Why I want to be a Disney Cast Member Again

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CM costume

For six magical months I was a Cast Member of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. For six magical months I got to live the dream of so many Disney fans. For six magical months I made memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.

Four years ago, I was a participant in the Disney College Program – Fall 2011. I worked on Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom, and now, a little piece of my heart will always live there; tucked between all the hats at The Chapeau, and hiding behind every bag and bauble at Uptown Jewelers. When my program came to an end, I chose not to apply for an extension, and instead, returned home to finish my degree and enter “real life” adulthood. Now, when I am at my desk job, dealing with deadlines piling up around me, e-mails binging to life every couple of minutes, and rushing to and from meetings with clients, I often dream of packing my bags, donning my Mickey ears and heading back to Disney World. I would love to escape into Fantasyland to fly with Dumbo, or join Captain Jack Sparrow in Adventureland. But, for now, dreaming of my next Disney vacation is what gets me by.

Here are my top reasons why I want to be a Cast Member again.

The Perks: Let’s be honest, being a Cast Member (or CM, if you’re in the know) has some major perks. The biggest perk being free entry into all the parks, all the time. I miss the days of finishing up a shift making candy cotton, trading my chef’s hat for some sparkly Minnie ears, and hitting the park for the rest of the day with some friends. As a CM, you are also given a number of passes to get your non-CM friends and family in for free. While I was on my program, I was visited by an amazing family that I’m close to, and I was able to get them into many parks for free during their trip. Not only do you get free admission to the parks, but you also get discounts on merchandise and food!

Behind the Scenes Magic: Have you ever wondered what the Magic Kingdom looks like after every last guest has left for the night? Well, I’ve seen it, and it’s wonderful – especially around the holidays. The lights on Cinderella Castle stay on all night overlooking an empty Main Street, where CMs work hard into the night to get the park ready for rope drop the next morning. Some of my favorite memories are standing on a deserted Main Street with my fellow CPs (College Program) and just staring at the castle. As a CM you also have the chance to see all the parades, shows, and fireworks pretty much every single day. I was actually paid to watch Wishes fireworks each night!

The Guests: Cast Members are known for making magical memories for guests, but honestly, I think guests made them for me more often! Seeing a shy little boy come to life when you greet him with an “Aye Aye Captain!” or the joy that washes over a girl’s face when you curtsy and whisper “hello, Princess” as she passes by you – these moments made the long hours and Florida heat worth it. I also had the chance to witness quite a few Make a Wish trips. These families, their stories, and their strengths always gave me that extra push to make sure I was living up to what a Disney CM should be.

The Costumes: Okay, not really the costumes, but in a strange way, I do get nostalgic for my Main Street neckerchief! Yes, the costumes are hot and made with polyester. No, they do not breath – at all – and yes, one time I got an infected sweat gland because of this (gross, I know, the truth hurts). Yes, the sizes are awkward and no matter how hard you try, your butt will always look like a pancake in your pants. But it really was a costume – and once I put it on, I was ready to play my part! And hey, I never had to decide what to wear in the morning.

CM costume
The Disney Point (and Other Oddities): At Disney, you are not allowed to point with one finger. You must always point with two or four fingers when giving directions to a guest. To this day, I cannot point with one finger – my body just won’t do it. I want to be back at a place where this isn’t considered weird. People in my “real life” also look at me strangely when I employ the Disney Scoop to pick up trash on the streets of Ann Arbor. This is another CM quirk, and quite tricky to master if I do say so myself. The Disney Scoop involves a continuous walking motion where you seamlessly crouch and scoop up a piece of trash, without stopping the flow of guest traffic. I’m a master at this and I would like to be back a place where this skill is appreciated. Also, people at the grocery store look at your really weird when you call their tutu wearing daughter a Princess. Apparently it’s just not socially acceptable outside of Disney.

Complete Job Training: When you first become a CM, you will go through a couple of days of brainwashing, I mean, Disney Traditions. This is a class where you are taught the history of the company, the basis for the Disney approach to everything, and where you begin your training. Disney has a great training program, and you really learn everything you need to know while “earning your ears.” My trainer, Matt, taught me everything I know about being a truly great CM, and I still keep in contact with him to this day (Hi Matt! Here’s your shout out!). Even after you earn your ears and really start to feel like you belong, there is always a network of people supporting you and helping you out. My fellow CMs and CPs made every day so much fun.

