Please note that the title does not mean “how to make a cast member fall in love with you.” That would be weird.
No, I’m talking about how you, dear reader, can be the perfect Disney Guest when making a visit to the world. Especially on busy and hot days (Ahem, like the Avatar: World of Pandora Grand Opening Day and, well, all of summer). Those kind of days. Can you just imagine what Animal Kingdom cast members felt when they saw lines stretching to the parking lot on Saturday, May 27th? I’m sure not ALL of those guests packed their patience that day, and I’m sure all of them were sweating bullets. However, I’m also sure all those Cast Member were extremely prepared, and treated every guest with kindness and professionalism.
I too want to visit Pandora. But crowds like that are not peachy for my anxiety, and if I had to work that day, I would be having panic attacks left and right. So here are some things you can keep in mind the next time you visit Disney for a Grand Opening, during a holiday, or just during a particularly hot, random day. As a former cast member, I can assure you that these things will be appreciated.
- Do Your Research Before You Visit
One day as I worked in Animal Kingdom, a guest tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “are there any rides here?” I looked around at Expedition Everest off in the distance, where screams from the roller coaster could be heard for miles. Yes, Animal Kingdom is a theme park and has rides.
If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars and travel many miles to come to the largest vacation destination in the world, then PLEASE do some reading before you go. There are plenty of guidebooks out there. Find out the park hours and the times of parades/shows/fireworks. Find out what there is to do at your hotel. Figure out a rain plan. Download the My Disney Experience app (Disney has free Wi-Fi, so no complaining that you have to use your 4G), and get some advance fast passes and dining reservations. Cast Members are always happy to help, but you must help yourself first. Treat Disney World as if you were visiting a foreign country.
- Don’t Freak Out if Everything Doesn’t Work Out
This kind of goes against my first tip, but all the planning in the world won’t prepare you for life’s little surprises. A freak storm could hit during your trip, and all the shows and fireworks could get cancelled. A ride could break down. You could get sick. Don’t whine to cast members when they say it’s time for Goofy to take a break, because you waited till the last minute of your trip to get in line to meet him and now he’s leaving and you can’t wait for him to come back because you’ll miss your flight. Just accept that things happen, plan to the best of your ability, and enjoy yourself. Learn how to laugh off the little things. A rainy day in Disney is better than a sunny day at work (unless you work somewhere super cool, like Google).
- Be Nice, Polite, and Patient
It may seem like common sense, but grown human beings tend to lose their minds the second they walk on to Disney property. They know Disney is celebrated for its customer service and they sometimes take advantage of that. I’ve seen guests chewing cast members out for little things like long lines or cancelled shows.
I can say that if something does happen and you’re polite about it, I’m ten times more likely to want to help you. Just, be nice. It’s not that hard. Expect long lines and things not to go 100% perfectly. Cast Members aren’t out to purposely ruin your vacation, I promise.
- Don’t Treat Cast Members Like Babysitters
It is essential for children under a certain age to have a guardian with them at all times. Cast members, especially ones in safety critical positions, aren’t able to watch your child and tell them to stop swinging off the metal bars in the ride queue. There were times I was stuck trying to entertain a child (who was clearly bored) with an animal prop, while their parents chatted with their friends nearby. I wanted to scream. Disney is a family place- stick with your family.
- If You’re in a “Show”-type Attraction, Please Move All the Way Down
For attractions like “Mickey’s Philharmagic” and “It’s Tough to be a Bug,” and for shows like “Fantasmic”- basically any attraction or show that has theater-style seating- please move all the way down. If it turns out that there is plenty of room, then feel free to move more toward your desired spot. But please, don’t be the person that everyone has to step over in order to get a spot. Especially on crowded days. This is coming from someone who’s had to trip over a stranger’s legs one too many times.
- Don’t Get Cast Members to Break Character
We are literally trained on how to answer the question of “How many Mickeys are there?” And the answer is one. Just one Mickey. Anytime I got Entertainment-related questions (even though my role had nothing to do with Character Performers), it would make me very comfortable. I got confused as being a “friend of” Jasmine on at least three occasions, in front of children, and I had to carefully deflect those questions. Of course, I can’t be Jasmine, she lives in Agrabah! Anyway, just don’t ask cast members awkward questions.
- At Bag Checks and FastPass Entry Points, Be Ready to Go
Things will go much faster for you if you have your bag out at the start of the day (with all of your zippers unzipped and pockets turned out). This is makes it easier for security at the front of the parks to help you get your day started. Nobody likes to be behind the person whose taking their sweet time opening their purses and digging through their stroller baskets. Also, have your Magic Band ready at FastPass checkpoints at the start of every ride queue (the ones you have a FastPass for, that is). Don’t hold up the line- then we all get to go and have fun quicker! And a cast member will have one less slow, grouchy person to deal with.
- Treat Cast Members Like Human Beings
Cast Members (or at least I did, when I was worked there) love to be asked about their day; especially when they’re standing in a hot or stagnant position for hours with not much to do. I’m not saying to completely distract a CM from their job, but friendly chit-chat while waiting in line or getting your food is always a nice gesture. I always liked being seen as a person other than a worker bee. Of course, it was always a pleasure helping polite guests with general questions, but if an excited child wants to gush about their favorite ride, or if you’d like to ask your opinion on what park or show to visit, by all means, ask away!
Also, if you have a particularly good encounter with a cast member, go to Guest Relations and write them a compliment, or send an email through the official Disney website after your trip. I assure you that the Cast Member will appreciate it, and who doesn’t feel good after doing a good deed for someone else?
This was my very long way of saying “Good Luck” to all the Animal Kingdom cast members as Pandora debuts at the park; it’s sure to be a very long summer. It’s also my way of hopefully giving some tips on how to be a good guest while visiting Disney World.
Hugs and Fishes,