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6 Ways to Spot an "Undercover" Disney Cast Member in Street Clothes

You may vacation at Disney every year, but to true locals, you still have the delicate aroma de tourist. Anyone who lives and works at Disney can spot a vacationer a mile away, but do you know how to spot the locals?

Disney Cast Members do, of course, visit the parks themselves with their families and friends. Sometimes, they'll also work in street clothes - for example, when checking that the experience of a particular ride or attraction is up to scratch.

These little quirks will help you spot a Cast Member sans costume almost any day.

1. Look for People Watchers in the Park

Tourists usually spend their time in Walt Disney World looking at the park. Cast Members are less interested in the features of the park, and more attentive to the people around them. They lack the frantic pace of visitors who see the parks rarely, or perhaps even once in a lifetime. When Cast Members are taking in the theme parks on a day off, they’re visiting the same way most people would hit a mall or local museum.

Visitors who are strolling at a leisurely pace or sitting on a bench with no sense of impatience or anticipation about them are often Cast Members. Those who are getting more enjoyment out of people watching than park ogling almost certainly are.

2. Check Out How they Point

Cast Members can’t help it. They might be pointing out the bread isle at WalMart or the nearest open pump at the gas station and most of them will still use the signature two finger Disney point. Since this is a fairly unnatural way to gesture, chances are excellent that anyone you see using the Disney point around the Central Florida area is a current or former Walt Disney World Cast Member.

3. Put on a Birthday Button and See What Happens

Birthday buttons are a great way to get lots of attention when you’re in the Disney parks. Cast Members everywhere will give you a cheerful birthday greeting for your special day. The problem with automatically responding to these buttons all day when you’re in costume, is that it makes it really difficult not to do the exact same thing in street clothes.

There are undoubtedly some really kind strangers who will wish you happy birthday just to be nice, so this isn’t a fail proof indicator that you’ve spotted a Cast Member, but it’s a good place to start. If you see someone start to wish you happy birthday and stop themselves, or say it and immediately look like they wish they hadn’t…you’re almost certainly dealing with someone who works in the parks and knows they just blew their cover.

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There are 108 comments.

LOL As a former cast member I have to admit I've done all of these. Plus when I see a family struggling to get as many of their family in a picture I'd walk up and offer to let everyone get in and take the picture for them.

How'd you get to be able to be a character?

They hold auditions. If you're really interested, pay attention to DisneyAuditions.com for a role you're interested in.

LOL - I worked for WDW 20 years ago, I still stop and offer to take pictures for people, no matter where I am, even worse, my husband worked there too - my kids hate it when we go to the zoo or beach - they say we NEVER get to where we want to be for taking pictures of other peoples families. Guilty of way too many of these - but still glad I do them.

I am a family entertainer and will offer to use the camera to help park guests in a family photo. It is just a nice thing to do and it makes the people know there are actually nice people out there.

I do the same as a former CM. I love taking pictures - last month someone asked if I wanted to join my "family" in the photo, and I had to confess that they were strangers I was helping. I wonder if HE was a former cast member, too!

This was great. As a former cast member, these are all true and I still do it sometimes and live nowhere near Disney. Lol it's in my DNA!

We also would pick up trash on days off or move merchandise back to the proper spot- making sure the show was going on, even when we weren't "on stage"!

I still use the two finger point.

I still use the two finger point.

Please don't blow the cover of the people you may see that you 'think' are cast members. As mentioned, many of us, when we are in the parks with family, want just that... family time.

THANK YOU!!

I don't think these are full proof. I have been to disney many, many times. My whole family goes, about twelve now in all with my children. My Dad and Uncle are people watchers. They scope out the best bench and wait for us to get done. But they aren't cast members. Another thing, everyone comments on the buttons. I always talk in line with first timers. I tried to answer any questions they have and give them tips when appropriate. It doesn't make me a cast member, just a really friendly guest. However, I must agree the two finger point would be a dead giveaway.

I live by Chicago and I have a two finger point. A past boss taught me and it has always stuck with me. People look at me funny when I do it. I guess I'd fit in in Disney world!

The two finger point is to avoid the possibility of offending a visitor from another country. When you work for Disney it is explained that in some countries around the world, a single fingered point is considered an insult and to avoid that they tell you to either use the two finger point mentioned or a full hand point that wasn't mentioned

Actually,the 2 finger point is to pay homage to Walt Disney, who often had a cigarette between his fingers, even when directing guests.

ACTUALLY, at traditions, they teach you that it is for visitors of foreign countries.

As a former CM I am aware of what they teach in traditions. As a historian, i know that they teach that because it is PC.

"Historian"....

I think the phrase you're looking for is "foolproof".

