Things You Have to Explain to People Who've Never Worked in a Theme Park

When you’re a kid, the thought of spending the whole day in a magical world populated by superheroes and princesses seems like an impossible dream. Then one day you see a flier at the local community college saying Disney is hiring “summer interns” and you think: DREAM COME TRUE.

That is, until you start working there.

If you thought making a career at a theme park was all singing warthogs and fairy godmothers, think again. We talked to a bunch of current and former theme park “cast members” to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work in that mystical wonderland. After they were finished, we couldn't look at Mickey the same way ever again.

We can make your trip a lot better if you’re nice

If your mouse ears break/you forgot to secure them when you went on the Tower of Terror/ your $11 cheeseburger was undercooked, tell an employee and be really nice about it. We can probably fix it. Guest satisfaction is actually our main job, so we get a lot of leeway to make you happy.

We get promoted if you give us good feedback

So if we DO give your kid a fluffy plush Minion toy because his ice cream cone fell on the ground, take 30 seconds and fill out a comment card. You’re not diming us out for giving away free stuff.

Flickr/loren javier

The costumes are hotter than you can possibly imagine

So, yes, actually, I AM hot in here. And no, there’s no fan.  Thanks for asking.

Character shifts are only 30 minutes long

And it’s the longest 30 minutes of your life. Put a treadmill in the steam room at your gym and crank it up to about 9. If you can do that for half an hour you MIGHT be able to handle a shift.

There are strippers who get groped less than Minnie Mouse

Why people think it’s funny to grab a giant puppet’s crotch is beyond us. But just remember there’s just as good a chance that Minnie Mouse is a dude, and “The Crying Game” is probably not one of the movies you came here to relive.

Flickr/Jennie Park

The princess’s hair is not real

But, you know, neither is Donald Trump’s, and that didn’t ruin “The Apprentice” for you, right?

We get in free, but never go

If you spent 70 hours a week losing your body weight in sweat at your desk back in the accounting department, would you wanna go there with your time off? No. No you would not.

We have to point with two fingers

Apparently, in some cultures pointing with one finger is considered rude. We’re not doing this because we like to imitate in-flight safety demos.

Most employees are considered “part-time” workers, but work 45-70 hours a week anyway

It’s cool, though. Who needs benefits when you save 50 percent on souvenir cups and stuffed animals?

Flickr/Jason Riedy

Under no circumstances should you EVER eat the Turkey legs

They’re emu. No, seriously. They’re emu.

Cinderella is a chain smoker

And no, she didn’t pick the habit up from her wicked stepsisters. She picked it up in ballet school or dance academy.

You’ll hear the question “What time is the 3 o’clock parade”? at least twice a day

From English speakers. And we have to answer politely. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much impossible.

We get weekly random Facebook messages from people asking for “friends and family” tickets

Yeah, that semester we spent dissecting frogs together in 1996 was meaningful for me, too. But if you don’t have my phone number, what on Earth makes you think I want to “hook you up”?


Make friends with attractions operators and you'll never wait in a line

The level of power that goes along with ensuring your safety bar is secure is up there with club doorman and hall monitor.

People do disgusting things in your seat

It’s amazing how normally civilized people turn into that homeless guy in front of the library when they know they’ll only have to sit in that filth for three minutes and someone else will clean it up.

People will do anything they can to NOT be safe

Stuffing children's shoes to hit the height requirement. Sitting on top of a seatbelt or bar. Stand up on a roller coaster during a period of negative g-force, ejecting themselves from a perfectly good, thrilling, and already fulfilling experience. Hiding their infants (yes, this happened) in their jacket or poncho in order to get them on a super-loopy, upside-downsy, crazy-fast, and safety requirement-filled ride.

Most of us can give directions to the bathroom in 14 languages

But that’s it. Anything past that is going to require a translation app and excessive hand motions.


Yes, we’re all sleeping together

Long hours + shared, unpleasant work + hot weather = a lot of business for the Orange County Public Health Clinic.

It's totally normal to see Prince Charming and Prince Eric making out backstage

You didn't really think he was into Ariel in real life, did you?

We make minimum wage or slightly above

We do it for the joy of seeing a child’s face light up when we hand him a Buzz Lightyear toy. Or we just really love sweating. One of those.

We've been called every name in the book

In languages you didn’t even know existed. But mostly Portuguese.

This article originally published on August 08, 2014.