If you're anything like us, there's a good chance you've been to a theme park and found yourself lost in the wonder. At least we hope that's been your experience, but we've all seen the movies and heard the rumors about what goes on behind the scenes. Are there cool hidden gems? Is there a dark side to the magic? One reddit user got curious riding that train of thought and asked:
Theme Park employees, what are some cool secrets about your workplace?
1. Explosions At The Water Park:
I worked at a small amusement park in Maine for a summer. Basic stuff; teacups, log flume, pirate ship, antique cars, go carts, a wooden rollercoaster that was #10 in the world for a few years. Some of the jobs were horrid, others weren't so bad.
One of the worst jobs was called "Tower." If you saw your name listed next to "Tower," you knew that you were in for 8 hours sitting at the top of the log flume slide, watching people make fools of themselves. I really never minded it - they let me bring a notebook and a pen, so I would write basically all day (it was during my "productive" period).
I was assigned to tower at the beginning of a shift and was walking from the employee area to the log flume when I suddenly heard a loud BOOM. My radio lit up and everyone with one was told "Get to flume NOW!" We all went running.
Apparently, the pump for the flume had exploded, stranding people on the belt going up the slide, one cart was literally stuck at the end of the slide, and carts were backing up at the start of the belt and sinking, with people in them. It was awesome chaos. The pump was smoking, the tower swaying madly, people freaking out everywhere, children crying....
2. Cedar Point Secret Time!
Some Cedar Point "Secrets" - Some of these are from friends who have worked around the park.
You probably already knew this... but that $3.50 bottle of soda is $1.00 two steps behind an employee gate. Same goes for most of the food in the cafeteria.
On most of the larger attractions and rides, we have a system of signals and gestures to make fun of you behind your back. It keeps the long, repetitive and HOT day somewhat interesting.
Never, ever, EVER will we tell you what is wrong with a ride. Also, we'll never tell you when it's going to be up. The only differentiation we can make is if we're told its going to be a multiple hour fix. At that point.... "we anticipate a lengthy delay." Yup, we usually know what is wrong and how long it's going to take.
Employee Dorms could probably double for a gay male brothel.
Many times we're instructed to take cars off of a coaster simply because of attendance numbers. (They don't tell us that officially...) Simply no need to have 3/3 cars on the track when the park is at 50% capacity. Yep, that makes lines longer... sorry!
It's fun to watch you flash the ride cameras. We block the pictures on the monitors but can still see them behind the counter. We can also unblock them.
3. All This Disney Dirt:
I work a part time job at Disneyland as a "Gibson girl" ( person who works at the Gibson Girl ice cream shop, cokes corner, cone shop...basically any quick service place in Mainstreet) and have found out a lot of things.
The rumor about there being a basketball court inside Matterhorn Mountain is false but not entirely false. While there isn't a big basketball court, there is a basketball hoop that is downstairs that employees who performe/d maintenance on the ride sometimes use when on break.
Never get soda from the cone shop (don't ask...)
We have accidents of all sorts on a daily basis and the only time something will get on the news is when someone dies or is injured severely on a ride (on Monday, a lady had a heart attack riding its a small world..)
The rides employees hate working are Its a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Roger Rabbit. Why? Because they're rather creepy...and back in the 70's an employee died at the America Sings attraction and everyone nowadays says that it happened at "Its a Small World". She was crushed between two revolving doors that separated the backstage area from the front stage..(the doors were removed after the incident)
Someone was dragged under the tea cups once (they survived)
4. Big Head? Big Problem.
It's really hard to sign the autographs in some of the costumes.
In some of the characters you look through the mouth, but have to act like you're looking with the eyes of the character, which means most of their head is above your own. The heads can be really fricken heavy and stuffy. Lilo was the worst, plus the water parks are really humid. I almost passed out.
CPs at Disneyworld get free gatorade. It's the yellow kind...
Every Disney Prince I met was a gay man.
Getting free park entrace was the best part of working there. The pay was the worst.
If you see a character rub their eye, it means they need to go backstage because they're going to pass out, feel sick, or are having some sort of costume malfunction. I had to do this twice as Lilo because that costume was fricken terrible.
