Walt Disney World really is one of the most magical places on earth. From the thrilling rides to the incredible character encounters and the delicious food; a trip to Disney is certain to be remembered forever. But, all the special memories made there are made possible by a lot of behind-the-scenes rules amond work.
Some cast members, after leaving, have shared some of the secrets they learned while working in the parks. These tidbits of information are sure to shock you, teach you something new and make you excited for your next vacation down to Orlando, Florida. Keep reading to learn more!
When you're working at Disney World, you can't have any visible tattoos, you have to have your long hair neatly pulled back (unless it's part of a costume), and must wear neutral-colored nail polish. In addition, your costume must be kept immaculately clean!
While some of these are obvious to anyone who's visited the park, keep reading to learn some seriously revealing secrets from Walt Disney World. You will never look at Disney World the same again after this!
If you work at Walt Disney World, your job title will never be "Employee." Instead, you'll be known as a "Cast Member." Because everything at Disney is a show, everyone who works there must always be in character. It's just part of the magic!
After all, "cast member" sounds a lot more appealing than "employee" and gives a nod to the fact that the park is all about show business.
A Special Language
Anytime a guest wanders into an area of the park that they aren't supposed to see, the cast members refer to them as "going backstage." This makes sense when you're in a place where EVERYTHING is part of a theatrical production, as we mentioned earlier!
There are many other fun facts about the special language of Disney World cast members still to come! It's all part of the show, folks.
A Sunken Jungle
Did you know that Disney's Animal Kingdom is sunken several feet into the ground? Though some may think this is due to central Florida's iconic sinkholes, it's actually because the slight depression creates a better environment for the animals and guests.
Whatever it takes to give the people a better experience, right? It must be working, because many guests say that the Animal Kingdom is their favorite park out of the entire Disney family.
There Are Size Requirements
Disney is strict about who can play what role. In order to be a Disney Princess, it's said that you must be between 5'4" and 5'8" tall. While that's a pretty average height for an adult woman, it definitely leaves a huge amount of potential employees out of the running.
As you can imagine, there are many potential Disney employees, ahem... cast members... who aren't too happy about the company's size requirements.
No matter what, Disney World cast members cannot break character while they're in costume. Even if they become ill. This is to avoid "breaking the magic" that the guest feels while they're in the park.
That just means the cast members have to pull a "Michael Jordan flu game" if they become sick. Look up Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals to see what Disney employees' performance should be while they're sick.
The Dress Code Is Strict, Even When You're Not In Costume
During training or any other hours when cast members are not required to be in full costume, they're still expected to dress in business casual attire. The punishment for breaking these rules? Put on a costume. What can we say? Apparently, Disney wants his people to look sharp at all times.
No one can blame him, after all. The Disney staff is responsible for creating the illusion of magic for its guests.
The Costumes Run Really Small
Supposedly a vestige of sizing from the 1970s, the Disney cast member costumes are rumored to run very, very small. Whether this is the real reason, or there is actually some implied judgment in the costume sizes, employees learn to expect this disappointment. If you get hired, now you know to order up in sizes.
This might seem like a double-whammy, given the alleged size requirements that were discussed earlier.
All The Perks
Working at Walt Disney World comes with a whole bunch of bonus perks. Not only do you get to spend all day in a magical location, but you also get free admission to the parks on your day off. Employees also get discounts on food, beverages, and Disney merchandise.
Family members and friends of employees also get discount cards and coupons. Most employees get employee discounts at their place of business, but when you work at Disney World, those discounts are a bit more magical.
The Cast Has To Share Underwear
Until 2001, Disney cast members had to share underwear. Many of the costumes require special undergarments, such as tights, bike shorts, or jockstraps, and employees claimed that the items weren't always clean when they were issued. Some cast members allegedly contracted lice or scabies from their skivvies.
Disney did not comment on the situation other than to say that they would accommodate their employees' wishes, which they did. Cast members can now take their underwear home and wash it themselves.
"I Don't Know" Isn't An Answer
"I don't know" is not a phrase you will ever hear a Disney employee utter (unless, of course, they're in character and fully embodying a character who doesn't know the answer to your question). Disney employees have to basically take a test before they can go out into the park and help guests have the time of their lives.