Yeah, most of the time they're not 'undercover' they're just cast members who are enjoying their off day

Heh, then my family and I must have looked like total greenhorns as we visited the Disney park last year in LA for the first time ever. I think I enjoyed it more than our kids. If we go again, I'll try to pay attention to those signs, hehe...

Its been 30 years since I worked at Disnyland in California. To this day whenever I'm in the park and over hear people trying to find a restroom I always stop and point out the nearest one. This helps them have a better experience. Sometimes it's the small things that brightens someones day.

CMs also tend to go out of their way to offer to take a picture for you

I admit to doing most of those (I don't have a purse)

I've been doing these things for years! Maybe not so much as deliberately as going 'under cover' but I love to go into the parks on a day off! I usually have a small bag with water, sunglasses and a couple of essentials, but that's just about it :)

You will also see cast members carrying around or have on their belt clip their signature black water bottle and if they are there before or after their shift the signature black tennis shoes.

Cast members are sprinkled with Pixie Dust in their early indoctrination to Disney. Once done it is difficult to hide ones identity.

I have had a season pass to Disneyland for years and family members who are cast members so I have picked up these traits. Weird but when I go to the park I wind up picking up stuff and putting it back right in the shops, pointing out locations for people, and using two fingers for the reason I have seen them do it for a while. My family enjoys the parks and My wife got me into it so I picked it up.

I still wear my black shoes

We also can often be seen doing the Disney scoop, picking up trash, when we are playing in the parks or volunteering to take photos for guests on our days off. Most of us really don't mind helping a guest out. It is why we work for Disney :)

According to this, I'm a Cast Member! I can say I have done all six of these, but I have never worked in a Disney park. I've also been approached by families in the parks who had questions and thought I was a Cast Member due to my lanyard and cheery disposition. Regardless, I was more than happy to point them in the right direction, with two fingers of course. :-)

This article is actually really annoying to me. Please don't bother off duty CMs. Don't point us out. Disney is a JOB for me, and it doesn't pay well enough to be doing it for free on my off time. If I'm in the parks, I just want to be left alone to enjoy the parks, not give you or your kids vacation advice. It never ends. If you're staying off property and have to go to Publix or Walmart, and you see an off duty CM doing their grocery shopping after work in their costume, leave them alone. We're tired, we didn't have time to change, and we're allowed to be in the grocery store in costume (just without our nametag). Please don't ask us where we work, if we like it there, how long we've worked with the company. Just let us be. We're human beings, and we'd appreciate being treated as such.

You need another sprinkling of Pixie Dust! How did you ever get hired by Disney with that attitude?

You just don't get it? When we are off work, we are tired and want to go home. Not answer more questions.

Of course they are kind at the parks, and probably off, but a job is still stressful, long, and tiring, people want to go home and be with family or get their groceries without more work. I think most of us can understand and respect that.

Why do you say "we" I think that just applies to you. Most of us don't mind, it's who "we" are.

I agree with Adele! You shouldn't be working at Disney with that attitude!

Have you ever worked for Disney? You start out all happy and perky for a while, then as you learn the truth behind things such as small pay, barely any increases, being written up for getting hurt on the job, having managers that demand a single person to do the work of 5 people then getting written up because it's not done or for those in the travel company, call assessments now being scored in another country where simple keywords are listened for since English isn't the spoken language there will down grade your scores, or being told not to listen to what the guests want on their trip and instead push for top dollar out of every single guest that calls.... Ya, Disney over time will thoroughly ruin the 'magic' for it's cast members. I know here in California the characters don't even start out at $10 per hour to dance around in those hot and heavy costumes, they start out below that just barely above the minimum wage. I'm thankful I'm not a cast member anymore after the poor treatment received by my management team and seeing many of my fellow cast who were very good at their jobs be terminated for not adapting to their current theory that it's all about the MONEY and no longer all about the guest and their satisfaction. Anyone ever notice how when you check out in one of the stores they conveniently have a display packed full of specific items? Ya, that's so they can try to upsell you and get more money out of you. If their lead or manager are around and they don't suggest those items, discipline.... Now, who wants to say that someone needs another sprinkling of the imaginary pixi dust? Disney is the ones that need it where the treatment of their cast are concerned

Fyi ALL service industry businesses are like that. From fast food to department stores. If you serve customers then you upsell. If you don't like it maybe you shouldn't work in the service industry. Also most service industry places barely pay above minimum wage. You as always expected to do more than you think is fair. If you can't handle it then leave. Other smile through it and move up. Write ups usually only happen in these businesses when an employee fails to do what they agreed to do when they were hired.