5. Wait, You Have To Push The Roller Coaster?
I used to work at a place called Camelot Theme Park, it's a modest place in the northwest of England. It was also my first job. I was rides operator, but worked in what they called "section 1" which was the part of the park with all the kids rides. Years before worked there, some employee was apparently killed after being hit by a rollercoaster during safety checks, but I'm not sure how much of that is myth.
Anyway, relating to the "how things work" bit in this question, there was a ride there that had been around since it opened in the mid-eighties known as the caterpillar/apple ride. The cart train was modeled on a giant caterpillar and it went through a big red apple halfway around the track. It was aimed at toddlers and small kids really, but by god it was the most primitive roller coaster I've ever seen. Apart from the chain that pulled it up to the top of the main dip, it ran completely on gravity, and to start the ride you released the breaks (which were clamps on the tracks, not the cart itself) and literally had to push it out of the station. If you didn't push it hard enough it would slow down and stop before the foot of the hill and you'd have to call maintenance to get the stranded people out. My first day operating the ride, the breaks were faulty. It was only meant to go round the track twice: I ended up making it go round 15 times.
Up next, apparently taller people are more intelligent?
6. Muggles, Magic and Maybe Criminal Charges?
Here are some "secrets" from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:
The costumes worn by the Team Members were designed by Potter costume designer Jany Temime.
Some of the Hogwarts costumes worn by TMs working Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey were actually used in the films and worn by extras.
TMs working Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey are sorted into houses based on their height. Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Gryffindor then Ravenclaws are the tallest.
Universal Operations, Merchandise and Food Service TMs may usually wear their work wardrobe home. However, the Wizarding World wardrobe items are the only wardrobe items that these TMs may NOT take home. TMs caught doing so will be immediately terminated and may face criminal charges (for theft and IP theft) if they do so.
After The Three Broomsticks Restaurant was designed, the real film set was altered to more closely resemble the theme park restaurant.
The male dress robes seen in the Gladrags Wizarding Wear storefront are the same ones worn by Daniel Radcliff in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The female dress robes are an exact replica of the ones worn by Emma Watson in the same film.
The TMs who work in that area are encouraged to act "in character" -- but they may NOT say ANYTHING that would "add to the Harry Potter story". For example, they may not say they know Harry, Dumbledore, or any of the characters -- or say what those characters may or may not like or do. For example, if you see a little girl with a stuffed cat, you can say "I like your kitty! I have a kitty like that at home!" You may not say "Oh, I'll bet Hermione would like your kitty!"
7. Busch. Gardens. Is. Not. Disney.
Busch Gardens. No, we're not owned by Disney. No, your Disney passes will not work here. No, not Universal either. Do your tickets say Busch Gardens on them? No? Then please buy a ticket. No, you may not get in for free because you have Disney passes. Also, no. Go ahead and cry all you want, I'm the one sitting in the AC.
8. Cheeky Chipmunks
I didn't work at a theme park but my high school English teacher worked for Disneyland while he was in college and told us stories a lot. He said Chip and Dale were the most disgusting guys ever and would have contests to see who could grope the most MILFs in a day.
9. Oh, Eww.
I worked for a long time at Santa's Village in Sky Forest, California. It's closed now, but it was pretty famous to southern Californians at the time.
There was a dead rat in the nacho machine (under the metal slope that holds the chips) at the Pixie Pantry for at least a year. We had dead rats pretty much everywhere, just out of sight.
The deep fryer oil in the Pixie Pantry was never changed. The insects were just scooped out with a mesh spoon.
All the burgers were cooked in the morning, and kept in a bucket of water until someone ordered one.
Most of the order fresh food vendors were clean enough.
Santa Claus was a huge chain smoker. He smelt horrible.
The bee monorail was known to catch on fire... the bobsled coaster derailed at least once, sending the riders to the hospital. We had a similar accident with the horse-drawn carriage. I don't think any ride operators were actually trained for emergencies.
Kids puke. A lot. You probably already knew that.
10. That's Got To Be A Confidence Shaker.
The auditions for characters are TOUGH. To be a face character, they line you up and analyze your bone structure before they do anything else. If your figure, height and bone structure aren't right, you don't even get to go any further in the audition. It's fun though :3 Plus the underground passages in the main park (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about) are pretty awesome, but can be creepy. They aren't all bright and colorful, it's a tunnel system, not an attraction. My childhood nearly fell to pieces when I saw a bench with my favorite characters' heads all lined up in a row on it.