They have to know everything about the park including where all of the rides are located as well as other technical information.
How Disney World Keeps Mosquitos Away
Located in Florida, you could assume that Disney World would have a healthy population of mosquitoes in its park. The wetlands around Florida are prone to bugs, so Disney World manages their mosquito population with something they call the "Mosquito Surveillance Program". According to a video that Vlogger Rob Plays came across, Disney World's employees catch the mosquitoes in carbon dioxide traps.
Then, a team analyzes the bugs before deciding how to best control the population to improve the guest experience for Disney World visitors. The park has gone so far as to bring chickens in, to help eat a specific type of bug.
The Two-Finger Point
Walt Disney himself supposedly HATED it when people make hand signals or gestures using only one finger. So, he required all his cast members to use two fingers while pointing, or, more simply, guide guests using an open palm. Don't even think about being caught using one finger.
This trait was so well-documented that it was included in the 2013 movie Saving Mr. Banks, in which Tom Hanks portrayed Walt Disney.
For safety reasons, Disney cast members never refer to missing children as "lost children." Instead, they are called "lost adults" and referred to as that via the radio system. This is to prevent any opportunistic kidnappings from taking place while the child is located!
Another benefit of using the secret phrase is to avoid alarming guests, which could lead to an even more chaotic scene. That is a smart tactic that is sure to be used at other establishments as well.
All around Walt Disney World, there are countless hidden Mickey Mouse heads. Guests like to spend their time in the park searching for these secret symbols and keeping track of where they find them! It's just another thing that makes Disney so special to visit.
Do you think you can find them all? There are guides to finding all the secret Mickeys online, so you can look them up if you're not able to visit in person.
Cast Members Are Banned from Talking about Work on Social Media
Disney cast members are welcome to use social media as much as they want… when they're off the clock. Social media and personal electronics are strictly banned while at work, and cast members can NEVER discuss their jobs on social media. EVER!
This isn't surprising at all, considering that many companies now have bans on employees discussing the workplace online. And Disney cast members are responsible for keeping the magic alive for guests, not ruining it with tell-all Tweets.
The Disney Scoop
Every cast member at Disney is responsible for picking up trash and placing it in one of the many trash cans (they are placed every 25 feet)! But, they aren't allowed to stop or lean over. It has to be done in one swift movement. Cast members say this takes a while to master!
If you think about it, working at Disney has a lot of perks besides the ones we already mentioned. Staying physically active is something many of us wish our workplaces offered.
A Mickey With A Dark Purpose
Have you ever noticed the Mickey that waves and greets guests as they enter Crossroads of the World in Florida? While, of course, you need Disney's number one mascot Mickey to greet you, that Mickey actually serves a higher purpose: lightning rod.
Since Florida is more prone to storms and such, Mickey's ears are made of copper to attract lightning in the event of such a disaster! That's called doing double-duty.
Taking Pictures In The Secret Bathrooms Will Get You Banned
As it turns out, taking pictures in any of Disneyland's secret bathrooms is ground for being banned from the theme park for 30 days. In fact, actress Rebel Wilson found herself banned for this exact reason, an illegal photo in the eyes of the park!
According to the star, "I did get banned from Disneyland for 30 days because I took a photo inside a secret bathroom, which is illegal, at Disneyland."
The Parade Route
The most common question asked of cast members at Walt Disney World is (try not to laugh) "What time is the 3 o'clock parade?" That's funny, right? Cast members say that, even after quitting, they are NEVER able to forget what time that iconic parade is and its exact route.
If you've ever had a dream about work before, then this will resonate with you, although dreaming of Disney parades is likely better than a lot of other work dreams.
Disney Won't Pay Until You Return Costumes
If you're leaving your role at Disney, they have a policy not to hand out your last paycheck until you've returned all costumes. However, it's rumored that they don't actually enforce this rule very strictly.
So if you wanted to keep your costume for your next Halloween party, go right on ahead. Although you're definitely not allowed to take any photos in the costume or post anything to social media about it.
Watch Your Makeup When Auditioning
Self-proclaimed "Ex-Disney Princess" TikToker @sarahdanielstv uses her platform to talk about the ins and outs of her experience being a Disney princess.
