So, you’ve decided you want to work for Disney Parks. You’re not looking to fill some fur or face character role but are instead opting to work as one of those cheerful, jovial Cast Members you’ve seen out and about Disneyland Resort in Anaheim or Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. While it’s been said that every job comes with its own set of challenges, you can’t help but think that Disney Cast Members have it made. They do, after all, work within the realm of the happiest place/most magical place on Earth, right?
Well, don’t quit your day job just yet without first knowing about all the rigorous requirements that come with working as a Disney Cast Member. Here are just 10 examples.
10. Be Prepared to Work Long Hours
If you think you’re putting in long hours at your current job, consider the fact that Disney Theme Parks and Resorts around the world are all 24/7 operations year-round. Therefore, it goes without saying that employees working at any Disney-designated location must commit to working around the clock. Some jobs even require you to put in rather unusual hours at that.
In regards to creating your own work schedule, when it is feasible to do so (but more often than not, it isn’t), you should note that there is somewhat of a status hierarchy at play. Those who have been employed the longest get first dibs, and there is much less wiggle room for newbies.
Don’t count on taking off for holidays either. In fact, “normal people’s” days off are among the busiest times of year—the times when there are more scheduled events and more Guests visiting. Your adherence to working at such times as this is absolutely imperative. How do you feel about that nine to five job with holidays off now?
9. No Taboo Tattoos or Piercings, Please
Originally Disney Cast Members were prohibited from having any visible tattoos on their person, but these rules have since been modified. While the display of visible tattoos is now permitted, there are still strict standards in place for what is suitable. Disney will not allow Cast Members to have any tattoos on the head, face, or anywhere in sight that exceeds the size of one’s hand. Tattoos also may not contain symbols, profane or offensive messaging, or display nudity.
In gearing away from distraction, overt piercings that are well beyond the limits of usual ear piercings are not looked on very highly either. In short, Disney will not go for anything that is too distracting. But rest assured that you’ll be just fine with that little Eeyore tattoo on your wrist!
8. Have the Disney Look
Having Cast Members maintain a well-groomed appearance is of the utmost importance to the Walt Disney Company. Again, long ago, there was a strict rule against employees sporting facial hair of any kind. These rules, over time, have been relaxed. Now mustaches, goatees, and well-kept, manageable beards are all fine when properly groomed and maintained.
Fingernails must always be clean and presentable. Nail polish is now permitted for all Cast Members, but Disney requires that colors be limited to one solid hue or follow the French manicure style. No decals or multiple colors are permitted, nor may fingernails exceed one-fourth of an inch in length.
As far as hair and hairstyles go, Disney leaves most of the decisions up to the Cast Member’s discretion within reason. Hair that extends below the shoulder should be secured or pulled back if it falls forward, gets in the face and eyes, or hinders a name tag. Coloring your hair is fine, but Disney asks that Cast Members go with a naturally occurring hue. This means avoiding such colors as pink, blue, green, purple, unnatural red tones, etc. If you choose to have highlights in your hair, Disney advises that you limit tonal values to no more than two separate shades. Again, it’s all about avoiding distractions.
7. Be All-Knowing
Even if a Guest inquiry renders you truly stumped, you must stay firm in never uttering the dreaded words “I don’t know” under any circumstances. If you’re truly uncertain about something, you may redirect the question accordingly by letting the questioner know that you will find out the answer. You may even call for backup from someone who can take charge of the matter at hand. All the same, it benefits you enormously to do all your homework beforehand and be ready for as many foreseeable questions as possible, taking careful note of the answers to those you learn along the way.
6. Make the Point with Two Fingers, Not One
Did you know that pointing with one finger is considered offensive in some cultures? And because Disney destinations are renowned the world over, you have hosts of international travelers visiting Disney Parks and Resorts on a daily basis. So how do you point out directions to someone inquiring how to get from point A to point B if not directly pointing? You use either two fingers to point to the referenced direction or otherwise guide with your whole hand.
