DL & WDW Disney Cast Members Speak Out: How To Be A Good Guest (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of a series. Click here to read Part 2.

Vacations to Disneyland (DL) and Walt Disney World (WDW) are meant to be special and they usually are. A lot of what makes those times special are the Cast Members (Disneyspeak for “employees”) who do everything and work everywhere – hotels, attractions, housekeeping (they call it Mousekeeping, LOL!), internal transportation, custodial services, guest services, entertainment, food & beverage, reservations, photographers, plus many, many more areas. That’s on top of all the Cast Members (CMs) who do stuff behind the scenes that you may not even know about.

Joe and I have been Disney fans for pretty much our whole lives (and that’s a LONG time, people!) and know a lot of CMs and former CMs who work or have worked at Disneyland and Walt Disney World (and sometimes one and then the other!). And just as we’ve sometimes heard Disney Guests (Disneyspeak for “customers”) say how they wished things could be different with this or that at DL or WDW, we’ve occasionally hear our CM friends and acquaintances mention ways they wished some situations could be better, as well. It got us to thinking, “We know what makes a good CM but what makes a good Guest? What can Guests do to make their visit to Disney, and the CMs’ job more positive experiences?” So we asked them:

If you could tell Guests anything you wanted that would make their vacation and your job better, all at the same time, what would you tell them?

Here’s what they had to say.

Note: Due to the nature of this post, our main goal was to keep our friends’ and acquaintances’ anonymity intact. We had them respond to us via personal conversations, private messages and emails so what they each said was not where the general public could see or hear them. We purposely are not including gender or which Disney park(s) these people work(ed) in, and we are intentionally keeping the areas/departments where they work(ed) very broad, and even changing the name of the department at times, so it’s more vague. Obviously, a few categories make it obvious about which coast they work(ed) on, i.e. save for a few attractions, there are no “Watercraft” at Disneyland, but even then, there are several different kinds of boats at WDW so our friend(s) who work(ed) on WDW watercraft will still be safely anonymous, as well. Also, these may or not be the CMs’ exact words; although the reasoning behind them are still 100% what the CM wanted to convey, some things may have been slightly edited (the CMs were aware we reserved the right to do this when transcribing for this article).

Here we go…

If you could tell Guests anything you wanted that would make their vacation and your job better, all at the same time, what would you tell them?

LIFEGUARDS

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  • There are a lot of rules that need to be followed when you’re at a pool or water park and those rules are there for your safety and the safety of everyone else around you. Everyone makes a mistake here and there but please don’t keep breaking the rules after a CM has informed you of what they are.
  • After enjoying the water park or pool, please take your used towels and either put them in the towel disposal or bring them back to your room (wherever they belong). Also, if you have used cups and leftover food after your fun in the water, there are always waste receptacles nearby so you can do your part to keep everything looking its best (Note from Sharon: That could be said about just about anywhere. Whether you’re leaving a pool or quick serve restaurant table area, or if you’ve finished your soda while in a store, or if you’re done watching a show, parade or fireworks, please take your trash with you and dispose of it).

ENTERTAINMENT (character interaction/meet & greet)

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  • There’s a times guide available so you can know which characters will make an appearance where, and at what time. If the guide or attendant says a character will be back at 1pm, strongly consider being there at 12:50pm to make sure you get to meet with them.
  • If a character attendant asks you to do something, it’s not because we’re trying to make your life miserable; its almost always to make your interaction easier or better.
  • When it’s your turn to meet with a character, please have your autograph books open to the page you want signed, make sure your pen works, and that your camera is ready.
  • If you collect autographs: For characters who have big, puffy hands (think Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, etc.), Sharpies or larger pens work best. If it’s a character wear regular gloves or no gloves at all, thin point Sharpies or regular sharpies are the best and make the prettiest signatures. Long handled wand-looking pens are not the best for character autographs.