One tip? Don't wear crazy eyelash extensions to a princess audition. She says she was wearing hers when she was hired but they were "natural". Anything over the top is sure to get you a red stamp of disapproval.
No Selfies Allowed!
This rule goes hand-in-hand with the ban on discussing your job on social media. If you're caught taking pictures in your costume, you will be fired immediately. Apparently, Disney executives are really strict about this rule! If they find out about any selfies you took backstage, you can expect to kiss the Magic Kingdom goodbye for good.
It's all about the show and the illusion of a perfect world. Your selfies don't add anything positive to this fantasy land.
There Are Tunnels Below Disney World
Beneath Disney World, there is a myriad of tunnels connecting different parts of the park that cast members use to travel around unseen. It's convenient for sure, but it's also been reported that these tunnels are often smelly, hot, and full of trash. That is just something cast members have to deal with.
However unpleasant they might be at times, the secret tunnels make getting around the park so much easier.
Another interesting tidbit about the "Disney language" is that cast members aren't allowed to say the word "vomit." If a guest has an accident on or during a ride, they simply get on the radio and say "Code V," as to not make any more guests sick.
And you can bet that they're quick to clean up any messes very promptly. No one is going to leave anything like that sitting around at Disney.
Speaking of messes and other unpleasant business, here's another fact about working at Disney. Have you ever wondered why certain parts of Disney World have specific smells? Well, wonder no further!
Special machines called Smellitizers distribute scents throughout the park -- like fresh baked cookies on Main Street and other delicious aromas. This is a tactic that surely makes you want to buy some of those tasty cookies and all the other treats!
A Secret Store?
When a guest leaves an item behind at Walt Disney World, it is stored for a specified length of time. After that, though, any cast member who wants it has the opportunity to buy it in a special store. All the profits are donated to charity, proving that Disney really does make magic with everything they do.
Many of us would pay a pretty penny to see the objects that have been left behind at Disney over the years... must be quite a haul!
Cast Members' Code For "Go Screw Yourself"
If a cast member ever tells you to have "Have a Disney day", you've probably really pissed them off. We can assume cast members made up this code in order to stay sane and let off some steam while also keeping their jobs.
Don't take it personally; everyone has a bad day every now and then and it's not like they're trying to insult you. Just tell them to have the same.
Doing The Dirty
And now for a particularly shocking secret ... Apparently, many of the cast members at Walt Disney World are romantically involved. Although it's common in many workplaces for employees to get together after hours, it might be a little harder to imagine this being the case somewhere as magical as Disney.
Rumors of Peter Pan and Wendy hooking up in a supply closet are only made worse when you hear the rumors about Aladdin and Ariel!
Must Have The Perfect Signature
Cast members not only have to personify the attitudes and appearances of the characters they're playing (which let's face it, can get unrealistic at times), but they also have to learn to write like them, too. In fact, Disney provides training for all cast members to help them perfect their character's signature.
We hope they also provide wrist braces to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from signing so many autographs! Kidding, kidding.
Cast Members Can't Say Who They Play
Cast members aren't even allowed to say which character they play. If asked, they're only allowed to say "I'm friends with [character]" or "I hang out with [character]." Anything to preserve the magic. Even if you try to trick them they will not fall for it.
We wonder how this works when visiting home for the holidays... as in just how specific cast members can get when discussing their jobs with Grandma and Grandpa.
The Music Stays On ... Always
You know when you hear a song played one too many times on the radio and it stops being catchy and starts being annoying? For Disney employees, the music never stops. Even when the park's closed, the music keeps going. Yet somehow they remain friendly!
"It's a Small World" is one of the most notoriously annoying songs in musical history, so we feel especially bad for any cast members who work near that area of the park.
Disney World Cast Members Wear Flair
Cast members at Disney World, but apparently not Disneyland, are required to wear a lanyard with at least 12 pins on it at all times. The pins are to be traded, and we can assume that the more pins you have, the better. Talk about some strict flair rules!
Anyone who has seen the hilarious Jennifer Aniston film Office Space can relate to this Disney rule with a knowing smile.
No Patchy Beards
If you're still working on the ability to grown a full beard, you'll have to go clean-shaven as a Disney employee. Their facial hair rules require hair to be fully grown in, it must be neatly trimmed, and there is no grooming allowed. In other words, no goatees.
