Disney is full of magic day in and day out. As a Cast Member I loved being a part of the magic for the guests. But there is some magic that the guests just cannot experience, magic that only the Cast Members get to witness. As much as I loved working with guests during park hours, some of my favorite times at work were park opening and park closing. It’s something about the serenity the park has just before the guests’ arrival and once they’ve all gone off to bed.
Now guests really never will get that experience, and I am sorry. But that never stopped guests from trying. Ever wonder if any guests tried to stay overnight? Of course you have, it’s every Disney lover’s dream to stay overnight at a park and have it all to yourself. I don’t mean to burst your bippity boppity bubble but it just doesn’t happen, Cast Members are really good at clearing out the parks at night.
You can’t fool Disney, they know that there are some of you just itching to stay in the park after hours. Some may even go to great lengths to try and hide. Because of this Disney has a great system in place. When I worked park closing I knew that while I was cleaning up the rides after closing and checking for any lost and found we did an excellent sweep of our ride both in public areas and backstage. But there are more than just the Cast Members that worked the rides sweeping the park. The custodial staff while they clean the parks are also sweeping it for guests. Now of course this never stopped anyone from trying to hide. The outer sections of the parks generally sweep and clear their sections of the guests first. They then will post Cast Members to rope off their section so that no other guests can enter them. When I worked in Fantasyland I would rope off the back of the castle that way those who had the last seating at Cinderella’s Royal Table couldn’t enter Fantasyland upon exiting dinner they could only turn down Main Street. Section by section of the parks are closed off that way when guests come by they are redirected towards the exit with the area of the park opened the longest. Although I have never found someone trying to hide it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, I have heard stories of people trying to hide in restrooms, leaving the stall door open but with their feet up. It doesn’t work I’m afraid, they were found and directed towards the exit.
Now just so you don’t think you can try and sneak back in after you leave to catch all the characters running around enjoying the rides themselves I have to tell you it can’t happen. Besides the security that work and sweep the entrances to the parks there are also Cast Members who work over night. That’s how the decorations in the parks just appear overnight; it’s also why unlike other parks you don’t see maintenance workers working on attractions during the day. Disney Cast Members are in the parks twenty-four/seven to ensure everything is perfect for the guests during park hours. This is why it is so hard for guests to stay over night like so many of us wish we could.
There are a few ways that guests may get to experience something similar to what Cast Members experience before and after park hours. The first way is getting an early breakfast reservation. You would be one of the first people to enter the parks and experience that quiet serenity that the Cast Members witness each day. Another way is to run during one of the many Disney marathons. Often times these marathons are run early in the morning and you get to run through the parks and behind the scenes before the parks even open. Other times they are run later at night and it is after park hours. When I ran the Princess Half Marathon we ran through Magic Kingdom before the park opened. We saw Cast Members getting ready for the opening running the rides and characters out and about getting into their places, we also got a sneak peak at behind the scenes areas. During the Expedition Everest Challenge we ran after Animal Kingdom had closed. The only other way that you will get close to experiencing what Cast Members experience is by being some of the last few people to leave the park at night. This will usually have to involve some shopping on Main Street as that is the last section to close. But as the park empties you will notice it get quieter.
Although all of us dream of one day staying over night in the parks and having them all to ourselves, it is not exactly a possibility. The best way to experience that is to become a Cast Member yourself. Then you will witness the quiet calm serenity of an empty park. If that’s not exactly in your future, then try a Disney Marathon, get an early breakfast reservation, or plan for a late night at the park and be one of the last to leave.
Unfortunately though Cast Members are masters of catching those guests who try and stay the night to have a sleep over with the characters. So instead of trying to break some rules, try the simple tricks that will get you as close as you can to that experience. So have faith and trust in the Disney Cast Members and I wish you plenty of pixie dust to help you stay up late, get up early, or fly like the wind during a marathon.
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!