Not long ago, we posted a blog article about “How To Be A Good Guest.” This is 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…
DISNEY RESERVATIONS CENTER (the place you call when you call to make your Disney vacation reservation)
- I can’t stress this enough—Disney is NOT a vacation that you just do on a whim!! People plan years in advance, and those who plan ahead typically end up getting what they want. So be prepared before you call, and have a Plan B ready, and if you’re interested in a very busy time of year, maybe even a Plan C, just in case.
- Most of the time the inventory for the following year will drop (“become available”) in June/July of the previous year—so 2019 dropped in June 2018 and it’s advised to go ahead and book something as soon as possible, especially if you have a larger than normal party size or you’re dead set on staying at one location in a specific category (such as Grand Floridian theme park view – only a handful of rooms are in that category).
- Special offers usually don’t become available until about 4-6 months out but you can always swap your package (as long as your particular resort/room category is part of the offer) up to 45 days prior to your arrival without penalty.
- If you ask us questions that don’t have to do with Reservations or general information such as park hours, please keep in mind that we’re a large company, we use a LOT of systems to do what we do and not every CM has access to every system. So, we when say we need to transfer you to another team (i.e. so you can find out how much it costs to get your shoulder-length hair colored at the Grand Floridian), it’s because we don’t have access to the system(s) that we need to help. So patience and understanding can be key.
INTERACTION WITH FACE CHARACTERS (characters who you can speak with)
- Please don’t try to ‘stump the princess’ with some barely known bit of trivia. But if there’s a legitimate question (Cinderella, do you have a favorite mouse friend? Belle, is Beast a good dancer?) then PLEASE feel free to ask! We always want to talk about more than what pretty shoes you’re wearing.
- Dads and Grandpas, don’t be creepy. Especially with Ariel/Jasmine (they usually have the least amount of clothes on), who are supposed to be 16 year old girls! EWW! And Moms/Grandmas–DON’T ENCOURAGE IT! GROSS!
- DO ask for a photograph and how to stand appropriately–I had a grandpa BOW to me once and it was the most adorable thing. I then had him waltz with me and it was delightful.
- Trust the performer and Disney photographer to be working together to get “the money shot.” It may not be a perfectly posed smiling at the camera shot, but both the photographer and the performer know how to work to position themselves/children to have a wonderful interaction–and the most magical photographs tend to be hugs/conversations, not big cheesy grins.
- The more you play along and are happy to be there, the better interaction you will always have.
- Grovel to the Tremaines. Always. Trust me. You’ll have way more fun than if you try to tell them they’re ugly and mean. Everyone does that (Note from Sharon: When the CM told me that, I literally LOLed).
THE STROLLER COMMANDMENTS (as written by a CM who has had to move a whole lot of strollers):
- WHILE YOU’RE ENJOYING AN ATTRACTION, YOUR STROLLER IS GOING TO BE MOVED. Even if you park it in the right area (and those of you who do, THANK-YOU!), Cast Members still have to constantly consolidate space. Most guests don’t go looking for an open space close by, like you would in your car at the grocery store. Most just immediately dump it on the far outskirts, which might be outside the parking zone or double parked behind someone else’s stroller. (How are they going to get out??) Cast members have to keep the order and generally we just move it further down the same row. We won’t move it to another location unless you parked it in an inappropriate spot.
- HELP TO KEEP YOUR STROLLER TO STAY UPRIGHT. Please don’t leave all of your heavy bags draped around the handle bars (some strollers even have warning signs telling you not to do this). Think of your stroller as a seesaw. Your child sits at the lower end, and your bags are at the other end, up in the air. Gravity teaches us that this weight will fall once your child gets out of the stroller. Your best bet is to use the stroller seat to store your stuff while you’re gone. Or to keep it even safer, especially if there’s anything of value, bring it with you.
- BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND. Did you leave your child’s half eaten goldfish crackers in the center console? Squirrels and birds like to eat those, too.
- WHEN YOU GET BACK FROM THE ATTRACTION AND CAN’T FIND YOUR STROLLER, PLEASE KNOW THAT IT WAS (probably) NOT STOLEN. I can tell you that 49 times out of 50, when somebody comes to me and is angry or upset that their stroller is missing, I go to call security and as soon as I walk back, the family is walking away with their stroller. Re-read #1 and take an extra moment or two to look around; it’s probably not too far away.
- That being said, PLEASE LEAVE THE BIKE LOCK AT HOME. If you lock your stroller to anything permanent, like a tree, Disney Security has the right to get out the bolt cutter and break your lock. Disney parks are private property and locking your stroller to anything isn’t allowed. Also, please don’t lock your stroller to a stanchion pole – cast members can just lift those out of the ground and continue to move your stroller. Now, there’s nothing that says you can’t weave the bike lock through your wheels, essentially locking the stroller to itself and nothing else. But even then, the Cast Member still WILL move your stroller.
- THINK OF WAYS TO MAKE YOUR STROLLER STAND OUT SO IT’S EASY TO FIND. Tie a colorful ribbon around the handle. Maybe even go vertical, like with a flag! Did you buy your child a balloon? Chances are you can’t bring it into the attraction with you, so tie it to the stroller and it will be a beacon for you to spot when you get back.
- PLEASE DON’T LINGER. Stroller parking zones aren’t an area to hang out and plan out the rest of your day. Chances are there’s a Cast Member not far from you, waiting to fill up the empty space that will be left by your stroller. Plus, walkways between stroller rows are very narrow, so you might be blocking someone else from getting in or out.
- A TYPICAL STROLLER IS NOT ALLOWED IN MOST BUILDINGS/QUEUES. Please leave it outside, in the designated stroller parking zone.
- YOUR SLEEPING CHILD DOES NOT NEGATE #8. strollers are bulky item that causes a safety concern if we suddenly have to evacuate the building.
Thanks for reading! We’ll try to have a few more suggestions from Cast Members in a future post.
This is Part 2 in a series. Click here to read Part 1.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary