“So, you work at Disney, right?”
Dun dun DUN! The dreaded question most cast members receive at least once in their time with the mouse. The first time it happens, you’re wondering to yourself, “Why is this person messaging me when we haven’t talked in 6 years?” Then it happens. They beat around the bush about you working at Disney until finally they get up the nerve to ask how you can hook them up.
Or, you get the opposite. Here’s an example of someone asking me that I… 1. Had only talked to once in my life and 2. This is the second sentence they ever said to me about a month after meeting them:
Her: “Can you get me and my boyfriend in for free to Disneyland?”
Me: “Sorry, I’d have to be there and I’m in Nevada for school right now.”
… and no response.
Constantly people are asking me for advice, discounts, free entry- and usually I’m very nice about it and try to help in other ways- and yet I never receive a response back because it’s not a, “Hey you! I’d love to get you in for free even though I barely know more than your name!”
So, this is an open letter to everyone who knows someone – who knows someone – that works at Disney to explain why we do not spread our free entry to all the citizens in the land. And why, when you ask us for help with planning, please remember to say “thank you”.
Let me start off by saying that we really do understand how expensive it is to go to Disney. Although us cast members get to enjoy the parks for free, we deal with guests every day that remind us how hard they worked to get there, along with how much they spent. When the prices go up, so does our anxiety: because we know exactly how stressful it’s going to be on the people that come through our gate, and it’s our job to make sure they get every single penny worth of their trip. If we fail as cast members, their trip is also a failure. We want everyone to have a magical experience because it also makes our day, too.
Cast members work their butt off when they are in the park, sometimes up to four hours without a break, in the humidity, with no shade, and sweating in places that sweat should not be found. They are to look alive while on stage at all times, to make as much magic as possible while sweating through their costumes pretending it is not as hot out as it actually is.
As cast members, we do receive some wonderful perks from working at the park, and I’m going to take a moment to explain those:
- We receive discounts on merchandise for ourselves only.
- For the work that we do, we also receive 4 complimentary tickets a year (2 if you are seasonal). Four. FOUR. Yes, four a year. What makes these tickets so wonderful is that they have no block out dates, so they can used on any day as long as the parks aren’t at capacity. We can give these tickets to anyone, but with the recent rise in block out dates, these tickets are coveted because it is the only way we can get our family into places like The Magic Kingdom during their visit.
- CMs also have this beautiful card called a maingate. This card lets the CM get in 3 people per day, up to 16 times per year (6 if you are seasonal). But I’d like to tell you exactly why this does not benefit you…
There have been some years I only used my maingate maybe once or twice. Other years where I used up every single pass. Part of the rules when using the maingate is that as a cast member, if I let you in with it, I have to stay with you during your entire park visit (unless you’re family). And if I don’t know you, or if you are trying to come in with your boyfriend for a romantic day at the parks, it is sure going to get weird having me around. On top of that, I just spent the last 12 days working 8-12 hour shifts at the park you are visiting, and the only place I want to be is curled up with Netflix, avoiding the sun like the plague.
Now your next argument is, “But how will they know you aren’t with us?”
And that is a very valid question. Because Disney might not follow us around all day to make sure we split up. The keyword there is might. When you get into the park, you are holding onto my sacred guest pass that I have to have returned to me, and if I don’t know you very well you might:
- Never return the pass to me and
- Make me lose my job by doing something dumb
If you are someone I don’t know very well, it is not worth it for me to risk my source of income because you don’t want to spend any of yours.
On top of that, as I said earlier, I might just want to stay home and relax instead of making the trek to the park for someone I’m not very close to.
However, if you are a good friend, or family (objective, of course), it is a no brainer that I am letting you in. We are going to go to the parks together and I am going to show you the best way to get around the park and we are going to have an absolute blast.
But if I don’t know you- do not ask me for tickets. Before you do, think to yourself, “Would I hang out with this person if they didn’t work at Disney? Have I talked to them in the last year? Do they know who I am?”
Because if you do ask, and we know you’re just trying to use us, then we will screenshot whatever you send us and use it for story time backstage at work the next day.
And if you ask, and the CM says they can’t because they have plans with their family for their passes or they are working those days, thank them anyway! Do not be angry. Take that opportunity to ask them for any advice about the parks and listen to it. They know what they’re talking about. 🙂
An ex-cast member who will not ask her Disney friends to hook you up on your trip
P.S. I realize seasonal doesn’t get these perks any longer – this was written quite some time ago! Even more reason why seasonal would be safeguarding them now 😉