I read this book (Cast Member Confidential) and it kind of crushed all sorts of hopes and dreams of the park or ever working there... What are the (serious and maybe one not so serious) pros and cons of working at the park...?
I handed this ask off to a friend who worked for the mouse, and here’s what they had to say:
I haven’t read Cast Member Confidential, so I can’t speak to the book specifically. I read part of it, but I kind of had to put it down after the whole “Tarzan jumping off a parade float to save a drowning kid and then getting back on the float to finish the parade like nothing happened” bit. At this point I figured the book was going to play loose with the truth, and that it wasn’t worth reading it for the sake of answering this question. So instead I’ll rely on my own experience to give you the pros and cons.
Here’s what I will say, though: Working at a Disney park is entirely what you make of it. It’s hard work, it’s office politics, it’s seeing people in management who couldn’t name four of the seven dwarfs, much less “get” what Disney is all about, it’s thankless work for unappreciative tourists in motorized scooters. It’s cleaning up puke, it’s “playing hurt,” it’s heat exhaustion, it’s taking money from the hand that you just saw scratching the owner’s butt (on the inside of their pants) and pretending that you aren’t sickened by the thought of it. It’s cast member parties (or perhaps not being invited to them), it’s high school mentality, and, yes, you may work with people who will make you wonder what the hell Casting was thinking when they offered that person a job.
It’s also magical, in every sense of the word. It’s seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when they see Mickey Mouse or Cinderella for the first time. It’s having a parent tell you that they’ve been saving every penny that they could spare for this day for ten years, and that it’s been worth every luxury that they went without for all that time. It’s realizing that you’re smiling not because “you have to,” but because you can’t help it because you’re surrounded by so much true happiness. It’s saving a life (the Tarzan story may have sounded like BS to me, but I guarantee you that cast members do, on occasion, save lives). It’s doing that one tiny thing that makes the difference that turns a frustrated guest’s terrible day into a joyous day that they’ll never forget. It’s free admission into the parks — let’s be honest, that’s a definite plus. It’s knowing that for every bad cast member that you work with, you work with ten others who make working there truly special.
Working for Disney definitely isn’t for everyone. There are good things and bad things about it, just like every other job. I will tell you right now that there is no such thing as a perfect day at a Disney park. Something will ALWAYS go wrong, and sometimes that bad situation may involve you somehow. Your patience will be tried, over and over again. Sometimes you’ll get backstage and you’ll just want to scream over a guest that was angry at you for not letting their 39”-tall child go on the attraction with the 42” height requirement, or the guest who, after changing their kid’s diaper, put the old poopy one on your food counter and walked away.
Yes, I heard about cast members busted for drugs, if that’s one of the things that upset you. It’s true, it happens. Some cast members should not be cast members. In any organization that has thousands and thousands of employees at each location, there are going to be bad seeds that somehow make it into the company’s employment. But the fact is, Disney takes that very seriously, and those people rarely last very long.
The bottom line is that you can’t let your perception of working for Disney to be formed based on a single source. I’m guessing that the person who wrote Cast Member Confidential had a less-than-stellar experience based on this ask. I, personally, loved my time working at the park. And I wouldn’t expect you to base your perception solely on me, either, especially since the people at Backstage Magic tell me that I’m answering this anonymously.
Use the tools at your disposal to gather more information. Do you follow any cast members who sometimes beg for asks, or who just come across as being the type who wouldn’t mind answering questions? Ask them about their experiences. Ask them what the pros and cons are of being a cast member. Cast members on tumblr seem to be pretty open, as a whole, though many won’t want to talk about certain backstage things for various reasons, but while I do see cast members on tumblr complain about rude guests or rough days at work, they also seem to share a love for Disney that carries through the rough times.
Also remember that, if you get a job with Disney, you’re not stuck there. If you end up in a position you don’t like, you can transfer after six months. If you decide that working for Disney isn’t for you at all, you can always quit. You’re not signing up for life (unless you want to, of course). You’re not going to be banned from Disney property because you decided that working for them isn’t for you (unless, of course, you do something terrible, like stealing, in which case you may get banned).
Working for Disney isn’t for everyone. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s right for you. But speaking from my own experience, I had the time of my life working there.