This is sure to be a bummer for all the guys out there sporting scruffy beards these days. But if you really want to work at Disney, you gotta play by the rules.
No Long Hair (For Male Cast Members)
Not only does Disney have rules for beards, they also have rules on the length of male cast members' hair. For the guys who work at Disney, hair must not be so long that it extends over their ears or falls in their eyes. But apparently they allow Gaston to be an exception?
As we keep seeing over and over, appearance and grooming are very important at Disney World. Employees have to follow all of these rules.
And No Shaved Eyebrows
There are also some pretty strict rules when it comes to female cast members' hair. Especially when it comes to the kinds of hairstyles cast members who are not in costume can wear. Female cast members may not shave their eyebrows, hair must be neatly brushed, and braids are allowed, but not beads.
We're a bit curious why there were so many people showing up to work with shaved eyebrows that a rule was created, but apparently, it was a problem.
Disney Wants To Help You Spend
In order to make purchases even easier, Disney has a policy that anything you purchase can be delivered to your hotel if you're staying at a Disney resort, or you can have them delivered to the front of the park for you to pick up on your way out.
They certainly don't want you to have to carry things around the park. Anything to get you in and spending your money!
Even Princesses Take Out The Trash
As we said earlier, there's a special way of picking up trash and keeping the parks clean. When we said everyone participates, we meant it! It might not be the most glamorous job, but everyone is expected to pull their weight when it comes to keeping Disney parks clean -- even Snow White.
Unless, of course, she has the dwarves around to help her. (It looks like Alice is less than thrilled by the task at hand.)
Disney Characters Don't Frown
When they're on the clock, cast members have a slew of behaviors that are strictly prohibited. At the top of the list? Frowning. Disney not only wants to have control over what you look like, but they also want to control the emotions you portray.
But we can't blame them for this one. Because unless you're Grumpy the dwarf, no one wants to visit Disney World to see an angry Prince Charming.
Tired, sad, or less-than-alert body language is not acceptable behavior when you're on the clock at Disney. Unless they're bending down to sign a little visitor princess' autograph book, Disney cast members must exhibit good posture at all times.
This might be easy enough for characters like Ariel who don't have any extra weight on their shoulders, but for others it could be a challenge. It probably starts to become habit after a while!
It's hard work smiling at passers-by, handing out signatures, and posing for pictures with dozens upon dozens of sticky-fingered kids. In fact, that kind of work will make a person hungry. But for cast members, eating while on the clock and visible to guests is strictly forbidden.
And this can't be made any easier with all the smellitizers around, not to mention all the delicious-looking food that's sold around every corner.
Or Chew Gum
Even if they need a quick breath freshener or even a tiny sugar pick-me-up, a small infraction such as chewing a piece of mint gum can be cause for big trouble. They can't slouch, eat, or even chew gum.
Essentially, cast members often have to act like the characters they're portraying -- a fictional cartoon character. Unless that character happens to chew a lot of gum, the cast member shouldn't either.
This rule is quite a bit more understandable. As smoking laws get more and more strict, there are fewer places smokers can indulge in public. So unless a cast member was in a designated smoking section, we probably wouldn't want them smoking anyway.
But as it stands, they're not allowed to smoke in character or on the clock at all. So put that hookah down, Mr. Caterpillar. It's simply not allowed.
Walt's Not Into Alt
If you're into alternative body modifications, it might be hard to get a job as a Disney cast member. Things like visible tattoos and piercings (other than one ear piercing on each ear for women) are not allowed if you want to work for Disney.
Your dreams of Disney went down the toilet when you get that tattoo of your birthdate in Roman numerals on your forearm. Better not to ink if you want to work for the Mouse.
You'll Never See Two Of One Character At Once
If there's one thing Disney is good at, it's organization. Which and where characters are out in the park is something that's organized to the very last minute. Plus, cast members have a schedule with them at all times. Looking for Ariel? Pooh or Buzz Lightyear might just know.
Everything is a well-orchestrated act... one that we're not supposed to notice as paying guests. But it's kind of neat to learn all of these behind-the-scenes secrets.
