|Photo from here.|
While at Walt Disney World for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend, I decided that it would be really interesting to get the scoop about Disney from someone that knows it inside and out - the employees! Thankfully, Elizabeth James (I worked with her on The Vampire Diaries) is now an employee at Disney! She did an AMAZING job answering all my questions! She gives everything from tips for guests to Disney inside information! I know it's a little late for all of us princess runners, but we can always remember this advice for the 2013 Princess Half or remember it for all the fun runDisney events we are running between now and February 2013, right?! :o)
Photo from here.
What is your job title/position at Walt Disney World?
I am a part-time attractions host at Mickey’s Philharmagic and Prince Charming’s Royal Carousel in the Magic Kingdom.
How did your Disney journey begin (i.e. How did you hear about it?, What drew you to apply?, etc)?
I started my journey by doing the Disney College Program. I got to a point in my college career where I was unsure of what path I wanted to pursue, but when asked what I wanted to do when I was out of college every time I said “I want to work at Disney!” So I went online and applied for the program. I passed the web-based interview and I called to schedule my phone interview. I spent 30 minutes interviewing with a cast member and then the waiting game began. I finally found out I had been accepted and I accepted the offer immediately. It has been the best decision I could have possibly made for myself. I finally found my place and I fell in love with my very own prince charming during the program. I am living and working at the most magical place on earth....the stuff every girl dreams of, right?
If any readers are interested in job opportunities or even the college program you can go online to http://www.disneyjobs.com/ and look at EVERY opportunity they have. You might even see a familiar face on the college program site for Disney Parks and Resorts...
Can you please describe the application and audition process?
The process is very different depending on what you are applying for and if you are already a cast member vs. new hire. All of the information can be found on the website listed above. When applying you will need to complete an interview with a cast member. If they like you then you go on what is called a “skillcode” which is basically a big list that puts everyone in order for the job they want based on various factors such as seniority and the date you were placed on the waiting list. Casting then calls you and lets know that a position has opened up for you. When being placed on the list you are allowed to choose up to two roles and five different locations. You must be willing to work everything in the area within your role (for example if you prefer Fantasyland attractions you must be willing to work ANY of the attractions within Fantasyland). The cool thing with Disney is that everyone starts at basic park entry level jobs and ALL promotions are internal. So, even the Vice President of the Magic Kingdom started out as an attractions host (Haunted Mansion ticket taker on opening day October 1, 1971).
As for auditions you can go and check out the Disney auditions website http://www.disneyauditions.com/. It discusses everything from what to expect, what to wear, and even includes the audition calendar.
What are your job duties for Disney?
Our biggest job duty at Disney is safety for guests and cast members. After that our job is to make magic for our guests! It is my job as a cast member to go above and beyond to make our guests have the most magical vacation and help them create memories that will last a lifetime. It's the coolest job description you can ask for. It’s not all fun and games since I work attractions - occasionally I have to deal with bodily fluids or upset guests, but the positive out weighs the negative by a landslide.
If you could give Disney park guests some advice, what would it be?
PLAN! Make a list of attractions that you want to do. If you are traveling in a large group then let each person write out 2-4 things that they really want to do and then plan your days out accordingly. Go online and do your research - find out what has fastpasses and what attractions usually have the longest waits. Plan accordingly. Staying in the Disney resorts is usually a little more expensive than other off-property hotels, but Disney offers extra magic hours which allow resort guests to enter the park earlier or stay later than day guests. You can usually do several of the most popular attractions during this time with very short waits. Also try and go when it is not a peak season and on week days. Realistically if you are planning to go to Disney during the summer or the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, you should be prepared to wait in very long lines and for the parks to be very crowded so you will be able to accomplish much less than if you were to go during the slow season.
What has been your favorite Disney experience?
Honestly, I have so many memories that stick out. Some of them are from experiencing the park as a regular guests with my friends and family. Most of them are from interactions with guests that really touched me. Yes, I remember lots of situations with upset guests, but there are so many positive interactions that I have had with families that make my job worthwhile and genuinely fun to me. We are not supposed to touch guests, but I have had children and even parents hug me to thank me for doing something as small as replacing a lost fastpass. I remember names, faces, and stories more than guests realize.
What is your favorite Disney ride and why?
I’m torn by this question...I love Disney and all of the rides hold a special place and special memories. So, I am going to narrow it down to two: the first of which is Pirates of the Caribbean which is my family classic Disney attraction. It just amazes me how our Imagineers do everything they do and I think Pirates is a good show of how great they are at their jobs. My favorite thrill ride though - hands down - is Tower of Terror! I absolutely love it!
Who is your favorite Disney character and why?
Princess Belle is my favorite for sure! She is such a great role model for young girls and if more people were like her then the world would be a much better place. I mean just think about it - someone who is not interested in social status or what everyone thinks of her, but is just happy and determined to achieve her dreams and be herself! And, she is not caught up by outward appearance, but what is on the inside.
What is one thing Disney guests must do/experience while at Walt Disney World?
FANTASMIC!!! It is the nighttime entertainment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and it is the most spectacular show! It is a lights/water show starring several of our most beloved Disney characters and some of the best songs from the classic movies! Everyone in the family will love it and it is the one show that no matter how many times I see it, it NEVER gets old!
What is your favorite thing about being an employee of Disney? Any benefits?
Being able to play in the parks as a guest as much as I want...for a Disney nerd like myself it is an absolute dream come true.
