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Secrets of a Walt Disney World Housekeeping Cast Member

Towel art

The Hosts and Hostesses in Walt Disney World's Housekeeping department play an important but largely hidden role in making your stay at Disney resorts a comfortable and happy one. You may give little thought to the part they play - but some of the little tricks and neat touches that they employ can help elevate a good vacation to a great one.

Amy Ziese worked as a Housekeeping Cast Member at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort from May 2005 to January 2006 as part of Disney's College Program. The Wilderness Lodge was her home resort, but she was frequently deployed for a week or two at a time to the other resorts when extra staffing was needed in those locations.

Amy was kind enough to speak with Theme Park Tourist about her experiences during that time - and you can read her thoughts below.

Landing the role

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Disney's Wilderness Lodge, where Amy worked.

Amy heard about the College Program through a cousin who applied, but later decided not to attend. "I attended a recruiting seminar at Indiana University Indianapolis, which was heavily advertising on campus."

Her interview for the role immediately followed the recruiting seminar: "We were interviewed two at a time. Since I was applying for the College Program and not a traditional job, many questions pertained to the lifestyle of CPs. We were asked if we thought we would be able to adjust to life so far from home, how we got along with strangers, and if we would be comfortable sharing an apartment with several other roommates."

"At the time of the interview, we didn’t know what role we would be offered. I requested housekeeping and was later offered the role that I wanted. However, many applicants to the College Program were not offered the roles that they requested. When the acceptance letter comes for College Program, you’re only offered one job and you must accept or decline the entire program under the understanding that you agree to work in that position. You don't find out what your location will be until you’ve arrived for your program."

Training to be a Housekeeper

Amy's training for her new role was a mix of generic Disney training and Housekeeping-specific courses.

"The initial training for the role of housekeeper began with Traditions, which every Cast Member goes through. After that I attended a day-long class at Disney University that covered housekeeping procedures resort-wide. A few special classrooms are set up with hotel beds and bathrooms for trainees to practice on. After this, I went on to the specific training provided at my resort. This included several days of working with a trainer and helping her clean her rooms, while also learning the layout of the resort."

"I was later trained in additional housekeeping duties such as cleaning the lobby, which is a separate job that one or two housekeepers are assigned to for the day. I was also trained as a runner, which meant that I delivered mini fridges and other amenities to guest rooms upon request throughout the day. (Since that time, all resort rooms have been updated to include mini fridges so runners now have a much easier job and infinitely smaller items to deliver.)"

"When I was deployed to other resorts, I would receive training for a day or less on the specific procedures in that resort."

Day-to-day duties

Disney's Wilderness Lodge room

A room at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

As a Housekeeper, Amy was assigned several rooms to clean each day. "Each room was either a check out which had to be turned over completely, or occupied so I only had to straighten up. Every day, the beds were made, bathrooms cleaned, and carpets vacuumed. In check outs, we obviously changed the sheets and towels, dusted, cleaned the coffee maker, changed the cups, and did a more thorough cleaning of the room. From time to time a check out was assigned a deep cleaning where the bedspreads were changed and the additional tasks performed. If a room was unoccupied for several days, we might also be assigned to clean up that room, which would just include a quick dusting and vacuuming to keep it looking fresh."

"When I was assigned to the lobby, I would follow a set rotation around the lobby area throughout the day to keep things neat. I cleaned up the bathrooms, kept the toilet paper and paper towels stocked, and emptied trash cans. The rotation also included a once daily cleaning of Artist’s Point in the morning and the Cub’s Den kids’ area."

The workload

"At the lodge we had to clean 17 or 18 rooms a day. At Fort Wilderness we had 10 cabins, each one with a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. At the Grand Floridian we had 10 rooms. The number was fewer there because we were expected to change all the sheets on all the beds every day. The rooms were also marginally bigger."