In Fact, If Two Are Seen Together, They'll Be Fired
Disney wants to create the illusion that the Snow White you see is the only Snow White in the world. So if two Snow Whites accidentally cross paths in the park, it's considered a dismissal-worthy infraction.
Does this mean that they actively hide from another like a job-related game of hide-and seek? That could be fun, as long as you didn't get caught. Learn why cast members cannot wear glasses in the next slide.
Can't See? Wear Contacts.
Surprise, surprise. Disney has some rules about eyewear. Glasses that have logos, are brightly colored, or are flashy in any way are not allowed when on the clock. And it's probably safe to say that Cinderella can't wear glasses at all.
So if you work at Disney and you need help seeing, contacts might be easiest. You certainly have less of a chance of losing them at the park as you might with glasses!
If You Need To Be Sick, Keep It Secret
Disney cast members are never allowed to take off their costume heads when they're on the clock, even if they're feeling sick or faint. So who knows how many Donald Ducks, who are smiling on the outside, are actually almost throwing up inside their costumes.
That's a bit awkward because you have probably taken picture with a sickly character. One who was hiding the fact that they felt bad, just to keep their job.
A Family Got Free Passes When A Man Died
Legend has it that a man once had a fatal heart attack in a Disney World store, and cast members brought his grieving family backstage to give them privacy. Seeing "behind the scenes" is rare enough, but supposedly the family was given lifetime passes, too.
It's a little hard to imagine that they were too thrilled about going to the park after losing a loved one there, but perhaps it was a welcome distraction.
Disney Doesn't Joke About Shoplifting
There are plenty of stories of kids stealing a couple of things from a Disney World store, and later in the afternoon, being quietly approached by security guards who ask them to, "Come with me, please." And from what we know about how strict they are, it can't end well.
There are rumors of Disney jail, and shoplifting would certainly be a reasonable cause to end up there if the stories are true.
And Be Careful With That Flask
The security guards are on the lookout for sneaky drinking, too. And they're not always the guys in uniform either. There are plenty of undercover security guards watching your every move while you make your way throughout the park.
Don't risk it all just to get a day buzz from that whiskey you snuck in. Go to EPCOT instead, where you're allowed to purchase adult beverages and enjoy them on-site.
Cinderella's Castle Has A Secret Suite
Originally used as a place for Walt and his family to stay when they visited Disney World, this decadent suite is now occupied by winners of various Disney contests. Talk about a dream come true! This might be a perfect honeymoon spot for a wife who loves Disney!
The list of celebrities who have supposedly stayed in the suite is really long and includes names like Oprah, Tom Cruise, and more!
If You Hear A Loudspeaker Announcement, It's Important
Like we said before, Disney's policy is to never, ever turn off the music. However, they do make an exception for emergencies, like when a kid is lost. So if you hear the music stop, listen up because something crucial is about to be said.
It's definitely not going to be a Rick Roll moment, so you should perk those mouse ears up and pay close attention to what they're saying.
Cast Members Have To Learn Lines In Three Days
Not only does Disney demand perfection, but they demand it fast. The cast member onboarding process includes spending three days with a Disney trainer getting every pause, inflection, and smile exactly how the script states it. Sounds like an acting job prepping for filming.
It's another good example of why employees are called "cast members." They truly are part of a big production! They'd better not mess their lines up!
The Disney-Pixar animated film Ratatouille might have been a huge box-office hit, but one park visitor in October 2016 wasn't thrilled to spot a real-life rat in a dining area of Disneyland.
Twitter user @hannaahelisee took a photo of the rodent and posted for all the world to seem with the caption: "pay my college tuition and i'll delete @Disneyland." Sorry, lady, rats are an unfortunate part of life. Deal with it.
A Top-Secret Club
There's a secret gem right in the heart of New Orleans Square: an ultra-exclusive ($35,000/year!) members-only bar called Club 33. The club counts many celebrities as members, and it's rumored that big names like Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks are frequent visitors.
That hefty price tag gets you more than entry into the club… it also includes behind-the-scenes tours, fast passes to all Disney attractions, and a private car on the Disneyland Railroad.
A Secret Disney Menu!
Disney fans will no doubt be excited to learn that like many popular restaurants, the theme park also offers a secret menu just for visitors who are "in the know". From Ice Cream Nachos to a Mac 'n' Cheese Bread Bowl, fans can stuff them silly with delicious Disney treats.
