Ah, Disney World. It’s the happiest place on Earth! Every year, millions of happy visitors flock to the many Disney theme parks located around the world to meet their favourite characters and be a kid again for awhile. But in order to make all that magic happen for the guests, Disney employees must follow strict rules. These employees, also known as cast members, take care of every detail to make sure your visit is magical, from dressing up as princesses to cleaning your hotel room to cooking up those famous Mickey shaped waffles. Many Disney cast members love their job and stay employed by the company for a long time. But just like any workplace, there are some downsides to working for the main Mouse. In this list, we share with you 15 secret rules all Disney cast members have to follow. From strict regulations on their appearance to secrecy around their jobs to rules of etiquette, cast members go to a lot of trouble to make your vacation a consistent and pleasant experience. If you’re thinking of applying there, you might think twice after reading this! Keep reading for 15 of the craziest Disney employee secrets Mickey Mouse would never tell you!
15. They Can’t Say “I Don’t Know”
An easy way to get out of doing work, especially after a long day in the hot sun, is to say “I don’t know.” But dismissing guests in this way is one of the number one things cast members are not allowed to do. Most Disney employees are very knowledgeable about the parks and can help with almost every question you might have. But if they actually don’t know the answer? They have to seek out the answer for you from other cast members. They might even have to call someone up for you. A more fun side of this rule is that cast members must know all things about the Disney universe so they can answer all the little ones’ questions about the characters. If the answer is never addressed in the movies, they can just make something up.
14. Body Mods Are A No-No
Lots of Disney fans like to show their love for the brand with colourful, fun tattoos. As much as Disney probably appreciates this, visible tattoos are not allowed on any cast members working in the parks. In the fairytale universe that Disney World creates for its guests, purity and innocence are of utmost importance, making most body modifications off limits to employees. In addition to having to cover up tattoos, cast members are also forbidden from having body piercings (besides one in each ear for women) and ear stretching or gauges. Also on the no list are more extreme mods like tongue splitting, skin implants, brands, and tooth filing. No one wants a cast member walking around looking like a Disney villain scaring all the kids! So if you use your body as a canvas, working at Disneyland might not be for you.
13. Hair Requirements Are Strict
Many cast members at Disney parks wear wigs or costume heads for their jobs. But for those whose heads are exposed to guests, Disneyland has some pretty strict rules when it comes to haircuts and styles. Like many employers, Disney forbids extreme hairstyles like Mohawks and bright, unnatural hair colours. For guys, hair must be either completely shaved or not fall down over the ears and shirt collar. Braids are allowed as long as they are tight to the head, straight, and don’t have any decorations like beads. Ladies must keep their hair neatly brushed and in a “classic, easy-to-maintain style.” Long hair that falls into your face when you work must be tied back. Women can also have braids as long as it is a “conservative style” with no ornamentation but are not allowed to shave their heads. Both men and women are forbidden from shaving their eyebrows.
12. Different Characters Are Different Heights
When casting the characters who walk around the Disney parks, the company has a certain look they are going for. From skin color to speaking style to acting abilities, the audition process to become your favorite Disney character is gruelling. One of the weirdest rules, though, is that you have to be a certain height to play certain characters. This is a way to physically help the personality and feeling of the character come through. For example, small, young characters like Tinker Bell and Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) require actresses to be between 4’11” and 5’2″. Princesses like Belle and Rapunzel have to be between 5’4″ and 5’8″; still shorter than their princes but tall enough to be bigger and look older than the kids. Actors also often play multiple characters in their height range.
11. Nails Must Be Short
You would think that Disney would encourage cast members to show their love for Disney in every way possible. A fun manicure featuring Mickey Mouse would be so cute, right? Because cast members are supposed to be immersed in their environment, nails are strictly regulated. You would never see hot pink fingernails in the Wild West or Colonial times, right? Ladies are allowed to wear nail polish, but it has to be “an appropriate, neutral color” which definitely does not include black, neon colors, silver, or gold. No nail charms or decals are permitted, either. Girls must keep their nails no longer than 1/4 inch past their fingertips, while men’s nails can’t go past their fingertips at all. I guess they have to save their cool manicures for when they are off the clock.
10. Even Glasses Are Regulated!
Disney obviously can’t refuse to hire someone just because they wear glasses. That would be obvious discrimination! But they do heavily regulate the way cast members’ glasses look. Eyewear, including both sunglasses and prescription glasses, must be “a conservative, neutral color and style” that does not distract from your costume. Sunglasses have to be light enough to show your eyes. Most importantly, glasses cannot show a logo of any kind. This precaution is just in case a guest gets the wrong idea that your glasses company is somehow affiliated with Disney. Cast members who play characters also have to look just like their character, so if their role does not wear glasses, they are required to pop in a pair of contacts for their shift. So get some contacts if you want to play Prince Charming!
