"A Day Late But Never A Dollar Short" -WRD
In this rare photo, construction continues on Space Mountain in 1976.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Cast Member Wiki - Part 9
Personal Experience - All of the observations in this assignment were made personally while in the employment of TWDC over a several year period in many different capacities across multiple organizations within TWDC in both Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California.
I first began working for TWDC in January 2006. As an intern I was part of Disney’s College Program. My role was Parade Audience Control (PAC) and Fantasmic! Audience Control at Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney/MGM Studios) located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Life during that six month internship was literally all Disney all the time! I lived in Disney housing, took Disney transportation, ate Disney food, had Disney friends, took Disney classes… you get the idea. Theme park operations were my speciality. I gained intimate experience working in the daily, routine of a Disney theme park both through the experiences of my own role and the roles I frequently observed others performing (e.g. merchandise, attractions, outdoor vending (ODV), security, etc.).
I also served briefly in Stadium Operations at ESPN Wide World of Sports (formerly Disney’s Wide World of Sports) during the Atlanta Braves spring training and the inaugural tournament of the World Baseball Classic.
After a brief hiatus, I returned to Orlando in January 2007. This time serving as a Professional Intern, I worked as an Employment Coordinator Associate at the WDW Casting Center. Here I was exposed to an even broader array of corporate structure, operational, and occupational needs required to run the Resort effectively and efficiently. The WDW Casting Center would routinely interview up to 100 potential candidates a day.
Additionally, I was tasked with organizing the (approximately) thirty Professional Interns employed in the many different casting departments at the Casting Center into a single contingency of peers whose goal it was to enhance the Professional Internship by planning and executing uniquely planned extra-curricular activities that aimed to broaden our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Disney history, heritage and legacy.
This goal was realized over the duration of the internship by each intern preparing an activity that highlighted a different area of prior expertise. For instance, I planned a special backstage tour of the Fantasmic! set using my connections to the show having previously worked there.
In January 2008 I was recruited to help expand the college recruiting efforts in southern California for the fledgling Disney College Program at the Disneyland Resort. I was responsible for the promotion and marketing of the Disney College Program at 20+ colleges in southern California. In this role I worked independently while maintaining partnerships with a Disney Recruiter, school faculty and staff, and reporting directly to my manager in Orlando. I made only occasional appearances at the College Program office located at Team Disney Anaheim (TDA) in the backstage area of the DLR.
Unfortunately, the program was discontinued after six months at which point I moved to Guest Services at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Guest Services was responsible for fulfilling the special requests of hotel guests.
In late 2009 I left The Walt Disney Company to return to school.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Cast Member Wiki - Part 8
Power Distance - Because of the size of the organization a high level of power distance is inherent. However, the company’s extensive legacy and heritage propaganda discussed earlier also provides a sense of respect for executive’s, VP’s, Presidents, Directors and other high level managers which aides to the ideal that not everyone is simply approachable. A strict chain of command is adhered to and respected.
One demonstration of this high power distance is the time when newly appointed CEO Bob Iger was to visit WDW’s Casting Center. Mr. Iger was to give a brief Q&A session before the Center opened for the day. There was no general announcement of this planned visit. Very specific CM’s were privately invited to the meeting ahead of time and told not to talk about the event. Access to the room where Mr. Iger was to meet the approved list of CM’s was strictly controlled. An entourage of assitants and handlers accompanied Mr. Iger everywhere he went. When Mr. Iger’s allotted time was up his assistants abruptly aborted any further interaction and hurried him off, out of sight.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Cast Member Wiki - Part 7
Non-Verbal Communication - The most obvious aspect of nonverbal communication among CM’s is the required and strict appearance guidelines known as “The Disney Look”. These conservative regulations ensure a consistent look among all employee’s regardless of where they work. For men this means a conservative hair cut above the collar, a clean shaven face or manicured mustache but never a beard, and short, groomed sideburns. Men are never allowed to wear earrings or other facial jewelry.
For women a similar set of standards applies meaning hair color must be natural looking. If a woman dies her hair it must be kept up. Exposed roots are not acceptable. One set of earrings is acceptable but they must not dangle too low. Nail polish must be natural in color and nail length must not be too long. Extreme make-up color or styles are not acceptable. Pantyhose must almost always be worn.
For both genders, exposed tattoos are unacceptable. All of a persons teeth must be accounted for and be free of noticeable decay. A gold-capped front tooth wouldn’t be allowed. Sunglasses may be worn but cannot be so dark that a guest cannot see their eyes and cannot be extreme in style. No more than one ring on each hand can be worn and only one watch can be worn. Some minor exceptions may occasionally be allowed under extreme circumstances for Roles that are backstage only or on the overnight shift when the chance of guest interaction is all but eliminated.