Anyone who's jonesing for a special Disney treat but can't visit anytime soon should turn to Google for some knockoff recipes. It's not the same as being there but not too bad to satisfy a craving.
Homeless Disney Characters?
Following the death of a Disneyland custodian who was found dead after living in her car, the company's low wages have come under public scrutiny. One local protest organizer, Anaheim resident Jeanine Robbins, held signs reading "Disney, we feel, is a contributor to the homeless problem here in Anaheim. There are Disney employees who live on the street."
Disneyland is the largest employer in Orange County, which is one of the most costly housing markets in the country.
Largest Number Of Employees In The World
For Florida's Walt Disney World, at least, you could take all its cast members and create a new city. There are reportedly over 70,000 cast members at Disney World alone and most of them are housed in Disney-owned accommodations.
In order to run the Happiest Place on Earth, it really does take a village.... a village of cast members who all pay close attention to the rules and do a great job of it!
A Guest By Any Other Name
Disney cast members will make every effort to address you by your first name. Were you ever being checked out at the gift shop or buying a Dole Whip and thought it odd that the person giving you your change knew your name?
Cast members are expected to use guest's names whenever possible. They will either look for clues of your name on pins or hats, or they can catch your name real quick by glancing at your credit card.
They Expect You To Do The Same
Back in the '50s, it was quite odd to address people by their first name if you didn't know them very well. But Walt Disney hated being called "Mr. Disney" and would insist that everyone call him Walt.
That is why cast members will have their first names on their name tags. But apparently, no two cast members can have the same name, so if your name is already taken, you have to use a different variation of your name or your middle name.
The Unsung Cast Members
Just like the other cast members, the custodial cast members must undergo extensive training as well. There are particular ways to sweep various objects, they must be trained on the correct chemicals to use for certain clean-ups, and there is even a long list of radio codes they must learn.
Although custodial-specific cast members take on most of the job, every Disney employee must remember that they are all custodial since everyone has their duty to keep the park clean.
Keeping Out The Pests
Speaking of cleaning up the park, there is a job that can only be done by special members of the Disney family: cats. The Disney parks have their own clowder of stray cats that roam the park at night in order to prey on unwanted pests and rodents.
These feral cats call Disney home but they only come out at night when all the visitors are gone. Every now and then a guest will catch a glimpse of one, though!
Speaking Of Cats...
A lot of the cast members can get a little catty themselves. There are forums in which former Disney cast members talk about the rifts they get into with fellow cast members. People who play Disney princesses can be very unlike their characters in real life.
One former cast member told an Internet outlet that the cafeteria for the cast members was often like a scene from Mean Girls. We hope that was an exaggeration.
The Water Is Greener On The Inside?
Disney theme parks make an enormous effort to make their facades and world pretty realistic. But have you ever noticed that the color of the water is a little off? The water on the Jungle Cruise and in other bodies of water throughout the park is actually green on purpose.
This is because Disney wanted guests to feel like they were actually floating in a boat on the water, as opposed to being moved on stationary tracks.
Disney Owns A Lot Of Land
When he was creating Walt Disney World in Florida, Walt didn't want realtors to know that it was him buying up all the land around his park. This was so that realty prices wouldn't go up just because it was owned by Disney.
So in order to work around that, Walt used a lot of fake names and businesses to purchase the land, which is why you might actually be on Disney property even if it is unused. The names came from a lot of the businesses that are on Main Street U.S.A.
No Crying Kiddies
The Disney theme parks have a "No Sad Kids" rule that all cast members must adhere to. Kids get upset for a plethora of reasons, even if they are at the Happiest Place on Earth. To prevent a total meltdown, any cast members who see a distressed kid must make an effort to put a smile on their face.
Whether replacing their dropped ice cream for free or giving them a small toy to keep after getting a boo-boo, cast members ensure that all kids are happy.
A Secret Bike Network
Back when Hollywood Studios was a newer attraction at Walt Disney World, there was supposedly a system of bikes that cast members used on the backlot in order to get around faster and with ease.
However, this didn't turn out so well after there were multiple bike thefts and damages that happened. Guess some people just can't have nice things. But most people reported that they loved having the option to ride a bike.