Disney has been a symbol of countless childhood memories, bringing imaginations and timeless stories to life. Since 1955 visitors from around the world have experienced the joy of the Disney theme parks – better known as the Happiest Place on Earth. Disney certainly did not earn this esteemed title easily. Year after year, Disney has strived to deliver an unparalleled experience for children and adults alike, sugarcoated with the appearance of utter perfection. Such perfection requires significant behind-the-scenes efforts by employees to maintain the Disney image.
The Disney Company is reputed for having unique rules and regulations that staff are required to follow to keep the magical atmosphere thriving. Disney maintains discretion in its operations to avoid drawing away from the magic. Therefore, many visitors are unaware of what happens behind closed doors while visiting the Walt Disney World.
It turns out that there are many rules that employees are obligated to follow in regards to their behavior and physical appearance. Although they may seem a bit odd, these rules are what have attracted crowds to Walt Disney World for decades. Below are 25 things that happen behind the scenes at Disney to make it the Happiest Place on Earth.
25 All Employees Are Referred To As 'Cast Members'
Perhaps no one understands “there is no business like show business” better than the Disney Company. The Disney park’s goal is to provide a “show-like” experience to fully immerse each guest in the magical, fantasy universe of Disney. For this reason, Disney employees are referred to as ‘cast members’, never ‘employees’.
Brit + Co says to imagine all of Disneyland like a stage. While “onstage”, cast members are expected to perform at all times, whether they are it be on a real stage, a restaurant, or hotel reception.
24 Cast Members Are Masters Of The 'Disney Point'
Pointing with one finger is considered rude in some cultures. This, however, is not Disney’s primary reasoning behind the ‘Disney Point’. While visiting the park, guests will never see a Disney cast member pointing with one finger. Instead, cast members are obligated to point with two fingers when directing guests to an attraction or providing directions.
According to Reader’s Digest, the ‘Disney Point’ is credited to Walt Disney himself. Apparently, Walt almost always had a cigarette between his fingers when pointing to attractions. The Disney Company is said to have airbrushed the cigarette out of the photos. With many photos of Walt that appear to be of him pointing with two fingers, the phrase ‘Disney Point’ was coined.
23 "I Don't Know" Is Never An Answer
Disney’s renowned emphasis on customer service goes far beyond a welcoming resort staff. It turns out there are certain words that employees are banned from saying while on the job. Three important words that cast members are never allowed to say when answering guest questions are “I don’t know”.
According to Brit + Co, cast members are not permitted to answer any park-related questions with “I don’t know”. If they truly are unsure of the answer, they are expected to either ask another cast member or call someone who will know.
22 Cast Members Use Code When Speaking
Disney cast members often use code when speaking to each other to avoid diminishing the Disney magic. Reader’s Digest explains that for less pleasant matters, such as a child accidentally urinating in the park, cast members will say “Code P”.
If a guest has vomited, the “Code V” will be used to report the situation. By maintaining a secret code, cast members keep the fun going for guests no matter what. After all, the show must go on.
21 You Will Never See Two Of The Same Characters Together
If two Mickey Mouse’s were spotted together at the same time, there would most likely be quite a few confused children in the crowds. To maintain the integrity of the characters and the children’s imaginations, Disney makes sure that two of the same characters will never be in the same place at once.
There are carefully set times and schedules for each Disney character to avoid any potential overlap.
20 Guest Relations Is Best Visited In The Morning
There are various tricks and tips to navigate the perfect visit to the Walt Disney World. The ideal Disney experience starts with having updated information on the parks and attractions. To receive accurate information, guests should visit guest relations as early in the day as possible.
According to a former Disney World College Program participant, the full-time cast members who have worked at Disney the longest are available at guest relations before noon. They are the most helpful and knowledgeable, compared to the college students who work later in the day and may not know as much about the park yet.
