Disney Parks are the definition of magic. From the moment you walk into one of the six Disney theme park resorts across the world, you’re surrounded by exciting rides, fanciful lands, and loveable characters. It can almost feel as if you’ve been transported to another world, and in some ways, you have been.
That being said, Disney can’t pull off these giant fantasy worlds without a little help. The cast members are the ones who really create all the fun with a little behind-the-scenes magic. “Cast members” is the fancy name Disney dreamed up for its employees. Why, you ask? Because all of Disney’s a stage, of course. Every person who works there is putting on one giant resort-sized show to make sure your experience is the best one possible
While being a cast member has its perks, like any job, it has its downsides. One of its biggest drawbacks is the strict and lengthy list of rules it gives its employees. From picking up trash a certain way to keeping the details of your job a secret, there’s a ton of rumored rules that new cast members have to memorize. That being said, many Disney fans aren’t scared away by all the guidelines they have to follow. Disney World alone employs far over 60,000 park employees. Do you think you’d have what it takes to be a Disney employee? Pull out your favorite pair of Mickey ears and put on your best smile. It’s time to find out.
30 Gracefully Pick Up Trash
If you drop that beautiful Mickey ice cream bar on the ground, any cast member who sees the incident will probably come to your rescue. They won’t just pick it up and give you a new one, though – no. They must pick trash off the ground using a swooping motion.
Why does the classic “Disney Scoop” move exist? The best answer we could fall upon is that it’s a discreet way of keeping the park clean. You wouldn’t want to see employees bent over all day, now, would you?
29 Speak In Code
No one wants to be enjoying breakfast at The Crystal Palace and hear that the person three tables down from them has vomited. That’s why Disney cast members use code words. Let’s be honest, this guideline’s actually pretty reasonable.
If you hear a code-v, you can assume a person nearby just threw up their meal.
If you hear a code-h, it’s more than likely that a parade horse just took a dump. These are just a few of the many secret ways cast members communicate about issues without getting guests freaked by them.
28 Yes, You Do Know
“I don’t know” is a forbidden phrase in Disney parks. If a guest has a question, a cast member has an answer. But what if they don’t actually have an answer? Simple: a cast member must find a fellow employee who does.
What about if a kid asks them some stumping question about a character performer, like ‘why does Rapunzel look different today?’ Maybe this one’s a little more challenging, but it’s not impossible. There’s this thing called improvisation, and Disney employees, regardless of their role, get pretty good at thinking on their feet.
27 Keep It Secret
Disney cast members aren’t allowed to post about their jobs on social media. Sure, they can post a picture of them riding Thunder Mountain every once in a while, but they’ll get in huge trouble if they reveal any of the behind-the-scenes magic – especially if they’re a character performer.
If you’re transformed into Princess Tiana every time you get on the clock, you’re not allowed to talk about it. Post about loving your job all you want on Instagram – just don’t share any of the secret stuff.
26 You’re Friends With The Characters
What if you do want to tell someone about your gig as Princess Tiana? There’s a way to do that (off social media), but Disney’s still pretty clear about it. You don’t play Mickey or Donald. You’re friends with them. This is the proper way to refer to your portrayal of a Disney character, and yes, it’s a requirement.
Even if you’re not a performer, you better not dare reveal who does play Disney’s most-loved characters. Help Disney preserve at least a little bit of the mystery, okay?
25 Point With Both Fingers
If someone asks a Disney employee how to get to Fantasyland from Tomorrowland, they’re not allowed to point it out with a single index finger. Instead, they do the two-finger “Disney Point.”
People have come up with all sorts of theories as to how the two-finger point became a thing, but there are two explanations that make the most sense. For one thing, a single-finger point is considered rude in some cultures. With so many far-traveling visitors, a double-finger point keeps guests from being offended. Another theory suggests that Walt Disney originated the two-finger point himself as to not let go of the smoke in his hand while helping guests.
24 Look Classy, Not Iffy
You’ve heard of the “Disney Scoop” and “Disney Point.” It’s time to introduce you to the “Disney Look.”
If you think you can become a cast member looking however you want, you’re wrong.
Disney employees must follow strict guidelines that prohibit extreme hairstyles and makeup, as well as visible tattoos and non-earlobe body piercings. According to Disney’s own website, the “Disney Look is a classic look that is clean, natural, polished, and professional.” Because Disney is designed to be a family-friendly place, this guideline probably isn’t something to complain about.
23 Trim That Beard
Part of this “clean, natural, polished” look requires guys to do a little work. Beards had been banned for several years, but that all changed in 2012.
There are still, however, beard-related rules for dudes who do choose to embrace their facial hair. Beards must be groomed, fully grown in, and no longer than a quarter of an inch in length. They can’t be shaped, and they can’t be grown in while a cast member is working. Come into the company with a beard, or be ready to leave it at home indefinitely.
