- Walt Disney Worldemployees, also known as cast members, are trained in the art of creating a positive experience for guests.
- But some visitors to the famed Orlando park don’t make things easy for the people who work there.
- Business Insider spoke with eight former Disney World cast members to get an idea of the most annoying guest behaviours.
- From overly aggressive pin-hunting to blaming cast members for bad weather, these are the things sure to annoy or concern Disney World cast members.
Walt Disney World cast members interact with a ton of guests every year – as many as 20.4 million people visited the park in 2016.
But for employees, also known as cast members, not every interaction with a guest is going to be positive and seamless.
John Quagliano, a former cast member, told Business Insider that most guests were perfectly nice to cast members.
“But at the same time, a lot of people can be really testy,” he said.
Quagliano, who worked in the Magic Kingdom, added that he understood why some Disney visitors might be on edge at the park.
“People have just spent this much money to have this wonderful vacation and come to Florida, and then all of a sudden they get to the park and they realise ‘Whoa, my family and I maybe have to stand in line for 20 minutes,’ or ‘It’s raining, and now the ride’s closed down,'” Quagliano said. “A water’s $US3, so they get thirsty and they say, ‘I just spent four grand on a hotel – how is the water $US3?'”
But former cast members say there are some things visitors can avoid doing to avoid antagonizing them.
Business Insider recently spoke to eight people who participated in the Disney College Program at Disney World. Here are the annoying guest behaviours they said they wished would stop.
Getting mad while waiting in line
At Disney World, the lines can get long, and heat and boredom can cause tempers to flare.
But one former cast member who operated rides like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and The Mad Tea Party, told Business Insider that now that she had worked at the park, she’d “never get upset at a merge point, when a cast member lets all of the FastPass line go and not standby.”
“There’s a certain expectation in terms of how that is done – and knowing that, I am more than willing to be patient with the cast member at merge because I know they’re just doing their job,” she told Business Insider.
Ignoring cast members’ instructions — especially when it comes to safety precautions
“A lot of guests sort of ignored safety-related directions,” Devin Melendy, a former cast member who wrote “Devin Earns Her Ears: My Secret Walt Disney World Cast Member Diary,” told Business Insider.
Melendy, who worked in Frontierland, said she often helped with crowd control during park parades. She said she felt uncomfortable when she had to ask guests to move to a better location and often got attitude in response.
Quagliano agreed, saying he sometimes encountered guests who were reluctant to comply with requests like moving strollers to the side to avoid blocking foot traffic.
“We don’t tell people what to do just for the sake of doing it,” Melendy said. “Disney is very devoted to safety and making sure that guests are happy and in a safe zone. We don’t do it for fun – it’s so everyone can enjoy the park and the parades in a safe manner.”
Debating height requirements for rides
“You’ll have guests try to argue about the height requirement when they’re at the front of the line,” Christina Hartless, a former Disney cast member, told Business Insider. “You’ll have guests who try to stuff their kids’ shoes.”
Hartless worked at the Epcot attraction The Sum of All Thrills, which allowed guests to design a simulated roller-coaster experience.
The ride had two height requirements: You had to be 48 inches tall to ride and 54 inches tall to use the feature that would flip the attraction upside down.
As a result, Hartless said, she often encountered people who’d try to persuade cast members to look the other way when it came to height requirements.
“I once had a family tell me that they had come all the way from Brazil just so their 3-year-old could ride that ride,” she said, “which I kind of doubted.”
Fortunately, Disney World’s website allows you to check which rides have height requirements before you waste your time waiting in line and bugging cast members.
Demanding “magical moments”
Magical moments are a Disney Parks tradition.
The Disney Information Station defines a magical moment as “a spur-of-the-moment act of kindness between cast members and the guests.” It can be something like a cast member slipping a family a free FastPass or giving a child a free pin or Mickey Mouse sticker.
Jake Kleckner, a former Disney World cast member who worked in Frontierland, told Business Insider that “giving away free stuff” was one of his favourite things to do.
“I did it so much more than I was supposed to because I just thought it was so fun to surprise someone,” he said.
Though the moments are supposed to be spontaneous, cast members often use them to fix problems or cheer up guests – they might give a kid who dropped their ice-cream cone a certificate for a replacement.
But you shouldn’t ask for a magical moment. You’ll just be putting cast members in an awkward spot.
Missy Farni, a former cast member, said she encountered several guests who explicitly asked for free stuff and magical moments.
