Home » 4 Ways That Disney (and Universal) Cast Members Can Skip Work Without Getting Fired

    4 Ways That Disney (and Universal) Cast Members Can Skip Work Without Getting Fired

    Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue

    Both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando have well-known attendance points systems. Although the policies are tweaked from time to time, the basics remain the same. If you call in sick to work, or simply do not show up, you receive 1 point. Failure to clock in or out on time results in 1/2 point. If you amass a certain number of points within a rolling calendar period (such as 3 points in 30 days or 6 points in 90 days), you receive a reprimand. On your fourth reprimand, you are fired. No-call/no-show, in which you do not follow call-in procedures, is considered more serious. On your third consecutive no-call/no-show day, you are terminated.

    Your points go on your permanent record card, and a high number of points can make you ineligible for transfers or promotions. Of course, if you develop a major medical problem, the theme parks will generally work with you on creating a pathway back to work. The points systems are not meant to punish people who are legitimately ill or injured, but rather to cut down on abuse.

    An interesting side note to this system is the fact that tardiness of more than 2 hours counts as a whole point rather than a half point. Therefore, if you are running very late, it is not really to your advantage to go in to work at all (unless you need the money), since you will be docked an identical number of points for taking the whole day off.

    The system does not differentiate between full-time employees receiving sick pay and part-time or seasonal employees taking unpaid time off. There is not a company-wide policy regarding doctor’s notes, and a doctor’s note does not prevent you from receiving points. However, some areas, especially those involved in food service, require a doctor’s note to return to work after certain illnesses. In addition, if you are out sick with any illness for several days (often 5 in a row), you might need a doctor’s note to return.

    If you want time off but do not want to accrue points, you have a few different options. Here is a look at 4 ways to miss work without getting points. Your location might offer additional solutions as well.

    1. Regular Day Off

    Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue

    Technically, only full-time employees are guaranteed regular schedules, which they bid for based on seniority. In practice, however, many locations find it easiest to develop ongoing schedules for all or most of their employees. This means that if you have Wednesday and Thursday off, for example, you will have those same days off every week of the year. As a new part-time employee with no seniority, I managed to avoid working on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day at both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World by simply engineering my requested regular days off when I was hired in the summer.

    Of course, not everyone can have the same regular days off, and holidays and special events fall on different days throughout the year, so your regular days off can only go so far. Nonetheless, it has been my experience that if something you want time off for happens to fall on your normal day off, you can be fairly certain that you won’t end up having to work.

    2. Approved Day Off

    Dinosaur - Disney's Animal Kingdom

    An approved day off is a vacation day that you arrange in advance. Sometimes these requests go to a central computer system and are automatically approved or denied in first-come, first-served order. Sometimes they are submitted to the area supervisor for personal approval or denial, which might or might not be based on seniority. Because every location is different, it is very important to familiarize yourself with your area’s system during training. If your trainer forgets to point out this system, feel free to ask. Always put in your day off request as soon as you know you will need it.

    3. Schedule Swap

    Baby Dino - Islands of Adventure Jurassic Park

    If you are unable to get an approved day off, try to find a schedule swap. With so many part-time and seasonal employees working at the theme parks, there is always a pool of people looking for additional work hours. Some locations have a bulletin board for employees to pin requests, while others rely on word of mouth.

    There are two different types of schedule swap. In the first, one person simply works a shift that was originally scheduled for someone else. In the second, the two employees trade shifts. For example, you might be scheduled for 8 hours on Friday, while your coworker is scheduled for 8 hours on Saturday. He works for you on Friday, and then you work for him on Saturday.

    Not all schedule swaps will be approved. Someone with fewer certifications, such as control tower training, might not be allowed to work for someone who is fully certified. A part-time employee might not be allowed to take a full-time employee’s shift, if it would give the part-timer too many hours or the full-timer too few hours for the week. Schedule swaps that result in overtime for either employee are routinely denied.

    Because of these issues, put in your schedule swap request as early as possible. If your first attempt is denied, you might still have time to find someone else to cover your shift.

    4. Early Release

    One Man's Dream - Disney's Hollywood Studios

    If you are completely unable to get the day off, or if something unexpected arises on the day of your shift, try to go to work on time if at all possible and request an Early Release. Early Releases allow shift leaders and supervisors to quickly adjust staffing levels based on real-time evolving conditions.

    An Early Release allows an employee to leave work early without any penalties, although vacation pay does not apply. They are typically issued when a location turns out to be overstaffed compared to the actual crowd levels in the park, but can be given out at the leads’ and supervisors’ discretion.

    My first Halloween Horror Nights, I was working at Kongfrontation and decided that vampire fangs would be a fun way to celebrate. I had been advised to use PoliGrip to adhere them, but accidentally used too much, gluing my jaw shut tight. It took me 20 minutes in the restroom to correct the problem, making me late to work. After he stopped laughing at my explanation, my lead offered me an Early Release to avoid the points for being late.

    I had recently returned from living in New Orleans for four years, and was working at Kilimanjaro Safaris, when Hurricane Katrina hit. I spent the night watching the hurricane batter New Orleans, and the levees broke just before I was due at work. I was an emotional mess, so I went directly to the supervisor’s office and requested an ER. When she asked why, I pointed to the TV, where the news showed New Orleans continuing to fill up with water. I got my ER and went home to try to contact friends and neighbors.

    Keeping your points low shows responsibility and can ultimately help you achieve future transfers and even promotions. Although it is sometimes impossible to avoid calling in, using these alternative options whenever possible can help you minimize the number of points you accrue.