Home » The 5 Best Types of People You Meet at Walt Disney World

The 5 Best Types of People You Meet at Walt Disney World

Pin Trading Sign

A Disney World vacation is all about magic. It’s an escape from reality in the purest sense, and every aspect of the Disney experience, from ride theming to cast member etiquette, is designed to maintain that atmosphere. However, even the best vacations still take place in the real world, and every Disney visitor shares the parks with thousands of other guests at a time.

We’ve talked before on Theme Park Tourist about cringeworthy habits of some Disney parkgoers. What about the flip side though? What about the people who, perhaps without even realizing it, make other guests’ vacations even more special, all while simply having their own Disney day or doing their job? These oft overlooked rock stars deserve a salute.

We want to spotlight five of the best people you meet at Disney World. Have you met one of these?

1. Pin trader Santa Claus

Pin Trading Sign

Pin trading is, quite possibly, the most addictive activity one can imbibe in at Disney World. Obsession with tracking down the next pin trade can vary from “I just need one more,” to “The spice must flow,” levels of compulsion. While adults are often the most obvious pin junkies, kids can get positively hooked on this pastime too. The look of triumph on a kid’s face when they score a new pin is fun enough, but there’s a certain type of Disney guest who really makes this activity shine for guests around them.

Pin Trader Santa Claus.

Who is Pin Trader Santa Claus? These are guests—often a mom, or old man or woman– who always keep a few pins on hand to give random kids they might run across. Now, I do clarify, this is not done in a creepy or disconcerting way like “Heeeeeyyy kid. You want some pinnnnsssss?”. These aren’t people weirdly stalking kids to give them pins. Pin Trader Santa or Mrs. Santa knows the appropriate times and etiquette for surprise-gifting a pin to a bright eyed little one, and they know how to do it with grace and just the right amount of Disney magic.

Tigger pin trades with guest

Image: Loren Javier, Flickr (license)

Maybe they’ve been standing in line next to a family for two hours waiting for Frozen Ever After, watching the kids melt into goo from the seemingly eternal queue. Maybe they’ve been sitting with a family on the bus, listening to a little girl recount how much she loved meeting Chewbacca for the first time. Often, it’s just that a kid sees their lanyard and lights up with curiosity. Pin Santa takes this opportunity to give a pin to these kids. They’re courtesy masters, and they know to include the parents in the moment, making sure the parents are okay with it. For some kids, it may be their first and only pin of the trip.

I’ve seen this exchange happen several times, and it’s always adorable, especially when it starts with two kids from different families showing each other lanyards during a long wait. Seeing a kid light up at getting their first pin (or just their first guest-traded-pin) is a heartwarming moment. We salute you, Pin Santa. May your lanyard be ever shiny and jingling.

2. The person who gives up their seat for another guest


Most seasoned Disney guests have probably had an unpleasant experience (or two… or ten…) on Disney transportation. The bustle of crowds can turn the best of us into human cactuses and the worst into Mad Max reenactors.  By and large, most Disney guests do their best to be polite while sharing transportation, but there is one type of guest who put us all on notice that there’s still good in the world.

These are guests who give up their seat on a bus, ferry, or monorail for the elderly, pregnant or nursing moms, or for other visitors with special needs. Now, some of you may be reading this and saying, “That’s not magical. That’s just common courtesy. It’s even written on signs!”

And for that, we salute you.

Sign for guests to give up seat for wheelchairs

Seriously, there is a temptation towards self-centeredness that overtakes some guests when they hit a place like Disney World. Many just put their noses down, try not to make eye contact, and never engage with another parkgoer, even one who may really, really need a seat on a standing-room only bus. When young men and women—and especially when older men and women, who have no requirement to be so courteous—step up to offer their seat to a mom juggling three kids and a baby, it can melt your heart. It makes you want to be the next one to stand up and do the same. It’s hard to wipe the smile off your face when you see people being truly nice to each other, and these are the type of people we’re all proud to share space with at Disney World.

3. The extra-magical cast member

Launch Bay Cast member with lightsaber

We’ve focused on park guests so far, but I do want to draw attention to one group of cast members. While all cast members contribute to the Disney experience, there are some who go above and beyond to make guests’ vacations magical.

