In today’s Mouth Of The Mouse, we talk to Barbara, who worked at Hollywood Studios and shares some great stories about her time working at the Honey, I Shrunk The Audience Playground !
BARBARA: Being from Brazil, a visit to Disney World involved international travel, which can be quite pricey! So it wasn’t until I was about nine years old that I got the chance to meet Mickey Mouse in person, thanks to my parents! I was very lucky because after that first trip THEY fell in love with Disney and as a result we ended up traveling to Orlando for 4 years in a row!
My sister was very little and it was magical to see her having so much fun and being so overwhelmed that sometimes she wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t. She would ask if the sky was real and if that water would get her wet!
Years later, when I had the chance to work there, I was a little worried that it would lose some of the magic, but my admiration towards the company only increased.
JEFF: What was your first assignment at Disney? What park was it at? What did you do?
BARBARA: I worked at Hollywood Studios (MGM Studios, back in 2003), at “Honey, I shrunk the kids – movie set adventure”, basically watching the kids to make sure they had fun safely.
JEFF: Can you tell me a little about a normal day in that position?
BARBARA: I would get to the park very early, while everything was still closed because we had to inspect the playground to check if everything was clean and safe.
Throughout the day we would rotate between positions, where we would watch different areas of the playground, making sure kids would always come down the slide feet first, that they wouldn’t climb the leaves and that everyone would enter through the entrance and leave through the exit (that made parents lives easier, they could let kids play and just watch the exit). We would also organize the strollers outside, especially when the park was crowded.
BARBARA: Technically, the playgroud IS an attraction. Not incredibly popular with long lines and fastpass, but still considered an attraction. There were pros and cons of working on a low profile spot like that. The cons were having to explain what it is and that it’s not the 3-D movie “Honey, I shrunk the audience”, at Epcot. The pros were having good working hours, as the playgroud closes just before sunset; not having to deal with huge crowds, even when the park was at maximum capacity.
But I feel I still had a lot of interaction, especially with parents that where resting and waiting for their kids to finish playing. They would ask for suggestions and always wanted to know something about me (my nametag had a brazillian flag as a sign that I can speak portuguese, so that’s a conversations starter right there).
JEFF: Did you want to work anywhere else / try to transfer?
BARBARA: Yes, I tried very hard to be transferred to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid! (Not because I didn’t like the playground, but because Ariel is one of my favorite characters) It was on the same area and we had the same manager so I was very hopeful. But they told me that because I was a temporary cast member, they couldn’t afford to have me trained on a different attraction, especially not one that had a spiel to be memorized.
JEFF: Why did you leave the company? Was this just a college program experience? If it was college program, can you tell me a little bit about your experience with it, overall?
BARBARA: I took part on the International College Program and it was a temporary job, unfortunately.
There was a large group of college students from Brazil that was hired to work at Disney during our school vacation, between mid November through February.
It was a wonderful experience, one that I recommend to everyone wanting to do something different. I got to make many friends (some for life) and know a lot more about Disney World, a company that is a role model for customer treatment in the world.
JEFF: Any times you can think of that you went out of your way to make a guest’s visit more magical?
BARBARA: During my time working at Disney, I noticed that the littlest things can make a difference in a guest day. So simple gestures like calling little girls princesses or asking a red-headed girl if she is Ariel would make them feel very special. I always tried to do things like that. Also, there is a number you can call on any pay phone on Disney property that you get a message from Goofy wishing you happy birthday, so that is something I would do as well, when I met a guest that was celebrating their birthday.
JEFF: Any other fun stories that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!
BARBARA: This one didn’t happen to me, unfortunately, but it’s still worth telling.
A friend of mine was organizing the crowd after the parade and he had a Mickey glove, the white one that looks just like his hands. As he was waving to the guests, a little boy came over and asked him if he was the one dressed as Mickey for the parade. To which he answered: “What do you mean ‘dressed as Mickey’? That was really him!” His reaction was priceless, as his eyes sparkled and he had the biggest smile: “So it’s REAL??” After my friend ensured him that yes, Mickey was very real, the little boy’s mother was so happy that she thanked him!
It’s things like that that made working at Disney so special!
A big thank you to Barbara 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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