1. Former Disneyland employee here. We see everything in the rides, there are cameras everywhere and we have night vision. Yes, I saw you cop a feel on your girl when you thought no one was watching.
2. I worked at Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom. A little secret: We got paid a dollar more than all other attractions because we not only spiel, but drive 35+ guests in a truck on an uncontrolled trail. If we wanted to, we could’ve driven right out into the river where the crocs are and told you all to “run.” Hence the extra dollar an hour to keep us from doing something so crazy…
3. The flying asteroids projected on the ceiling of Space Mountain are actually lumps of chocolate chip cookie dough, filmed as they were thrown through the air.
4. I was given a 6 am walking tour of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. What I was most struck by was the pirate characters up on bridges or seen in windows or on the attacking ship, none of them have any legs. They’re top-half only, mounted onto poles. If the boat riders can’t see a part of an animatronic character, then it doesn’t need to exist.
5. This was years ago at DL but there used to be a show of Tinkerbell flying through the sky before fireworks started in the summer. They would put the spotlight on her as she went down a zip line and go to black just as she crossed to a backstage area. The novelty of it was that there was no sophisticated mechanism to stop her. There were literally a couple of guys in a tower at the end of the zipline holding a mattress that she would crash into to stop. Nightly, cast members would gather at the base of the tower backstage just to see this happen. As soon as she crashed, everyone would go back to their locations.
6. There are three hidden phones in the Magic Kingdom that when you pick up
have dialogue from Disney characters like Stitch in Tomorrowland.
7. My SIL got the role of Cinderella at Disneyland Paris. She had to practice Cinderella’s autograph over and over because although different actresses play her all over the world, the signature of the character has to be identical anywhere it’s signed for consistency.
8. During the construction of Pandora at Animal Kingdom, a very beloved superintendent passed away on the project of an immediate heart attack. Mid-sentence and while opening the door to the construction trailer, George Burke just…died. The project was very affected by this. His knowledge of the work that needed to be done was deep and irreplaceable. His laughter and personality were loved by all 1400 workers that were there. A couple of years after he passed, we were finishing the project and found the perfect way to pay homage to George. They invited his family to the middle of an active construction site to let them view it. George’s red hard hat, with the black Nordic Cross on top, was attached to the rockwork, in the middle of the flowing river, to the left of the entrance to Flight of Passage, and plastered over. The family, friends, and a few Imagineers, were the only people there. Only we can point out where the hardhat is underneath the plaster, theming, and plants. I revisit the spot every time I go back to Pandora.
9. You have to be in specific height ranges to play the different characters. Because Mickey’s height range is so short he’s usually played by a woman. Likewise for Donald.
10. When the princess face characters come backstage they have to take off their dresses so they don’t get dirty while they’re on break so the princesses are usually walking around in a smock and bloomers if you see them back there. There is some serious cognitive dissonance when you walk back and see Snow White in her bloomers on her phone cursing up a storm.
11. I worked in reservations. They give you a name, that is not your own and you better use it. My name is not Robyn Leigh, but in Disney reservations, it was.
12. We actually care a lot about the guest experience. If someone drops their ice cream, I can get them a new one free of charge. It’s called “keeping the magic”.
13. Both hands had to be visible in photos (e.g. one outstretched and the other on someone’s shoulder). The biggest no-no is hands behind backs not visible due to the possibility of someone saying you grabbed them inappropriately.
14. “Night of Joy” it’s called. Disney employees lovingly refer to it as “Night of Hell.” Christians (probably a specific organization I truly don’t know) rent out the Magic Kingdom for a night and have Christian bands perform. I had to work it during my college program and it’s HORRIBLE. The park literally doesn’t run any of their “dark” rides that night due to too many kids hooking up in them. These are rides that are in darkness for a significant portion of the ride, like the Peoplemover. Disclaimer I worked at Disney over a decade ago so I only know what was true at the time.
15. Former college program cast member, worked at Magic Kingdom. Magical moments were awesome, if I worked the candy shop I’d feel horrible kids spending $20 on candy that was probably $5 worth at Wal-Mart so I would just bag it and send them on their way.
16. Not a Disney employee, but hear me out. I was a bartender at a popular bar that, because of some technicalities, was considered to be a part of the Disney World property. After midnight, most of (if not all) of our regulars were students from the Disney college program.
Disney employees are not, under any circumstances, allowed to leave Disney in their costumes. Enter us: a brilliant loophole for young employees who want to grab a drink after work before retiring to their Disney apartments.
