Magic Kingdom Worker Gives Candid Interview About Crazy Guests And Working For Disney

magic kingdom During an IAmA (I am a…) discussion on Reddit, a turnstile and parade audience control worker for the Magic Kingdom at Disney World allowed people to ask uncensored questions about crazy guests and what it’s like to work at Disney. Read below to learn what happens when adults act like children, who the worst guests are and which cast members are the most difficult to work with.

Note: These questions were culled from the Reddit community, and the dialogue was taken verbatim. To view the original thread, click here.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen?

That’s really tough, if only because of the sheer volume of incredibly weird people I see. Just the other day there was a pair of fully-grown adults dressed up as Peter Pan and slutty Tinker Bell (it was a child’s costume) who thought it was appropriate and that us not letting them in dressed like that was “ruining the magic for them.” (Adults in costume is against policy anyways, much less when it’s something crazy like that.)

Also, a few weeks ago during the daily flag retreat, right before the band started playing, and all of the background music was off so it was deathly quiet, a lady with Tourette’s walked right through town square shouting obscenities, at first we thought we were gonna have to break up a fight (wouldn’t be the first time), but it was just incredibly awkward.Has anyone ever been so large that they don’t fit through the turnstiles?

Yes. We have gates on either side of the turnstile pairs for strollers and wheelchairs though, so they go through those. Anyone that large is probably going to be wheelchair bound anyways, however.

How much fun is working for Disney?

I really, really enjoy it. There’s some crap, but there’s gonna be that at any job. More often than not, my interactions with guests leave a huge smile on my face. It’s just an experience you can’t get at any other job.

How happy are you required to be?

They like us to smile all the time. Which really isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Do you personally like Disney? Are you a fan, or can you not watch anything Disney because it’s “work”? How many famous people have you seen come through the front gates?

I’m a huge Disney fan. More so since I started working. Famous people don’t usually come through the front gates. I saw a lot when I worked at Toy Story though, especially during ESPN the weekend.

What’s your happiest memory from working at the happiest place on earth?

Oh god, just too many to count. After the parade a couple weeks ago a little girl riding on her moms shoulders walking next to me asked if it was possible to go into the castle. I told her yes and she yelled, “I love you!” and gave me a hug. Things like that happen weekly. It’s awesome.

Does it get annoying hearing the same happy-go-lucky music all day?

Yes and No. It kinda varies. You will catch me singing to it ALL the time.

As someone who I assume can ride/do anything at the park on their day off, what is the best/your favorite attraction? What is the most overrated?

I’m a little biased, but I LOVE Toy Story. It helps that I know how to activate all the secrets. Overrated? Peter Pan’s flight. Not worth the ridiculous wait at all.

Can you please elaborate, what secrets in that ride?

Each game has a “secret” you can activate through doing certain things, look up a guide.

What is the ultimate job(s) within a Disney park? The one(s) that people aspire to get assigned. Do these better jobs just come with experience/ seniority, or is it “political”?

It all depends on your personality. I can transfer to almost any of the entry-level areas, any attraction, any merch, food, etc. Serving, you have to work your way up to the nicer restaurants. A very large amount of cast want to be in entertainment, especially face. Unfortunately, most people don’t fit any character. Other than that, things like moving up in management is almost completely internal, based mainly on your record and experience.

Is it true that Disney provides company underwear for the costumed characters?

Not for years. I’ve read the article, I think that was in 2001 they stopped.

Have you ever had to kick someone out of the park before? How big of a sh*t storm did he throw?

I personally have never had to kick someone out, it doesn’t happen as much at MK as it does at the other parks because there’s no alcohol here. We get people whose tickets are invalid/resold who we can’t let in all the time though, and those people are generally very, very problematic.

Craigslist tickets: am I going to get in with them?

No. Not if you bring them to me, at least. Biometrics work!

Are there certain types of cast members that you or your co-workers think are total jerks?

Total jerks? Nah. If you’re the kind of person who wants to work at Disney, you’re probably a nice person. Some of the older people who work mornings can be crabby, but that’s about it.

Do the cast appreciate how fruitless the half-hearted bag “searches” are at the gate? Is it really just for “optics”? Just checking the main pocket of backpacks really doesn’t stop anyone from bringing a prohibited item into the park.

You’d actually be surprised how much stuff gets caught. They catch a ton of alcohol and knives.

What would be your top tip for guests … something you think is great about Disney World that fewest guests discover?

Master Fastpasses. Go during offseasons. ALWAYS GO TO THE 11 O’CLOCK PARADE. It’s the same as the 9 o’clock one and infinitely less crowded.

