If you don't know the ins and outs of food service, it can be difficult to identify huge problems before they become huge problems in your tummy.
The smallest, most innocuous things--or even things that may seem like they're too good to be true--can really take a toll on your wallet, your stomach, your health, or any number of things later. Diner, beware!
Here were some of those answers.
I Don't Wanna Know What A Sneezer Even IsGiphy
If employees try to argue with you about food quality in order to dissuade you from sending something under cooked back, just leave. It means they have a cook who can't take criticism and your chances at getting a sneezer are greatly increased.
A Pleasant Surprise
I remember my trip to Malacca, Malaysia. We walked up to a stall where an elderly lady was squatting down just in front of the sidewalk with a plastic basin and washing the dishes in it. Stray cats were coming in from the alley and licking at dishes.
My first question was "is this a restaurant?" Upon closer inspection: yes, it is.
My second question was "who on earth would eat here???" Then our guide brought us inside. Looks like: we are.
Food was amazing and delicious and despite fearing the worst, nobody got sick.
Morale Is Important
Pastry chef here. As much as people say avoid specials, I can't speak for everyone but at least in desserts/breakfast pastries, if you see something new it's worth trying. Chances are it's something the chef has been working on for weeks on their own time, there's a lot of love and effort put into it.
Also, the standby if the menu is a book, it's probably not great.
The biggest thing to keep an eye on though imo is the staff. If there's pissed off people, get out as fast as you can obviously. If everyone is kinda apathetic and not talking to each other much, get out. That's also a sh*tty environment, everyone is probably really passive aggressive, and that's going to show. If people seem genuinely good with being there even if it's busy or if there's playful ragging going on, that's where you want to be. The better the staff gets along, the better everything in the place runs.
Can Carpet Just Die
Not a chef but worked in food a lot.
Carpet. Yeah it's quieter and doesn't get slick, but it is one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen. I saw them pull it up when they remodeled (and put in more carpet). Vacuuming only goes so far in a restaurant and I know they never, ever shampooed it.
More Concise, Please
If a restaurant has a one-page menu that's usually a pretty good sign, it means their line cooks have become specialists and can usually nail all the dishes listed.
Conversely, if a restaurant has a giant, multi-page menu that's a gigantic red flag. The longer the menu the better the odds that you're paying to eat a boiled bag frozen meal.
The first thing they told us in culinary school when you're learning the basic rules for food safety standards is if you enter a seafood restaurant and smell fish, leave.
All From Waitstaff
I've worked in restaurants for over a decade. A couple years in the kitchen and the rest as FOH.
If your server's response to "how is the [item]" seems disingenuous, that's a big red flag. We know what goes on in the kitchen, we know the complaints, and we know which items to stress over when we deliver them. Servers who pause or seem uncomfortable with that question generally equates to a menu full of stuff we wouldn't eat even as a free shift meal.
A GOOD sign is when servers hang out and eat at the restaurant post-shift. Generally we are getting a discount but not free food - if we are spending our nightly tips on it, it's worth it.
This Is Why Presentation Counts For 25% On Chopped
Waitress here! if you see any food coming out that's messy and theres sauce all over the rim of the plate, etc, it's likely to mean that the chefs aren't putting much effort into their meals and they therefore will not be very good. All the chefs at my work find it SO important that everything is presented well and I agree, so if they miss something I'll check the plates and point it out which they always appreciate as it reflects well on them.
Yikes On Capitalism
Businesses with a bunch of signs/specials out front. "Lunch special: 4.99$!", "free appetizer from 5-8pm weekdays!", "BOGO main course Wednesdays all day!" That kind of thing. Usually means they're going under and are trying to drum up business. Unless they're a chain.
Regular lunch/dinner restaurants that start to offer brunch. #1 brunch service is the worst, chefs hate it, and are usually disgruntled, #2 brunch is a money maker, companies charge over the top for thin pancakes and orange juice with a splash of 4$ champagne. Sudden brunch means the place is trying to make more money, charging double and using chefs that don't want to be there.
Reviews where the owner is arguing with the reviewer. I saw an argument on yelp where a lady complained her chopstick or something was moldy and gave them 1 star. While it was super unfair to give a 1 star over something they didn't do, the owner got into it with her and they started fighting on Facebook. Owners that are willing to yell at people who are spending their money are likely to treat their staff the same or worse. Meaning their employees are either pissed, or the turnover is high and no one is trained well.