Click next to find out where the life guards suck at guarding lives.
11. We Can Save Your Money, But Probably Not Your Life
I worked last summer for Valleyfair, a park in Minnesota owned by the people who own Cedar Fair. These aren't as cool as the disneyworld ones, but I have a few:
Behind the Renegade coaster is an original Edsel Ranger sitting on a grassy hill. I don't know what it's for and no one there I asked seems to know either.
Buy a season pass. As of last year parking is included, and they cost $60 at the beginning of the season. Regular admission is $48 and parking is $10.
Our lifeguards are completely incompetent. They get audited randomly throughout the season, where the company stages an emergency and the guards have to save someone. Almost all of them fail and have to go through training again.
People lose a ton of money on rides. I worked in Park Services (park cleanup) and once found $28 in a day just in bills dropped from a roller coaster.
12. EMPLOYEES CAN BUY THE CARNIVAL PRIZES!?!
Spent a summer working games at Hersheypark. Not the most exciting things to be learned but here we go:
All of the popular games have cameras installed in them. That means Ring Toss. Ring Toss as 4 cameras. It's because if the attendant gets distracted and a ring lands on the outer two ring of bottles, you have to call it in. People notoriously have little kids lean over and just place it and try and guilt the attendant into giving away big ass bears
When you play Wacky/Winding Wires, by July, all of the new employees can beat that game, does not mean we will bend the rules if we hear that annoying buzzer, but it also doesn't mean we can't tell you which game station has a smaller ring or larger ring. It can make a large difference.
Every year, 1% of all profits from Hersheypark and Hershey's chocolate goes to the Milton Hershey School, which was originally a school for orphans, but will now also help kids whose parents can't afford to send them to school. This means the school will never go bankrupt. Ever. That school is worth over a billion dollars.
If you live somewhere CLOSE to Hersheypark, make friends with the employees, they get 2 free tickets per paycheck, 15% off everything in the park, and 25% off everything in Chocolate World. This means make friends with an employee, give them your money and make them buy your chocolate for you.
Employees can BUY the prizes in the game stalls (I know you're thinking 'Who'd buy a shitty ass dolphin that costs less then a nickle to makes?') but bitches LOVE giant ass teddy bears as big as them and they make great birthday gifts. Does not mean we can buy them for GUESTS. This can get us fired.
13. No Sexytime On The Skyride
Disability passes available at guest services are free, and allow you to wait the time of a line anywhere you please. Make sure you tell them you have some form of autism, and no broken bones. You can put up to 6 people on that pass with you. Take it to the ride attendant and they'll give you a pass for x amount of minutes. Come back after those minutes, and you go straight to the front of the line.
Working the Howl-o-Scream events are more fun than you can possibly imagine, if you want to make a quick $1000 in a month and sacrifice all your weekends in October. Be prepared to have some injuries from repetitive motions, and be prepared to be cursed at, hit, and spat on.
The seats in the middle of rows 5 and 6 on Montu are meant for heavier set people.
The drivers at Rhino Rally are actually driving those trucks. No, they are not on tracks. We go through hours and hours and hours of training and observation to be able to drive those enormous rovers. Yes, sometimes the Rhinos do charge towards the trucks. It's nothing to be scared about, though.
You can get small ticket discounts for friends with a Fun Card.
If you need to eat in the theme park, go to the Zambia Smokehouse. More bang for your buck. Order your drinks without ice, you'll get double the amount.
If you come to guest services complaining about how it's raining on a day that was forecast for a hurricane, we will not be sympathetic. Please read the weather forecast before you come to a theme park.
When you are perched 200 feet up on Sheikra, waiting for that drop, you are being held up there by a small, tiny latch of metal.
If you're going to be at the park all day and you want a drink/snack, shell out for the souvenir cup/bucket. Refills are absolutely dirt cheap.
Whenever you buy anything in the park, just ask the shop/vendor, and they'll send it to guest services at the front so you can pick it up later. Free.
