Ask any Disney fanatic in the world what their dream job would be, and chances are it would involve wearing a character costume, driving a monorail, or performing on a Disney stage. As with any job though, the reality can sometimes be very different from the idea. The vast majority of Disney Cast Members enjoy their jobs a lot, but that doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own challenges. Here are some of the requirements of being a Walt Disney World Cast Member that you may have overlooked.
15. No Pointing with One Finger
Many people have become familiar with this Cast Member requirement due to the online postings about Disney Traditions class. Pointing with one finger is offensive to some cultures, and since people from all over the world visit Disney World, Cast Members are required to use two fingers or the whole hand when indicating a direction. But have you ever tried giving someone directions to a nearby location without pointing?
14. No Tattoos
Ironically, some of the most creative people who would exemplify the Disney spirit are prevented from working there by a policy that specifies no visible tattoos. Some tattoo aficionados get around this by covering up with long sleeves and pants – not exactly comfortable in the heat of the summer – but it’s not always possible. Being a Cast Member means somewhat limiting your desire to display your personality on your skin… at least where people can see it!
13. Facial Hair
From the beginnings of the park in the 50’s, facial hair was a no-no. In 2000, those rules were softened to allow male Cast Members to sport a mustache. Even that came with a rule however – it must not extend beyond the corners of their mouths. In 2012, the rules were adjusted yet again. Now male Cast Members may have beards and goatees. They must be neatly trimmed and cannot exceed 1/4” in length. While it’s less restrictive than the no tattoos requirement –facial hair is after all easily shaved and grown back – it still prevents some very fun people from working for Disney.
12. Late Nights / Early Mornings
Disney World Resort is a 24 hour a day business, even outside of the extended theme park hours. Cleaning up after one day’s guests and getting ready for the next day’s guests requires that some Cast Members are working some very odd hours. This can be extremely trying to those with families.
11. No “I Don’t Know”
You might forget what a blessed release the words “I don’t know” can be until you are required not to say them. Cast Members must either provide an answer to questions that guests ask, or at least find someone who can answer them. So while you technically can say “I don’t know,” you must always follow those words with something like, “but I’ll find out for you now.”
10. Hospitality Always
Let’s face it, the hospitality industry is not for everyone. Merely keeping a smile on their faces is beyond some people’s capabilities, let alone being nice to every guest you come across. But that is a requirement at Disney that must be followed. Disney strives to provide one-of-a-kind, memorable experiences for each and every guest that visits the resort, and a scowling face has no place on their team.
9. Gosh, It’s Hot
For those who might have inexplicably forgotten this point, Disney World is in Florida. Florida is hot. Very hot. Especially during the summer. The average high temperature in July and August is in the mid 90’s, and the highs can spike well above 100 degrees some days. And since Florida is essentially swampland, it’s not a dry heat either. The humidity can be uncomfortable all on its own. But combine it with the heat and even the hardiest, most enthusiastic Cast Members start to wonder why they passed on the office job with air conditioning to work an outdoor job at Disney World.
8. Scheduling Issues
Disney’s scheduling is weighted heavily by seniority, which means that newer Cast Members find themselves working lots of nights and weekends. Additionally, where part-time employees were once required to work at least two days per week, Disney now requires a minimum of three days. Which means that working a full-time job during the week and making a little extra money by working part-time at Disney on weekends is now a lot harder to do.
7. Cast Member Holidays
Holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and Day, and the 4th of July are some of the busiest days at Disney’s theme parks. If your regularly scheduled work day falls on a holiday, don’t expect time off. You are expected to be there unless you can find someone to cover your shift. While this isn’t necessarily difficult to do, it can be an adjustment for Cast Members coming from jobs that had most holidays off.
While the bus system in and around Orlando has gotten better in recent years, the early and late hours required by Disney make it preferable to have your own transportation. And it better be reliable, because Disney is not very forgiving where missing work is concerned.
At this point, it’s no secret that Disney is not the best company to work for if you want a hefty paycheck. And your previous work experience doesn’t tend to help you out if you work in an hourly role – the starting wage is what it is. Now, Disney has great benefits and unbelievable perks, but for some the take home pay is simply too limited to make working there worthwhile.
4. Social Media
You might think that as big as the Disney Company is, they wouldn’t be concerned with the social media postings of their Cast Members. Or at the very least, that they wouldn’t have the capability to check in on their workers. You would be wrong. Disney is highly cognizant of what is being said about them online, particularly by their Cast Members and definitely where their face and costume characters are concerned. It’s all an effort to preserve the magic, but many people would find their efforts quite restrictive.
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3. Trash Pickup
While it makes for a beautiful resort, Disney’s policy of having all Cast Members pick up trash – with the requisite Disney Swoop, no less – might not appeal to everyone. But it’s part of the Disney culture and even top executives are not above swooping up some trash – so you’d better not consider yourself above it either.
In order to present the right look, Disney World provides its 70,000 Cast Members with the proper clothing to fill their roles. In many ways, this can be quite liberating – you never have to think about what you should wear to work. On the other hand, some of the clothing is… quite garish. And not exactly flattering. On the plus side though, you don’t even have to do laundry since you can turn in your dirty costumes and pick up clean ones. The downside of that however, is that if you happen to wear the same size as many of your fellow Cast Members, the Wardrobe department might be out of that size. Better tighten that belt!
1. Be on Your Best Behavior
Disney has an image to present and protect, and their workers are on the front lines of that challenge. Making a guest’s visit magical means that the Cast Members they encounter on their vacation had better be in a good mood, smiling, and on their best behavior. No gum chewing, smoking, eating, frowning, slouching, or using cell phones when “on stage” in front of guests. While a lot of these are simply common sense and would be expected at any company, Disney is always a little more… vigorous in their expectations and enforcement.
With so many requirements demanded of them in making your vacation wishes come true, the Cast Members at the Walt Disney World Resort certainly appreciate it when you acknowledge their efforts. A quick stop in at Guest Relations to fill out a comment card can really make a Cast Member’s day! Has a Cast Member every made your stay at Disney magical? How?
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