The Final ListGiphy
I've done bartending/waitressing for a few years, here's my list:
- First of all, ignore the bathrooms/kitchen thing, the people in charge of the kitchen generally aren't in charge of the bathrooms, and it's normally the servers job, if the restaurant area is busy we're gonna skip that when we can, but we'll probably give it a quick tidy if we use the toilets.
- Most places opt for paper menus, because they can just be chucked away afterwards, it's cleaner this way, however if the table is sticky (and the restaurant area is quiet) then there's probably a few other sticky areas.
- Check your cutlery, most cutlery barely gets washed, it gets rubbed with soap, sprayed with water and chucked in a dishwasher, it's then meant to be polished with hot water when it's brought to the table set up area, this is where we actually check it for leftover grime. If your cutlery is gross, chances are your wait staff aren't doing their job properly.
- Don't order fish on Sunday's, most places get their fish deliveries on a Monday and on a Thursday, fish goes off fairly quickly and on a Sunday it's really not great.
- If your server has long hair and it's not tied up check for hair in your food, kitchens tend to have really strict rules on their staff and you rarely see them with hair down and makeup on, if there's a hair in your food it's probably from your waitress.
- If your (hot) food is out quickly your chef was probably a microwave
- If your server visibly has a cold and is still working, don't eat there, they're either not paying their staff enough to have days off or they're forcing staff to work in conditions where they shouldn't be handling food, the kitchen staff probably get the same treatment and probably have the same illness
A Greasy Good Time
This is late but I clean kitchen exhaust systems. If you walk in a restaurant and can smell grease walk out. That means the place isn't clean. From the exhaust system to cooking equipment.
We clean some places where grease drips off the hoods onto cooking surfaces.
It's Like A Red Flag Parade
Please god be clever about ordering. If the place is grubby (such as table not cleaned) staff are just sat down in the restaurant, you hear insane shouting from the kitchen etc don't order sh*t like lobster.
I've worked in the industry for 10 years and a year ago went to Spain with my boyfriends family. They all decided on a restaurant they wanted to go to. The restaurant was in a busy area but was quiet (red flag 1) the menus were dirty as were the cutlery already laid out on the table (red flag 2- and yeah I asked for replacement cutlery) the there were more waiters than customers and most were sat down one was drinking at the bar (red flag 3) there was about 50 dishes on the menu (red flag 4) and I saw flies all over (red flag 5) i ordered a vegetarian salad because I didn't trust meat from there at all and told my boyfriend he should do the same. He didn't listen, nor did the rest of his family. They all decided to go for chicken or seafood. They spent the next 2 days vomiting. I enjoyed the next 2 days in the sun.
If there are to many items on the menu. If you have 50 combo choices, man you know half that stuff is frozen, old, canned etc. Nothing is gonna be great like an In-N-Out burger. It's all gonna be 'meh'
A National StandardGiphy
One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet: the amount of ServSafe certificates posted on their wall.
ServSafe is a national food safety training course that all managers have to take and pass to become managers. It is required in all food service establishments and for every ServSafe-certified employee, there should be a certificate visible to customers(similarly to health inspection).
So basically, the more certificates you see, the more employees that work there who truly understand food safety. It's an incredibly tough test and you have to actually understand the material in order to pass.
Check your dishes, cups, cutlery.
Mood of staff.
If it has an open kitchen it's probably half decent.
Cleanliness of place, clutter, etc.
If your plate is hot it doesn't mean your food was microwaved. Every restaurant I've worked in has kept their plates in a warming drawer or oven to keep them hot.
Keeping Yourself Safe
Not a chef but from personal experience: if its a small chinese restaurant and they have a tank holding live seafood -- BUT THEY DONT CLEAN IT -- that place is definitely going to give you a brutal case of food poisoning.
If you insist upon eating at such a place I suggest you tip heavily (if ordering to-go) or heavily flattering the waitstaff and/or asking about what's fresh (if dining in).
What's on the menu? What are the specials? What's popular? What's your favorite item?Tell me everything.