22 Don’t Use Nail Polish
Say goodbye to those acrylics; Disney has some specific rules about nail appearance.
Employees who decide to use nail polish must make sure it compliments their skin tone. This means that bright, fluorescent colors should be traded for rich neutral shades and natural French tips. Nails can’t be longer than a quarter of an inch longer than the fingertip.
The nail polish rules are actually pretty important, considering that many of Disney’s employees work in food-related areas. Staying sanitary is a must. Additionally, all of Disney is themed. Bright polish won’t ever fly if you get placed in the out-west-themed Frontierland.
21 Get New Glasses
Believe it or not, there are also look-requirements relating to the glasses Disney employees can wear. Of course, you’ll never see Cinderella wearing glasses (you might actually see her performer donning blue color contacts), but you will see other cast members sporting a pair – and when they do, they will have to make sure their frames fall under some approved specifications.
All glasses must be conservative in color and design, which isn’t too big of a surprise.
Crazily enough though, they can’t contain any logos. Being that a good amount of frames have something printed on the side, this rule’s actually a little tricky to follow
20 About Your Hair (If You're A Girl)
We briefly touched on the whole hair thing a little earlier, but there’s more to know than “no extreme hairstyles.” First, employees must have natural hair colors. Highlights are okay, but they must be well-blended across all hair. This means the whole Ombré hairstyle trend was certainly not allowed.
Cast members must also pull back all hair that goes longer than shoulders into a “conservative, classic style.” This means you should be ready to sport a ponytail or bun for the length of your employment if you end up in certain roles.
19 About Your Hair (If You're A Guy)
Guys – you’re not off the hook yet.
Men must keep their hair clean cut, styled above the ears, and off the collar. It must be smooth and “conservative,” as Disney likes to remind its employees in all of its lookbook entries. You’re also not allowed to hide any crazy styles under a hat, no matter how much fun they might be. It’s all about looking tidy – even if Disney’s version of tidy is a little bit extreme. Those aforementioned female hair color requirements also apply to the dudes.
18 Fit The Height And Weight Requirments
The Disney employees who end up portraying characters have to follow some strict requirements even before they get on the job. One of those requirements has to do with height. Characters like Alice and Wendy are small while Mary Poppins and Maleficent are pretty tall, therefore the people who play these characters – ahem, who are friends with these characters – must share similar dimensions.
Disney doesn’t care quite as much about weight, but it’s still a factor.
Most princess costume dresses, for example, only go to size ten. Certain characters have other specific look requirements. Jasmine, for example, must have a toned midriff.
17 Perfect Your Autograph
Another thing on the list of character performer requirements is a perfect signature. So that kids believe every person who plays Minnie Mouse is – well – Minnie Mouse, performers must nail down a specific autograph.
Employees get pretty good at this. If you get a signature from Goofy ten years from now, it’ll look identical to the signature you can get from him today. Every Disney character’s autograph has some unique trait that matches their personality. Minnie’s signature contains hearts over the “i’s” and Pluto’s “o” is a paw print.
16 Refer To People By Their First Name
Everyone’s on a first-name-basis at Disney World. Walt Disney himself had his employees refer to him as Walt instead of Mr. Disney, so it makes sense why this tradition has lived on. Cast member’s name tags contain only their first name – actually, a first name.
Name tags must be worn at all times, so cast members who lose or forget theirs must choose from a stockpile of others until it can be recovered. The name tag must be worn over their heart.
15 Stay In Character
Whether you’re playing Cinderella or just managing The Tower of Tower gift shop, you have to stay in character. Sure, some people get into it more than others – but if you work at the bottom of a ride based on the story of a haunted elevator in some creepy old hotel, you better act like it.
Cast members must conform to the ride or land they’re in.
Remember that all the park is a stage because yes, a little acting makes everyone's experience better.
14 Remain In Your World
Disney has developed some complex systems for keeping cowboys in Frontierland and spacemen in Tomorrowland. In the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, for example, there are tunnels that run underground so that workers can get where they need to be without looking out-of-place.
This means cast members are not allowed to just walk about the park freely when they’re in uniform. They must remain in their themed areas and learn to be okay with it.
13 Learn Your Attractions
While it’s not an official rule that you have to spend hours figuring out why the Tron Lightcyle Power Run coaster in Japan is revolutionary, it certainly doesn’t hurt to know a thing or two about it.
Many cast members who regularly work certain attractions learn all sorts of secrets about it. There’s a vast history behind every ride and Disney additionally stockpiles attractions with hidden things and references to other parks. All you’ve got to do to learn all this is ask!
12 Go To Disney University
This isn’t a guideline so much as it is a requirement.
New employees must attend what is known as Disney University for classes in which they learn everything there is to know about Disney’s history and magic. They first attend a “Traditions” orientation which runs through all the basics. It’s where the employment journey begins.