"Most hotel rooms should take 15 minutes for an occupied room and 30 minutes for a check out. Cabins took about 20 minutes for an occupied cabin to 45 minutes for a check out. You had the same number of rooms assigned to you regardless of whether they were occupied of check outs because they're assigned by section. If you got lucky and had all occupied rooms, though, you were expected to check and see if someone else needed help when you were finished. Likewise if you had an unmanageable number of check outs, you could call the housekeeping base and let them know to send help if anyone was available."

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There are 30 comments.

God Bless Housekeeping!! We always tip daily on the pillow. Also, Great idea about a note or drawing from our daughter. Better make room on the fridge, ladies!...

Ive traveled to Disney alot as a child and have continued the family tradition with my children. However I never thought to tip the cast members that clean and am embarrassed :( the animal towels are one of my favorite memories as a child and of my children as well. From now on I will make sure I leave one daily!! We definitely appreciate the hard work and time they put in to make it a "magical" stay♥

Thanks for sharing Amy. I look forward to reading more of these stories.

I love Mousekeeping and the little surprises they leave around the room.

Just a quick question, the bedspreads aren't changed after every checkout?
"In check outs, we obviously changed the sheets and towels, dusted, cleaned the coffee maker, changed the cups, and did a more thorough cleaning of the room. From time to time a check out was assigned a deep cleaning where the bedspreads were changed and the additional tasks performed."

I was under the impression they were changed for every guest.

Sadly, all hotels only change their bedspreads occasionally.... It's horrible. If I feel that they need washed ill leave a note with an extra tip.

Before we went in Jan 2014 I called and asked and was told all bedding including the bedspread was changed after every guest.

Because that's what you wanted to hear, that's what they told you.

I learned along time ago that tipping was the proper thing to do. We typically leave $1.50 to $2.00 per person in the room per day. If I can tip a valet person $3.00 to attend to my car, why not $4.00 per day to someone to clean my room.

I have never been a housekeeper, but worked in many hotels at the front desk. I can tell you that bedspreads or duvets are NOT changed after every guest. You should always ask for a clean one. This can be true even in the most expensive hotels. Also be wary of any glassware in the room, the coffee maker, etc. Wash these things yourself.

I'm confused. The suggestion is to leave a daily tip. Let's say on Monday we return to our room and there are really cute towel animals or some other special touch--I would want that day's housekeeper to receive the tip. But if we leave a tip on Tuesday morning, he/she may not be assigned to our room and someone else receives the tip? Or he/she left a card with his/her name and it will be given to him/her specifically? and then in addition to that we leave a few dollars for today's housekeeper? and on that goes for the length of our stay?

My kids are 21 and 19 and still talk about how the housekeepers left towel animals and positioned stuffed animals by the window with notes on them. That was the best part of the trips

We have stayed at many grades of resorts within Walt Disney World and never had problems or negative experience of the housekeeping. Clean ready to impress. 2 thumbs up, keep up the good work.

We always leave tips daily instead of at the end of visit when we stay at WDW or Disneyland, because you never know if the same housekeeper will be doing your room for the whole stay or not. But sometimes the tip would still be left when we came back to the room at the end of the day. I wondered about that but still left tips the next day. Then on one of these Disney blogs I read that the Disney housekeepers are taught that they should not take the tips, and it was confirmed by several cast members. What is the correct thing to do? I figure Disney housekeepers work harder than most hotels since they do extras like animal towels, so why not?

My family and I have been traveling to Disney properties in both California and Florida. I have always tipped the housekeeping staff. They do a marvelous job!!

I don't know if they are allowed tips or not, but I always leave a tip for them, a certain amount if its only my husband or myself and more if I take grandkids. Its always been gone when we go back to the room and that is what it is intended for, the person that cleans our room

I believe Disney World asks it's Cast Members to refraining to provide records or accepting interviews from the media. "Media Relations".

The cast members are to enhances the way Disney World connects to guests and if they are out accepting interviews knowing what they say might have a negative impact on their employer, I wouldn't be surprised if it would be grounds for dismissal.

I believe Disney World asks it's Cast Members from refraining from providing records or accepting interviews from the media. "Media Relations".

The cast members are to enhances the way Disney World connects to guests and if they are out accepting interviews knowing what they say might have a negative impact on their employer, I wouldn't be surprised if it would not be grounds for dismissal.