The list of requirements goes on. However, the purpose of these restrictions is to create a personal appearance that is inviting and comfortable for Guests. Every CM much look approachable and welcoming. After all, no one would expect to see a mercantile shop keep with a tattoo on his forearm and gaged ear plugs on 1930’s Main Street, USA, would they? It always comes back to maintaining the show and staying in character.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Cast Member Wiki - Part 5 & 6
Stereotypes - There is a myriad of positive and negative stereotypes associated with CM’s. Some people may perceive CM’s as overly naive based on the generally wholesome nature of entertainment TWDC provides. Other observers might stereotypically think a CM must be very well qualified to be employed by such a prestigious corporation.
Ethnocentrism - While most CM’s will stand together to collectively defend against external debate about their perceived overly cheery dispositions there ironically exists many varying levels of negative judgements, or ethnocentric hostilities, among the different sub-cultures of Cast Members who believe their Role is more essential or important than another. For instance, character performers generally view themselves as the most important aspect of theme park operations. While all CM’s have a role and are said to be performing it is the characters, parade performers and the like who think they are real performers while the others are just pretending. Another example of ethnocentrism might be DLR CM’s thinking themselves superior to WDW CM’s because the Disneyland is Walt’s original park and the only one he actually worked in and saw completed.
Ethnocentrism - While most CM’s will stand together to collectively defend against external debate about their perceived overly cheery dispositions there ironically exists many varying levels of negative judgements, or ethnocentric hostilities, among the different sub-cultures of Cast Members who believe their Role is more essential or important than another.
For instance, character performers generally view themselves as the most important aspect of theme park operations. While all CM’s have a role and are said to be performing it is the characters, parade performers and the like who think they are real performers while the others are just pretending.
Another example of ethnocentrism might be DLR CM’s thinking themselves superior to WDW CM’s because the Disneyland is Walt’s original park and the only one he actually worked in and saw completed.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Cast Member Wiki - Part 4
Culture Shock - As a new CM there are so many new experiences to be had that each new intricacy and detail of a new job, err, role may prove to be overwhelming. Each stage of the classic culture shock phenomenon can be experienced as a result of being hired and integrated into the culture of Cast Members. For example…
PHOTO CAPTION - A group of College Program interns from Disneyland pose in Walt Disney’s actual apartment above the Fire Station on Main Street, USA.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Cast Member Wiki - Part 3
Culture - Cast Members (hereafter CM’s) are quickly indoctrinated with the idea that it is the exceptional level of quality service provided by each CM that is directly related to the company’s success and un-equaled reputation of industry leading guest experience. To achieve this great care is taken to provide each CM with a socially healthy work construct. Positive messages and activities (propaganda) promoting the company’s legacy and heritage are frequently strummed to the heart strings of the combined 70,000+ CM’s at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World (hereafter WDW) Resorts. Some examples of these purposefully sentimental avocations include: annual canoe races, private holiday parties, merchandise discounts, complimentary theme park tickets, backstage tours, sports leagues, Imagineer seminars, social clubs, etc. As a result, an overall sense of community has been established among those who are privileged to work at a Disney theme park.
Photo Caption - A group of interns pose for a photo on the set of Fantasmic! after a backstage tour.
CAPTION: A group of Employment Coordinators at Walt Disney World’s Casting Center
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Cast Member Wiki - Part 2
Jargon - Specific and deliberate terminology is used as a frame of reference to provide context to the employee responsible for maintaining a specific aspect of Walt’s show. Some examples are:
While there are many more examples of corporate jargon used by TWDC to help maintain Walt’s illusion these ideals are more effective in practice by integrating them into the cultural language that every Disney Cast Member learns. From the moment you walk into the Casting Center the idea of “show” and “theater” are ever present and help mold the mind to the idea of giving a great performance while at work.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Cast Member Wiki - Part 1
History - Walt Disney thought of Disneyland (hereafter DLR) as a show - a daily, live theatrical performance in which the audience would mingle among the various sets and actors in an immersive escape from reality. Many analogies used in Disney theme parks worldwide were derived from Disney’s experience in making movies. Still in use today, The Walt Disney Company (hereafter TWDC) employs a unique and and often imitated philosophy of “setting the stage”, so-to-speak, for it’s employee’s and customers alike. Within this illusion, the customer (or guest) should go largely unaware of the mechanics that make the show possible and great efforts are put forth to maintain the “magic”, making the show seem effortless and natural. Each employee has a part in maintaining Walt’s illusion and in the process these employees, or Cast Members, have cultivated a culture based around the ideas dreamed up by Walt Disney.