Disney College Program with Kevin: The Think About Guests

Written by Kevin. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Features, Walt Disney World

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Published on October 21, 2012 at 5:04 am with 7 Comments

Hello again everyone, it’s been a few weeks since I wrote my last article, but there’s quite a bit about my Disney College Program experience for me to get you caught up on.

Cast members often know that they will have to deal with upset guests. They are probably angry about something else, but you are the person behind the name tag representing Disney.  I had my first guest situation last week.  I was telling a group of 50-60 people that Pirates of the Caribbean was closed due to technical difficulties.  While doing this, I had to close two large double door ways to make sure no one entered. Sadly, one family in particular took personal offense – as though I was directing the closing of the attraction at them.  It was a difficult situation to deal with because it also happened during attraction downtime and the guests angry reactions. Later, when I was backstage, fellow cast members came up to me and reassured me that I had done a good job.

I truly believe that we cast members work in Walt’s park.  Walt always said that the guests were like extensions of his family, and I agree.  I know that we must act our best for “Walt’s family” and give them all of the respect they deserve in our parks.  This was just an odd set of circumstances built on miscommunications and guest misunderstanding.  Overall, it’s best for  a cast member to always keep their cool and be courteous, regardless of the circumstances. That’s much more difficult to do than it may sound.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s get into on-the-job training.  In one word it was AWESOME!!!  I have loved Pirates of the Caribbean since I was a little kid —both the attractions and the films. When I found out I would be working this attraction, I thought it would be an amazing experience.

Day One

My very first day I met my trainer Jeff (not his real name).

He has a great demeanor and he always makes the day a lot of fun.   Jeff started the training by giving me a tour of the attraction.  We walked through a lot of backstage areas and even though I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, I will cherish the memories.  We were about to walk out of one door and Jeff turns to me and says, “Don’t step on any chickens.”  I was obviously confused by this, until he opened the door and the auction scene was in front of us.  It was amazing to see all of those set pieces up close. I even got to meet the Red Head. I wish I could bid on her!

Day Two

Day two ended up being a lot like day one.  We continued to walk through the attraction, seeing different areas, and going backstage. Working at Disney always means you’ll get a few surprises.  Jeff and I reviewed all of our paperwork for the morning and then decided to take a small tour of the backstage area.  We saw the parade floats and met a castmember named Bud who asked us if we wanted a tour of the facility. A parade float was about to be brought out. I was very fortunate to have this stroke of luck as I got to see most of the Boo To You parade and get detailed looks at the floats.  Afterwards we thanked Bud and went on our merry way, but the surprises were just beginning..

Later that day I was fortunate to meet one of our Adventureland/Liberty Square (AD/LIB) managers.  He said that there was going to be some cast member play testing of Enchanted Tales With Belle and asked if we were interested. He said it would be a two-hour long session, we would probably experience the attraction about 3-4 times. The best day on the job so far—I got paid to play.  I must say it is amazing! Now that the attraction is open to guests,  I suggest you experience Enchanted Tales with Belle for yourself.

Day Three/Day Four

Days Three and Four were very similar.  I will go into the technical details later. There was a lot of paperwork and note taking.

Day Five – The Assessment

This is the final day of my on-the-job training.  It’s an all day check-out which determines whether or not you’re able to operate the attraction safely and efficiently.  I found it difficult at times and it even includes a 97 question, multiple choice test. The test I took was only for Pirates of the Caribbean as each attraction has it’s own test.  Needless to say, I passed!

The Four Keys!

Disney teaches cast members the Four Keys: Safety; Courtesy; Show; and Efficiency.  The Four Keys have been around since the early days of Disneyland and have been in operation since 1962. They are set up in a very specific way, because we should never risk show for the sake of efficiency, and never risk safety for the sake of courtesy.  Here’s how you break it down:

Safety—making sure everyone is keeping themselves in the ride at all times, and there is no danger of anyone getting hurt.

Courtesy—Always be kind to our guests, even when it is difficult to do so

Show—make sure the experience stays good.  For example a breaking of show is someone going over the PA and telling a guest to keep their hands out of the water.  It does break show, but we should never compromise safety for the sake of show show. Thus the need for the safety based announcement.