I knew someone who worked crowd control for Fantasmic at Disneyland and she would routinely be cursed at, screamed at, physically threatened, and often spit on and pushed. What’s the worst similar story of abuse by a guest that you’ve witnessed or experienced?

I’ve been relatively lucky when it comes to dealing with people. You’ll always get upset people, but I’ve never specifically had a terrible problem. I’ve seen it happen though.

Can you find all the hidden mickeys?

Oh god no. I know where a lot of them are, but certainly not all.

How does the park get cleared out at night?

It’s a pretty thorough process – areas close down back to front, getting full sweeps and then blocking people from going further back in until everything is completely closed. Also, you have to know that there’s custodial and engineering there all night – it’s not like everyone just leaves after a certain time.

is it true that the park releases cats out into the ground to catch any rats?

That happened at Disneyland after it first opened.

Do you ever have to turn people away who are dressed like princesses? …I know my gf was slightly disappointed when we went to Disneyland (her first time) and knew about the no adults in costumes or garb rule.

A couple times. Earlier this week we had an adult Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, with the Tinker Bell being INCREDIBLY inappropriate. She was 40-something, heavyset, and it was clearly a child’s costume. Needless to say, it didn’t fit well. We get a lot of Jack Sparrows as well.

Was it these people: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2012/06/05/Tinkerbell-teen-told-to-change-at-Disney/UPI-85141338922748/?

(no reply)

When are you the busiest? Also, when giant groups come in (schools, tour groups, etc.) are they usually a problem? I came with my school band in April-ish, and I am surprised no one was arrested.

Yesterday [July 4]! Brazilian tour groups are the worst thing on the planet. That is all.

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve overheard a parent tell their child or better yet, a child tell their parent?

Well, you’ll get the parents you wanna just smack for ruining the magic “I wanna meet mickey!” “NO YOU DON’T HES JUST A GUY IN A SUIT!” kids face drops as his world crumbles around him
I’ve had parents tell their child that I hate them and that’s why I won’t let them stand in the middle of the sidewalk blocking foot traffic during a parade.
It’s hard to pinpoint outrageous from a child because, hey, we’re at Disney and most of the crazy nonsense you get from them just kinda fits. Also, in general, kids tend to be better behaved overall at Disney than other places they go. It’s just the atmosphere. You’ll get the average spoiled kid occasionally, but I’ve never seen one so crazy it blows my mind.

I am a cheapskate at heart, so I want to think that Disney is over priced, but every time I go to any Disney park, I am blown away by how professional and courteous almost every cast member is. This is in spite of hot or cold weather, nice or nasty guests, etc. I always leave thinking it was totally worth it. What kind of training do you get in customer service?

We spend an entire day doing a “Traditions” class that teaches us what’s expected. Working here, you really feel like part of a legacy, and you don’t wanna be the one who ruins it. So basically, it comes naturally.

Are the people who play the princess’/princes stuck up? I mean in my head when I see pictures of them I just can’t believe the are all nice and sweet like the portray.

Yes. A large number of them have a “better than thou” attitude. Some are very nice though.

Do the stuck up princesses stay around?

You’re only young and pretty for so long.

[image via ross_hawkes]

What Does Disney’s Space Mountain Look Like With The Lights On?

Disney's Space MountainEver wondered what Disney’s famous Space Mountain roller coaster looks like when the lights are on? If so, you’re in luck because the video below was posted to The Disney Blog a few days back and it gives us all a behind-the-curtain look at one of the most iconic rides in all of the Disney parks.

The first Space Mountain opened at Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, in 1975 and became an instant hit with visitors. The indoor coaster sends riders hurling through a series of sharp twists, turns and drops while remaining almost completely in the dark. That combination of speed and the tension of not knowing what would happen next has made it one of the top attractions in Disney parks ever since.

Rarely do guests in the park ever get to see what Space Mountain looks like when the lights are on, but in the video below riders on one of the park’s “Peoplemovers” passed by while the interior was completely illuminated. The result is a great look at the inner-workings of the ride, which still look impressive.


Disney vacations: Why we go


Walt Disney World
is the most visited resort in the world. Other Disney resorts and Disney cruises remain huge destinations worldwide. Yet, a Disney vacation is also maligned by many people.

Believe me, I’ve heard all the negatives: It’s overly programmed; it’s pedestrian; it’s gimmicky; it’s hot and miserable (or cold and miserable, as the case may be).

And as a journalist who covers Disney, I have to admit that many of my trips to “The World” feel a whole lot more like work than vacation, even with my family in tow.

