Working at a Disney theme park is great…and awful...and often completely surreal. While some of the ups and downs of working for the mouse can translate well to nearly any job (if you’ve never had to suck it up in the name of the customer always being right, I want to know what you do and how I can become one), others are completely unique to this type of work. Though completely subjective, here are some of the best and worst things about being a Walt Disney World Cast Member.
1. Free theme park admission
Disney Cast Members can enter the parks free most (but not all) days of the year. They also have free passes they can give to others, so if you happen to have a lot of friends who aren’t in the theme park industry, you can still casually propose an afternoon at Epcot as though you’re asking everyone to meet you at the mall.
When you’re a Cast Member, if you feel like popping in to the Magic Kingdom just to see Wishes, you can do it without feeling like you’re wasting a ticket. You become immune to the dreaded tourist syndrome of running ragged to do it all in one day because you have to squeeze every last penny out of that expensive ticket you bought.
2. Access to great merchandise at almost-reasonable prices
Cast Member discounts are nothing to sneeze at, and they’re even better around the holidays, so you can always impress your non-local family and friends with Disney merch for Christmas. Cast Members also have access to backstage stores with Cast Member exclusives you can’t buy anywhere else (except perhaps on eBay…). If you adore all things Disney, this perk is especially great because you can purchase authentic theme park cast-offs like hotel furnishings, park signage, and restaurant dishes.
3. A behind-the-scenes look at the magic
Most people have to shell out a few hundred dollars for a glimpse behind the scenes at Disney parks, but Cast Members get to see it all for free. Disney regularly offers special events for Cast Members such as tours of popular attractions with the lights on, so you can experience more than just your own particular area. When new attractions open, Cast Members hear the news before anyone else and usually get to experience the attraction during exclusive preview days before it opens to the public.
4. That feeling you get when you make a kid’s day
Most Cast Members have at least one story of a stand-out moment where they got to make someone’s day. Every now and then you’ll have an opportunity to really do something special, like help a guest find the perfect souvenir or offer special Fastpasses to a family who wouldn’t otherwise have time to see a certain attraction. Seeing a child’s eyes light up at the sight of a favorite character or watching him shriek in glee on one of the rides helps to make the long hours and hot days worth it.
5. Knowing you’re a part of the Disney dream
Not all Cast Members buy into the idea of fulfilling Walt’s dream. But for those that do, there’s something really special about putting on the name tag and creating the experience that he so wanted to give each and every park guest. Disney definitely has a very strong culture and for those who appreciate what it’s all about, it’s amazing to be a part of it.