If you go to Jungala early enough in the morning and hang around the white tigers for a bit, you may have a chance to play tug of war with one of them.
In the mid morning on a slow-ish day, you can pay for regular parking, then just drive into the preferred parking lot to park. Noone checks. Also, if you get to the park about an hour and a half to closing, the toll booths usually aren't manned.
Half the time that you're on Montu, most of the mechanism isn't touching the track; just a couple guiding ball bearings.
Unless you're there in the summer at night, don't try to do anything stupid on the skyride; there are cameras everywhere, with no blind spots.
14. Arms Over The Chest From Now On.
Being from Orlando, I have worked all the theme parks. Since this thread is overwhelmed with disney facts, I will instead tell you something about my employment with Wet N Wild. If an attractive (large busted) woman was at the top of the slide the guy working at the bottom of the ride would give the secret "boob signal" for the lifeguard up top. This was code for the lifeguard to send her down the slide with her hands interlocked behind her head instead of her arms folded across her chest. If a persons arms are folded across the chest this method prevents wandrobe malfunctions, which is a reason why it is the policy to do so, because when the hands are interlocked behind the head it prevents the said female from covering her escaping breasts. It goes without saying that this lead to optimal boobage for the lifeguard waiting below. Oh, to reminisce on those scenes, me gawking at those helpless girls through my mirrored sunglasses as they failed to realize that their bosom was exposed for all to see. In retrospect this may have been an inappropriate use of power...
EDIT: It is also worth noting that when purchasing sunglasses for lifeguarding, the ideal pair will have dark lenses, thus allowing your eyes to wander upon the exposed breasts completely unnoticed. This was another very well known fact on the job.
15. Disney: Where No One Is Sober And The Christian Kids Get Lit.
I've seen a few Disneyland Cast Members post. I've worked in all 4 of the Disney World theme parks, and can answer any questions for them. Some cool tidbits you may or may not know.
*There is a room in Cinderella's castle that can be stayed in.
*When Tinkerbell fly's from Cinderella's castle, it's one of (when I worked there from 2004-2008) 3 different ones. One of whom is male.
*There are days when none of the cast members working the attraction you are on are sober (Depending on the attraction). INCLUDING THE COORDINATORS AND MANGERS.
*Cosmic Ray's Starlight Caf in Tomorrowland (Used to be at least) serve the most people per hour in America at any indoor fast food joint (during peak hours).
*When hurricanes and such happen, the cars you see on speedway's track are actually driven off the track and into the tunnels below magic kingdom for storage.
*Yes, the speedway cars have A.) Caught Fire B.) Jumped the track and been driven through a fence and round Toon Town. C.) Ran over people (no deaths, but one time, a kid got hit/arm ran over, the father grabbed him and ran, we had people looking for them all over the park. Eventually, he came back and demanded an ambulance (2-3 hours later!), so we did and it turns out the kid had a broken arm.) EDIT 1: I thought of a few other cool tidbits
*You can get your haircut at Magic Kingdom for a (relatively) reasonable rate! I think it's about $20 for adults and $15 for kids. Cast Members can get that done in the tunnels as well.
*Underneath Magic Kingdom is a Subway. Yes, the restaurant.
*The days when you get the worst behavior is actually Night of Joy (When the christian artists come to Disney) followed by Graduation Nights (high schools graduatation celebrations).
*Each area of the park has their own custom number codes. I think you guess which are standard and which are not :P
- 115: Jailbait
- 105: Hot person
- 104: Wheelchair party / Assistance
- 103: Break
- 102: Attraction's up
- 101: Attraction's down
*If you are fat, and can't get off Space Mountain fast enough, we'll hit a button and park the rocket you're in to the back area. There's multiple reasons we do this, First: It gives you time to get out on your own, Second: If our rockets back up and we get 4 at the unloading the station the ride trips and "E-Stops".
*Worst case of that was we had one really large guest and she got stuck. We had to have Reedy Creek (the Walt Disney World Fire Company) pull her out of the rocket using a movable crane and a large amount of Crisco.
*Disney World has it's own Fire Company, Water Works, and Power Company. Police are mostly local sheriffs.
*The town of Celebration used to be owned by Disney World. It wasn't until more recent times Disney sold it off.