Most of us have heard the old adage that Disney theme parks are the happiest places on Earth. Of course, it sounds positively magical when you say it like that, the phrase practically rolls off the tongue, and we kinda wish we’d come up with it.
However, things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows at Disneyland, Disney World, and all the other theme parks, large and small. In reality, there’s a lot more depth, effort, weirdness, and goofiness (pun very much intended) that goes into the experience than you’d think. At least according to the people who have actually worked or visited there.
Our team here at Bored Panda has collected some of the most interesting stories about Disney’s theme parks, as shared by former employees and customers, from all over Reddit and its dusty, cobwebbed archives. (We think we even met Indiana Jones along the way, but it could’ve been our imaginations.)
You’ll find the good, the bad, and the downright bizarre below, Pandas! Scroll down for some of the things that Disney ‘cast members’ (aka employees, but ‘cast members’ just sounds way cooler) love and hate about their jobs and the customers the most.
Bored Panda wanted to learn more about what lies at the core of job satisfaction, when we should think about switching careers, and what managers can do to be aware of any issues on their colleagues' minds, so we reached out to Kierra, a cloud engineer and Data Analytics consultant. Kierra helps people pivot into tech, especially data-related roles, and you can find her newsletter right here. Scroll down for our full interview with her.
#1People sexually harass the characters super frequently. I was working with Ariel and cast members will always count down before they take a photo so people have time to get into position. I counted down and this teen boy decided to try to rip off one of Ariel's shells. I had to open his camera and expose his film so the photo didn't get developed and passed around. I found out later that I was supposed to take it to the Kodak shop to have the film developed and that one removed - but I'd always heard the rumors about ruining the film and nobody really trains you on that so I just went with it.
Image credits: leopoldisacat
Kierra told Bored Panda that employees should consider looking for a fresh new job or a change in their careers "when they’re bored, feel like they’re undervalued, or feeling like work is causing their mental/physical health to suffer." According to the expert, it's difficult to be certain if it's ever the right thing to do, but it's vital that workers stand up for themselves.
"I think it’s rare to feel certain [about career change], especially when your financial stability is on the line but it’s important that you always advocate for yourself, even when it might not feel 'great,'" she said.
Something that managers can do to become more aware of any potential needs or concerns in the team is to consistently check in with their employees. Open and consistent communication is a powerful tool in their arsenal. "Asking at least biweekly will allow them to learn how each individual on their team works and what is important to them in their career. This can help the manager to adjust what goals and tasks the people they manage should work on… to get the best out of their role and to maximize their career."
#2overnight cast memeber here. Please PLEASE leave your cremated loved ones at home. stop dumping them in Haunted Mansion. They just get vacuumed up and disposed of.
Image credits: overnight_cm_girl
According to Kierra, job satisfaction can be a very individual thing. However, there are some common tendencies. "Most would probably say money since it’s needed for survival, but there are many people who are out there doing what they love even though it might not pay well. In reality, I think people want to work a job where they feel appreciated and heard in all aspects (from career goals, innovative ideas, compensation, etc)," she told Bored Panda.
Meanwhile, she noted that managers and the company itself play important roles in helping maintain long term job interest. "Perhaps one should try to find roles where there’s lots of opportunity for growth and internal transfer in the event you would like to try something else," she suggested what employees can do on their part.
#3The woman came up to me and told me that she didn’t like the wet stuff coming from the sky and that I should tell my boss to turn it off. At first, I laughed because I thought she was kidding, which only pissed her off more.
“Don’t they know that this stuff ruins people’s vacations?” She said.
“We have no way of controlling the rain, ma’am. This is Florida and we get quick storms like this in the summer, but it might go away after a while,” I said.
“What about the bubble?” She said.
I was thoroughly confused by what she meant by bubble so I had to ask that she was saying “bubble.”
Apparently she thought that all of Disney was under a big bubble and we controlled the weather, like Risa on Star Trek.
I confirmed that there was no bubble, that this was the real deal.
She walked away insisting that something should be done about it.
