Each person’s Disney World vacation is different. Some over-plan (or obsess like me), some under-plan, and most are probably somewhere in the middle.
Those middle people probably aren’t making dining reservations at midnight 180 days in advance of their vacation, but they are probably aware that making Fast-pass reservations online before they go is a good idea to enhance their time in WDW.
Part of my hope for this blog is to give little hints that help the majority of people experience a few more cool things than they would have otherwise. The little Disney-hacks I share can prevent you from having to read forums for hours on end if that’s not your thing.
So.. to the point of this blog post. One thing I think Disney Vacationers consistently overlook is the Disney Cast Members. Most probably know at this point, but Disney calls their employees “Cast Members” (or CMs) to keep with the theme that guests are in an immersive environment of Disney stories and films.
I can only speak for Americans, but I feel like more and more in the 21st century, we look at people in the service industry (restaurants, etc) as those we have to “deal with”. We don’t see them as our advocates or as someone to engage to enhance our experience. Doing that is a mistake at WDW.
A lot has been made, over the last decade, of the fact that people believe Disney’s reputation for incredible customer service has lost it’s luster. I still believe they are more than a step above what we are used to in our every day lives. Honestly, they are probably battle hardened from dealing with mostly complaints from customers who aren’t always in the best of moods.
I’ve found, one of the secrets to a great Disney vacation is to ENGAGE the Cast Members. Of course there will always be a few rotten apples in the bunch, but overall Disney CMs are people who love the mouse as much as we do. They take pride in knowing the history of Walt and his amazing creations. They love to tell you about their favorite “secret” spot to watch the fireworks, where the best dessert is, or when to find the shortest line at a particular ride.
Since I love lists, I made one about the 3 main situations where help from a CM can change EVERYTHING.
3. Unique Insight – A couple of years ago we were going to “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” for the first time. The boys were both still young so we weren’t going to make it an extremely late night. We wanted to see the parade and and the special showing of “Wishes” fireworks display before we called it a night. I decided to ask a CM if they had any advice for a spot to watch the parade and/or fireworks… and got a dud answer. So, what did I do? I moved on to another CM.. BINGO! She gave some great advice about watching the parade and then following behind as soon as it was over… It led us to the area right in front of Cinderella’s Castle and we had a spectacular view of the fireworks display!
2. When things have gone (terribly) wrong – I made a major blunder on our last vacation and forgot to put our “Disney Magic Express” tags on our suitcases when we checked in for our flight (which signals Disney to pick them up and take them to your hotel on arrival). Needless to say, I realized on the bus ride from Orlando Airport to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge that our bags were going to be stuck on a baggage carousel (oh, the irony) at MCO. When we arrived at The Lodge, I had already called Southwest to warn them.
At the front desk, I saw a CM and walked up to him. “I. Really. Need. Your. Help. Sir”. Long story short, he took my problem on as his own and made sure our bags got from the airport to our room in short order.
I have another story about my 5 year old boy getting sick in the middle of Fort Wilderness Campground and a Super-Hero CM that saved our night… but that’s for another time!
1. Pixie Dust – How many people just pass buy the actor playing a young politician campaigning for office in the middle of Sunset Blvd in Hollywood Studios? How many ask a CM in the bakery how a particular treat is made?
These people take pride in their work and seem to relish the opportunity to fully play their “character” for guests. More times than I can count, an interaction with a Cast Member has led to cool tip, story, a great seat, or even small gift (extra fast pass, pin/button) that has left us with that magical Disney feeling.
I know it’s tempting to put your head down and get from one attraction to the next as fast as you can, but you may find it more fulfilling to make a few friends along the way. Friends who share a passion for the magical world you have chosen to spend your time in. Talk to them! Ask them questions! You never know what may happen!