It seems like a lot of Cast Member interviews come from kids who did the College Program, so they are only employed a few months and don't worry about being fired for sharing secrets. I know Disney likes to keep the magic and doesn't want CM to talk to the media, but it is neat to learn about some behind the scenes secrets.

Also, I never knew the College Program had kids in housekeeping, that kind of surprises me a little. But if that's what she wanted I'm sure they were happy to say yes!

We would print out envelopes for our daily tips! MOUSEKEEPING on the front and kids hand drawn "Thank You"s on the back...placed in the same spot every day. Never had one missed.

Great !! Amy if you could help me out with some housekeeping public areas checklists for parks that would be great. Thanking you in anticipation. Prince.

We were underwhelmed by mousekeeping We stayed in the Nemo suites in October
My grandson decorated envelopes for them
And was so excited
We received one towel figure nothing was done with his stuffed animals Matter of fact the couch and table bed were made but never re folded to a day position

we always leave tips for the mousekeepers by the day. Its unlikely that the same mousekeeper does our room on our whole stay. They also have made the day for my grandchildren. The toys they place in the windows, and towel animals, and placing toys in different places around the room like they had been playing, etc. The last 3 grands we took at the same time were OCD though and where ever THEY put their stuff they expected it to stay there, but the m ousekeepers did not know this and kept changing it. I finally had to tell the kids either put them in their suitcases or pack them in our car. They did that and there were no more problems after that. Silly grandkids I have, I tried to tell them that was one of the fun things, not knowing what their toys were doing when they were gone. Remember that toys do come alive and play when no one is looking

My son just started as a CP in housekeeping assigned to Yacht and Beach Club. I am hoping he has a great experience. He has 5 nice roommates and loves living so close to the parks!

I wonder if Disney has a Seniors Program? Like the college program, but for people who obviously seniors or retired with little to do. I would love to do something like this when I grow up! Anybody know if such a program exist?

I always pull the bed covers up, put dirty towels in the bath and make sure the floor is clear. this to me is only common curtesy and I leave $1 per person per day every day x

My kids get so excited when they see towelgami in all of the room Windows as we walk back to our room daily, but they become so disappointed when we get back to our room and nothing is there. We leave daily tips (usually about $10 room), we put all of our towels in a pile in the tub, knot the trash bags and put new ones in the bin, and try to keep our room tidy, we even leave thank you notes. I feel like we are really good guests. Should we leave requests for towelgami? We've been to six resorts now and the only towelgami we get is at check in.

When we stayed at Caribbean beach in Feb, there was a circle mickey towel when we arrived but after that, NOTHING. I kept telling my friend what fun things they did with towels. NOTHING. and I tipped every day. It's funny how when you are expecting something small and don't see it, how you feel. I was actually let down and I'm 64.

I'll have my first on-site stay at Disney in less than two months. After reading this, I'll make sure to tip daily. I do hope that what I read about towel animals no longer being made is just a rumor as I have never experienced these except on a NCL cruise and would love to see what Disney mousekeeping can do.

Well - I finally learned The Wisdom of goodies-expectations the hard way, and here it is : It only works when you aren't expecting it : ) I've gone in feeling entitled, and it doesn't work. But I have figured out how to get Miss Mousekeeper's attention : I mess with her back! When she gets there, Panda is still sleeping peacefully with Merida, Hello Kitty is already playing solitaire, and Pal Mickey is on page 32 of "Act Like A Lady -Think Like A Man". Over the years she has hidden my toothbrush in a potted plant, coloured in a whole picture in the colouring book, tied a pirate bandana around Cat In The Hats chapeau, replaced a missing pair of earrings with MUCH nicer ones, and actually sent my birthday dress to the COSTUME department to fix the broken zipper. I always tip Mousekeeping - And I leave her little presents and surprises, too : ) Panda always writes the note, in Big Round letters, "Deer Mousekeepers, tankoo so much, and pleeze bring Chopstix!" And they *do* :D

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