FOOD & BEVERAGE

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  • If you order a Disney specialty drink, please realize it is a recipe, so it may not be quite how you like your drinks. If you want something truly special, ask the bartender to create something special for you.  If they are good, they will have no problem doing it!
  • We love making Disney Magic for Guests, but please don’t ask for free drinks.  There’s no Disney Magic to that and really not funny.
  • Bars will be busy.  Instant service isn’t always possible, so know what you want. Know what everyone in your party wants, too – it’s okay to order for all 5 people at once, really!  So please do not order one drink at a time; it takes a longer amount of time and makes others have to wait for you.
  • Please tip your servers and bartenders!  It may not be customary in other parts of the world, but it is here.  Wages for servers and bartenders are lower than minimum wage because the government considers tips to be part of the pay (Note from Sharon: Yes, it would be lovely if the government did something about that, but so far they haven’t. So until they do, please tip appropriately! And yes, Disney costs a lot and tipping mean paying even more. But please don’t punish bartenders and servers just because Disney is expensive or because people don’t tip servers and bartenders where you live! In this country, we have a tipping culture, and “When in Rome…” If you’re not sure about the who, what, why, where, when and how much of tipping, this post might help)
  • Disney has rules that must be followed.  Servers and bartenders can help enhance your experience, but just know that ultimately following the rules, keeping their jobs, and keeping their source of income will really outweigh going above and beyond if that means breaking all the rules.  They have lives to maintain, too!

WATERCRAFT

  • boat1We don’t have to only follow Disney’s rules; we are mandated to follow Coast Guard and Fire Marshall rules and regulations, as well.  So I promise I’m not trying to ruin your vacation when I ask you to do or not do something, I’m simply following the rules that I have to follow in order to keep you safe and to keep my job.
  • Some of the smaller boats can only take a certain number of wheelchairs/ECV’s at a time.  I would love to take more, but it’s the boat’s specifications and Fire Marshall’s rule.  Period.  Same with when the boat is full; we count how many people load onto the boat and I can only take up to a specific amount of people. If I’m up to that maximum number, I’m simply not allowed to squeeze in the people in your party, even if there’s only 1 or 2 of you. I  really wish I could!
  • The aisles must not be blocked by any item with wheels, in case of an emergency exit (Fire Marshall rules).  That’s why, for some watercraft, we provide special areas for strollers, wheelchairs, and scooters.  I am not being unreasonable in asking you to move your stroller or wheelchair into one of these designated spaces; I am asking you to follow the rules of the Fire Marshall.
  • When we’re about to leave the dock, I would love to wait for you if I could, but we run on a tight schedule and cannot hold the boat up once it is time to leave and I unrope the back (stern).  We are considered in motion once I untie the back.
  • If it is raining, we can still run the boats.  If there is lightning, we can’t run the boats (Note from Sharon: water conducts electrical current very well and if lightning hits water, people in boats have been known to be killed or injured by direct or indirect strikes ).  We are considered an outside attraction, and for the safety of all concerned, we go “101” (out of service) when there is lightning.
  • If we go out of service due to weather or any other reason, I do not know when we will go back in service; we’re just told by “those in the know” when we can start service again. I wish I could tell you when we’re going to be up and running again; but I simply do not know.
  • If you are extremely intoxicated, please do not take our boats.  If you vomit, we have to get everyone off, call environmental, dock the boat somewhere, and have it cleaned.  Then we have to try to get another boat out.  This takes a lot of time.  Meanwhile, we will have less boats in rotation and they won’t run any faster just because there are less boats in service, so the entire process slows down for all the guests waiting for boats.

PHOTOPASS

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  • Photopass photographers are CMs just like everyone else, and our job is to help you, even if that means not using our own camera! When you’re looking for that perfect spot to take a photo in front of your favorite building, wait in the Photopass person’s line and let them know that you only want the picture on your personal camera. They are happy to help with this!
  • When you stand in front of or next to the Photopass photographer, you’re (unintentionally) standing in the photos of the family they are currently assisting. This might cause them to have to wait for you to finish or even upset the family that had been waiting patiently for their opportunity because it feels to them like you’re cutting the line.
  • Alternatively, you can also stand further away from them – the entire street is a good spot, not just where they’re standing! We just want everyone to have a positive experience and jumping in front of other people’s photos makes that difficult.

Anybody else noticing a trend? “We don’t make the rules and we’re not purposely trying to ruin your vacation. If you use your head, act like a responsible adult, do what you’re supposed to (or as you’re asked to do), it will make your time at Disney safer and better for you and for everyone else around you, including the Cast Members.” Really, it’s not rocket science (and I used to know a rocket scientist, so I know it’s true. RIP, Roberta).

OK friends, that’s it for today! We have lots of other words of wisdom from current and former CMs, but in the interest of space, we’ll save those for another post.

This is Part 1 of a series. Click here to read Part 2.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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