When is the best day to visit the parks in your opinion?
Go on a week day in mid-January or early February - just try to avoid holidays, holiday weekends, and the summer if you can.
Do you see yourself making a career as a Disney employee? If so, where do you see yourself in the future with Disney?
I would really like to try to become a Guest Relations cast member and then work my way up in to management. I definitely see Disney as my career path, but with so many roles and opportunities I don’t know where my journey will lead me, but I am excited to see what happens!
If you could have any position, what would your dream job at Disney be?
Well my dream job would be to be the President or Vice-President of the Magic Kingdom. I LOVE that park!! It truly is my kingdom and that would be the ultimate dream job...but more realistically for the near future I would really like to do Guest Relations or work my way up to management. There are just so many opportunities with Disney!
What is one little known Disney fact/treasure you can share with us?
I have a few...so I am going to make a lists:
- The best place to watch Wishes Nighttime Spectacular isn’t from in front of the castle...it’s actually standing in the middle of Fantasyland. It is less crowded and absolutely breathtaking because the fireworks are surrounding you.
- The Hollywood Tower of Terror is exactly 199 feet tall because at 200 feet it would have had to have an airplane beacon on top of it and that would have ruined the show.
- From Morocco in the Epcot World Showcase you can see the back of the Hollywood Tower of Terror, so they painted the ride so that it would blend in with Morocco....if you ever wondered why it was the color that it was.
- Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel was built in 1917 and in 1967 Disney acquired it and moved it from it’s home in New Jersey to Fantasyland (after giving it a new paint job and new life) It is also the largest carousel in North America.
- Also regarding the carousel, Prince Charming’s horse is there as well as the horse that he gave to Cinderella. Her horse is the only one on the carousel with a gold ribbon around it’s tail and it is directly to the inside of Prince Charming’s horse.
- The cars at the Tomorrowland Speedway are the original cars from when the attraction opened with the park in 1941 - they have just been modified and updated a little.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was originally Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and inside the attraction in Owl’s house there is actually a portrait of Mr. Toad handing over the deeds to the ride to Owl.
- The Living Seas at Epcot is large enough to hold the entire Epcot ball inside and there would still be enough room to drive the Disney bus around it.
- Ellen’s Universe of Energy is actually powered by 20% solar energy, making it the ONLY indoor attraction that can go down due to rain.
- When riding the People Mover in Tomorrowland you can see Walt’s original design for Epcot. It actually wasn’t supposed to house the World Showcase - that was supposed to be it’s own park. Epcot was supposed to be a community for the cast members. Then Disney realized how successful the Magic Kingdom was that they turned it into a theme park.
- Conservation was very important to Walt Disney and because of that 1/3 of the land owned by Disney World will never be developed. Instead it is used for conservation efforts. Disney has also only developed 1/3 of the land they own in Florida, so there is still a lot of room for growth.
- Disney also donated the portion of land used for I-4 to the state of Florida because they recognized the importance in guests being able to easily travel to the park.
What can you tell us about the Cinderella’s Castle Suite? I know every girl is probably dying to stay there!
I actually have not been fortunate enough to see the suite - many cast members haven’t. Everything I know is from what I have seen in pictures and been told by people who have been lucky enough to see it in person. It is absolutely breath taking! (Pictures can be found on Google) I am not entirely positive, but I don’t think that you can pay to stay in it. It is usually offered to VIP guests and other specially selected guests. When staying in the suite the family is provided a 24-hour butler since they are unable to leave the suite after the park has been closed for the evening, but believe me - I can’t believe that anyone would ever want to leave from what I have heard.
One of my Twitter followers wants to know – If Mickey’s a mouse, Donald’s a duck, and Pluto’s a dog, what’s Goofy? (He said it is a quote from the movie Stand By Me.)
Goofy is a dog!
From my friend Donna: What's something you would have never known about Disney if you hadn't started working there?
Honestly, I always knew that a lot went into running the parks and keeping everything looking so great, but I never fully realized how much goes on that guests don’t see. I can’t really share any of it, but just know that Disney has thought of almost everything and they are prepared. It’s really amazing!
What kind of training process did you go through?
Every role and every location have different training processes. It really just depends on where you are going and what you are doing as to what your training process will be like. But Disney does make sure to give each cast member all the information and tools they need to do their job to the best of their ability and to maintain a safe environment for our guests and cast members.
From my friend Jessica: How many different parks have you worked at? What have your jobs been?
I have only ever worked at Magic Kingdom as an attractions host, but I have worked at two different locations. When I was participating in the College Program I was placed at the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, but once I was given a part-time opportunity I was moved to Fantasyland to work at Philharmagic and the Carousel. Some jobs have more flexibility for cast members to pick up shifts at other locations outside of essentially their "home location", but as an attractions cast member I am trained specifically for my attractions and can only work the ones I am trained at.
Are there any cool behind-the-scenes events you can share with us?
There really isn’t much I can share regarding this one. The only things that I can share are things that the company has chosen to make public and those can all be found online via Google. Sorry, guys!
How cool was that?! I know we are all currently applying for jobs at Disney after reading this, right? Be sure to comment below with what your dream job at Disney would be! I wonder if every one's answers will be the same or different! I'd also like to thank Elizabeth for sharing some of her awesome knowledge with us! The girl seems to be very well educated in Disney - can't you see her climbing the ranks to her dream job in Guest Relations in no time? I sure can! Well, in the words of Disney...
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