Nearly 77,000 Cast Members create magic at the Walt Disney World Resort, but as a Guest, you never really seem to see them coming and going. Ever wonder how exactly so many Cast Members get around property and even how they arrive at work?
The short answer is that they arrive backstage, and since Guests arrive onstage, there is not really a way (in most cases) that you could see Cast Members arriving for work. Some backstage entrances are hidden in plain sight, while others are so far away they require Cast Members to take a bus or maybe even a bike to get to their actual work location.
You probably already know that Magic Kingdom Park is on the “second floor,” above the Utilidor. The Utilidor is a tunnel system that runs beneath nearly all areas of the park housing services like entertainment costuming, a hair salon, a cafeteria (including a Subway), numerous breakrooms and offices, locker rooms, and more.
The tunnel was Walt Disney’s idea to use as a way of moving logistical services and Cast Members around the park in a way that would not cause disruption or a break in theming for Guests visiting the park after seeing how Disneyland operated. It is also how Cast Members arrive to work in the Magic Kingdom, regardless of where they are working in the park.
The Cast Member parking lot, or West Clock, which is located by costuming (for all non-entertainment Cast Members) and Disney University, where all new hires report for at least some of their training, including their Traditions class before reporting for on-the-job training.
From the parking lot, Cast Members board a bus that takes them to the entrance to the tunnel. And from there, they are able to walk beneath the Magic Kingdom to their work locations. If this sounds like a process, that’s because it is! Some Cast Members are actually paid for “walk-time” a set number of minutes that are added automatically when they clock in or out to make up for the time spent getting to their location.
While the Magic Kingdom’s tunnel is very well known, not many people realize EPCOT has a tunnel, too. This tunnel does not go around the entire park (it only covers a portion of World Celebration) but it serves a similar purpose to the Magic Kingdom’s tunnel, though this one is more focused on breakrooms and storage facilities than keeping Cast Members out of Guest view.
To arrive at work though, all Cast Members park in their own parking lot and enter EPCOT through a Cast Services building. (These buildings can only be accessed by scanning your company ID, so don’t get any ideas!) This building houses costuming, offices, and a few other “Cast Services,” and once through the building Cast will find themselves at a bus stop located a fair distance away from the park, but basically outside of Test Track.
From here, Cast Members can take a bus to their work location, which runs around the perimeter of the park, or they can walk. Most Cast Members opt for the bus here, as there are few locations close enough to Cast Services where the walk is doable (while most of EPCOT’s costumes blend in, World Showcase Cast Members walking through the park would certainly be odd.)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Cast Members at Disney’s Hollywood Studios also enter through a Cast Services building, which includes costuming and offices. This building is located nearby the Cast Member parking lot, which is actually also used as a Guest parking lot during the busiest times of the year (so you may have seen the building in the distance without even knowing what it was.)
If Guests are using this lot, Cast Members are directed to park at another location (often Blizzard Beach) where they will take a shuttle bus to work. Once at Cast Services, Cast Members will find themselves backstage behind Indiana Jones: Epic Stunt Spectacular. From there, they can walk backstage around the perimeter of the park, or through the park if their work location is close by (and dependent on their costume and role). Sometimes Cast working at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are able to ride bikes backstage to get to work faster, too.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
If you have seen Cast Members arriving to or leaving work, chances are it was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The “rules” for where you can appear in costume are much more relaxed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and many Cast Members enter backstage through areas very close to the regular Guest entrance.
The Cast Member parking lot for this park is also not too far from Guest parking and the Guest bus stop, so if the Cast Member works in the front entrance, Discovery Island, or DinoLand U.S.A., you may see them coming and going.
For Cast Members in other areas of the park, they go the opposite direction after parking and enter backstage through a crosswalk that actually intersects the road Guest buses take to get to the drop-off area (so you may see Cast Members arriving while you are on the bus.)
Once backstage, Cast Members at Animal Kingdom can go to “Pride Rock” a building that houses a cafeteria, offices, and some additional services or they can board a bus to get closer to their work locations.
If you thought arriving to work at a Walt Disney World theme park would be a bit of a process, you thought right! What do you think? Would you work at Walt Disney World given this added “commute” after your commute?