Back when I was in hospitality, these are part of the litany of questions I would get from visitors to our country. It became a bit irritating. I should've made a sign with "Regular FAQs."
I didn't have a lot of answers, due to the fact that I find American food pretty run of the mill. I'm going have to be schooled on what is considered extra yummy only in the states.
Although I must admit, the shoe definitely swaps feet when I travel. Tell me everything. The rest of the world is far more compelling with their menus.
Redditor u/Well_shi__-_- wanted to discuss what menu items we all need to discuss by asking:
What common foods in your country are considered delicacies by foreigners?
The closest "delicacy" for America I can come up with is pizza. Right? But only in NYC. And bagels, but only in NYC. Maybe alligator in Florida? And oranges, but only in Florida. Were very centralized here aren't we?
Berry WayThanks Strawberry GIF by DriscollsBerryGiphy
"Goji berries. We put that stuff in our soups and many people pick that out when they drink the soup."
"(good) Olive oil."
"Kirkland California Extra Virgin Olive Oil is white label Cobram Estates, which is the California grown product of the Australian olive oil company, Boundary Bend. They have an unimpeachable reputation for quality and win many awards!"
"It was supposed to be caviar, but now it's also unaffordable for us. cries in Russian."
In the Forest
"Hmm, forest berries perhaps. I live in Finland. We have a lot of forests, so lot of berries such as blueberries and lingonberries. Everyman's Rights mean that you can just go and pick as much as you can find. It's kinda one of those things where if you live near any forested area, and are willing to spent time there come late summer, you'll probably have enough to last until next year in your freezer."
"We have so much berries that people from poorer countries (Thailand is a common one for some reason) are hired to pick them up, because doing berrypicking enough to actually profit monetarily is heavy work. And apparently the pay isn't worth it for most Finns. At the same time, forest berries are considered a superfood around the world, very healthy and trendy. Dunno about actual delicacy status, but definitely a difference in how we think about them."
The Little Lambbaby lamb GIF by The DodoGiphy
"I worked for a charity in Iraq for a year and we'd buy a dozen lamb chops for the equivalent of $5. That's like $60 to buy in the US and it's worse quality."
Ok, now that is what I call a menu. And I actually had a few of these items on my list when I heard the question. Only in Italy can you find true oil. And caviar? Guess I'm flying to Russia. Knock, knock Vlad. LOL
"Hawaii has somehow turned spam into a sought after food, especially by visitors from Japan."
"I would add mushrooms for Finland. Especially porcinis (herkkutatti), chanterelles (kantarelli) and C. tubaeformis (suppilovahvero) are incredible food mushrooms which are sought after e.g. in Italy. We can just go pick them in the forest thanks to our "jokamiehenoikeus", every man's right, which allows anyone to pick mushrooms and berries etc. on public land such as state-owned forests."
When in Mexico...
"Avocados here in Mexico, pretty common and cheap."
"Jamón Serrano, here in Spain is really common and you can find very good product for a very affordable price."
"We are going to Madrid this fall and my husband has already informed me that he plans to eat his weight in Jamón Iberico. We used to get slivers of it from a Spanish importer near our old house for crazy money."
Truth Hurtsbritish crown GIFGiphy
"Englishman here, been scrolling for sooooo long to find my country..."
"Maybe some stereotypes are true."
Spam? Just, no. And I will say, I think the English are in the same boat as the good ole US of A. Empty food treasures. I've been to London... the supermarket sandwiches were good and you can drink in the streets. I guess you make up where you can.
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Standards for dating people are definitely very varied, because we as people are varied, and we as people are flawed. Little things might get to us from the get go, causing us to be very very picky about who exactly we let through a couple rounds of dating.
Those things can be really small. Do they wear white after labor day? Are they one of those weirdos that refrigerates their red wine? Have they recently been spotted at a Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament?
"What's the pettiest reason you've rejected someone?"
The answers were as varied as the humans who gave them.
So She's Making Things Up Again
"We went bowling and she started saying the bowling ball was hurting her fingers."
"She was convinced that there were bugs inside the bowling ball biting her fingers and that was the reason for her pain."-Wacky_Sacky
Okay But Only Psychos Cut Their Spaghetti
"I have a friend who has a whole list of petty reasons she's rejected guys:"
"•He cut his spaghetti before eating it"
"•He wore brown shoes with black jeans"
"•He cut his hair too short"
"•He dropped something and said 'whoopsie'"
"•After watching her favorite movie, Ever After, for the first time he said it was 'just Okay.'"