Efficiency—make sure that our guests are moving in and out of the ride so that they can enjoy it and move on to something else that’s fun.  My trainer told me that the average amount of rides that a guest must go on per day to feel completely satisfied with their visit is 8.5.  I know it is a weird number but it is an average.  If we can help a guest to go on 9 rides in one day, we have done a good job.

If we as cast members uphold these keys, we get to create the amazing experiences that we deliver every day.

There are a number of events put on by the College Program Housing Events Team. Most of them have been scheduled when I am working, but I’ve heard really great things about them.  What I’ve found is that the work area is the focus of your social life and you spend a lot of time learning about your co-workers.

Finally a word about our guests from the standpoint of a castmember:  They are quite simply the best.  They make our lives fun and exciting.  Most of them are just as invested in keeping the magic alive as we are and so to all of our guests I say, “Thank you.”  My manager Shawn likes to tweet and a common hash tag of his is #Imakeadifferenceforourguests.  Well Shawn, I hope that you are reading this because even though I do believe I can make a difference for our guests, it is much more profound when a guest makes a difference for us.  Working as a cast member, you are in a two-way relationship with your guests in which both must commit to having a fun time.  If the guest is not willing to enjoy the experience then you don’t enjoy it and vice-versa.  So I propose a new hash tag, of course, being #Ourguestsmakeadifferenceforus.  Thanks everybody.  I’ll see you next time and remember, there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day…

About Kevin

Kevin is a member of Disney's College Program. In this series, he'll share his journey in wonderland with us.

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7 Comments

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  1. [...] MiceChat [...]

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

    I am an ultimate Disney enthusiast, whether it be Parks & Resorts, Consumer Products, I love everything Disney and have so many Disney merchandise. So glad to see that the experience is working out great for you. Another instance where the Disney family does a great job educating new cast members to give the best guest experiences.

    • Yeah, it’s pretty fantastic over here. I was a bit skeptical to see what Disney was like backstage, hoping that the magic wouldn’t be lost. I realize the magic is still here even when you go past the cast member only doors. And sorry it took so long to reply, I’ve been dealing with problems with my miceage password.

  3. Hi Kevin, this is your best article so far.

    I’ve been reading them but i had no chance to comment before due to a problem in my login.

    So, My name is Sergio. I’m from Brazil, I am also studing architecture, and my biggest dream is also to become an imagineer.

    You are having such an amazing oportunity. And I hope you can make the path to achieve your dream.

    On my daily basis I always try to think: what would walt do? He was an amazing human being, and he thought us things that are priceless.

    Disney World is a magical place, but like you said, some time people get angry. I hope you can always be able to find the strengh in this magic to act like you did this time and do the right thing. Walt will be proud of you.

    I’ve been in Disney world twice. First time as a guest in a big group. They realized i knew so much about Disney universe that they asked me to become a tour conductor. So, I guided a group on the second time.

    I know how hard it is to please everyone.

    The thing is that my all time favourite experiences where with the cast members.

    People get shy sometimes, or think that they are not suposed to talk to the cast members. Well I know this is what the cast memeber want!

    So I had a good time with every princess. I even danced “dig a little deeper” with princess Tiana! It was like my most special time at disney world that I cryied. She was so touched by that, that she asked for my mail adress. I was so confused that I gave her the Email. =/ But I will write her a letter and see if she gets it.

    My second favourit thing was playing the scrambled letter game on main street. I guessed everysingle character. It became a big dispute between me and the cast members. I think we all had a great time. We took a picture together that i keep on my facebook to register how great it was.

    I envy you for being able to see the new fantasyland and the backstages! LOL

    I hope that the next time I go, if you are still there, I could greet you on Pirates of the caribean, wich I always ride using my jack Sparrow’s hat

    Keep writing, it moves me.

    Big hug, enjoy the time of your life, and good luck.

    Have zip-a-dee-doo-da-days.

    Sergio

    ps: ” there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day…” is my second favourite quote ever. The first one is so good that i have a tatoo with it. “TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!”

    • Sergio, I think you and I would get along out here. I too danced with Tiana, just a few days ago. Thank you for realizing that the cast members do make a difference, but like I said, it’s guests like you that make our jobs fun, exciting, and unexpected. Please keep commenting, I would love to hear from you again. If you happen to be in the Kingdom before January you know where to find me!

      • Oh, I’m sure we would get along! I’m so so sure if I will be able to make it before or even in january…it’s never certain…but it would be great! I’ll keep commenting, feel free to contact me if you want to. =)