Image: Disney

"If we take care of our guests and our cast members, the rest takes care of itself." – Walt Disney/

Much has changed over the past few years at Disney parks, but one constant remains—cast members are the ones who truly make the magic possible.

From maintaining the parks to ensuring rides stay safe and providing top level hospitality, Disney cast members are the living engine behind the parks experience. In every imaginable role from topiary artists to wait staff to those special “friends” of Disney’s most classic characters, their bright attitudes and hard work make all the difference in setting Disney apart from the competition.

It’s no secret that it’s been a challenging few years to work in the travel and entertainment industry. Stories of cast members being treated less-than-magically by irate guests are still not unheard of, and shifts within the Walt Disney Company itself have been challenging for many longtime cast members to navigate. If you add pressures of inflation, staff shortages, and controversies regarding pay levels into the mix, it’s a lot for anyone to handle.

In short, we’re in a time when cast members need some love, and ordinary guests can play a significant role in making it happen… sometimes in ways that can make a real difference.

Want to help celebrate Disney cast members? Here are a few simple ways you can support them and possibly make a cast member’s day on your next vacation.

1. Use the cast compliment systems

Screenshot of Cast Compliments page in My Disney Experience
Image: Disney (in My Disney Experience app)

One of the most effective ways you can show appreciation to a Disney cast member is to let Disney know how they went above and beyond. This used to be a more involved process involving a trip to Guest Services, but Disney actually has several easy systems in place to help you do exactly this.

The newest option is using the Cast Compliments feature in the My Disney Experience app. The feature is basic but effective, allowing guests to quickly highlight a cast member who made their trip magical. You can find Cast Compliments by clicking the three bars on the bottom right of the app that accesses your main menu. Scroll down a ways and you’ll find the button for Cast Compliments.

You’ll fill out a short form specifying what (in general terms) the cast member did to make your trip magical, then specify their name and where they work in the parks (try to get their hometown off their nametag if you can and remember the date). That’s it! It’s the sort of thing you can easily do while waiting in a queue or catching a short break.

The one drawback of the Cast Compliments feature is that it doesn’t let you get into specifics. This can make things easier in some ways by making the process streamlined, as well as giving a way to compliment a cast member in vague terms that won’t potentially come back to bite them with management (I used this when a cast member gave me some free batteries for my lightsaber, for example). It does limit what you can say if you really want Disney to know details on how amazing the cast member was.

If you want to give a cast member a more detailed shout-out that Disney will see, you can use the #castcompliment hashtag on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to share your glowing report. Make sure and include either @waltdisneyworld or @disneyland in your message so Disney sees it. As with the compliments feature, include the cast member’s first name, where they were working, when, and how they made your day.

Finally, there still remains the old fashioned way to share a cast compliment—at the end of your Disney day, swing by Guest Services and ask if you can leave a feedback card complimenting the cast member. Some guests will keep a running tally throughout the day and fill out several of these at the end of the day. These little thank you’s not only help the cast members feel appreciated—ideally, they can help lead to promotions too!

2. Engage in the magic

Vi (the Spy) Moradi hiding from stormtroopers
Image: Disney

There are few bummers worse at Disney parks than when you see a cast member rocking it out in character to create atmosphere for a ride or land… and a clueless guest just isn’t having it.

I can’t tell you the amount of times in the early days of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge I saw cast members do their darndest to remain in their roles while guests repeatedly tried to get them to stop. Most often, it was innocent, coming in the form of questions about the rest of the parks or the land, but sometimes things got downright awkward when guests just couldn’t figure it out. This is a real shame as so many cast members do such an incredible job making parks experiences magical through playing in-character roles while doing their jobs.

The Tower of Terror and Haunted Mansion attendants are supposed to be leering and creepy—it’s part of the magic. The Jungle Cruise skipper is meant to be a master of dad jokes and comic cheese. The denizens of Pandora are playing like they live within that world… and the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge cast members all have crafted backstories of who they are within the Black Spire Outpost.

Please… please let these dear cast members play their roles with you.

I will admit that last one is a sore point for me as cast members interactions in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge really started out as one of the best things about the land. You never knew who you might meet, and some interactions could even reveal surprising backstories and (in rare cases) secret missions. I spent years playing games like Star Wars Galaxies and Knights of the Old Republic, and the land is basically like one of those brought to life.

While it was understandable some of the optional roleplay elements had to be dialed back during the thick of the pandemic, we’ve noticed it has become much harder to get cast members to engage in character than it was when the land first opened, particularly if you aren’t wearing a Galactic Starcruiser pin. Some locations are easier than others to have these great little magical moments (like Dok Ondar’s and Docking Bay 7), and giving cast members some cues that you are up for some in-world Star Wars fun can help draw them out (such as “Batuu-bounding”, that is dressing up in clothes with a Star Wars-feel).

It’s okay if you just want to smile and chuckle these moments away, playing the space tourist—that’s allowed. Just have fun with cast members and respond when they make magic… and if you do have a child at heart that is tugging to join in a little pretend, go for it! You don’t have to pay $6000 for Galactic Starcruiser to live an imaginary adventure. Roll with it and have fun with the cast and characters.

3. Avoid frustrating behaviors

Mirabel from Encanto smiling wide and holding up hands
Image: Disney

Want to help appreciate cast members in the simplest way possible? Sometimes you can make a difference just by avoiding behaviors that drive them crazy.

Don’t argue with cast members about height restrictions—they can’t make exceptions because those restrictions are all about keeping kids safe. Don’t line jump. If a ride has rules and guidelines, don’t fault the cast members or act like those rules don’t apply to you.

If a cast member is giving a pre-ride briefing, don’t talk through it. Don’t complain about things cast members can’t control (and no, they can’t put in a call to Dr. Doom to change the weather). They are not allowed to watch your children or hold babies, and please don’t hit on them or the characters they guard (or get handsy—that’s a big NOPE).

Last but not least… for the love of tiny Tinker Bell, leave the TikTok-Tom-Foolery at home. I’m all for a good travel hack, but if it involves skirting the rules, exploiting loopholes in shady ways, or ultimately taking advantage of cast members and putting them in a bad position, don’t do it.


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