Today there are 6 Disney theme parks around the world: in Florida, Anaheim, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Shanghai. The biggest one is 20 miles from Orlando, Florida.
We at WeGoRo have overheard some stories from Disney staff, and we want to share the most interesting ones with you.
The Disney costume department is unbelievable. There are more than a million costumes! Well, there is nothing surprising about this because Mickey Mouse alone has costumes for every occasion. A huge number of people work on their creation and care.
Actually, the costumes of “fur” characters are a big challenge for the staff who have to wear them in summer. “For example, wearing the costume of Tigger is like walking covered with a huge heavy carpet in very hot weather”, says a former performer. And he adds, “But the staff of the costume department do their jobs very well. They sterilize the costumes every time and get rid of the smell, so nothing reminds you of the fact that your colleague wore it in very hot weather before you.”
When you are in Disney World in Florida, look at the badges that the staff members have. You will probably notice some people whose names are “Chris from Orlando.” In fact, these staff members have different names. They just forgot their own badges at home, and they had to take an extra one at work — and every badge says the same. You know, maybe among the thousands of workers in Disney World, there is a Chris from Orlando who doesn’t have to grab his badge from home because there is always an extra one at work!
This is probably a dream job. Otherwise, how can you explain why the Disney staff are never out of character? Maybe it’s because they love their jobs very much. “Oh goodness, I almost just said ’Excuse me, princess!’ to the little girl at the nature center,” one of the staff members said.
It must be really cool to have Mickey Mouse as your boss, right?
You will never see a Disney employee pointing at something with one finger. They always use “The Disney gesture” of 2 fingers together. There are 2 reasons. First of all, Disney is visited by people from all over the world of different cultures and mentalities, and it is considered very rude to point at something with one finger in many cultures.
The next reason is from Walt Disney himself. He was a smoker and always had a cigarette in his fingers — and this was the way he pointed at things.
Anyone who works with people sometimes has clients they wish would disappear. It’s because they are picky, annoying, and sometimes offensive. But Disney staff are not allowed to be negative at all (even though some clients deserve it very much). So if you are such a client, don’t be fooled by the phrase “Have a magical Disney day.” It is a secret phrase that helps the staff relax a little bit. The guest won’t understand it, but a nearby colleague will, and they will support their teammate.
The system of service tunnels in Florida’s Disney World is one of the biggest in the world. Staff use the tunnels to move across the park, and different cargos and waste are transported through them. Interestingly, the walls in the tunnels are painted different colors according to the parts of the park: it makes navigation easier for the characters that use the tunnels. They know exactly which turn and which exit they should take.
By the way, the entrances and exits are hidden from people. However, there are special tours named “The Key to the Kingdom” that give a sneak peek into how the Magic Kingdom runs backstage.
There is a strict Disney look book that determines the appearance of every Disney employee. All kinds of piercing are prohibited except for ears (not more than one hole in each ear). All tattoos should be hidden, and men should have short hair. Nails should only have very neutral colors.
Disney staff know that you can make a person much happier just by presenting them with a sticker of a Disney character. That’s why they always have a bunch of stickers in their pockets, wallets, and bags. And by the end of the day, they also have a lot of maps of the parks, posters, and many other things that end up in their houses and apartments.
“The coolest ’fur’ characters are Chip and Dale,” says a Disney employee. “All they do all day is troll the visitors. You can steal a bottle of water — everybody laughs. You can pretend that you want to kick your colleague — everybody laughs anyway. And it always works.”
Disney workers try to keep the magic and don’t let 2 of the same characters be in one place at the same time. Some parks are better at this than others. However, sometimes they fail. But anyway, most of the time the magic atmosphere is present, so you can’t see more than one Peter Pan or Snow White at a time.
“Visitors pulled my ears when I was Goofy. They hit me between my legs and pulled the nose of the costume (which is quite painful, actually),” one ex-Disney worker says. “People tried to climb my back or look under the costume. And all of these things were done by adults and teenagers, not children. Besides, I heard many parents complain that alcohol is not sold in the Magic Kingdom.”
Just like everywhere, the salary of the workers depends on many factors: hours of work, type of work, and so on. Interestingly, “princes,” “princesses,” and other human characters make more money than “animals.” This is because human characters entertain the visitors without masks, they spend more time with them, and they communicate actively. And “fur” characters are silent inside their costumes.
By the way, before a person becomes a human character, they practice being “fur” characters for a few days.
It is no wonder because Disney staff walk huge distances every day in a park full of visitors. They are always on the move. So it is surprising to see how they can still smile at the end of the day!
Sometimes even the most patient workers get tired and let their emotions take over. For instance, Disney workers once protested for higher wages and benefits, and 32 of them ended up getting arrested.
“I was dressed as Goofy in a café that day,” a worker says. “I saw a table in the corner; there was a big family with children. One of the boys suffered from autism. The characters needed to walk past the table and wave with their hands. I waved at the boy, and he smiled a little. When I was passing the table for the second time, I waved at him again, and then he suddenly rushed to me, smiling, and hugged me. His eyes were gleaming, and he melted my heart. But I was even more surprised by his mother. She was so happy that her son, usually very reserved and closed, expressed his feelings, and she took a picture of us. Their family had been saving money for this trip for a very long time. The woman came to me and hugged me with tears in her eyes. I have to tell you: this was the most sincere and kind hug in my entire life.”
Which of the facts above amazed you the most? Tell us in the comment section below!
Preview photo credit AP IMAGES