Image credits: unicornCornUnique
Disney’s ‘cast members’ do a very wide variety of tasks, from serving food and greeting the guests to giving people tours and aiding anyone in need of a friendly face or a helping hand. Though MVOrganizing states that 87 percent of employees are proud to work for The Walt Disney Company, reality is reality and no job is perfect.
Working for Disney has its own upsides, downsides, and frustrations, like any other vocation. For many employees, working at theme parks means working with customers. And it’s like any other customer service job, albeit with a light coating of fairy dust and probably more smiles and laughter than average. What this means is simple: the customers you have to deal with can make or break your day. While most customers are bound to be decent, polite, and empathetic, you’ll probably still deal with some rude ones from time to time.
#4So my friend went to the parks dressed as Anna, and this was Anna’s reaction upon spotting her in the crowd
Image credits: DEADLYDISNEY
#5We were in the queue for Tiki Room and the woman in front took off her shorts, stood in her not very full underwear then put a fresh pair of shorts on,.. in front of 10 people.
Image credits: Nataliyana
#6“The opening of our parks depend on guest behavior.”
Image credits: misslyss96
Alexander Kjerulf from Positive Sharing previously told Bored Panda that employees should “keep their cool” if they ever meet a rude customer.
“Remember that whatever abuse they’re giving you is no reflection on you as a person. That customer doesn’t even know you, so there’s no way it could be. But on the other hand, don’t be subservient. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and tell customers that abuse is not tolerated. And if it persists, hand them over to a manager as soon as you can and let them deal with it.”
#7I was Pocahontas, & I met a little girl named Emily. she was about 7 & with her dad. She came up & said, "Hi Pocahontas, I made you this card." I opened it & it said
"Dear Pocahontas, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily."
I thanked her, & she left. Two days later, I was Silvermist, & guess who comes into Pixie Hollow? Emily. & she gave me a card:
"Dear Tinkerbell & her friends, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily"
Her dad didn't recognize me, but I was excited to have two cards from the same girl. a few days later, I was Mulan, & GUESS WHO COMES UP TO ME?
So I said, before she started talking, "I know you , you're Emily! I heard you're really good at drawing flowers, all of my friends told me."
This girl's face lit up like the Fourth of July & she pulled a card out.
"Dear Mulan, Shang, & Mushu, I drew some flowers for you. I hope you have a lovely day. Love, Emily."
I have three cards for all three of my face characters from the same girl.
Image credits: too-tsunami
#8This couple were trying to ride Space Mountain, and had a black duffelbag. He heard something come from the bag, so he asked them to open it. They refused. Security comes, forces them to open it. It was their 6 month old baby.
Image credits: broken_long_thumbkey
#9Woman inappropriately touches Gaston
Image credits: evansnead
According to Alexander, not everyone who’s rude to you is a bad person. “You have to remember that in many cases a customer who behaves badly is not necessarily a bad person—it can be a good person having a bad day and that’s why they’re acting out. But the sad truth is that some customers act this way because they’ve learned that it works and will get them discounts or preferential treatment,” he said.
#10I was in line at Disney Land California with a group of Japanese teenage tourists were ahead of me in line. I speak Japanese, so I could understand that they were making fun of Americans. They were mostly saying things to the effect of "On TV they seem so cool, but all of these Americans are so fat and ugly." They were laughing and even occasionally pointing at people. I was just staying quiet but then one of the cast members who evidently also spoke Japanese walked up to them and told them in perfect Japanese "You guys should really be careful, most Americans can speak Japanese." They all froze up and looked around at people, many of whom were giving them dirty looks. I nodded at them like I was backing him up, and they were horrified.
#11We went to an amusement park, and a guy came in to get a disability pass for his girlfriend to ride the roller coasters… the disability was pregnant. The employee was like; um we can’t give a pass for that because roller coasters aren’t recommended for pregnant women- the guest tried to reassure him that it was fine she was only “ a little bit pregnant”
Image credits: Julie Kasik
#12People not ready to scan their fast passes. You know you need your ticket or phone, have it out and ready to go.
