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  1. #1

    • dream out loud
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    what's it like to be a cast member

    I am seriously thinking of leaving my job (after securing a few months of finances) and getting a job at Disneyland. I'd hope to work my way up over time to a modest position (I don't plan on being a bigwig), but I figure I'd start at the beginning like anyone else running a ride, a gift shop, etc...and just make a career of it. I'll save my story and get to my questions:

    I'm hoping some of you can help me - past or current cast members:

    1. What are your experiences?
    2. What's the good and the bad of working at the big D?
    3. What's salary/hourly range?
    4. What's the structure of possible advancement (ie are there still area managers for the lands?)
    5. How much vacation do you get?
    6. What other benefits are there - health? retirement? other goodies?

    thanks to all the micechatters that have been so cool in responding to a few other rookie threads I've started!

    For anyone still reading and curious - I work as a Hall Director at a university in SoCal. It's a roller coaster, but a cumbersome part of my job is dealing with serious emergencies - life/death situations. There's little room for advancement without taking on more headaches and the challenges of dealing with students and parents in their living environment.

    In some ways, that should prepare me for complaining guests at D-land! But at least they leave at the end of the day! I also live on campus so I'm pretty much always at my job.

    On the other hand, I've had a passion for Disney since I was young. You'd think I was lifelong SoCaler who grew up going to Disneyland, but I grew up in Ohio. In my high school yearbook I wrote that my ambition was "to someday work for the Disney company" (I'm intensely creative and thought I'd be an animator). But, I lived in Ohio and working for Disney never seemed too realistic.

    Fast forward 10,12...hmm, a few years - I moved to SoCal b/c I wanted to be a surfer - my Disney fascination planted somewhere in the recess of my memory as a childish fascination. I lived here a year (in which I did become a surfer and do a lot of it) until I finally took my free passes I got while working at the Disney Store a dozen years ago and visited Disneyland. And I felt alive again. ha ha sorry to get all melodramatic.

    Anyway, my dream is still alive to work for Disney but I am an artist/surfer and have no desire to don a suit and work in an office - I do enough of that now. But to work in Disneyland, hands on - that I might still be able to do. Plus, all I can think is someday my kids will say "my dad works at the university" or they could say "My Dad works at Disneyland!" Now how cool would that be? And I just think I'd be happy.

    So, what is it? the good and the bad? I know some of it from working at the Disney Store...I still, to my dismay, know way too many lyrics to "Colors of the Wind" but I've got to think there's a unique difference to working at The Disney Store in Ohio and working at the real deal. Lay it on me - thanks to all you micechatters - you've been so cool in my previous few posts and threads!

  2. #2

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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    I can't answer (yet...), but I'm told it's not a fantastic job unless you really have a passion for the park--in which case, of course it'll be fantastic.


  3. #3

    • Minion
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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    1. What are your experiences?

    I have done two jobs at Disneyland. My first job was working stores on Main Street. I loved being a Cast Member, but I didn't enjoy working the stores. I love to work with people, but my experiences working the store at 1:30 am with a guest who is yelling at me because there isn't a shirt in her size is less then appealing. I wish I could say this was a rare happening for me, but it happened all the time. Then I auditioned for the Electrical Parade and have been working in Parade of Dreams and EP ever since. I love working the parade department. Making a child smile is the warmest feeling. I suggest just going into something that you think you would love doing. I only picked stores at the time because I wasn't able to work attractions being a minor.

    2. What's the good and the bad of working at the big D?

    I would say the good things are getting into the park free, having a CM discount (you also get discounts on cell phone plans, bills, etc!), special CM events, getting to meet TONS of people from all different backgrounds, and just being apart of something that Walt created. The downside is selling your soul to the scheduling department for about the first year or so you work there. This is unless you constantly talk with your managers and schedulers.

    3. What's salary/hourly range?

    Heres a site with information http://disney.go.com/disneycareers/d...ome/index.html

    4. What's the structure of possible advancement (ie are there still area managers for the lands?)

    Not sure about that one, but advancing in any area is possible. I'm getting my BA so I can advanced to a professional career in the company.

    5. How much vacation do you get?

    I'm a CT so no vacation here. I believe it varies and is only available base don hours and if your full time, someone correct me if I'm wrong here

    6. What other benefits are there - health? retirement? other goodies?

    There are retirement benefits, health if you work so many hours.


    I hope that I have some information that is helpful. Working at Disneyland can be such a great opportunity, but you do need the right attitude and perspective to make it last.
    Jeff Wayne







  4. #4

    • Winter in Oceanside...
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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    Quote Originally Posted by GhostHostJeff View Post
    I didn't enjoy working the stores. I love to work with people, but my experiences working the store at 1:30 am with a guest who is yelling at me because there isn't a shirt in her size is less then appealing. I wish I could say this was a rare happening for me, but it happened all the time.
    I worked Stores too. I had only one experience at Emporium. It was awful! Stupid people waiting until the last minute to buy EVERYTHING at one in the morning.