“I was like, no, that’s not how that works,” she told Business Insider. “It’s a magical moment because it happens when you’re not expecting it, not when you ask for it.
“Don’t ask cast members for magical moments, because it’s probably not going to happen.”
Kleckner described one magical moment that led to a situation he said left a bad taste in his mouth.
He had just given a kid who was at the park by himself a free FastPass to Splash Mountain to brighten his day, but then a man who had witnessed the magical moment walked up and demanded the passes for his whole family.
“It was just like, I can’t believe you’re taking advantage of the kindness that we have set aside for people who might actually be experiencing a bad time,” he said. “I knew at the back of my mind that if I said no, I’d get in trouble. All he had to do was go tell someone that he asked me for something and I didn’t give it to him, and I most likely would have gotten in trouble.”
He said guests shouldn’t ask for free things and magical moments because it goes against the spirit of the tradition and is unfair to cast members and other guests.
Getting too obsessive about trading pins
Chantelle Judd, a former cast member who worked in Frontierland, told Business Insider that she was sometimes concerned with how older guests went about trading pins with children and cast members.
“Often, they would pick out the best ones for themselves and leave the kids with the ones that weren’t so favourable,” she told Business Insider. “Don’t get me wrong, I understand how pin trading works – it was just sad at times to see younger kids miss out on some great pins as a result of older people wanting these.”
Judd said she would purchase pins herself to give to younger guests.
“Often, kids would work so hard for pins,” she said, “and they really deserved these.”
Kleckner said he sometimes encountered pin hunters who’d interrupt him in the middle of a rush or even grab his shoulder to get his attention.
“They’d be like, ‘Can I please see your pins?'” he said. “I’d be like, ‘Of course you can.’ But what I wanted to say was: ‘Don’t touch me. Your fascination with the pieces of metal around my neck is not more important than my personal space.’ I never got to say that.”
Kleckner said he understood that pins are fun to collect and said he had kept his collection. But he said some guests’ “obsessive” behaviour about the pins was enough to make him uncomfortable.
“We got in trouble if we didn’t wear our pin lanyards,” he said. “But truly and honestly sometimes I just left mine in my car.”
Blaming cast members for things they can’t control
Sometimes nobody’s to blame when things go wrong.
Florida weather can be unpredictable. Many cast members at the park have nothing to do with operating rides, which need to shut down from time to time, and most have no say over the prices in the park.
So scapegoating cast members isn’t the way to react to misfortune at Disney World.
“If a ride goes down, don’t blame the cast members,” Meghan O’Neill, a former Disney cast member who worked in Future World in Epcot, told Business Insider. “It isn’t their fault. Just be nice. We appreciate it.”
Kleckner said: “People would come to us with the strangest requests and complaints – like for some reason it was our job as the merchandise cast members near Splash Mountain to make up for someone having a bad experience on the ride itself when that wasn’t even our department.”
Judd said that while Disney trips can be pricey, it’s not possible for cast members to arbitrarily hand out discounts, so don’t ask.
“There are definite ways to cut costs,” she said. “You are able to bring in your own food and drinks – no alcohol – so anything food-related could be sourced from home.”
Quagliano told Business Insider he had interacted with guests who would start “screaming at you over something nobody has control over, like the rain.”
“‘Why is it raining? I paid so much to come here!’ And you’re standing there with a smile on your face like, all right, I’ll control the weather next time, sorry about that,” he said.
Forgetting that you’re speaking to another human who’s probably going to do their best to try to fix your problem
“Remember that the cast member that you’re talking to is human,” Farni said.
Farni asked that guests not assume the worst about cast members before they even have a chance to resolve the situation.
“Disney cast members are there for the guest first and foremost,” she said. “They’re going to try to help you out in any way that they can. Know that they’re coming from a good place.”
Kleckner said that some people who treat others working in customer service and retail jobs as beneath them have a mindset “that you’re just a little bit lower than them because you’re serving them” – and that Disney guests were no exception.
“I think that people when they go to Disney just have this inflated sense of self,” he said. “Yeah, you’re here. You paid a lot of money to be here. But if you could please tone it down a little bit, that would be great, because you’re really bringing me down right now.
“Just be kind,” Kleckner added. “Please be kind. If you are having a bad day, just be nice. It takes zero energy to be nice, and it takes so much energy to be negative and take your frustrations out on the poor cast member who’s just trying to do their job.”
Are you a current or former Disney cast member with a story to share? Email [email protected]
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