I actually had a guy get mad at my friend and I because we got ahead of him in line at Small World because we were more efficient scanning our passes. It’s not my fault that there are two scanners and we did it faster.
Image credits: crysta6149
‘Inside the Magic’ applauds the ‘cast members’ for all the extra effort that they put into their jobs, pointing out that they’re what make the entire experience more magical for the customers.
“Cast Members treat guests in a way that makes us feel so appreciated, special, and welcome—as though Disneyland (and every other Disney park in the world) truly is our land, like Walt himself put it,” ItM writes. “Cast Members can go above and beyond to help guests have the best day ever when we’re at the parks. And while many Disney guests have grown to expect the Disney level of service on every vacation, Cast Members can always surprise us. Even the simplest, smallest gestures go a long way.”
#13One woman came up and asked where the bathrooms were, so I told her. She then decided that the line was too long so she tried to just pull down her pants and pee in the lobby. Security came VERY quickly!
Image credits: contaminatedesert
#14When doing meet and greet with Ariel, the people right in front of us were 4 college age guys. One of them asked for a hug then went in and squeezed both of her "clamshells".
Image credits: geekandwife
#15I won’t say what I do but I will say that the best way to raise my mood and or compliment me is to actually laugh at my jokes when I tell them so we’re not sitting in silence for seven and a half minutes.
Image credits: liluzienthusiast
In recent news, Shanghai Disneyland had temporarily shut its gates when a visitor to the theme park tested positive for Covid-19. The BBC reports that all visitors and staff members were being tested for coronavirus. “Health workers in protective suits examined them as fireworks went off around the park's landmark castle.”
#16My whole day gets improved when someone says thank you and uses my name and actually acknowledges that I am a human being
#17Thank yous in any form will always be appreciated, especially right now. It’s not stupid, we can’t really accept money and many people throw away edible gifts (not me tho lol) so a thank you card is perfectly acceptable.
Image credits: WifeAndPsycho
#18Fake service dogs. Don’t bring your dog to the parks and slap a fake vest on it knowing that the cast members won’t stop you. We went recently and I saw quite a few misbehaving dogs that their Karen owners were ready to fight about. One in particular had a tattered vest covered in patches. None of the patches had any mention of the animal being a service dog.
Image credits: Paul Hernandez
#19We had a lady try to smuggle an infant onto Indy at DL one time. She put a huge jacket on (in the summer) and stuffed her child down near the bottom in an attempt to look pregnant.
Several cast members warned her that it is not recommended that pregnant women go on the ride, but she insisted, and we couldn't stop her. So she manages to get on the Jeep, and puts the seat belt on, and that was when her stomach started screaming and crying.
Image credits: atheistpiece
#20Not me, but I witnessed this happen to a fellow CM. She was ringing up a guest for an item and he looked a little upset. She did the Disney thing and asked, "how's everything been going sir? Happiest place still the happiest?" He responded with "no, something happened today." "What's wrong? What happened?" She asked. "I wanted to get my Mickey ears embroidered, but they wouldn't do it," he replied. She inquiries, "what did you want embroidered on it?" "I wanted it to say, 'God Hates Gays,' but those pricks said it was against policy." he said bitterly.
She wasn't so nice to him after that.
#21I worked at a restaurant in Downtown Disney in California as a host. James Spader came in once, tried to get a table with his dog. Who was obviously not a service dog (and even if it was an emotional support dog, they don’t have to be legally allowed inside a restaurant.) I told him I would be happy to seat him if he left his dog at the Kennel, right across the esplanade, but I could not seat his dog inside - what if a health inspector came in? He yelled at me so much, his face turned red. He told my manager to fire me. Luckily, the restaurant had a patio, and the manager sat Spader at a table on the patio closest to the exit so we wouldn’t get in trouble. My manager actually stood up for me, told Spader I was right. Spader still tried to get me fired. This was 10 years ago, I still hate James Spader with a red hot passion. Such an entitled ass. And since he always plays a**holes, I know he’s not even a good actor. However, Christian Slater was very polite when he came in.
#22Had a couple people on New Year’s Eve go in a certain dark and secluded location to go and have sex. In Epcot. In Disney World.