UM I was only a CM at a store, and it was my play job. In my real job, I haven't gotten a raise in 3 yrs, and I'm expected todo the work of 7 people without receiving OT and yes I'm consistently working over 4hrs every week. I'm on call 24x7 without extra compensation, it's called having a job. Most big corporations are not giving raises at all since the economy took a slump, so if you're getting a raise be thankful. When Disney was hurting to get people to come to the parks, they at least tried not to lay people off to keep the bottom line, unlike my current company is doing letting people go just before the end of each quarter. Talk about stress, try having to live through each quarter end wondering if you'll have a job or not. Yeah I know it sucks to use your vacay and sick days to help yourself and others not be laid off, but they tried something most big corporation wouldn't be willing todo. I have family who work for Disney World and they have a different opinion on how CM'S are treated, the only complaint is if a guest attacks a CM and it's not caught on one of the many cameras that they will be asked what they did to cause the incident.

Hopefully you're not like this when you're on the job. Plus, its a part of being a cast member if you're still in costume outside of work to answer any questions guest might have. Some people never been there. Or just got into the college program and has questions.

I totally agree with you. I actually got a little bit mad when I seen this article. People seem to think that because you work at Disney that you should be excited about your job all the time. That's not the case, because it is a job. So I totally feel you on this.

I totally agree with you. I actually got a little bit mad when I seen this article. People seem to think that because you work at Disney that you should be excited about your job all the time. That's not the case, because it is a job. So I totally feel you on this.

Wow...you need a LOT of extra pixie dust with that kind of attitude! I don't care that others know I am a CM...its something I am proud of. As a former Registered Nurse of over 30 years, it got to be totally annoying to have everyone asking medical advice. Now as a CM and Photopass photographer I love helping others out with questions, photos, etc. My love of my park and the knowledge I have picked up over the past 3+ years has allowed me to share that love and knowledge with many, many guests. I love the look a child gets when I tell them the information I have learned about their favorite animal in the park (Yes, I work at DAK), or can tell a frazzled parent where they can find Daisy & Donald or the Boss and his girl.

I hope that you find a place where you can live incognito; btw...if you don't want people to know you are a CM, take a few minutes to change out of your costume! Have a wild day!

And that is great, for you. Not everyone is the same, this is obvious. So while you are OK with being "on duty" even when you aren't. That's fine, but not everyone is and it should not be expected. For some people Disney is the be all end all of everything, and for many of us, it is just a job. I don't have it, but I don't love it. I firmly believe that while I am on duty my employer will get 100% from me, but when I am off; That is my time. I would never be rude to a guest and there have been many times I have helped out, but I am more likely to Disney Point you in the direction of the nearest cast member on duty to assist you.

As the mother of a cast member and huge lover of all things Disney, I think you need to go find another place of employment. It takes a special person to work there & the majority are the same way off stage as when they are "on." I know my daughter does all 6 of these and loves helping people when she is off. I hear Universal Studios is hiring...

See, it's comments like these that make me irk on the inside. Because I work at Universal Studios. We make a joke amongst the employees: "When Disneyland employees get off work, they go to Disneyland; when Universal employees get off work, they also go to Disneyland."

I'll be the first to say that as a Los Angeles local, Disneyland is an amazing park that I've been going to since I was five years old. As a Universal employee I will say that I personally will always have more fun at Disneyland. It's a bigger, better organized park with so much more to do and see. I am not denying the awesome that is Disneyland, nor implying that Universal is better, when I say the following.

Don't you /dare/ suggest that Universal employees don't give a damn about our guests. And don't you dare suggest that working at Disney is any better than working at Universal.

We're trained to do the two finger point. We're trained to get down at eye level to talk to kids. We're trained to go up to guests looking at maps, or trying to take a picture. I have friends that work at Disneyland. We compare our war stories constantly. There is little to /no/ difference in terms of operating procedures as far as dealing with guests go, in uniform or not. We get paid the same amount to do the same, if not extremely similar tasks. To suggest that I don't care about my job as much as a Disney CM might care about theirs is presumptuous, and just plain rude.

Universal employees are not inferior to Disney employees just because the location is different. It's the same damn job. If you're not good at it at one park, you're not going to be good at it at the other.

Guest service is guest service. Period.

My Family had visited both magic kingdom, and universal. In Our opinions, universal wins hands down. We find it to be very organized, friendly, and exceptionally visitor friendly. Characters are great and seem to be out more often, at least more visible and available.

Working at Disney is a job like any other. I will always give whatever job I am at 100% while I am on duty, but when I am off duty that is my time. I would never be rude to someone looking for help, but if it is something that cannot be answered quickly, than yes, I will direct you to the nearest cast member on duty.
There is nothing wrong with that and it is people like you that make it horrible for CM's who are just trying to enjoy their day off.

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