Just over four years ago, I left my job at Walt Disney World so that I could pursue other dreams. Since then there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t missed being part of the magic, but there also hasn’t been a day when I haven’t noticed how the job changed me and my expectations for reality forever. I loved every moment of my two years working for the Walt Disney World Company, but I have noticed the ways it has ‘ruined’ me for life outside of the company. So if you are a past cast member, you may relate to these feelings. And if you are a current cast member, you should take into account these things before you decide to leave the most magical job on earth. Like, seriously. Think about it.
1. You have to wait in lines again
Unfortunately, there is no off-season, parade time, or friends who work in attractions when it comes time for you to go to the DMV, the doctor’s office, or the grocery store. As a cast member, the only line you remember waiting in was to get on the cast bus. You were the wizard of Fast Passes, got back doored into pretty much any ride you wanted and definitely always entered the parks on your days off through backstage. In the real world, you aren’t so lucky. Please take a number.
2. You have to pay to get into the parks
While you may still try for the usually unsuccessful plea for free tickets from friends who still work for the company, more often than not you now have to pay your hard earned money to get into the parks. This company. This wonderful, magical, super expensive company is now running your bank account dry just so you can re-live the magic every once and a while. You love being back in the parks, but that doesn’t stop you from scoffing about it at the ticket booths. You did so much for them! How come you couldn’t be in for life?
3. You can no longer count on the holiday discounts. Pay up
Oh, Dooney & Bourke, you have done it again. And look at that gorgeous new painting of the castle! In the past you could look at a price tag and settle to hold off for that wonderful, life changing, holiday discount. Now, you just have to throw your dreams to the wind and accept the fact that you are never going to have that designer Disney Princess clutch. You are also never going to get to eat at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada without that 40% off coupon. Pick a new dream.
4. Everywhere has the WORST guest service ever
You’ve been to the bank, the post office, the grocery store AND called your phone carrier and not once has anyone told you to have a magical day! In fact, the bank clerk skipped right over “Thank you” and went right on to “Next!” If they only knew how to treat a customer, you might even be nice enough to write them a review on Yelp!
5. Your friends judge you for all of your Disney stuff
As a cast member it was totally normal to have shelves full of Disney figurines, stuffed toys, and a very imbalanced DVD collection. And now…you just look like a crazy person. You’ve hidden most of your prized possessions inside a box marked ‘Disney Stuff’ deep inside your closet so not to scare off any new people you meet. However, you’ve figured that one Disney blanket, a mug and a music box are subtle enough to not scare anyone away, right?
6. You want to correct people saying wrong things about Disney World SO bad
They are sitting next to you on the bus talking all about the Universal Studios park at Disney World and all you want to do is lean over and scream, “It’s Hollywood Studios!!! Not Universal Studios!!!”‘ But you know you’ll be taken for a total loon and then they’d know you were eavesdropping. You can’t help it if your ears perk up anytime you hear the word “Disney.” It happens to all of us.
7. You talk to and wave at children that don’t belong to you
You were having a completely sweet and magical interaction with this small, stranger child at the zoo until all of the sudden the parent had to come up and make it all awkward. Okay. So maybe this behavior isn’t excepted outside Disney walls. But while in the parks, you still scream “Happy Birthday!” to anyone with a birthday button. That is still allowed. That has to be allowed.
8. No one understands why you point with two fingers
You’ve been wondering for a while why folks look at you so strange when they ask you where the restroom is, then you realize. It’s the fingers. You wish you could go into how pointing with one finger is rude and this way is much less aggressive, but this person already thinks you are strange. The battle has been lost.
9. You are deathly afraid of any kind of large, international tourist group
Especially if they sing, have matching t-shirts and cary flags. You understand the pain. I don’t think I need say more.
10. You have to decide what to wear to work every day
Wasn’t it just SO easy to wake up and know exactly what you had to wear everyday for work? Better yet, you had a fresh costume to wear ready for you in the closet so you could take the dirty one from yesterday back to wardrobe to be washed. You probably only ever had to do laundry once a month since you never got to wear regular clothes anyways.
11. No one understands your Disney acronyms
You are texting a non-past cast member friend about an upcoming visit to the parks. “Hey, so I was thinking we could start at MK then head to DAK but then head back to see the FOF and possibly the last DAWM that day, but maybe we should see FOLK that day.” They have absolutely no idea what you just said, yet you probably read that sentence without a second thought. And we all know you should choose FOLK over DAWM.
12. Being disappointed with every new job, ever
Sure I get medical and a 401K at my new job, but I don’t get a cast member only Christmas ornament every year!? The truth is, nothing is better than working for the Walt Disney Company. You are constantly surrounded by joy, adventure, magic and love. Even on the hard days of sweat and grime, you would find yourself waiting for the cast bus under a spectacle of fireworks, remembering how lucky you are, how special the company is and the magic you helped create that day. Walt Disney World, we thank you for the memories and for the forever friends we made. We thank you for the highest class training in guest service and for the high expectations you give us for future employers. Most of all, we thank you for the magic and ruining our lives forever in the best ways possible.