"And then once a month she cries about how she's still single."-Johannes_Chimp
Avoidant Attachment Style
"She smelled funny. Not bad. It clearly wasn't a case of not washing or anything like that."
"She just smelled... Weird. Couldn't get over it."
"For clarification: I didn't know how to broach the whole 'I like you and you're funny and smart and sex is great but you smell weird,' so I just moved to a different country."-BeefPicklesCheddar
It really is pretty interesting to see how people deal with these petty reasons as well.
Hoppy Beer Made Him Hoppy On Out
"I was rejected because I didn't like the taste of his preferred beer."
"That was it, I wasn't asking him to stop drinking it - I just didn't personally want to drink it. We were about to order another round, he asked if I knew the one he had just had, and offered me a taste."
"I gladly accepted because I try to be open to tasting new things."
"I just said I found it a little too hoppy for my tastes and I was happy to stick with what I was drinking. I wasn't rude, I said it was nice, but a little hoppy for me."
"His face dropped, it was almost comical. He then said something along the lines that he had changed his mind and he had better get home."
"That was the end of that first date. As in he literally decided he no longer wanted another round. The date was over. He had blocked me on Facebook before I walked the 100m to the bus stop."
"Pretty sure I dodged a bullet there."-Sharkoslotho
"My ex's name was Simone. She was studying business administration and had a horse."
"We broke up after she f**ked another dude."
"I got over it, and met another girl. Her name was Simone. She was studying business administration and had a horse. Nope."-somniumx
A Taste Log Of The Day
"This dude was super sweet and had a lot of good qualities."
"He was a plumber and casually admitted to me that sometimes he will bite/clean his nails after work and taste the remnants of what he touched that day. I could not get over that and had to move on."
"Things were really going great, like he said all the right things and he was a genuinely good person with similar interests. Up until the point he said that, I was considering moving forward with the relationship."
"Also, I see nail biting as a habit that could be changed, and even practicing better hygiene (which he mostly did, except for those damn nails)."
"Once he said it, and he was serious, my views and feelings for him changed. It's just one thing that completely turned me off from him."-AdmiralPendeja
Half The Fun Of Having Cats Is Having Them Be Bratty
"My perpetually single friend has turned rejecting people into a bit of a sport."
"I'll Tinder for her, which is all sorts of amusing, but one day, I had actually met someone for lunch and thought 'here's someone that's kind of her type, I wonder if she'd be interested!'"
"I ended up pulling up his website and showing her some pictures of the guy. We get to about the sixth photo in, of two of his cats, in a treehouse. She explains 'his cats look bratty.'"
"Yeah, well, that's why you're single. Still. Six years later."-disillusioned
And the reasons people will find just to get away from people and keep themselves alone is also very interesting.
Was It Worth It?
"Went on a first date with someone that was out of my league. Couldn't believe my luck! On our way to dinner, everything was going fine and the conversation was flowing. She seemed really into me."
"Suddenly she screamed at me to stop the car. Not pull over, stop right here right now immediately in the suicide lane of a 4 lane major road."
"Just before I came to a complete stop in the middle of this busy road, she opened the passenger door and tried to jump out. If a cop saw all this it probably looked like she was escaping a kidnapping."
"She jumped out of the car and played Frogger across two lanes of traffic, and I sat there stunned with my passenger door hanging open into traffic. A few seconds later, she came running back with something under her arm."
"I couldn't see what it was in the mirror. She had a huge smile on her face and as she climbed back into the car she squealed with delight as she showed me what it was."
"A f**king hubcap. She said it was to commemorate our first date, and that we could share custody of it. I could have it first."
"That was our first and last date."-Uncle_Baconn
Elton John Would Probably Laugh At This Story
"We spent our first date browsing various record shops in Manhattan and Greenwich Village. I took him to my favorite ones. I told him what Elton John album I thought was best."
"He disagreed and was adamant I was dead wrong. He was going to a party at his brother's after and didn't believe in subways (as his dad had died in 9/11)."