  5. #5

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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    1. What are your experiences?

    I'm currently an attractions Cast Member in DCA (hollywood attractions) and for about the year i have worked here.. its been way fun, it doesnt feel like a job to me because i actually enjoy what i do, but there is some strict rules but following them isnt that hard.. working attractions is very interesting and exciting to see how the rides actually work and helping make the magic for the guest is something i love to do everyday at work.

    2. What's the good and the bad of working at the big D?

    Good things- making new friends, getting to know the park, free entrance into either park whenever you want, signing people in, discounts, and "working at the happiest place on earth" well i guess i would be in the second happiest place on earth

    Bad Things- angry guest, rude guest, annoying guest, code "V's and U's", when it is so busy u cant even get to your area in time, points for being late, people asking you to sign them in all the time

    3. What's salary/hourly range?

    all depends what line of business your in, stores, attractions, custodial, odv all average around the same (9.10 an hour i think?) but it goes up. you dont make too much though if your part time, full time will get you the money.

    but other lines of businesses will pay way more. and i'm not quite sure what starting salaries are for GSM's


    4. What's the structure of possible advancement (ie are there still area managers for the lands?)

    goes up by becoming a trainer, lead, possibly Emerging leaders, then if you make it you'll land a low level GSM, yes there are area managers one of my leads recently became a manager in Adventureland/frontierland

    5. How much vacation do you get?

    only if you're full time. u build up vacation hours.. i'm not full time so i wouldnt know.

    6. What other benefits are there - health? retirement? other goodies?

    all those go along with fool time again...
    Last edited by Rocknroltkover; 02-20-2008 at 02:31 AM.

  6. #6

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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    Being a CM is fun but unless you come from $$$ it won't pay the bills. For college/high school kids it's a great job. Bad parts is working long hours and getting extended. Working most holidays and New Year's eve.

  7. #7

    • Disneyland is your land.
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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    1. What are your experiences?
    I'm currently a Stores CM on Main Street. I used to work in Foods scooping Ice Cream but most definitely enjoy Stores much better. I love the interaction you can have with a Guest in our merch locations. Sure we have angry guests -- not too many people are all that happy at 12:30am -- but for the most part its a lot of fun. I would tell you though that if you DO NOT want to get off at 2:45am during our busy season then MS stores is not for you. The Emporium can be a wild place, but time sure does fly in there!

    Pin trading is another bonus, at least for me, which is a large part of our dept. I do know a lot of CM's do not like wearing them because of overzealous guests but if you can look past them you can see a form of interaction that is unique to Disney resorts. Nothing brightens my day more than when a child see's a pin they really want or someone finds the pin they have been looking for.

    Also I've found that when Guest Servicing, especially during a slow period, you are free to roam and just mingle with guests. Your essentially getting paid to just walk around and visit with people about their day... something I personally enjoy.

    2. What's the good and the bad of working at the big D?
    The good: it's Disneyland! Honestly it doesn't getting any better than that. We have the best Annual Pass around (which includes ALL of the parks except for Tokyo) and a bunch of other little things.

    The bad: CDS! I hate it with a passion. The Shuttle ride can get tiresome but is necessary and the Cast Cafe's aren't really all that worth it. Of course there's a ton of politics and drama that comes with a large beauracracy but I won't get into that. As long as you keep your head up and steer clear of problems you'll be fine.

    3. What's salary/hourly range?
    Starting wage is $9.05 and in my dept. there is a $.15 premium if you start after 8pm and a $.75 premium if you start after 10pm. I was told today that sometime in March we are due for another raise. Whether that is true or not I don't know. My hours are so-so. One week I can pick up 30 and the next I'll barely get 15. Naturally busy periods are when the most hours are delt out.

    4. What's the structure of possible advancement (ie are there still area managers for the lands?)
    Haha, we have so many managers I'm sure anyone who asked to be one gets to be. Their are programs for leads to be placed into manager positions and a whole bunch of other advancement capabilities -- baring you have absolutely nothing on your attendance or performance record.

    5. How much vacation do you get?
    I don't qualify for this since I'm only a CR -- or so I think I don't.

    6. What other benefits are there - health? retirement? other goodies?
    Tuition reimbursement. Medical for FT etc. Pretty much your full slate of benefits if your FT. Of course you get the free parking, free park admission, and 16 sign ins. 20% off merch and food and 35% if you've been there long enough. Company D is a pretty cool place but good luck finding something in your size!

    Bottom line is working at Disneyland isn't like working anywhere else in the world. It's a unique experience each and every time you clock in. You'll always be working with new people, dealing with happy guests, upset guests, and downright pissed off guests, to everything in between. You'll think you've seen and heard it all and the next day something new and exciting will happen. It's a pretty cool place...
    Class of 2005...

