Cast Members are PEOPLE, not Characters!

The Walt Disney Company’s Cast Members are some of the hardest working, most dedicated people that I’ve ever seen and known.  They have a true passion for the Disney brand and bend over backwards to make your experience magical and memorable, and because of this, they deserve our patience and respect.

Did you know that it’s not uncommon for Cast Members to help hundreds, if not thousands of guests per day based on what location and job they have?  You would expect someone who handles that kind of work load, should be at the least treated with dignity, however I’m startled by the seemingly growing times I’ve seen guests treating CM’s like crap or practically walking on them.  Your basic Cast Member doesn’t make a ton of money, and often during the premium times of the year will work 12-16 hours a day, and usually with a ton and a half of people around them at any given time.  Do you know why most of bust their butt like this?  Because they love Disney just as much as the biggest Disney fanatic, and they want to be the ones to give you that “Disney Magic” that Disney is known for and they want to make guests happy, and this is why Disney is different than your other basic theme parks!

Back when Walt was creating Disneyland, he new that the Cast Members were going to be THE key that made Disneyland (and now Disney World, Cruise Line, etc) work.  In fact Walt once said “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”  Take that away, and you’re not going to get the experience that you have come to expect and pay for.  Disney is more than rides, or movies or characters, or really amazing dining experiences!

Think about every cast member you see from the minute you drive onto property.  You have the ones who are in the parking lot booths and standing on the blacktop of parking lots in that sweltering summer heat, or in the middle of a monsoon style rainstorm, the people at the turnstiles holding back guests until rope drop.  Once your inside, you  have the attraction operators, ones who work food service (and I’m talking everything from the roasted nut cart in the Magic Kingdom Hub, all the way up to the ones at Le Cellier!), and then the staff that cleans up after you at the table, especially the ones who clear a counterservice table because a guest is rude enough to “think that is their job to clean up after you”.  You also can’t leave out the CM’s that are in the retail locations that get slammed during opening and closing, and when the weather drives people to get inside the first thing they can find or the ones who clean the restrooms!  Put yourself in their shoes!  How would you feel if you were the CM that had to clean up after someone who couldn’t walk a tray over to the trashcan they pass on their way to Adventureland, or the one in Animal Kingdom who has to clean up the baby care station that someone left all gross? And I haven’t even covered the CM’s in the resorts, the call centers when you make a dining or resort reservation, or the numerous travel agents that are trained by Disney to make your trip magical!

Now, how many times do you hear any of these cast members, in any weather, any kind of crowd situation, or anytime of day or nite reply with something other than the high level of Disney service and a smile that you have come to expect?  Yes, there will always be that Cast Member who takes their role as a “job” and puts in hardly enough effort to keep a supervisor off their back, but the vast majority are ones who do this job because they LOVE it and they LOVE Disney!  As a guest you love and appreciate it when a Cast Member goes the extra mile for you when they don’t have to.  That works both ways believe it or not.  Take the extra minute to talk to a CM beyond what you want/need, let them know you genuinely appreciate what they are doing and treat them like they treat you!  They will appreciate it more than you will know.

On more than one occasion I’ve gone up to a CM after witnessing a guest just unloading on them and letting them know how much I appreciate the fact that they are there, and the job that they do, and I can’t count how many times I will simply spend a few minutes and stop and talk to a CM and ask how their day is going or why they are doing what they do.  You don’t have to tip CM’s to make them feel appreciated.  A simple smile, and a few extra seconds of your time to say “thank you” or “you have made my day more magical”, or take the extra minute to make sure all your lunch remains make it in the garbage, or simply a bit extra patience when you are in an extremely long line for a coke in July when EVERYONE is baking, can go a long way in letting the cast members know you care. 

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4 Responses to Cast Members are PEOPLE, not Characters!

  1. Bill says:

    Very well said

  2. Zach says:

    As a cast member, I heartily agree with this! I’ll have those guests who want to be cross, angry, or just plain rude – but then someone always comes along and makes it all better. That little princess who smiles so sweetly, the retired veteran who is smiling and genuinely happy, that person who stops and says thank you, meaning it sincerely. Those interactions make my day, allowing me to be pleasant with the ones I’d rather not be pleasant with. So, like you said, it doesn’t require a tip of any kind. Simple good intent really shows your appreciation for a cast member. Thanks for writing this!

  3. Jamie says:

    Excellent article. My daughter was a former college program CM at America. She loved her time there and hopes to go back one day. Some of her greatest memories revolve around the guests but unfortunately, some of the worst involve guests also. It only takes a minute to let these folks know how much you appreciate them and you totally make their day when you do so.

  4. Natalie says:

    This is so true!! I’ve wanted to be a cast member every since my first trip to WDW when I was 3. I’ve been to several other amusement parks where some of the staff is just there to do the job. You can see the difference with a CM… they LOVE what they do, they love seeing peoples dreams come true! I am still in high school and I know that I want to work in the parks, and possibly find a career there too. I can’t wait until I’m in college in order to do the college program. The cast members truly play one of the most important parts in the DIsney Parks company, wether behind the scenes or out in the open! :)

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