"The party was 100 blocks away in Brooklyn. Decided to walk him to the party despite having mild asthma and severe post nasal drip. Once there at the door he decided it wouldn't work out because he couldn't put our differences aside."
"His last words were, 'Do you really believe Honky Chateau is his best work?' Of course I do. He had this horrified disgusted face on and said, 'Yeah, no. That's just wrong. Not gonna work out since you have poor taste.'"
"Literally got rejected over Honky Chateau, but it's okay. My FIL thinks that album is the hottest sh*t."-intothethickofitoh
Tiny Teeth Committee
"I broke things off once because of the size of her teeth."
"They were tiny compared to the size of her mouth. It shouldn't have been an issue, but it creeped me out. I don't know why, but it was one of those things that I couldn't ignore and gradually became the only thing I could see."
"Grown woman with a mouth full of baby teeth... just weird."-CarrollGrey
It is really a wonder how humans are so easily poked, prodded, and annoyed. But it is part of what makes us who we are.
We wouldn't have fun, funny, interesting stories to tell each other otherwise. We simply have to honor these little, "petty" reasons for not getting with others.
There's nothing funny about having an employee show their true colors after you've already hired them. Upon hiring, they seemed completely normal, pleasant, like they would be a good worker. Then as they get the lay of the land, they show that they actually have a different personality when the manager isn't around to see.
A Redditor wanted to know:
"Employers, what's the most insane complaint you've had about an employee that turned out to be completely true?"
These stories will shock you. The things that these people did were deceitful and, quite frankly, illegal in some cases. How the managers didn't catch them sooner is what makes it so unbelievable.
The hotel party.
"I was the head night auditor at an upscale airport property. Had a youngish night auditor who put a room into out of order status and let his friends in to party and have an orgy that he joined during his lunch break. He got caught because of a noise complaint. Police called, he was fired and blacklisted from being hired back."
"I hope he had a 1hr lunchbreak. If he joined the orgy for 15mins that's kinda disappointing for everyone."
"That is hilarious, I had almost the exact same thing happen at a property I worked at, except:"
"a) It was a tiny 30 room historical property, so it wasn't going to go unnoticed."
"b) He threw his drug fueled party in the "Queen Anne Suite," our most expensive room."
"c) He didn't even have the sense to put the room out of order or even kiiinda clean up afterward, assuming the hotel staff would just not notice or care that a room we didn't rent that night was ABSOLUTELY THRASHED."
"d) He just made keys for his friends that he handed out, and came in through the back or something, rather than just renting the room at a discount or something so it would all be kosher on the books (if you don't have 50 bucks to rent a room at the employee rate then you don't have the money for a party bud)."
"e) He did all this on MY shift rather than his own, thinking I wouldn't catch on that something was fishy on one of our TWENTY FOUR SECURITY CAMERAS."
"f) He really thought he could prevent us from catching him by coming in on my shift, acting like he left something behind on his last shift, then while I wasn't looking, STEALING THE CORDLESS MOUSE TO THE CAMERA MONITOR. IN PLAIN VIEW OF THE FRONT DESK CAMERA. He just. Palms it. Then shifts a guilty lil glance at the camera."
"Surprise surprise, we were able to roll back the security footage and catch all this on tape when we pulled the high tech maneuver of 'Plugging In A Different Mouse.' He was fired so fast. I've never worked with such a dumba** in my life. He really thought he pulled the heist of the year."
"For context, this was not a teenager. He was obviously in his 40's, receding hairline, lanky and always a lil sweaty and dodgy and socially awkward. Not 'quiet and timid' socially awkward, more like... this guy gives me bad vibes, makes inappropriate uncomfortable jokes and laughs too hard, doesn't really get professional workplace boundaries, seems like the sort who would try too hard to impress teenagers because he has a car and can buy them liquor but can't hang onto a friend his own age to save his life. My hiring manager really knew how to pick 'em."
At the bank.
"Working in a bank. Had a teller (about 19 year-old) get pissed about the way a customer (retail store owner) would send in her deposits at the drive up window. The teller complained about the customer on Facebook! Tagged the lady personally, as well as the store! Customer called the bank and told me, furious of course."