  8. #8

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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member


    1. What are your experiences?

    The experience is like everyone else has said; itís the Happiest Place on Earth. It is pretty cool when my 5 yr old DD tells people I work for ďThe Mouse.Ē Youíll get a lot of questions after that. Iíve been there for 8 months now, and havenít gotten too burned out. I work in Photopass, and even though some of the MCís here feel that weíre just a Ďlameí photographer, there are some with experience and we do pride ourselves on taking a good photo for the guest. Seldom do I encounter a guest that is angry at me. Since Iím not dealing with a guest that has to stand in the hot sun for a ride, or in a shop to by that last minute purchase, I get the happy guests most often. I also get paid to be nice to the guests and mingle with them. I enjoy that the most. I try every day to create the magic for at least one guest.

    2. What's the good and the bad of working at the big D?


    The good: new friends, getting yourself, family/friends in for free. Discounts and a really beautiful place to work to take some awesome photos. Telling my daughter after a long day at work, that I spent the day with Mickey Mouse in his house, or that I had Tea with Mary Poppins (Okay so we were eating lunch in the same break room- she doesnít know that)
    The bad: sometimes long hours, the points, the DRAMA, the shuttle bus and waiting for it, the last guest that won't leave even at 1 am, seeing backstage Ė it can kill the magic when you see how things work. You just have to remember to keep that magic when you enter as a guest.

    3. What's salary/hourly range?


    I work for a non-union location. (though they are trying to bring the union in) so my pay is a bit higher than that previously mentioned, but not BY MUCH! And getting a pay increase isn't easy from what I've been told.

    4. What's the structure of possible advancement (ie are there still area managers for the lands?)

    Donít know this answer. I donít want to be a lead and baby sit the kids that need it the most. I want to interact with the guests.

    5. How much vacation do you get?


    Iím a CR right now waiting to go FT. Iíve been told once youíre FT you get vacation.
    6. What other benefits are there - health? retirement? other goodies?


    Iíve been told that the benefits are the BEST! Full medical, HMO/PPO, dental, optical and out of pocket costs arenít too high for a family either. Waiting to get that when I become a FT.

    What I will tell you about Dland is that you will not be able to support a family on the Disney wage. I hope you will plan accordingly and secure funds before you make the move to Disney. Youíre opening statements says you are, but you really need to, or you will need another source of income. I donít complain about my wage because I chose to work for the wage they offered me, however itís not something I can live on to support a family of 4.

    I work at Disney because it suits my personality and I enjoy it. I get to hear music all day, see pretty scenery all day long with the beautiful landscaping (remember Iím a photographer so I notice the landscape and how often it changes.) I get paid to talk to people from all walks of life, hear their stories, and provide them with solutions to their problems. At times you get the inside info on the park, whose there that day, a great place for a Christmas party, and entrance every time you want to go. Over all, any job is going to have itís perks, and itís frustrating parts. I didnít ever want to work for Dland, because I heard so many negative things about it. When I got offered the job, I decided to give it a month, and if I didnít like it, I could always move on. Itís been 8 months, and I still smile when I walk out onto Main Street, USA and think to myself, ďWow, Iím at Disneyland today. How cool is that.Ē You have your good and bad. Itís how you handle it that will make the work experience good or bad for you. Give it a try, you can always get another job someplace else, or you might find that youíll like it and stay until you retire. Itís what you give it that will make it or break it for you.

    Good luck.
    My new motto for 2008 - "If you will live like no one else today, later you can live like no one else." - Dave Ramsey.

  9. #9

    • Kenny the Pirate
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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    Here's a direct link to the salary info for many CMs
    http://disney.go.com/disneycareers/d...y/hourly2.html
    Kenny the Pirate
    AKA Bad Mood t' Blackhearted
    Disney Dream Job Pirate Winner 2007
    Full WDW character and show schedules: www.kennythepirate.com
    Follow my adventures on twitter: www.twitter.com/kennypirate

  10. #10

    • dream out loud
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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    wow - thanks to everyone for all of your time and insights. Definitely lots of good things to keep in mind. Of course, if you're reading this for the first time and have more to add, I'd love to hear more

  11. #11

    • Dreams Do Come True!
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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    Quote Originally Posted by Datameister View Post
    I can't answer (yet...), but I'm told it's not a fantastic job unless you really have a passion for the park--in which case, of course it'll be fantastic.
    Have you ever tried applying?
    You should it's a great opportunity for your Disneyland in 3-D project.

  12. #12

    • DL Nerd
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    Re: what's it like to be a cast member

    Quote Originally Posted by PrincessY View Post
    Stupid people waiting until the last minute to buy EVERYTHING at one in the morning.

    I think you just Described EVERYBODY WHO HAS EVER VISITED DLR


    All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them. - Walt Disney


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