The Friendships: I’m not just being cheesy when I say that the friendships I made at Disney were the absolute, hands down, best part of being a CM. When you work with someone until 3am, 4 nights a week, you tend to develop a bond. As a College Program participant, these are the same people who you not only work with, but live with, and hang out with too. You form friendships fast in that kind of atmosphere! I lived in a 3 bedroom apartment with 5 other girls, and shockingly, we all got along! Not everyone is so lucky, but I miss these girls every day. Now, living in my spacious two bedroom apartment with my boyfriend and my cat, I can’t imagine sharing that kind of space again, but at Disney, it just makes sense, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I have booked a Disney vacation for the fall when I will be able to spend a little over a week at my true home. I can’t wait to visit all my favorite spots, visit my old work locations, and yes, be more than a little jealous of the Cast Members who are there, making magic.

Have you ever thought of trading it all in and moving to Disney? Does the idea of smiling for an 8 hour shift make you a little queasy? Tell me why you want (or don’t want) to be a Cast Member in the comments!

Monica is an Alumna of the Disney College Program. When she is not walking down the middle of Main Street USA you can find her wandering the World Showcase, or enjoying a Dole Whip while racing to her favorite attractions. When she is forced to endure life outside of Walt Disney World, you can find her in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she lives and works. You can visit her Disney lifestyle blog here.


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10 thoughts on “Why I want to be a Disney Cast Member Again

  1. You could always move to a desk job within Disney, although it’s a much different feel working backstage. I’ll always cherish my time spent in front line roles.

  2. I was a CP a year before you. I did the College Program as Merchandise for Fall 2010. I loved it and I have been trying to go back ever since. I had so much fun and although I wasn’t as lucky as you with the roommate situation (mine was hard to get along with), I still wouldn’t trade it. I worked at World Of Disney. I loved everything from the monorail, when I saw the castle for the first time, even having to ride the rides and walk the park by myself. You’re never truly alone in a place like Disney!

  3. Hello .. I was a Disney cast member in 1976 … I was on the racetrack with the real engine cars governed to go only a slow speed .. I was up at dawn driving the cars out to test the track and waiting till the little ones and big ones came so that we could jump on the cars need be when one of the revelers decided they might be riding bumper cars . And then occasionally being called to parade duty to keep peeps in the line not like now but out of the way . Ecpot was a thought and being dreamed of .. We had to know the names of the dwarfs and where every single restroom was to get the job .. You had to have the Disney Look .. the Disney way to get hired back then .. I don’t think its quite the same but for the majority of those that love Disney it is not a job it is a joy and fun and privileged joy . I long for that day .. Finally now living in florida again at 61… we are passholders and can go every day but yet we don’t live in Orlando so soon we hope to move there .. Taking the grandkids is a complete joy now … and going there is a joy .. and yes everything was under the world so to speak .. what fun it was .. what utter joy ..

  4. I just want to say the overall inner workings of Disney.,of what a job that must be.. When you have over 72’000 employed you are bound to have a few bad apple’s. But let me tell you there has been a policy that’s been in place from the Beginning of time, the wicked and greasy never last, some call it karma, just doing the right things is always the best policy, a good conscience is always good to have, and it makes for a good night sleep.

  5. That’s the hardest part of taking off the costume. You can’t walk up to strange children and start a conversation about their favorite princess or avenger without people wanting to call the cops on you. I mean seriously people, what’s wrong with a grown woman having a conversation with a five year old about which color looks better on which princess Or avenger.

  6. It’s my dream when my children are grown to move and work at Disney. My daughter wants to apply for the DCP in 2019. I cannot wait!

  7. I did the DCP in spring of 2012, and I had literally the same program you did. I worked on MSE and also lived in a 3 bedroom apartment. I think the Matt you’re talking about may have even been one of my trainers! Reading this article made me so nostalgic, and I have to say I miss all of the exact same things you do. Thanks for writing a great article about the college program!

  8. My 14yr old has her heart set on being a princess at Disney World. She has the most wonderful heart and wants to make little girls smile every single day. I have no doubts that she will pursue this dream and I can’t wait to see it!

  9. I have told my wife when the kids move off to college I want them to do the college program and we are selling our house and moving to Florida so I can get a job at Disney. ☺

  10. Great article to read!! I think about working there quite often! Everything magical and joyful makes sense over there♥ the thing is i’m from Argentina, so at least i’ll wait until i graduate from uni.

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