"I told the customer we would investigate, I asked the teller. She straight up admitted it, and says "What's the customer or Branch Manager going to do about it? My Grandfather is friends with the bank President." I called HR and Bank President on conference. Girl lost her job in under 15 minutes of me receiving the call from the customer. Breach of customer confidentiality in banking is a MAJOR law violation."
"I love the fact that she thought her grandfather being 'friends' with the bank President was going to do jack for herself. Even if it had been her father being friends with the president she would still be fired. Even if she had been friends with the president she would still be fired. If she was the bank president she would still be fired. The only scenario where she gets out of this untouched is if she had a time machine to slap herself before she tagged the customer."
"This is why it is important to distinguish between nepotism and networking. Networking can look like nepotism but you are actually taking advantage of the fact that you know competent people and thus don't have to play roulette with new hires. The catch is that if you give a bad recommendation it reflects poorly on you and you lose status in the network, and the new hire is not protected at all."
"Though if you break the law even nepotism won't save you most of the time."
Should have run a background check.
"Hired a guy on a trial basis. He was super polite and careful when speaking to me, but several of my female employees told me when I wasn't around he was creepy. After about 5 days, one came to me and said almost verbatim: 'I think he's a rapist.' She just a had a gut feeling about him. So I ran a background check on him... yep, he was a convicted rapist."
"For those of you saying 'This is why you run background checks BEFORE you hire...' this was almost 20 years ago when it was not standard procedure, and I was not in charge of that regardless. HR would make the decision. In this case I requested it specifically because the safety of my employees appeared to be at stake, but not one other time in my career did I feel the need to ask for one."
Subway stamp cards scheme.
"I knew a guy who worked at subway back when they gave out stamps. Basically for every six inches of sub you bought you earned a stamp and once you filled a card with 8 stamps you could get a free six inch sub."
"So this guy started only giving stamps to customers who asked for them. If they didn't ask he pocketed their stamps and grew a sizeable stack of complete stamp cards."
"Then over time he started cashing them in. When a customer paid with cash he would ring it in as a freebie, place his own completed stamp card in the till, and pocket the cash. Customer got their sub, subway's till was balanced, and he had an extra five to ten bucks in his pocket - everybody was happy."
"He worked there for a few years and word was he racked up a few thousand dollars running this scheme. No idea if anybody complained, or if he was ever caught, but he did buy a motorbike."
Innocent retail worker gone wrong.
"So I worked retail and we got this guy named something like Gus."
"My boss tells me, 'Hey this guy's got anxiety, go easy on him OK?' And so I was like, okay that's cool I get it I can relate. I do everything I can to help him make sense of the infernal godforsaken hellscape that is retail."
"It starts off with little forgivable things -- forgetting a task here, forgetting things there, accidentally giving the wrong info and things like that. You know, newbie retail stuff like that."
"He quickly devolved in popularity as his complacency grew over time and his helpful attitude shrank. My guy started messing around during his shift, getting caught on his phone while ignoring backup cashier calls and things like that. He would make stabbing motions behind the manager's back to other employees, tell off new employees, and play it all off like he was some innocent dope who didn't know any better."
"None of this got him fired. Day after day was a new complaint from an employee about responsibilities he shirked or a customer about blatantly wrong info like, 'Oh yeah we have another location up on the hill,' and we didn't. No idea whose son he was, because that was apparently all kosher."
"What ACTUALLY got him fired is the one day he brought a dog and a super expensive dog collar into work. He claimed he almost hit the dog on the way to work and it was running around wild, etc. He tried to sell the dog collar to a customer, then tried to 'adopt out' the dog to a coworker."
"This coworker was competent enough to take the dog to a vet whereupon they found a microchip and contacted the actual owners. THAT'S where the fun started."
"It came out that Gus never found the dog at all. He straight up KIDNAPPED this dog from his neighbor and tried to pawn it off, knowing full well what he was doing. The guy lawyered up immediately, tried to sue Gus and threatened to sue the store and the store manager if Gus wasn't fired."
"Suffice to say, Gus was gone the very same evening. Nothing else came of it, but we talked about him for years and years."
These stories are unbelievable but true. How some of these people didn't get arrested is beyond us!
Thank goodness there were employees who caught these people in the act.
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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.
"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."
"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."
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."
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.' "
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."
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."
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"
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!"
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!"
"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."
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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