#23I think it was space mountain, this little girl In front of me was complaining she had to go to the bathroom. They were front of the line so her parents didn't want to leave the line. They argue an eventually the girl squats down and s**ts on the ground. She then pick up her turd and holds it up to her moms face. If that isn't enough her mom then proceeded to puke all over the ground. The little girl looked like we was about 8...
#24there was this man that had scissors on him. Not sure how he got passed security with that. He approached a little girl from behind with the scissors drawn and cut the string of her balloon.
#25I worked at one the Restaurants in MK. I had a family abandon their adult son, who was in a wheelchair with a slew of health complications, in the middle of our walkway while they went on rides. He was there for about 2-3 hours.
Image credits: Eticket15
#26I was standing out there telling everyone that we are out of Fastpasses when this really large/overweight 8 year old Asian kid rides up to me on a rascal scooter. He demands passes and when I tell him we are out, he demands to ride the ride. I tell him he can wait in line (120 min wait) and he gets really upset and guns his scooter into my leg then rides away.
#27some parents that were eating in electric umbrella somehow lost track of their infant child (crawling and not old enough to talk yet) and i found him in mouse gear. how they managed that, i have no idea.
Image credits: vitalvessalsvindicat
#28I once got yelled at for not speaking Spanish because apparently "Veronica" is a Spanish name... I am the palest ginger I know...
#29Got asked about putting the dome up when it was raining
Image credits: Bkbee
#30I once had a woman come up and ask for a ticket into Disneyland, she then placed a box on the counter while looking for her wallet. Idk how she managed to get that box past security. I see a picture on it and then I see dates I realize that they are the ashes of assuming her little girl. I had to keep her at my window while I waited for security. It broke my heart but a lot of people like to dump ashes on rides and it literally just gets vacuumed up at the end of the night.
#31When you show up out of nowhere asking for free tickets:
Image credits: backstagehumor
#32A guest came in to get disability pass told me their daughter had chicken pox.
It was a major health issue. I've never had them before - and it became a huge health issue for me. thankfully, I didn't get them.
I won't go into the legal aspects of it.
Image credits: Knightro2011
#33Someone I used to work with would keep a tiny notepad in her pocket and make a "shopping list" of cool shirts and hats and bags and stuff she saw guests wearing lol
A lot of cast members, especially from the college program, are there because they're big fans.
#34My friends and I were there in June, and waiting to meet Gaston. There was a little girl ahead of us, dressed as Belle, and plainly terrified. Like, she did NOT want to meet Gaston. Her mother, meanwhile, was yelling at her for running around in her dress, and for getting it "dirty" and was just being awful. Gaston comes out, and it's the little girl's turn, and she's FREAKING out. Crying, trying to go anywhere else, all to no avail. Her mother is being an ass and yelling at her to meet Gaston and behave, with a nasty look on her face, and then smiling, all charm, to an increasingly worried Gaston. Everyone in the line was muttering at this point, wondering if interfering was the right thing to do to help this crying child. Gaston, however, handled it wonderfully. He flipped through the book the little girl was holding and was incredibly nice, and told her she had nothing to be afraid of. He calmed her down, and the person with Gaston was talking to the mother. It was an awful experience because the parks are supposed to be magical for the kids, and this mother was AWFUL. Berating the girl for being a little girl and running around, and not understanding why she didn't want to meet characters.
Image credits: ravenclawrebel
#35A lady pushing a stroller while getting irritated that the guy in front of her was walking too slow...so she rams him with the stroller and then plays it off as an accident.
Image credits: GATORinaZ28
#36I was at Food and Wine in early September, and it was HOT and HUMID. A child was SCREAMING in his stroller because he was on the brink of passing out from the heat, and his parents were ignoring him while they got beer from a booth. After they got their beer, the mom casually gave him a sip of water from a water bottle. It broke my heart.