19 Cast Members Never Break Character
Since all of Disney World is a stage, cast members are required to stay in character at all times while “on stage”. It is important that those who are playing Disney characters are completely immersed in the world and behavior of the character they are portraying.
Anything that does not relate to Disney or the character is not discussed from the moment the cast member puts on their costume. For this reason, guests will never hear Peter Pan discussing the new Drake album with Captain Hook.
18 Height Requirements Are Not Only For The Rides...
Disney’s height requirements are not limited to the various rides and attractions. There are certain Disney characters that must be played by cast members of specific heights. For those who dream of one day becoming a Disney princess, that person better hope to be between 5’4 and 5’8, according to Reader’s Digest.
If an aspiring Disney cast member falls on the shorter side, there are other characters they may be fit for. Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Wendy from Peter Pan are perfect roles for women between 4’11 and 5’2, says Reader’s Digest.
17 There Are No Bad Hair Days At Disney
It is perfectly normal for people to wake up to a bad hair day every now and then. Disney, however, appears to be an exception to this norm. According to the Disney Career Site, women interested in working at Disney must have their hair “classically styled” with only natural colors.
They are permitted to have highlights that are of a natural color. Prospective male employees are also expected to have tame hairstyles while on the job. They are obligated to maintain a neat cut with no hair covering any part of their ears or shirt collar.
16 Finger Nails Must Be Short (Especially in Dining)
Cast members can plan to cut down on visits to the nail salon while working at Disney. The ‘Disney Look’ refers to physical details as small as fingernail appearance.
According to the Disney Career Site, fingernails cannot extend beyond the fingertips, meaning no fake nails allowed. In fact, even nail polish is not permitted for cast members. Maintaining clean cut fingernails is especially important for cast members in food & beverage or merchandise.
15 Cast Members Must Limit The Bling
Simple seems to be in style at Walt Disney World. Cast members must keep this in mind while wearing jewelry on the job. While “on stage”, women are permitted one ring per hand and one earring in the lowest part of each ear, says the Disney Career Site. Men are also allowed one ring per hand, but cannot wear any earrings.
Both men and women are expected to remove all other piercings before arriving to work each day.
14 Tattoos Cannot Be Visible
After visiting the parks, enthusiastic Disney fans may contemplate getting a tattoo of their favorite Disney quote or character. However, the Disney Company does not condone its employees revealing any tattoos while on the job.
The Disney Career Site states that tattoos must be completely covered at all times by sleeves or pants, even Minnie Mouse or Tinker Bell tattoos. While cast members may have as many tattoos as they like, they must ensure that they are covered by clothing at all times.
13 Disney Princes Must Maintain Their Facial Hair
The expectation for appearance is just as strict with the Disney princes as with the princesses. Cast members playing a prince are expected to be put together and closely resemble the Disney prince that they are portraying.
While facial hair is permitted, it must be well-maintained and no longer than a quarter of an inch. After all, how often is Prince Charming seen in films with unruly scruff?
12 No One Goes By 'Mr.' And 'Mrs.'
Disney cast members are on a first name basis with each other from day one. No employee at the Disney Company goes by ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’, a tradition that has been passed down from Walt Disney. Apparently, Walt Disney insisted that everyone refer to him as ‘Walt’, never ‘Mr. Disney’.
Reader’s Digest says that even the employee name tags only reveal first names. Since only first names are used, cast members can never have the same first name as another. So, what do employees with the same first name do? It is safe to say that name changes are not too uncommon among the Disney staff while at work.
11 Garbage Disposal Is Still Done In Character
Disney cast members take cleaning up to a whole new level while on the job. Picking up garbage and disposing of litter is common practice to maintain clean facilities. Going through specific garbage disposal training, however, may not be as common.
Reader’s Digest confirms that the Happiest Place on Earth teaches its employees how to “gracefully” throw trash away. Cast members have mastered the “swoop-and-scoop” motion for disposing of any litter they may find on the premises.
