Confessions of a Disneyophile: Cast Members

STAFF, SERIES, USA MAINLAND, Theme Parks — By 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.

My granddaughters found a couple of things they liked about France in Epcot.
These young men were French, and we enjoyed our time chatting with them.
Loved the accents!

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.

Right: Grandson David with the door greeter at the French Quarter Resort.
Left: For her birthday, granddaughter Brittany got a Special Assistant Conductor's card from the train conductor in Magic Kingdom.

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”:

Cast Member Ryan drawing chalk
pictures at the bus stop

I found a CM (Ryan) drawing chalk pictures at the Polynesian Resort bus stop. As I chatted with him I found he drew them all around the different resort bus stops. He was working for Disney by participating in the Disney College Program. He is a 2011 Graduate of Nicholls State University with a BFA in Drawing and Printmaking, and “hopes to find an art career with Disney and to spend the rest of my days drawing for the mouse!”

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.

Perfectly piratical portrait of the whole participating party with their prizes. AARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!


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.

In Animal Kingdom Africa, Julia found a friend—and some game-winning tips!


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.

This picture was taken at the outpost between China and Germany in Epcot,
but you can get your face painted all around WDW.

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.

A friendly Cast Member shows granddaughters Victoria and Elizabeth a boa

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.”

The boys thought this CM was extra nice. Taken in Animal Kingdom (Asia).

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!

Granddaughter Brittany's surprise birthday cupcake


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!

This Cast Member was our waiter “Uncle Dale” in the 50's Prime Time restaurant

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.”

Not only did Uncle Dale make the meal a lot of fun, he gave
Brittany another birthday cupcake


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!

TRIVIA:

Did you know the only country in World Showcase that helped build their architecture was Morocco?

————–

ALSO IN THIS SERIES:

Confessions of a Disneyophile: How I Got Hooked

Confessions of a Disneyophile: Resort Stays, Codes, and Other Useful Park Tips

————–

Betsy Villanella


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.

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    18 Comments

  • Julia says:

    these are great! i look forward to reading them all the time 🙂 I love how you use your own personal stories because it adds a sentimental touch to the whole piece. Very impressive, and enjoyable to read! Love youuuu

    • Betsy
      Twitter: betsy_v
      says:

      Julia,
      Thank you for the nice comment. I’m so glad you enjoy them!
      There are so many stories to tell of the interesting people I have met, and the fun times I’ve had there!

  • Ann
    Twitter: AnnHolly
    says:

    Betsy, this was a GREAT article! I LOVE this one being about who works in the park, not how the park works! Terrific angle! Your pictures are go beautifully with your wonderfully descriptive article!

    Next time I go to Disney, I have to make sure I interact more with the cast members….I tend to be in a world all my own walking around the parks!

    Awesome, AWESOME!

    • Betsy
      Twitter: betsy_v
      says:

      Ann,
      Thank you!
      I really enjoy the CMs, and think they are a big part of the fun of Disney World. It’s nice to write about them, and share my photos of them too!

  • Andy
    Twitter: disunc
    says:

    Another Great Article from a Great Lady. It is so refreshing to see a article about the CM’s. They are the very soul of WDW.

    • Betsy
      Twitter: betsy_v
      says:

      Thank you Andy! I agree with you. The CMs are like the “extras” in a movie. Without them there’s no dimension to the story.
      They set the mood, especially if you are lucky enough to get one who makes that extra magic happen!

  • Brittany says:

    I loved this! That birthday was the most memorable and fun birthday i have ever had. Reading about it just makes it more memorable. Keep up the good work and I’ll keep reading about your fantastic WDW adventures! (:

    • betsyv
      Twitter: betsy_v
      says:

      Brittany,
      I’m so glad you liked it! That Birthday has many happy memories for all of us. Thanks for helping us make those adventures exciting!

  • Lou says:

    I some how ended up on your website.
    I very much enjoyed your story regarding the CMs.
    As one, I get to see them off stage and I’m glad to say that what you see on stage is for the most part how they are off stage.
    Keep up the good work.

    • betsyv
      Twitter: betsy_v
      says:

      Lou,
      Your comment makes me so happy.
      I am glad to have a CM read how they have made our trips fun! It takes a special person to be so upbeat and helpful, to so many strangers, all day, every day!
      Thank you!

  • Nora says:

    What a great article! Very interesting! Some don’t understand why my husband and I love Disney. It’s not just the beautiful resorts and parks, the fabulous food, the exciting atmosphere…it’s the people. They are the happiest and friendliest folks you ever want to meet. It is just not possible to be unhappy there!
    I will be and have been recommending your blog to everyone!
    It was a pleasure to meet you and I am so glad Annie got me connected to your blog. ( Ann’s cousin, Nora)

  • betsyv
    Twitter: betsy_v
    says:

    Nora! It’s so nice to see your comment! Thank you so much for following my articles and recommending Millivers Travels! There are a lot of other very good articles there, including some from Ann!
    It was also great to meet you in Epcot! I wish we had more time to chat. I hope we will be able to meet up again some time.
    Disney world is a happy place! People who don’t understand are missing out. Maybe my articles will help!

  • JM Merchant
    Twitter: JMMerchant86
    says:

    Lovely article Betsy.
    I’ve got a couple of mates who are working for Disney at the moment; Natalie is on the cruise ships (she plays Ursula among other characters in the evening shows), and Cat who’s spent the summer performing in the parades in Disneyland Paris, she even spent a week as Pinocchio on one of the floats.
    I’d love to get work on the cruise ships technical team, it sounds like everyone on board has an absolute blast 🙂

  • betsyv
    Twitter: betsy_v
    says:

    Thanks!
    My husband and I will be going on a Disney Dream cruise next Aug. We are meeting friends. Disney cruises are a lot of fun, and the ships are beautiful.
    You should give them your resume. You never know, you may be just what they are looking for.

  • Lisa Carter
    Twitter: intralingo
    says:

    What an interesting perspective, Betsy! Thank you for making us think about all of the people from all over the world who help make Disney run. What an experience it must be for all of them!
    I worked at the World’s Fair in Seville, Spain (Expo ’92) and it was similar, with country pavilions being staffed by their citizens. We all lived in a global village: the Venezuelans next to the Canadians, the Fijians across the way. It was a special experience.
    I haven’t been to Disney in a while, but if I ever go back I’m going to make a point of talking to all the CMs!

  • betsyv
    Twitter: betsy_v
    says:

    Thank you!
    One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to talk to the locals. If you don’t, its like looking at a book, Unless you open it and really read some, you just see the cover and you don’t really get the real story, just a picture and a few interesting things about it.
    The real story, is so much more fulfilling!

  • Brian Grogan says:

    Yes! The cast members are really what make the show go, especially in World Showcase at the Norway and Morocco pavilions, who were so nice to let me take pictures of them. I’m not sure if they will still let guests do that, due to security, but it is still a lot of fun to meet them!

    • Betsyv
      Twitter: betsy_v
      says:

      Hi Brian,
      I am sure you can still take pictures with them. The world showcase is the best place to talk to the CMs. You can get some very interesting facts about their country or even WDW.
      The bus drivers too love to talk about the World, and tell you things they think you wont know. A great source for Disney trivia.
      I’m glad you enjoyed my articles. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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