It may be the cast member from your hometown who knows that one really obscure taco shop only the locals know. It could be the kiosk lady at Wilderness Lodge who knows literally everything about pin trading and can keep you engaged in wonder with stories about rare specimens she’s come across over the years. It could be the super-creepy bellhop who loads you onto the Tower of Terror, staying in ghostly character with such macabre commitment that he has the whole car in stitches with his glowering eyes and deadpan humor. Maybe it’s your hilarious hostess or server at Jungle Navigation Company Skipper Canteen wowing you with tales of the back end of water and the ”Great Wall of China”.

Literal Wall of China PlatesTee-hee-hee…

I recall one time, we were watching a demonstration with the dolphins at The Seas at Epcot. At the end of the presentation, my mother and I asked a few questions and ended up in a great discussion with one of the dolphin trainers. Maybe it was because she saw the birthday celebration buttons in our party, but she invited us and our whole family to come upstairs to meet the dolphins and learn more about their training. We even got to hear about how their studies are helping to reveal how dolphins sleep with only one half of their brain active at a time. It was unforgettable.

These are the cast members who don’t just do their daily job making Disney an immersive experience—they become part of that magic for guests every day.

4. The parent of the year

Parents and kids at Star Wars Launch Bay

Image: Disney

Being a Disney mom or dad isn’t always easy, particularly for families travelling with very small children or multiple kids. We’ve all cringed at seeing parents lose it or felt concern when kids get into sketchy situations while being ignored by distracted guardians.

However, on any given Disney trip, you find super-parents. I’m not talking necessarily about the charmed, Carousel-of-Progress image of a perfect family with no problems ever. I’m talking about parents who come prepared and who handle challenges with their kids like rock stars.

They know how to plan a day with reasonable pacing, and they know when it’s time to be flexible and let the kids have some improvised fun. They set realistic expectations (it was from a Disney supermom that I first saw the “Magic Backpack” trick) but are still able to cut loose and have fun as a family. When their little ones get crabby or throw a tantrum, they may be visibly flustered, but they handle it with class and patience that makes you want to stand up and cheer. You can tell they adore their kids and want them to have the best experience possible, but you also see them teaching their kids how to share the park with other kids and families.

Family with kids meeting Gaston

Image: Disney

It’s the dad who picks his sobbing daughter up and carries her tenderly to First Aid after she scraped her knee on Main Street. It’s the mom who somehow manages to keep five kids safe holding hands and prevent sibling squabbles as they navigate Fantasyland. It’s the parent who sacrificed a park day so their toddler could keep playing at the resort pool, which turned out to be their favorite part of the trip.

Rockstar parents, you aren’t just a participant in the Disney magic. You and your kids makes Walt’s magical world even more special for everyone around you. Speaking of which…

5. The kid who is truly having a magical moment

Little girl with ice cream mustache

Image: Disney

A discussion of the best people you meet at Disney can never be complete without the stars of many a Disney vacation: the kids.

Are there difficult and whiny kids at Disney? Sure, it’s a theme park. Most of us have seen a kid who just isn’t having a good time, and there may be a dozen reasons for that. However, there is nothing like seeing a kid’s face light up when that Disney magic kicks in.

Cinderella Castle may be an inspiring landmark for adults, but seeing a kid stare at Cinderella’s actual Castle with jaw hanging agape can make anyone feel like they just stepped through a cloud of pixie dust. Hollywood Studios’ Jedi Temple Training may be a cool experience for Star Wars fans, but for a kid whose dream is to be Rey, Luke Skywalker, or Boba Fett (we see you, brooding-but-precious-dark-side-allegiant-kid), it’s a dream come true, their wildest fantasies made real.

Kids with Minnie Mouse

Image: Disney

It’s that kid who can’t stop telling everyone about their first ride on Space Mountain. It’s that little ball of yellow gauze, ribbons, and satin who stares starry-eyed as she hears a story from Belle the first time. It’s the moment when a little boy or girl is struck speechless at the chance to meet their hero, whether that’s Merida, Flynn Rider, Anna, or Star Lord. Disney World is a blast for adults, but without these kids, there is no magic in the Magic Kingdom.

These are just some of the people who make Disney World an unpredictably wonderful place to visit time and time again. What sort of person have you met at Disney who absolutely made your day?