In today’s From The Mouth Of The Mouse, we talk to Dave, we started his career at Disney at EPCOT before moving over to become a Jungle Cruise skipper. He’s even met a few celebrities along the way!
Take it away, Dave!
JEFF: How did you get into Disney to begin with?
DAVE: I had always thought that working at an Amusement Park would be right up my alley. I am very outgoing, and I like to make others happy. That alone was enough, I thought. This one single thought would cultivate itself to become reality when I saw a commercial advertising employment opportunities at Walt Disney World Resort. It flashed a phone number on the bottom of the screen and without thinking, I called the number!
I eventually went through the phone interview with a Casting Agent, and at the conclusion of the phone call, was asked if I could come for a face-to-face interview. I had to be fast on my feet with that question. And, without much thinking, I told them I could be down at the end of April. I hung up and sat in confusion. What did I just do? I didn’t live anywhere near Orlando at the time!
But, I made it there and found myself walking into the Casting Center, up a long inclined hallway. I checked in and they said MY casting agent would be right with me! WOW! I had a Casting Agent! I went through the interview and ultimately was offered a position and accepted it! Once home again, I began the task getting my things in order to begin my Disney journey on July 1, 1998.
JEFF: What position were you assigned?
DAVE: The position I was offered was a role on the Flyte Team at Epcot. I had no idea what that was, but in short, I filled in whenever someone called in sick. So therefore, I had to be cross trained in a lot of different roles in Future World. After 6 months, I felt I was ready to be challenged a little more. So I went back to Casting and was offered a role at the Magic Kingdom as a Jungle Cruise Skipper. I really didn’t know much about the role except that you were in front of the guests ‘performing’. Since I had a lot of experience singing and acting, I thought this would be a good fit!
JEFF: What was your favorite role to fill in at Epcot? Were there any that you didn’t like?
DAVE: My favorite role at Epcot was merchandising. I liked having the chance to chat with the guests and make them feel at home, even though they were miles away from home! I especially enjoyed meeting those from other countries! The role I hated most was maintenance. I just felt like I was doing a job that guests didn’t notice or appreciate. But EVERY role is important, we are all actors on a VAST stage. There are never small roles, just those actors who think what they do is not important!
JEFF: What was a typical day like for you at work?
DAVE: Since the Magic Kingdom was my last role, a typical day would be arriving at the Cast building and grabbing my costume. I would then make my way to the Jungle Cruise and check in to see what position I would start in for my shift. Sometimes, if we had too many skippers on duty, they asked for volunteers to go to the Haunted Mansion for the day.
JEFF: Tell me about your first day at the Magic Kingdom.
DAVE: My first day at the Magic Kingdom was one I will not forget. I was ready to go to my new onstage position. I thought I knew my way around in the Utlidors, but man, was I wrong! After a few hectic minutes of trying to figure out where I was, I just took a leap of faith and walked up the nearest stairwell, thinking I was at least near the Jungle Cruise. I wasn’t! I came up on the inside of the Railroad Station. At that exact moment, I began to feel like my dream has come true of working in an amusement park. Main Street USA was deserted, music was playing, and the pavement was freshly watered down. I actually felt like I was HOME! I eventually made my way to the Jungle Cruise, taking shortcuts backstage.
JEFF: Tell me about training for the Jungle Cruise. Was memorizing the jokes and spiels hard?
DAVE: Training for JC was very intimidating for me. I was charged with the task of keeping up the qwerkiness of Jungle Cruise skippers everywhere! I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but my inner actor came to the top and I embraced the moment! Memorizing wasn’t TOO HARD. If you come from an acting background, then it comes easy!
JEFF: What was your favorite role while working there?
DAVE: My favorite role would have been that of a Jungle Cruise skipper. I really enjoyed performing each day. That’s how I looked at it: as part of a play that contributed to the whole outcome of the day for all the guests. I felt, as separated as I was from the guest during the day, I was contributing my part of the show to make the whole show a success!
JEFF: Are there any times you went out of your way to make a guest’s visit more magical?
DAVE: I didn’t get much of a chance to ‘go the extra mile’ for a guest, but there was one thing I liked to do was once I was finished with my shift. I would freshen up and go back into the park to spend more time in there. I would always buy a bucket of popcorn and feed to flamingos. This always caused a few guests to watch, as the flamingos would walk right up to me and eat out of my hand. Anytime I saw young kids watching, I would try to get them to help me feed my friends. It was nice to think that they will remember feeding the flamingos as much as they will remember riding the monorail.
JEFF: Any other fun stories you’d like to share?
DAVE: The story I like to tell is the time I met Diana Ross. Working for such a widely recognized resort, there were definitely some perks. One of them was meeting celebrities! A friend and I were cleaning up at Pasta Piazza, and a small, petite lady came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see a nice looking family, two teenagers, a mom and a dad. The lady wanted to know the quickest way out of the park. I gave her directions, and we chatted for about 15 minutes. After that, we said our goodbyes and I went back to my work. My friend came over and said, “You must be ecstatic!?” I asked why? He said, “Didn’t you know who that was?” I said just a family wanting to know the way out of the park. He said, “NO! That was Diana Ross!” We had heard she was in the park, but never did I imagine I would see her, let along talk to her! I have met a few celebrities while there, such as Colin Raye, Natatiana Ali, Shawn Colvin, and even ‘NSYNC before they were well known! So working for a Mouse has its perks, too!
A big thank you to Dave for sharing the rest of his story with us!
If you are, or know, a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and possibly be featured right here on MiceChat, please email me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!
You can read older columns of From The Mouth Of The Mouse here!
Jeff can help you plan your perfect Disney vacation with Fairy Godmother Travel! Call him at 732-278-7404 or email him at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation quote for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani or Adventures By Disney.
Jeff also writes a MiceChat column titled The 626. We invite you to check it out!
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