There are other classes offered here for employees in certain fields from entertainment to food and beverage. Let’s be honest. If you’re a Disney nut, this whole process will end up being pretty fun.
11 Make A Little Magic
The best moments that happen at Disney are the unplanned ones. Guests have been given all sorts of magical surprises from free desserts to random FastPasses (which let guests skip long lines on select rides), and cast members are often the source of these surprises.
Disney employees are encouraged to grace visitors with occasional gifts of kindness.
It makes everyone feel good and encourages visitors to come back. These special moments are what Disney is known for!
10 The Children Are Never Lost
Disney’s supposed to be a happy place, so if a cast member stumbles into a child who thinks he’s lost, she’s supposed to pretend that the kid’s parents are the ones who are actually lost. Of course, Disney employees have to take the situation seriously, but they don’t have to make the day any less magical for the child in the process.
Kids get a little lost in the magic every day, so employees are very well trained on how to deal with it.
9 Make The Guest Feel Validated
This is a given at most customer service jobs, but Disney employees take it seriously. You’ll have the occasional cast member who thinks they don’t get paid enough to care, but as a general rule, Disney employees are always encouraging of their guests.
We previously mentioned that Disney employees can’t give an “I don’t know" answer to a question. They also can’t make a guest feel dumb for asking a question. Positivity is always the key.
8 Keep it Happy
While we’re on the topic of positivity, it should be known that Disney wants its employees to smile. A little kindness goes a long way. The best way for cast members to showcase that smile, though, is by standing up straight.
What I mean by this is, yes, good posture is encouraged.
It doesn’t matter if you’re portraying a character or simply serving someone lunch. Do you want to see someone slump or frown at the happiest place on earth? I hope not.
7 Let The Celebrities Be
Lots of famous people visit Disney – especially out in California near where all the movie stars live. That’s why it’s been rumored that employees aren’t allowed to ask for a photo or autograph.
Celebrities are people, after all. They should be able to go about a nice, relaxing day at the theme parks without being bombarded with attention. They’re sure to turn a few heads, but employees shouldn’t join in. Just let them enjoy their vacation, okay?
6 Keep That Phone In Your Pocket
Disney employees aren’t allowed to check their phones while out among guests. If you try to think of a time you’ve seen this happen – no matter how many times you’ve been to Disney World – you probably won’t be able to. In addition to this, they can’t chew gum. But let’s be honest: How would they get it, anyway?
These rules fall into the category of employees being employees and guests being guests. Cast members are there to serve visitors, not the other way around (not that that gives guests the right to be terrible either). Mutual respect is key.
5 Don’t Sing
This rule specifically applies to character performers. Not every girl who portrays Elsa is going to sound like Idina Menzel, so Disney solves this problem by not letting performing employees sing all together. Of course, some stage performers have to break this rule to do their job, but it’s not such a big deal then.
Stage performers go through lots of training and act in lots of shows
Ariel will sound like Ariel in every Voyage of The Little Mermaid performance, so don’t worry.
4 Be Ready To Reaudition
Regardless of whether you’re on stage or just greeting guests, you’ll have to reaudition for your role as certain characters at least once a year. Disney does this to make sure that cast members look pretty much the same and that their costumes still fit right. It’s also important to make sure employees are still putting 110 percent into their portrayal of the characters. Cast members who are slacking need to move on. The kids depend on those quality acting skills!
3 Get Good At Makeup
If you only play Mickey Mouse and Pooh, no, you won’t need to put on false lashes. But if you are Snow White, Mulan or Merida, it’s time you learn how.
Performers who take on Disney Princess roles are required to do their own makeup. While they don’t have someone to do it for them, they are taught how to do it correctly so it looks the same as all the other girls’ makeup every time. They’re also given the necessary supplies so that their foundation doesn't melt off after taking photos with kids in the heat for half an hour.
2 Keep The Park Clean
The aforementioned trash-scoop is a good thing to get in your head if you work at a Disney Park, because as a cast member, yes, you’ll be picking up trash a lot. Disney employees are required to pick up all the trash they run into. If you’ve ever wondered why the Disney parks are so clean, you have your answer.
Another reason Disney’s always sparkling can be attributed to the fact that it doesn’t sell chewing gum in the parks. Yes, Disney’s higher-ups have thought everything through.
1 Have A Blast
Okay, so they probably actually say something like “have a magical experience working here” or “make Mickey proud.” But all jokes aside, this one’s important. While not every moment of a cast member’s job will be fun, not everyone gets the opportunity to work for one of the biggest dream-building companies in the world. And if you’re having fun, all the other rules won’t be as big of a deal.
If you end up working at a Disney park, make the most out of your experience.
And if you always remain a guest, remember to try to brighten castmember’s days, too. They do a lot for you.