After a marathon couple of weeks trying to cover all the holiday happenings at Disney Parks, I spent the first half of January in Disney burn-out. But I was reminded again last week why I – and many other moms – bring our kids on Disney vacations.

While watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, Tinker Bell took off from Cinderella Castle to make her nightly flight. My 7-year-old daughter, who has seen these same fireworks dozens of times, turned to me, eyes sparkling, and squealed, “Mom, Tinkerbell waved at ME!”

I cannot even express the joy I felt in that moment. I can only say it was worth a million not-so-great moments waiting in line, sweating, and dealing with kids’ meltdowns and obnoxious grown-ups on vacation.

It’s a sentiment Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger agreed with when I interviewed him last week on board the Disney Dream.

A father and grandfather himself, Iger has a built-in focus group at home, and it keeps him centered on Disney’s core values.

“Watching through my kids’ eyes reinforces the richest and most valuable quality of Disney – the impact we have on kids and families,” Iger said.

Sure, enjoying a Disney vacation requires a little leap, a little suspension of reality. And no, it doesn’t give you a sense of the place you’ve traveled or a look into the real people who live there.

But I still urge you to try it sometime. And when you do, go with a kid.

Because as far as I’m concerned, Tinker Bell really does fly out of Cinderella Castle every night. And she really did pick my daughter out of the crowd last week and wave specifically at her.

And it was magical.

Disney World debuts new castle projection show


Walt Disney World’s marketing push for 2011 is all about making memories, and the theme park behemoth put more than 500 of them on display on its most famous icon, Cinderella Castle, Tuesday night.

A new nighttime show, called “The Magic, The Memories and You” was previewed for media at the Magic Kingdom near Orlando, Florida.

The show features images captured daily by Disney’s PhotoPass photographers – those guys and gals who ask you to stop so they can take your picture – and projected on to Cinderella Castle in a show set to music. At least, that’s what I was expecting. What I saw was way more elaborate than that.

Through the use of animation from 16 different projectors, the castle’s turrets spin, vines wind up its walls, and flames engulf it, all while photos dance across the facade. It’s visually stunning, dramatic, and, well, a bit trippy. One guest at the media preview said the show reminded him of performances of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”“It’s a heck of a lot more than a slideshow on a castle,” said Alan Bruun, associate creative director for Walt Disney World Entertainment.

The 10-minute show features familiar Disney tunes threaded around a new song named, aptly, “Let the Memories Begin.”

Show producers started by digitally mapping the castle, to ensure a truly 3D projection on its facade. The castle projection show was then storyboarded as if it were a short film, Bruun said. Animators made the story boards come to life, creating slots for 500 photos from that day in the park.

The 500 photos are hand-selected and cropped, but a computer ultimately decides which photo goes into which slot in the show.

“It’s an amazing and complex process,” Bruun said. “But it involves just as much high-touch as it does high-tech, as individuals select those photograhs before the computer populates the castle with them.”

While there are some large projections, many of the photos are used in photo-mosaic images, and are on the small side. So, you may not be able to pick yours out as they move quickly by. And if you’re worried about photo privacy at Disney, you can opt out and keep your photo from being considered for the show.

“The Magic, The Memories and You” will be projected onto Cinderella Castle each night, twice a night when the park stays open late.

A similar projection show will debut at Disneyland in California on Jan. 27. It will be projected onto the facade of the It’s a Small World ride.

Chilean miners are going to Walt Disney World

Chilean miners are going to Disney World

“Esteban Rojas, you’ve just survived 69 days trapped 2,300 feet underground. What are you going to do next?”

“I’m going to Disney Worldl!

OK, so maybe that’s not quite the way it happened, but the 33 Chilean miners who survived underground after a mine collapse this year are being treated to a Walt Disney World vacation in 2011.

Disney has confirmed that the miners and their immediate families will be traveling to Orlando Jan. 27 through Feb. 2, 2011. In a nice added touch, rescue workers who helped save the men will get a vacation, too.

“The amazing story of these miners captured the attention of the world for demonstrating the true power and resilience of the human spirit,” said Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. “We are proud to welcome these courageous men and their families to the Walt Disney World Resort.”

A welcome dinner that includes Disney characters, dancing and Chilean cuisine prepared by Disney chefs will greet the Chilean families.

Over the course of their six-night vacation, the miners, rescuers and their families will visit all four Disney theme parks in Florida and serve as grand marshals of a parade at the Magic Kingdom.

Mickey Mouse is picking up the tab for the trip, and giving each family a $500 Disney gift card.

[Image credit: Flickr user Rescate Mineros]