a commute regardless of how far away from the Walt Disney World Resort you might live. When cast members arrive at the park they work at, they often need to board a bus, walk through tunnels or a backstage perimeter, or even ride a bike to get to their work location in a timely manner. As cast members are not allowed to walk outside of their designated lands in costumes that do not match the area’s theming, they sometimes need to take a more roundabout route to work that you probably would not be aware of as a guest visiting the parks.

5) They get great discounts

Cast members are able to take advantage of some sweet discounts for nearly everything around the Walt Disney World Resort. Dining, merchandise, resort room, backstage tours, and more are all just a sampling of all of the discounts available to cast members. And of course, working at Walt Disney World comes with free admission to the theme parks as well. Even other businesses in the Orlando area offer discounts specifically for cast members, and weekly events often take place on weeknights to cater to the Orlando residents who work in the service industry.

6) But please don’t ask to use them

Cast members do get some excellent discounts, but it is very important to remember that those discounts belong to cast members and their families only. One of the most frustrating things I had to deal with when I worked in Walt Disney World was when people I did not know very well would ask me about my discounts. If you are not married or related to a Disney cast member, please do not ask about discounts unless they offer to use some on you. Cast members get a limited amount of free admission passes, that many would choose to use on their close family and friends before someone they hardly talk to. In addition, when a cast member gets a guest into the park, he or she is then responsible for that guest. If I let you into the park with my pass for instance, and you behave poorly, it reflects back on me, whose ticket you used. Even other perks, like discounts on merchandise for instance must be used by the cast members themselves, and not family or friends, so it is indeed rude for us to ask cast members to put their jobs on the line so we can get 20% off.

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7) Truthful answers to some of your questions

“Don’t you get tired of pointing with two fingers all day?” … “Is that costume really hot in this weather?” As a Disney cast member, I would never genuinely tell a guest how uncomfortable it can be to work outside in the hot Florida sun. Guests are visiting the parks on vacation, and they are expecting to be transported into a magical world with reality far off property. Although they are asking, I would never want to put a damper on their day by making them hear about how hot my costume is while I’m working outside.

8) Anything that goes against character integrity

If you ask an entertainment cast member which characters they play, they should tell you no one. Disney cast members do not act or portray certain characters, but sometimes they become very close friends with them. While you might occasionally hear that someone hung out with Rapunzel last week, you would never hear they this person actually played Rapunzel—because there is only one Rapunzel and dressing up like her when the real one otherwise already exists would just be silly.

9) They don’t spend all their time at Disney

Some guests are under the impression that cast members must be at Disney all the time. They work there, they get into the parks for free, why wouldn’t they be? Cast members have schedules that are all over the place, so they also spend a lot of time doing basic tasks that you probably do too like grocery shopping for instance. They also get discounts on so many entertainment areas around Orlando, that although they probably do still go to Disney a lot, there are plenty of other things for them to do since they live there.

10) They love their jobs!

If you’re wondering why this point is one a list of things that cast members wouldn’t tell you, it’s because they don’t need to tell you this one. It’s clear that cast members love their jobs simply be observing them at work. Once you’ve seen cast members in action, it becomes evident that they love their jobs, and for them making guests’ vacations magical is one of the most rewarding things they can do.

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.