Once hired on at Walt Disney World itself, it seems like Cast Members just instantly become a part of the magic. This is very true in a sense. But before the magic can really start there is a lot of time and energy that is put into learning how to be someone who changes lives every day.
Disney has always prided itself on having the best guest service possible. This is seen and witnessed everyday in that you most likely will never run into a grumpy Cast Member unless they are playing Grumpy himself. But how does it all start? It’s simple, “Traditions”.
“Traditions” is a class, and so much more, that takes you through the basics of Disney and how to become a part of it all. Personally, I love the name of the class because it really resembles what has helped the magic of Walt Disney himself continue to grow through time. We don’t get to our future by forgetting our past. It begins with some life stories of the man who started it all to the family that still has their hand in it today with Roy E. Disney. It is amazing to sit back and watch this one man who just one day got this idea from watching his two girls on a carousel. It also takes you back to some of the darkest hours of Disney where the company nearly did not make it, but always takes you back to the success. The best part of it all is that you are told that you are about to become a part of this dream come true and just how important that is. When you truly sit back for a second and think about it, it is mind blowing. You are about to take this one dream from one man that has grown into millions of other’s dreams and continue to make it grow every day. You are being depended on to make one little girl feel like Cinderella or make one family feel like for a moment they are aboard a pirate ship about to sail the high seas. Then it hits you… this… is… BIG!
After getting to know a few of the moments that began this company, you are brought to the here and now. You’re briefed on who is who in the company and such. You’re instructed how you are expected to act, how to present yourself, how to hold yourself, and so on. Reality then hits as they show you what companies Disney owns, is in association with, or bipartisan with. This list goes on forever. You come to see if you get fired from this job, you may never work again. That’s over exaggerating it a bit, but it’s a good way to stay on the toes.
The two finger point and flat palm hand is learned in how to direct a guest around the park. It’s amazing how every little detail is so examined by Disney that down to the pointing is considered. The two finger point or flat palm is used because it is the most inoffensive way to point in every language and culture. Amazingly, once learned, this way of pointing seems to stick with you forever and is often made fun of outside of the gates of Disney. But at least we know we are never going to offend, right?
There is of course review of benefits, groups to join within the company, and so on, but it’s all done in fun so as not to make every new Cast Member run out the door screaming. Not that anyone would, but it is a lot of responsibility to take on becoming a Cast Member. People pay thousands of dollars to get to Walt Disney World and expect the highest service there is and they will receive just that.
Once everything is reviewed and you’ve got a pretty good idea of where Disney began and has become today, the magic really starts for you. You walk slowly over to a simple fold up table against the room but there is something placed on this table that is about to change the way you look at the things. There it is, your Cast Member Name Badge. Your name is etched perfectly within the plastic but for some reason, something never meant more. You’re so proud of it you have to take pictures and send it to family and friends. The Name Badge is something you hold onto dearly as it truly makes you feel like a Cast Member.
The next segment of “Traditions” is a day at your park. Each park has a different orientation and will begin with a briefing on the history of the park. It is completed with a tour of the backstage area including costuming, break areas and food marts (which usually include a Subway, yes I said Subway), and other need to know areas. Backstage is fascinating as there is so much going on to keep each area running perfectly. Cast Members are always hustling in and out trying to get to their assigned roles. It’s a feeling inside of finally making it getting to this part. You’re finally seeing how Disney ticks.
A tour of the onstage area is also done. You are pointed out the main important areas like First Aid and where Guest Services are located. Then the best part happens. When I was taking my day at Epcot, we were placed in circle by the Fountain of Nations. We were then all requested to raise our hand for an oath and turn around to face the crowds. Over the park overhead audio, a drum roll came on with a booming voice. “Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, please join us in welcoming our newest Cast Members to Walt Disney World’s Epcot!” With that, the crowd cheered for us and we realized we were supposed to be waiving. It was awesome!
The next segment is the third and final day where you actually get to go into costume and “Earn Your Ears”. A fellow Cast Member will go through your role with you and have you read on the location and memorize any speaking roles you might need to do. You learn the safety precautions for any emergencies as well; nothing too different from any other job despite its all happening at Disney. From there, it’s all up to learning and getting to know the magic first hand.
There’s a lot going into becoming a Cast Member, even more than I’ve explained here in detail. But if I went into every little thing, this would go on forever. It’s a dream come true to become a Cast Member at Disney. There are moments involved with it that have its downs but the more magical moments you have with guests, the more it makes those times look more insignificant. Hot days in costume, long hours during extended times, and other things are well worth the sparkle you see in each person’s eyes as they enjoy what magic you are giving them every day. Becoming a Cast Member is something I would do all over again in a heartbeat and the traditions I have learned will forever be a part of my life.
The Disney Cast Member Promise:
1. I project a positive image and energy.
2. I am courteous and respectful to all Guests, including children
3. I stay in character and play the part.
4. I go above and beyond.