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.
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 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…