Cast Member’s Corner: Disney Terminology 101

When I began my training to work at Walt Disney World I started by learning the typical things: safety, proper attire, and the actual working of the attractions.  But that wasn’t the only thing that I had to learn.  Working at Disney you have to learn their terminology.  If you’ve been to Disney World and spoken to the Cast Members, or read the signs around the park then you’ll understand what I mean.  Disney won’t ignore you, or only simply say hey.  The Cast Members are playing a part and they have their own scripts.  You are the Guest and the Cast Members are putting on a show just for you.

The terminology that sets Disney apart from other theme parks starts with you.  Disney calls you their Guest, not their customer or visitor, their actual Guest.  This implies that Disney wants to care for you and make you feel welcome. 

Then there are the Cast Members who are providing the Guests with everything they need to feel welcome.  Disney doesn’t call them employees or workers.  They are all a part of the cast and everyone plays their part in the whole production.  The Cast Members do not wear uniforms, they wear costumes.  These costumes help them play their part and to fit in to the backdrop or the section of the park that they’re working in.  When the Cast Members are interacting with the guests and in the public eye they are on stage.  Where as when the public can’t see the Cast Members then they’re backstage.

Cast Members in different parts of the parks may use different terminology.  A Cast Member working at Pirates of the Caribbean wouldn’t call a little boy walking around a little prince like they would in Fantasyland.  They would call him a young pirate or buccaneer.  Depending on where you are in the parks determines how the Cast Members might address you.  It also may determine how they tell you a ride is down or why a character isn’t out. 

Working at Mickey’s Philharmagic, I had guests frequently ask me where Peter Pan was.  Of course I would tell them he had to fly back to Neverland for a short while to instigate Hook and call him a Codfish, or that he had to take Wendy back to tell the Lost Boys their bedtime story.  Cast Members will tell you where the characters have gone, even if it’s not the answer you were expecting.  Similarly when a ride is down the Cast Members will tell you why in their own special way.  A few Guests came up to me one time wondering why “It’s A Small World” was down.  I told them that we had given the children a night off because they had behaved so well and sang so sweetly all day we thought they’d like to see the fireworks.  I’ve also told other Guests that it was because the children had laryngitis. Guests may not be looking for that answer but it usually brings a smile to their faces.

There are many things that set Disney apart from other theme parks.  One of the many things that sets them apart is their terminology.  From the very beginning, being called a Guest to being told why you can’t find your favorite character right now…..the little things that the Cast Members say can bring a smile to your face and remind you that you’re in the most magical place on earth. 

So until next time have faith, and trust, and let Disney shower you in the pixie dust you need to bring a simple smile to your face.

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Jess was born and raised on Long Island, New York but once college began so did her adventures. She’s lived in Florida, Wisconsin, and now South Carolina. Her family is part of the Disney Vacation Club and has been visiting since she was a little girl, and continuously goes every year. Besides being a big Disney fan she has also been a Disney Cast Member working in Magic Kingdom, and she counts it as one of the most magical experiences. She worked with everyone’s favorite elephant Dumbo, Cinderella’s Carousel, and Mickey’s Philharmagic. Jess has also visited Disneyland, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and gone on two Disney Cruises. She has so many great memories from Disney besides running half marathons and 5ks, birthday parties, and family reunions. If asked where she would want to go it is almost always Disney, and when asked why, it is almost always because she can eat awesome gluten free food! And it doesn’t hurt that there is always faith, trust, and pixie dust with magic in the air!

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