Have you ever seen a drunk, headless Winnie the Pooh fall down a flight of stairs? I have. The craziest thing I remember happening was when Lilo decided to toss a drink on an Epcot Germany employee, who knew that she would most likely get fired for having alcohol stains on her lederhosen. I miss that place.
17. Not the theme parks, but I worked at the Disney Store back when they first started popping up at all the malls. They made us sing the M-I-C-K-E-Y song at the end of every staff meeting and about half of the staff would cry when they sang it, because they just loved Disney so much. They would send you home if you didn’t have the ‘Disney Spirit’ (if you were in a visibly bad mood or unhappy.) If you got sent home for this more than three times they would fire you.
18. In the Indiana Jones ride near the giant snakes after the bridge there is a large metal slab on the ground. Under that slab is an opening that falls into a large empty space. The opening is in the middle of the space and about 10 feet high. There is no rope, no ladder, and no stairs to reach the opening from inside the space. There are no other ways to get out of that space other than the opening in the ceiling and there are no lights in the space. You could literally fall in there and be trapped forever in darkness if someone doesn’t come and help you out. It is for this and many other reasons that there is a checkout system on the ride. If you enter the ride on foot, you take a card. When you return from the ride you turn in the card. If any cards are missing then the ride cannot be turned on and a search party must go out until that person is found.
19. The Magic Kingdom park is actually on the second floor. The land was cleared and the tunnels and offices were constructed, then the park went on top. There is only a small section of the ‘tunnels’ that actually goes below the actual ground level. There was a pump going constantly to keep it dry.
20. There is (was?) a very weird culture there. Cult-like. Seasonal employees were largely separated from the full-timers.
21. No idea how different it is now, but the underground tunnels always smell like hot garbage. Literal hot garbage as the tunnels are used to collect and transport everything that gets thrown away. It’s really bad in the summer.
22. Ever heard about people spreading ashes of their loved ones in the POTC or Haunted Mansion ride? It’s goddamn true!
23. I used to occasionally work at one of the outdoor carts in front of the castle at Disneyland. There’s water in various areas of the park, so we got lots of ducks, and in the springtime, the babies would hatch and walk around with their mothers. People don’t always pay attention to where they are going and sometimes step on one of them, usually killing them. If I was able, I would step away from my cart to escort a family of ducks to safety.
24. In Disneyland, in the peter pan ride, I was always in awe with the floating stars that you zoom by in the ride. Turns out they are just LEDs on the end of wire hangars (attached to the walls, mostly) that are wrapped in electrical tape.
25. Disney will give VIP treatments to wealthy people and celebrities. Including being chauffeured from backstage between attractions, surrounded by a circle of cast members.
26. We were told about the color they used to paint the buildings outside of the park. Apparently, they are painted a specific shade of green, specifically made to be uninteresting. Nicknamed “Go-Away-Green.” This is just so people who snoop around outside of the main attractions are less likely to go inside buildings they’re not supposed to. Pretty neat.
27. Not a Disney employee but I saw a sort of behind-the-scenes event at Disneyland that was interesting. There’s no smoking at Disneyland except in like one or two designated areas that may not even be there anymore; I’m not sure. Anyhow, I was waiting around the side of one of the attractions near the space mountain buildings that was next to a bunch of doors by a service entrance type area with virtually no one around.
Guy decides to sneak a cig. He leans on the wall next to the doors, looks around and lights up a cigarette. Gent got two puffs in before the door next to him opened and a guy in a polo came out. Smoker drops his cigarette and grinds it out with his foot, then follows Disney polo shirt guy into the building and the door closes.
Best part… 30 seconds later, door swings open, a custodian pops out, sweeps the ground up cigarette butt into a dustpan in one second and backs into the doorway without ever touching the door as it closed in front of him.
Whole thing took less than a minute. I have no clue what happened to the guy.
28. Disneyland first interview papers include a blank outline of a person to indicate where you have tattoos. It’s referenced if you want to change positions internally, to indicate how said tattoos could be revealed, based on what your new uniform would be.
29. Epcot was 100% the best place to work when I was there. Until food and wine got so popular that we had to deal with all the drunks.
30. Disney cruise line here, I used to go into the complaint system and read all the guest complaints from previous cruises. The amount of complaints that were because of sheer stupidity on the guests’ part is staggering. People seem to think because they’re paying lots of money they’re allowed to do or say whatever they want, which of course can be unsafe on a ship.