5. Taking Out the Trash
Even if you’re not part of the janitorial crew specifically, you must be willing to do your part. As a Disney Cast Member you have a duty to assist in upholding the standards for cleanliness and beauty Disney destinations are renowned for. And that means swooping down to pick up and throw away trash at every opportunity you see a need for doing so. Nobody, not even the highest-ranking Disney executives, are above the call to duty in picking up trash and litter.
4. Expect to Be Underpaid
If you’re under the impression that by working for such a big, money-making company as Disney, you’ll be rolling in the dough, then it’s time for a little reality check. It appears that the hourly workers, fulfilling any role really don’t have much to boast about in regards to making a living. Sure, working for Disney does come with a broad range of perks and benefits, but where pay is concerned, they come up short. Starting salary is what it is, and not even prior work experience from a former job can give you a leg up. Working for Disney is really more a labor of love than anything else.
3. Avoid Social Media Socializing
You probably know by now that Disney likes to keep Character roles hush-hush. They have the strictest rules against anyone posting about their work on social media or telling the public that they portray a particular character. The same is true, to an extent, for those working as Disney Cast Members. While there is no secrecy in identifying yourself as a Disney Cast Member per se, do not overtly post about what you do on social media, gossip, chat, give the low-down on anything that goes on behind the scenes, etc. And never post any behind-the-scenes photos! Just play it cool and be unassuming. It’s your job, not your conversation starter. Also, don’t ever make the mistake of thinking you’re just one of many fish in the sea. Disney does keep accurate tabs on all those who work on them, regardless of the roles they serve.
Be prepared to flex those facial muscles and keep a nearly perpetual grin plastered broadly on your face at all times. Disney does not want a grumpy, sulking Cast Member, nor do they want someone who is unable to school their features during intense times of stress, tiredness, or other less-than-stellar conditions. You must be a beacon of cheeriness and happiness. Remember, this is a role that calls for assistance in helping to make the magic, not break it, for visiting Guests. So, you must always do your part by incorporating a cheerful and pleasant demeanor at all times and in all of your interactions.
1. Being the Best Version of Yourself
Going along with smiling and holding firm to exuding an ever-present cheerfulness about yourself is your commitment to being the very best version of yourself. When you work for a company like Disney, you have many impeccable standards to uphold. First and foremost is helping to make the Guest experience as magical as possible for all visitors. That requires you to give selflessly of yourself in work ethic, hours, retaining cheerfulness, being polite, appearing well-groomed and presentable, and adhering to all the standards we’ve thus far highlighted. Always be mindful when you are in the public’s eye, and never get caught behaving in any way other than your very best. Obvious red flags to avoid include using course language, smoking, using cellphones or electronic devices while on duty, eating, drinking, chewing gum, etc. Other things to avoid are slouching, frowning, or breaking code in any of the areas we’ve previously stated. Just remember to bring you’re A Game, and you’ll be good to go.
Still think you’re up for working as a Disney Cast Member? Then the next step to take is to begin the application process. Unlike the intense hiring and auditioning process for character portrayers at Disney Parks, applying to become a Disney Cast Member typically starts low-key by going to the official Disney Careers website and searching for available hourly opportunities. Then you go about completing an online application. Do take note that Disney does also hold on-location hiring events at certain times and in certain places as well, but your best bet is to visit the website rather than waiting for such uncertainties to come about.
Depending on the role you apply for, you may land a web-based interview follow-up. Otherwise, anyone selected for a potential Cast Member role will be notified to schedule an upcoming interview at a mutually preferable date and time. Interviews may be in-person, on the phone, or web-based.
If you end up landing the role, Disney will work with you in completing all the post-offer employment follow-ups, including arranging for appointments to fill out all the new-hire paperwork. Your very first day of officially working for Disney will be at Disney University, where you will attend the Disney Traditions program. After successful completion of all the above, you will begin that new magical career you’ve worked so longingly in pursuit of.
Even if you are an adamant lover of all things Disney, do take note that a job working at Disney Parks isn’t necessarily for you. It comes with a lot of hard work, expectations, and plenty of give-and-take. It requires total commitment from your end to help foster mutually magical experiences for all who seek the magic of Disney. But now that you know all this and you’re still ready and willing you follow through, this may very well be your dream job—the wish that your heart made, at last, coming true.