The average theme park relies on thrill rides to keep guests coming back. But at Disney, it’s so much more than that. Something that really stands out at Disney World is their employees. Just the Disney name for them says a lot: they aren’t simply ’employees’, they are Cast Members. That’s because they have a very important role to play: that of a helpful guide aiming to make your experience as magical as possible. They accomplish this through many different varieties of fun Cast Member interactions with guests.
Outside Disney, many retail and ride operators simply do their jobs to the minimum level of customer service. Disney employees will go the extra mile- or three. They will open the door for you and say good morning princess! They will hand out random stickers to kids who look like they could use a pick-me-up. Even the security guards often try to make your day just a little bit more fun (one spotted my name tag and greeted me by a nickname, which I quickly countered by looking at his name badge and coming up with one for him).
Cast Members are a big part of what makes Disney World such a great experience. A lot of people might concentrate on the character meetings, but it doesn’t have to end there. All Disney park employees are trained to give guests a great experience, from Cinderella to the guy sweeping up trash. There are ways you can have extra fun with them though, so read on for ideas on how to maximize your fun Cast Member interactions!
- Wear something Disney. Adults cannot dress in costumes in the parks, but that doesn’t prevent you from having fun dressing up! They make ‘costume’ dresses, such as this Han Solo one I got for my sister. A cast member with a Kylo Ren lightsaber who saw her in it spontaneously reenacted a scene from Force Awakens with her. This is one of the many reasons Disney is awesome! If you wear a shirt featuring a certain character, and then go to meet that character, you will very likely get a reaction. I got this reaction just from a pin when I met Chip and Dale, and it was very fun! There is also the option of Disneybounding, which is usually my outfit of choice in the Disney parks. (Check out my post giving tips on great Disneybounds). If cast members notice, they often give appreciative comments. My favorite Disneybound interaction was when a cast member recognized my Cinderella outfit. He used a phone to “call” Prince Charming to set up a date for us.
- Play the part. Character actors will act like the characters they represent: Merida may ask you if you know archery, while Rapunzel might ask how long you’re planning to grow your hair. It’s fun to play along and pretend you live in the same fantasy world too. Once, Tarzan asked me if I knew of any nice gorillas in my hometown. He said he was looking for one who might want to go out with his friend Terk. Keeping a straight face, I said I knew a handsome one who would be perfect.
- Get a special celebrations button. The only one of these I’ve worn is the birthday one, and I’ve certainly gotten reactions from that. I remember during a parade Tinkerbell noticed and mouthed happy birthday to me. She picked out the birthday button through the crowd- impressive! You can get these at guest relations, and the best part is they’re free! They have buttons for First Time in Disney, Happily Ever After, and general Celebration buttons. Cast members will write your name or what you’re celebrating if you ask them.
- Wear something with your name on it. Whether it’s Mouse Ears, a pin, a shirt or anything else, Cast Members will often notice your name. It happens so often, I think it must be part of their training. The Cast Member may simply greet you by your name, or they may make some funny comment about it. Either way it’s fun, at least once you get over the odd feeling of a stranger knowing your name!
- Greet them by name. Along a similar line to the point above, you can give Cast Members as good as you get. I like to read their nametags and thank them by name, which sometimes surprises them. It’s also fun to read where they’re from, and comment on it if you have a connection to the area. I’ve had some great conversations with Cast Members from New Zealand, where I went to college.
- Take your time. If you’re rushing to join the park-opening line for Space Mountain, you probably aren’t going to take the time to stop and chat with Cast Members (nor should you). If rides are your top priority, and you only get to visit Disney occasionally, you may not find the time to get to know Cast Members. However, if you prefer a more relaxed visit, it can become a highlight. I once spent several minutes talking to an employee at the Polynesian Resort, who was very interested to learn about American culture. I always enjoy discussions of culture with non-Americans, and Disney World has more people from other countries than anywhere else I’ve been in the US! Generally, I dislike what I consider boring small talk (weather etc.). So I relish the opportunity to speak with people who have such different lifestyles to my own. When meeting someone from Japan, even discussing a typical school lunch is interesting!
- Be a kid again. If a Cast Member offers to sprinkle pixie dust on you… Say yes! If a Cast Member is dancing along to the show, join them! One of the great things about Disney World is that you don’t have to feel self-conscious about acting silly in public. In fact, acting silly is highly encouraged. If you feel awkward, just remember: there are people in Disney World paid to dress up in giant chipmunk suits and prance around. Nothing you do is going to be sillier than that.
I hope these ideas help you have fun Cast Member interactions.
In many cases, you don’t need to do anything to get the royal Disney treatment- but why leave it to chance when you could increase your chances!
What are your favorite fun Cast Member interactions?