10 Animal Characters Are Seen But Not Heard
Standing in the sun for hours on end signing autographs in a challenging task. For cast members portraying animal characters, there is the additional challenge of having to remain silent while in character. From the moment that the costume goes on, Disney’s animal characters only communicate through animated motions.
After all, what better way to ruin the Disney magic than for a child to hear a character speaking without moving his mouth?
9 Cast Members Carefully Choose Sunglasses
Maintaining eye contact is polite conduct when speaking with others. Disney cast members take this rule of thumb quite seriously when interacting with guests.
According to the Disney Career Site, guests must be able to see the cast member’s eyes at all times. While cast members are allowed to wear sunglasses to protect them from the sun, they may only wear ones in which their eyes are not hidden.
8 Only Simple Eyeglasses May Be Worn
Although Disney does not object to the use of prescription eyewear, they do have certain standards for eyewear at the parks. Employees are asked to maintain the ‘Disney Look’ with conservative eyeglasses. This refers to glasses with no vibrant colors or styles that would take away from their costume. Eyeglasses should be neutral in color and free of any logos.
7 Characters Go Through Autograph Training
One of the most thrilling moments for a child visiting the Disney parks is that moment when their favorite character signs their autograph book. The character autographs collected by countless children serve as a symbol of Disney’s joy and magic for years to come.
Disney fully understands the significance of character autographs, which is why cast members learn how to write like their character. Cast members must forego their usual handwriting and develop a signature unique to their Disney character.
6 Disney Characters Don't Use Social Media
In a world run by social media, it is as important as ever for Disney characters to use social media platforms with discretion. While cast members are allowed to have FB and IG accounts, they are strictly prohibited from posting about their job, says Reader’s Digest.
They may not post any photos of themselves in costume and cannot even tell others which characters they are playing. This secrecy is part of Disney’s tireless efforts to keep imagination and fantasy alive at the parks
5 There Is No Eating "Onstage"
It is common to find a Disney character visiting guests in restaurants or taking pictures with children at breakfast. However, these characters are never caught enjoying a meal in the presence of guests. Cast members are not permitted to eat while “onstage”.
Since the entire theme park is viewed as a stage, employees are not allowed any snacks or meals while working. There is a designated employee cafeteria for cast members to enjoy their meals out of sight.
4 Costumes Are For Work, Not Play
There may be a few unique perks to knowing a friend or relative that works as a Disney character at Walt Disney World. Borrowing one of the Disney costumes for the next Halloween party is not one of those perks. Disney character costumes are for work only and forbidden to be worn in any social situation.
This rule even refers to the cast member who wears the costume daily at work, says Brit + Co. In other words, Cinderella must relish in the extravagant ball gown only during her work shifts.
3 Backstage Photos Are Not Allowed
Walt Disney World is known for various performances and parades that go on throughout the day at the parks. With every show there is the expectation that cast members are refraining from any backstage photography.
Under no circumstances may characters pose in photos together behind-the-scenes. This is to ensure that there are no photos appearing on the internet of a Disney character caught with his head off or behaving in a manner that is not appropriate for their character.
2 Remember That No Question is Stupid
Disney’s charm can certainly be credited to the employees who are expected to put the guests first at all times, no matter how difficult. With an overwhelming number of visitors flooding through the park gates every year, it is inevitable that employees will encounter a few stupid questions.
If the question is Disney-related, employees are required to answer everyone with patience and a bright smile.
1 Disney Is Sustainable And Eco-Friendly
The Happiest Place on Earth prides itself on its efforts towards sustainability and giving back to the environment. According to Today, the company purchased 12,000-acres in the 90s for a wetland mitigation project. The Disney company funds the restoration and wildlife monitoring to give back from how the development of Walt Disney World impacted the environment.
Disney’s environmental stewardship and love for nature are still of the utmost importance. In fact, the company has committed to eliminating single-use plastic straws at all Disney locations worldwide in 2019, says The Walt Disney Company.