Home » 5 Real Life Conversations With Disney and Universal Guests You Won’t Believe

    5 Real Life Conversations With Disney and Universal Guests You Won’t Believe

    Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Working for the theme parks is generally a lot of fun. After all, where else can you get paid to call little girls “princess,” hold impromptu hula hoop contests, and help people hatch elaborate surprises? Of course, talking with guests is one of the most important job duties of all. Normally the conversation lasts a few minutes, and both the employee and the guest walk away with a smile. When dealing with people, though, you can never quite tell what will happen. Here are 5 real life conversations you won’t believe.

    1. Back to work!

    Kilimanjaro Safaris

    When working the queue at Kilimanjaro Safaris, one of my favorite conversation starters was to ask guests if they were all packed for their “two week safari that’s so exciting, it feels like 20 minutes.” I usually got one of two responses. Either the guest would chuckle and move on or he would play along, coming up with a few items that would be important to pack for two weeks.

    One time, however, I accidentally freaked out a businessman. The line had been stopped for a couple of minutes, so I decided to strike up a conversation with the person nearest me.

    Me: Sir, your bag looks rather small. Are you sure you have everything you need for a two-week safari?

    Him: Two weeks? What do you mean two weeks?

    Me: Oh yes, sir. This is a two-week safari. But don’t worry. It only feels like 20 minutes.

    Him (turning white and starting to shake): I can’t be gone for two weeks! I’m crucial to my company! I have to go back to work! Why didn’t somebody tell me this thing lasts two weeks!

    Me: Sir, I’m sorry. It was just a joke. It’s a 20 minute ride that simulates a safari in Africa.

    Him (paying no attention to me): I’m going to get fired. I’m so going to get fired. Why did I come on this stupid vacation? A weekend away. The wife promised just a weekend away. Why did I listen to her? Two weeks!

    The line started moving then, and the guest was lost in the crowd. I hope he felt better when he got off the ride and realized it was still the same day.

    2. How do I get to the Magic Kingdom?

    Cinderella's Castle

    As I mentioned last week, one of the most common silly guest questions is for directions to a ride that is in a different park, or even a completely different theme park complex. As a cast member, I never minded explaining where something was. During my off hours, though, I just wanted to relax and enjoy the parks as a guest.

    I was in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom on a particularly crowded day. I had spent the morning wondering if I was wearing an invisibility cloak, as guest after guest plowed into me with a stroller or wheelchair, or stopped short while crossing in front of me.

    My nerves were already a bit frayed when suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. A booming male voice asked, “Excuse me. Do you know how to get to the Magic Kingdom?”

    Feeling very un-Disneylike, I spun around, sarcastic answer at the ready.

    Standing before me was my good friend Lou Mongello, author of the Walt Disney World Trivia books and host of WDW Radio. He dissolved into giggles at the look on my face. I immediately burst into laughter myself and gave him a big hug.

    While this wasn’t a “typical” guest conversation, it was a good reminder to get over myself and stop being so frustrated in the middle of the most magical place on Earth.

    3. Daddy!


    Universal’s Earthquake attraction underwent many changes from opening day until the time I arrived near the end of its lifespan. Yet one thing never changed. During the soundstage portion of the attraction, we had an audience volunteer portray the role of “stuntman.”

    One of our sets recreated a portion of an office building that had been destroyed in an earthquake, and the idea was that the “stuntman” was trapped on a high floor. The audience was told that he would rappel down a rope to safety. In actuality, the volunteer remained on the ground out of sight, while we dropped a dummy from 30 feet in the air in a “stunt gone wrong” joke.

    We ran this gag every 5 to 15 minutes all day long, depending on crowd levels. Normally, the audience had a stunned moment, then started laughing when they realized what actually happened. On one particular day, however, the volunteer’s son stole the show.

    The dummy dropped as usual, and we were just about to reveal the joke when we heard a small voice screaming from the audience. “DADDY!” The poor kid, who couldn’t have been older than four, was on his feet. His mom grabbed him as he started to run toward the stage, and he began sobbing hysterically on her shoulder.

    What else could we do? We sent Dad immediately back out to the audience to console his son, and resumed the show. Yet the kid continued to sob, telling his dad all about how he watched him die. I have never felt so bad in my life, and I hope the parents eventually found a way to explain what really happened.

    4. And this camera?

    Future World

    When I worked at Innoventions, I had to cross through a heavily-traveled guest area to reach my break location. Breaks were strictly controlled at 15 minutes, and we could get in a lot of trouble for returning late. I was always stopped by a guest who wanted to ask a question or have me take a quick photo, and I never minded doing these things, but I always had an internal clock counting down the minutes to make sure I was back on time.

    On one particular day, a teenage girl with a camera stopped me to take a photo of her. I gladly did so, and then turned to walk away. “Wait,” she said, digging in her backpack. “Can you take a picture with this camera, too?” I agreed, and she posed again in exactly the same position in precisely the same spot.

    “Don’t go yet,” she said, digging around for yet another camera. “I need one with this camera too.” After taking exactly the same picture yet again, she smiled. “And this camera?” On and on this went for a solid 20 minutes, as the time for me to be back from break came and went. I was starting to wonder if was being Punked, when finally she thanked me for my time and ran off.

    Thankfully, I was able to explain the situation to my team leader and avoid punishment, but to this day I really don’t understand. Even a few years ago, was it really that hard to share photos with friends rather than taking the same one with dozens of different cameras?

    5. Turn off the rain!


    My all-time favorite bizarre guest conversation also comes from my time at Innoventions. I was working the door when a heavy thunderstorm blew in out of nowhere. As it was a big, dry location with plenty of things to do, Innoventions was always a favorite with guests trying to wait out the rain, and that day was no exception. A line of guests was streaming in when a woman wearing a poncho stalked up to me.

    Her (in an angry voice): Tell them to turn off the rain!

    Me (confused): I’m sorry, what?

    She was five foot nothing, but managed to fill the room with her voice. People began to stare as she got progressively louder and more upset.

    Her: You heard me. I paid thousands of dollars for this vacation, and I don’t appreciate you people deciding to turn on the rain! Tell them to turn it off now!

    Me: I’m sorry, ma’am, but we don’t control the weather. It’s just a Florida thunderstorm, and it should blow over soon. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience.

    Her (now shrieking at top volume): Don’t give me that! Get hold of someone in charge! I want the rain turned off right now!

    I had a radio, so an idea popped into my head. We were able to tune into Disney’s weather station, which was shockingly accurate in its forecasts.

    Me: Yes, ma’am. Let me call someone right now who might be able to help 

    I made a big show of flipping the channel on my radio.

    Me (into radio): God? This is Innoventions Greeter. I have a nice lady in front of me who would like you to turn off the rain, please.

    In my earpiece, the automated voice at the weather station told me the storm would pass in 12 minutes.

    Me (into radio): Thank you, sir.

    Me (to her): Ma’am, He says He will turn off the rain in 12 minutes.

    Her (now smiling broadly): 12 minutes? That’s perfect! Thank you so much for your help. Have a good day now!

    She trotted off to one of the Innoventions exhibits just as happy as she could be. After she left, several guests in the area came up to congratulate me on my quick thinking and turning the situation around.

    Walt Disney World cast members, as well as Universal Orlando team members, will go out of their way to give you the best vacation they possibly can, but they are only human beings. Never hesitate to ask for the help you need, but try to remember to pack your common sense!