Confessions of a Disneyophile: Cast MembersSERIES, STAFF, Theme Parks, USA MAINLAND — By Betsy Villanella on September 9, 2011 at 01:15
Series by staff writer Betsy Villanella. Photos Copyright © Betsy Villanella.
ONE OF MY favorite things about Walt Disney World is meeting the many Cast Members that work all around the world.
Disney refers to all their employees as Cast Members, or CMs for short. Almost every Cast Member we’ve encountered has been helpful, friendly and interesting.
One of the places where I most enjoy chatting with CMs is Epcot’s World Showcase. Every country’s Cast Members are natives of that country, usually on a one-year assignment to Disney World, and they love to talk about their home.
While I enjoy real travel and learning about other people in their own countries, in the Epcot World Showcase I can do the Reader’s Digest version in one afternoon. There is Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
I can happily say I am a world traveler, many times over.
Disney’s Cast Members wear name tags that tell where they’re from. It’s a great conversation starter! We have met CMs that came from our part of the U.S. (the Binghamton, NY/Montrose, PA area). We like asking how they got to be a CM, and why. Most say they’re either snowbirds, or retired, and enjoy working for Disney. Some give us advice on how and where to apply for employment at Disney World.
Here are a few of the special CMs we have met all over the “World”:
Steve is a bar tender at the poolside bar at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. After the first day he knew what we drank, and he was pleasant to chat with.
Some CMs just love to have a good time with the guests, and we love that the most about them.
Once, after the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, we were on our way out and a CM asked if we knew the answer to a question he had about the movie. When one of my granddaughters got the answer right, he awarded all five a prize, and then proceeded to joke around with them for some time. He was great fun and it will always be a special memory for us.
There are quite a few interesting Cast Members in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. My granddaughter Julia found an African board game set up in the Africa section that she knew about and how to play. The Cast Member played the game with her and shared with her all kinds of great tips on how to win it.
Then there are the wonderful face painters; they’re always fun to talk with as they work. The picture shows my granddaughter Victoria having her face painted with roses. It’s her favorite flower, as her full name is Victoria Rose.
The Cast Members in Conservation Station are full of neat information about different animals. They will answer all your questions and will let you touch the animals too.
In Animal Kingdom a couple of Cast Members from Asia chatted with us while grandsons Mike and Doug colored the masks the CMs gave them. The female CM even got down and colored with them!
Their sign said: “Welcome to Anandapur. Anandapur Travel and Tourism Bureau.”
Another time we had planned a special dinner for our granddaughter Brittany. Brittany’s pick for her special birthday meal was 50’s Prime Time, but when we got there they had plumbing problems and had to close. They wouldn’t be able to open again for maybe a few hours, and maybe not that evening. It just happened to be pouring rain, complete with thunder and lightning, but we decided to wait it out. I chatted with the manager, who was nice and also very apologetic.
After an hour or so, suddenly ALL the 50’s Prime Time waiters and waitresses came out with a birthday cupcake and had the crowd sing Happy Birthday to Brittany. She was happily surprised!
The wait paid off: after another hour they did open back up and the manager informed everyone in the crowd waiting to go in that because it was Brittany’s birthday, and because she had waited so long in the rain, we got first seat.
We were also lucky to get one of the best waiters we’ve ever had: Uncle Dale. He was a blast, and goofed with the kids a lot!
50’s Prime Time is in the Hollywood Studios park. It’s a restaurant that puts you in a 50’s house, with the waiters acting like older brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles. They’ll playact with you about not putting your elbows on the table, and set rules for eating all your veggies. If you play along with them they’ll really ham it up and do silly things, such as making you get up to sing “I’m a Little Teapot.”
Once when we were there with my sister, I tattled on her that she was hiding her veggies. “Aunt Carol” made me put my nose to the door frame for sticking it where It didn’t belong. It’s great fun as long as you want to play. The people that don’t want to play they leave alone. But that’s the reason WE go there . . . for the fun!
If you do ever take a trip to WDW, make sure you stop and visit with the Cast Members. They love it—and it will make your trip even more memorable and fun then it already is!
Did you know the only country in World Showcase that helped build their architecture was Morocco?
ALSO IN THIS SERIES:
Our Disney specialist, Elizabeth Villanella has lived in the Montrose, Pennsylvania area most of her life. Betsy married her high school boyfriend in 1973. As an Air Force wife, she has lived in Texas, Italy, and Virginia. Between the two of them, her sons have given her fourteen grandchildren and counting. Betsy and her husband currently live with Albert K. Ninestein, a mini Schnauzer who’s as smart as his namesake. She loves to travel and wants to experience (and share) as many places in this world as she can! Betsy tweets as @betsy_v.