Just some thoughts from a former Disney Cast Member to the parents who have a son or daughter who is not excited about their role in the Disney College Program.
When I applied to work for Disney, my mind was full of exciting possibilities about which attraction I would work. I hoped for Tomorrowland but was prepared to settle for Fantasyland since I was not into kiddie rides. The interview went great, and I was sure I would not be receiving letter size envelope but the big manila one.
About a month later the big manila envelope finally arrived, and I was dripping with anticipation. I gently opened it up only to discover that I was assigned to work at the French Market Restaurant.
I was crushed.
That summer I worked as a busboy with a set weekly schedule that included no weekends off and all 1:00-9:30 and 2:00-10:30 closings. This meant my summer was ruined. But it wasn’t. Yes, when I arrived at work it was the middle of the lunch rush, with an hour break to get ready for and work through the dinner crowds, and only to be followed by the clean up and get ready for the next day – but I still found the MAGIC that is Disney.
As they say in the theatre, ‘There are no small roles, only small actors,’ so I decided to come to work every day ready to make every one of my guests’ meals the best experience they would have in the park. Even when it was busy, I greeted everyone with a smile and a friendly comment, asked if there was anything else they needed, answered all kinds of crazy questions, and took pictures of their groups.
I did this for two years before moving into the kitchen, where I would have no guest contact. But I was still determined to help make MAGIC happen, so on one of my breaks, instead of going downstairs and watching TV for 15 minutes, I would go out on the patio and talk to MY guests.
My point is, Disney MAGIC is in the Cast Member’s hand – and head – and not in the position you hold. Most of the positions are ‘non-glamorous,’ but that is not where the magic happens. It starts and is created within each Cast Member. I am in my mid-50s now and still look at those five years as some of the best in my life.
Tell your kids who are sad that everyone, from the parking lot attendants to the sweepers, from attractions to ticket booths, are all an important part of the show. Tell them to walk through the park on the way to their shift and greet people. Learn a couple of greetings in foreign languages – guests love that! If their guest’s happiness is their goal, they can find a way to make their time there special and important.
Disney MAGIC is everywhere…..they just have to look!