Home » 6 Secret Codes Disney Cast Members Use Every Day

    6 Secret Codes Disney Cast Members Use Every Day

    Employees speak in acronyms

    Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando are massive resort complexes packed with theme parks, hotels, shops, restaurants, and entertainment options of every description. With thousands of employees in hundreds of roles, streamlining is critical to keeping operations running smoothly. One of the many ways that the companies keeps things moving efficiently is through the use of language shortcuts. Some are official, others are developed between cast members and gradually spread, but all minimize the amount of explanation that CMs must use.

    1. Acronyms and abbreviations

    Employees speak in acronyms

    DAK, POR, UO, HHN…listening to a cast member conversation can feel like swimming in alphabet soup. Yet once you have worked for the parks for a few weeks, it just seems so inefficient to use the full names of parks, attractions, resorts, shops, or special events. Of course, Cast Members are very careful to use full names when speaking with guests. Between each other, though, it sometimes sounds like a competition to use as few full words as possible!

    2. Position names and action words

    He's going to bump someone in his rotation

    Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando have separate naming conventions for the positions that an employee might work, but they are standardized across each company. For example, Disney’s grouper is Universal’s preboard. To the uninitiated, however, it can sound like a foreign language…”Jill, go to greeter. Mark, pick up queue 3 and bump Laura to tram 4.” The people involved know exactly what to do, but it sounds like gibberish to the rest of the world.

    Even the action words involved in Cast Member conversations tend to have different meanings than they do outside the parks. A “rotation” is a set of positions that a particular team of employees move through during a shift. To “bump” someone is to take over her position and send her to the next one in the rotation. “Freezing” means dropping out of the rotation to stay in one position for a period of time.

    3. Radio codes

    Spielers count on radio codes for efficient communication

    A vast number of employees use radios to communicate with members of their team. If someone is driving a ride vehicle, greeting guests outside an attraction, or performing other key roles, odds are good that he has a radio. Naturally, the responsible use of shared radio channels requires standardized, brief communications. All employees who use radios are trained in a list of codes, based on standard law enforcement and CB codes, and must pass a test before they can be issued a radio. Popular codes include 10-4 (I understand and acknowledge what you said) and “What’s your 20?” (What’s your position, or where are you?)

    4. Euphemisms

    Cast members use euphemisms to describe unpleasant things

    Naturally, cast members want guests to have a magical day, unburdened by the cares of the real world. This leads to the common misconception that nothing bad ever happens at the theme parks. To preserve this fantasy, employees use euphemisms to describe not-so-magical things. One of the better known is the phrase “protein spill,” which refers to the discharge of bodily fluids such as vomit.

    5. Unusual shifts

    PAC employees get paid to watch the parade

    At both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, balancing employees is an ongoing concern. If one attraction, restaurant, or shop has too many workers during a particular shift, and another has too few, some employees might be temporarily relocated. Known as deployment, this is a complicated process for the person who is deployed, who now has to return to Wardrobe for a new outfit and learn new procedures in the assigned location. Deployment has its own subculture, with certain spots considered better or worse places to deploy, and each location exhibiting its own feelings toward those who are deployed.

    In addition, Walt Disney World cast members can pick up shifts that don’t fit the norm. For example, PAC, or parade audience control, involves setting up and taking down the ropes and sidewalk tape needed for every parade performance. Before and during the parade, PAC cast members hang out with guests, provide entertainment such as hula hoop contests, and answer questions. PAC shifts are a unique part of what keeps Disney running smoothly, but to an outsider, the term can be quite confusing.

    6. Location-specific language

    Knowing a few words of Swahili could help you out at Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Each work location has its own verbal shorthand that makes perfect sense to those who work in that area, but is not well-understood even by cast members from other locations. A great example of this is Kilimanjaro Safaris. Since the ride’s setting is an African game reserve, the theme carries throughout the location. Pram parking would be stroller parking anywhere else, and conversations are regularly peppered with Swahili terms. Wishing guests luck on their 2-week safari is common, and some employees like to stay in character throughout the day.

    Language is a funny thing. Even when everyone is speaking English, the sheer diversity of themes and back stories across the complexes create a rich fabric in which even two employees in the same department can be confused by each other’s phrasing. Guests listening in sometimes feel like they just landed on Mars. Next time you’re at a theme park, keep an ear open to see how many new words or phrases you can hear.