Image credits: aka_chela
#37I was working MK GR and some teenage B list (maybe I should say C) kids show star couldn't get in the gate because her annual pass was deactivated due to the parent not paying the monthly installment bill. She was there with friends and not anybody authorized on the account, nor did she have the amount of money owed. She threw a tantrum that could put toddlers to shame and name dropping celebrities left and right as if that would help. In the end, security was called because she started cussing out the cast members and threw her cell phone at the booth.
#38I have luckily not witnessed too much. Just your average entitled parents complaining about one thing or another that is way out of the control of the CM that was on the receiving end of the tantrum.
The one that gets to me the most is the whole "Do you have any idea how much money I'm spending here?" attitude. Seriously dude. 50,000 people here at any given moment. But YOU are the most special because you are "spending so much money"
Image credits: digitalpretzel
#39Not watching your kids or keeping them calm. Too many times have I watched parents turn the other cheek while their children climb and hang from line separators. This was at Disneyland, but when I was on Soarin' a few months ago some kid was screaming, climbing on things, you name it. I get being excited to be at Disney, but it was a bit much.
Image credits: VmKid
#40People would try Beverley (Italys "Soda") and instead of puking in the trash, they would puke on the soda machine and we would have to shut it down and clean it
#41On Christmas Day last year during the fireworks a woman was repeatedly ramming her stroller in a cast members legs because she couldn't get though the crowd.
#42I was working at a cash register in Pop Century and I watched a woman in an electric scooter pin a small child between her and the register. Somehow she didn't notice his loud screams and tried to continue about her business until she had to be told to move because she was crushing a child.
#43It's probably mild compared to what some of you have experienced, but I was in line for Winnie the Pooh (of ALL rides!!) with two early 20 ish looking guys talking loudly about the face character princesses they'd encountered throughout the day and which ones were most "f**kable".
#44We saw two grown men fight over the last seat of a tram. One was with his family and the other was alone. It was midnight, everyone was tired, and there were a lot of people. But trams come every five minutes so no biggie.
But the man who was alone was not going to wait five minutes and ripped the father out of his seat so he can get go.
Cue what my dear and I called the Tram Fight.
The father tried to fight the man to get back with his family. But the other guy was not having it. A cast member and security guard had to push the man off the father. They helped the father back on with his family and told the man to walk back to the parking lot.
#45I was on my rare parade duty, which is quite stressful. The logistics of Animal Kingdom's parade are pretty s**tty, once the parade gets going, you're pretty much stuck where you are. One guy decides he really needs to get to the other side of the street and is about to run out in front of a VERY heavy float that wouldn't be able to stop, got to him just in time, kinda half/tackled him until I could explain how he almost died.
#46I was at the end of the queue admitting guests to the show building when I see this 6 or 7 year old kid crying saying he doesn't want to go in. It's dark. It's loud. It's not safe. Oh great I think to myself, gonna have to let them in the side door so the kid doesn't have to go through the ride. NOPE But wait... usually the dads just drag them in anyways against their will. This one does it with some serious flair though.
Dad, as he holds the kid's hand, walks in the building saying "OH YES, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE. IT'S QUITE LIKELY. IT'S A TORNAAAAAAAADO OF DOOOOOOOM". Etc. Etc. Etc. 10 minutes later I see them walking out and the kid is hyped up. He has just had a great time. He wants to do that again.
#47When I worked on Space Mountain circa 2003, Tom Cruise came on Space Mountain with his then-girlfriend Penelope Cruz and her family.
His group gets on the ride, they go have fun, and they come back to the station. As is standard procedure, we asked if they wanted to stay in the car and ride again. This is so they dont have to get out, just to immediately reboard. (star privilege!)
We dispatch the car, and as it starts to move forward, Penolope`s non-English speaking family starts flipping out. Apparently they didnt want to go again. So they stand up. This causes us to press the button to stop the cars (in the station only).
Alarms start going off (as the ride is about to break down if we dont start moving them).
The alarms start flipping out the escorts. Everyone but the people who work the ride are flipping out. Beeping, yelling, good times.
Anyway, we release the "station stop". I have to manually tug the car to the next spot in the station, via the passanger handle bar in the front. This is when my hand came in contact with Tom Cruise`s.
I never washed it again.