Former Disney Theme Park Employees Share Behind The Scenes Secrets

Former Disney Theme Park Employees Share Behind The Scenes Secrets
Photo by Kin Li on Unsplash

Disney theme parks are all about what is front-facing.

The magical, curated experience for paying guests is only the tip of an iceberg of hard work, dicey ethics, and a robust corporation with all the policies and economic motivations that you'd expect.

Lucky for us, some Redditors were there to see all that goes on behind the curtain.

And my goodness do they have some stories.

Redditor memezdankton asked:

"Former Disney theme park employees of Reddit, what are some dirty secrets or stories you can tell us about your time there?"

Many people were cast members: princes, princesses, people in giant, fuzzy costumes. Those smiles, plastered there for hours at a time, aren't always legitimate.

Professional Forgery

"My SIL got a the role of Cinderealla at Disneyland Paris."

"She had to practice Cinderella's autograph over and over because although different actresses play her all over the world, the signature of the character has to be identical anywhere it's signed for consistency."

-- jennyrob669

Hand Selected

"You have to be in specific height ranges to play the different characters. Because Mickey's height range is so short he's usually played by a woman. Likewise for Donald, although the most successful and best known Donald that I knew while I worked there was a little person."

"When the princess face characters come backstage they have to take off their dresses so they don't get dirty while they're on break so the princesses are usually walking around in a smock and bloomers if you see them back there. There is some serious cognitive dissonance when you walk back and see Snow White in her bloomers on her phone cursing up a storm."

"People sexually harass the characters super frequently. I was working with Ariel and cast members will always count down before they take a photo so people have time to get into position. I counted down and this teen boy decided to try to rip off one of Ariel's shells."

"I had to open his camera and expose his film so the photo didn't get developed and passed around. I found out later that I was supposed to take it to the Kodak shop to have the film developed and that one removed - but I'd always heard the rumors about ruining the film and nobody really trains you on that so I just went with it. The little a**holes deserved it."

-- leopoldisacat

The Show Must Go On

"Worked at Disneyland for almost 5 years. I personally haven't gone to see the 'Disney' doctor for cast members but I know friends who have an heard the doctor doesn't give a sh** about the CM's coming in for injuries."

"The time I was there, photographers and other departments weren't allowed to drink water from the water fountains because we are 'on stage.' It was a big issue the last year I worked there and some of the leads were fighting for umbrellas for photographers. It gets really brutal in Carsland where it's 5x hotter. Almost past out from the heat and dehydration."

-- ohsh**itsausername

A Very Hostile Work Environment

"I had a friend who was a gorgeous red head in her early twenties. She got cast to play Ariel at Disney World. She returned home after a few months saying that they were pressuring her into getting breast implants.

"To quote her (quoting her manager), 'There is no way Ariel has such small boobs.' "

-- onearmedmonkey

Others discussed the employment policies that are sure to leave you scratching your head. Or calling your union rep.

What Can and Can't Be Shown

"Disneyland first interview papers include a blank outline of a person to indicate where you have tattoos."

"It's referenced if you want to change positions internally, to indicate how said tattoos could be revealed, based on what your new uniform would be."

-- case_sensitive

Playing the Part

"I worked in reservations. They give you a name, that is not your own and you better use it. My name is not Robyn Leigh, but in Disney reservations, it was."

-- honeybunhitta

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Never a Good Sign

"Disney Employees started referring to Disneyland as Mousechwitz due to working conditions."

"Management told them to stop, so they used Duckau instead"

-- WimbleWimble

And others shared the obscure and strange stories that only a Disney employee, with a front row seat to a massive institution, could ever know about.

A Big Loss

"During the construction of Pandora at Animal Kingdom, a very beloved superintendent passed away on the project of an immediate heart attack. Mid-sentence and while opening the door to the construction trailer, George Burke just…died."

"The project was very affected by this. His knowledge of the work that needed to be done was deep and irreplaceable. His laughter and personality was loved by all 1400 workers that were there. A couple years after he passed, we were finishing the project and found the perfect way to pay homage to George. They invited his family to the middle of an active construction site to let them view it."

"George's red hard hat, with the black Nordic Cross on top was attached to the rockwork, in the middle of the flowing river, to the left of the entrance to Flight of Passage, and plastered over. The family, friends, and a few Imagineers, were the only people there. Only we can point out where the hardhat is underneath the plaster, theming, and plants. I revisit the spot everytime I go back to Pandora. :-) Peace!"

-- Evening-Career7325

Truckin' It Out

"Former cast member from the early 90s. There was a central 'bank' near the Magic Kingdom tunnel entrance where all the park gift shops, restaurants etc would deposit the day's cash. Each day an armored truck would drive into the tunnel to haul away the loot. i can only imagine how much cash they took outta there!"

-- Aware_Masterpiece_23

Under Wraps

"I worked there for 3 months 2 years ago with my gf at the time and anything news worthy that happens there (usually negative) immediately gets shot down by the official page of Disney (Twitter, insta, Facebook etc) they keep everything hush hush."

"Lighting struck a bathroom building and there was a small fire and my gf and I weren't working that day but we were there enjoying the park for free bc we're cast members and she records it and posted it on her Twitter. News media pages were commenting and asking her questions like when, how, what's being done and before she could reply the Disney page said to disregard the video bc it wasn't true and the video is edited and the media pages stopped asking after that."

"She gets called into the office the next day and was super close to losing her job. The reason she didn't was bc of how much seniority she had but she was basically on probation after that."

-- diego2757

It's a list that'll leave your mind wandering a whole lot more if you ever do go to Disney again.

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