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Walt Disney World Cast Member Stories: Strange Things Seen and Heard by Cast Members

Mickey in the rain. Image via Flickr by ryaninc
Mickey braves the rain. Image via Flickr by ryaninc

Working in the parks, Disney Cast Members see and hear some strange and perplexing things from time to time.

It’s a well-known fact that Cast Members hear some strange questions throughout the day. One of the more common inquiries even made its way onto a tee shirt reading “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” Gift shop guests probably laughed at the cute attire, but this is no exaggeration of the bizarre things seen and heard around the parks.

Orlando residents often contend that tourists simply leave their brains at home when they leave for vacation. There just isn’t room in their baggage for something so trivial. To be a little more fair, hours spent pounding the pavement in the Florida heat and sun can fry just about anyone’s brain after a while. Decipherable or not, the unusual encounters that take place with Disney guests are certainly entertaining.

With Walt Disney World being one of the most well-known theme parks on the planet, you might expect guests to have some idea of what they’ll encounter on arrival. The Magic Kingdom is the most-visited park in the world, with over 17 million visitors in 2011 alone. Nevertheless, many guests show up at the wrong park entirely for what they’re after.

Hogwarts Castle

No, Hogwarts is NOT a Disney castle.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios often gets visitors who are actually looking for Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure in the Universal Orlando Resort. Working in Disney’s Hollywood Studios I was once asked for directions to Jaws, The Simpsons, The Mummy, and Shrek, all of which are located in Universal Studios Florida. Another Cast Member once overheard a disgruntled man saying the only reason he had agreed to come to Disney’s Hollywood Studios was to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – found in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

An even bigger geographical miscalculation occurred when a guest at the Magic Kingdom asked a Cast Member for directions to the Matterhorn. That particular attraction is located nearly 2,500 miles away at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. If you’re going to plan a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Disney, do make sure you’re headed to the right side of the country.

Many busy families probably have a limited amount of time to plan their vacations, which is how these little mishaps happen. Some other questions Cast Members have heard aren’t nearly as easy to explain. One question that pops up time and again is “Why is it raining?” Other less common variations include “Can’t you control the weather here?” and “I thought there was a weather dome over Disney World.” If you find yourself contemplating the great mysteries of the weather in Orlando, here’s a comprehensive summary of what the Cast Members can tell you:

  • No, there is nothing in, over, or around the parks that can do anything to control the weather. There are, however, lightning rods strategically placed throughout Walt Disney World so the weather that we have absolutely no control over probably won’t include a lightning strike to the top of your tall tour group flag.
  • It is raining because the warm air has cooled slightly causing the water droplets in those clouds overhead to condense and become larger. Those droplets of water are too heavy to stay up in the air and are therefore falling down and disrupting your vacation.
  • It rains almost every day in Central Florida during the summer – usually in the afternoon. Hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30. Florida gets more storms than other state in the US. Don’t be surprised when if it rains while you’re here. Be surprised if it doesn’t.

Rainy days aren’t the only times when guests find themselves looking to the sky. One guest noticed the moon on a particularly clear night and demanded to know how it was done. Alas, Disney magic does not yet extend to the moon.

Another common category of strange guest questions stems from the fact that not all guests have a firm understanding of how the park works. Guests have complained that Cast Members at the Haunted Mansion look like they hate their jobs with comments like “If you can’t smile, you should just quit.” Well, they can’t smile…but that’s not because they don’t want to. It’s simply part of the elaborate theme of the attraction.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Yes, the animals are real.

Some guests at Kilimanjaro Safaris want to know how the animals look so real. This answer’s very simple. They look real because they are.

Some guests don’t bother to ask questions but simply share their strange assumptions proudly with the rest of their party. While the Pepper’s Ghost effect used in the Haunted Mansion is fairly well known among fans of the ride, one determined guest insisted that the ghosts’ images must come from a projector. On seeing the Iron Man monorail, one woman knowingly told her family about the “Star Trek Train.” During parades, some headstrong guests steer their whole party confidently through the crowds who have been waiting over an hour for the event, convinced that they’ll easily cross the street between floats.

On the assumption that all at Disney must be impeccably clean, guests can be seen traipsing through the park barefoot, wading into the Seven Seas Lagoon (despite the large “no swimming” signs), or reaching to trail their hands in any ride waters they can find. Disney custodial is good but they aren’t miracle workers. Please oh please stay away from any water that doesn’t come out of a fountain or actual food service location.

Since sending the same ride vehicle, selling the same merchandise, or cleaning the same room can get a bit monotonous day after day, sometimes it’s nice to have something like a genuine disbelief that Walt Disney World doesn’t exist within a magical weather bubble to change things up. And the fun isn’t exclusive to Cast Members. Just pay attention to your fellow guests and your next vacation and you’re sure to spot some shockers yourself. Just remember the 3 o’clock parade is at 3 o’clock and you’ll do just fine. And if you’re ever in doubt, just go ahead and ask. Whatever it is you’re wondering it’s probably not the strangest thing that Cast Member has ever heard.

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There are 4 comments.

WDW is my happy place,

WDW is my happy place, whether I am physically there or scrapbook wishing. This article was very entertaining and good for a few chuckles this morning. Thanks.

While some guests do ask some

While some guests do ask some pretty odd questions, there are answers to all of them. What matters is how the answer is presented. And sometimes you really have to look deep down into the real meaning of the question and realize that not every guest poses their questions effectively. Example: The guest doesn't want to know what time the 3 o clock parade starts. They want to know what time it arrives "RIGHT HERE WHERE I AM SITTING".

Hit the nail on the head

Hit the nail on the head Scott. I have been asked many times "How do I get to Disney World?" When we are in fact right there in the middle of Disney World. Each and every time I have been asked this question I have found the guest was actually looking for Magic Kingdom. I also enjoy the question "What is the cable that goes from Cinderella's Castle into Tomorrowland for?" With a smile I rely "That is Cinderella's cable connection. She gets 850 channels with that thing!!!"

My granddaughter believes

My granddaughter believes with all her little Disney heart, that it's the cord they pull that starts the fireworks!!

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