9. Do The Two-Finger Point
When visiting a Disney park, you will instantly notice cast members pointing out directions with two fingers instead of one. Weird, right? Well there is a reason behind this iconic gesture. The classic two-finger point has been a cast member rule since Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955. The Disney parks are visited by tons of guests from a wide range of countries around the world. Because some cultures find pointing with one finger extremely rude, cast members have to gesture with two fingers or an open palm instead, to be polite to all guests regardless of where they are from. Prepare to see this one used a lot when cast members are clearing the way for a parade or showing guests the way out of the park at the end of the night.
8. Pick Up Trash
If you have ever visited a Disney park, you probably noticed how clean they are. One of the crazy employee rules is responsible in part for that. Disney does employ lots of janitorial staff to keep the parks tidy, but they can’t be everywhere at once. For that reason, all cast members, even costumed characters, are supposed to pick up trash if they see it on the ground. Whether you are CEO or a burger flipper, with every employee doing their part, they give guests a safe and clean environment to play in. However, cast members can’t ruin the magic by simply squatting down to grab a rogue chip bag. Instead, they must stay in character and pick it up with a graceful swooping motion. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’m dying to see it on my next trip!
7. Cast Members Can’t Share A Name
Some names are much more common than others. For instance, we probably all know more than one John or Elizabeth, right? Well if you work for Disney, you might get to enjoy a new name. Disney has a rule where everyone is on a first name basis with each other, from the newest hire to the top executives. They hate the formality of Mr. or Mrs. Whatever. So as you can imagine, there are lots of repeat first names amongst employees. To avoid confusion when referring to cast members, Disney parks employees are often given new names for the duration of their employment. So if there are two Joes who play The Beast, the one who was hired more recently now becomes Mike or something. Or if there are two Rachels who work at the Haunted Mansion ride, the less senior one becomes Leslie while at work.
6. They Have To Stay In Character
Disney cast members who play a character must stay in that character from the time they clock in until they clock out. That means every word, gesture, action, and facial expression is no longer you, but now Ariel. A huge part of this includes learning your character’s signature for when kiddos ask for your autograph. Disney works hard to make a consistent universe, so all people who play a character must sign their name the same way. It would ruin the magic if one Donald Duck’s autograph looked totally different from another! They also can’t talk about anything outside the Disney universe. So if you ask Peter Pan who his favorite Harry Potter character is, he should look at you very confused. Characters can’t act like they know anything outside of their movie!
5. Keep Their Role On The DL
In a world where we are constantly sharing photos and videos of our days on social media, keeping your job on the down low can be hard. But for Disney cast members who play characters, they have to keep quiet or risk being fired. While it would be tempting to add shots of you dressed as Snow White to your Snapchat story, Disney insists you keep things like this off social media as a way to maintain the magic. In fact, you can’t even really talk about your role. Instead you must say “I get to hang out with Snow White” or something similar. Cast members who aren’t actors are free to discuss their jobs, but are still strictly forbidden from sharing backstage pictures. No one wants to see Elsa sipping coffee or Mickey Mouse with his head off!
4. Costumes Are Reserved For Work Only
Having access to an entire closet of Disney costumes in different sizes seems like a dream come true. You could hook up your entire crew for Halloween free of charge! Not if you are a Disney parks cast member. Costumes are to be worn during shifts only and never for personal use. Cast members also are not allowed to loan out their outfits to their friends or family members. They do get to keep their name tags, though. One funny rule for Disney employees involves those iconic name tags. If you forget your name tag when you go to work, you can’t simply go without one for the day. You will break the consistent “Disney look.” So instead, you can wear a random one with someone else’s name on it for your shift.
3. They Must Follow Etiquette Rules
Along with all of these bigger rules, Disney employees are also required to follow simple rules of etiquette while on the job at the parks. That obviously means treating guests with respect and being happy and kind to all they encounter. In fact, frowning and slouching, no matter how tired you are, are not allowed. But there are small things they are forbidden from doing, too. For example, chewing gum on their shift is not allowed for cast members. Walt Disney thought gum was gross and didn’t want it making the grounds of his parks all sticky. Plus no one wants to ask for help when you are chewing a wad of gum like a cow. Cast members should never be seen using their cell phones while on the job either. They can’t even smoke or eat in view of guests while on the clock!
2. There Are Codes For Everything
Bad stuff does happen at Disneyland, though they do a good job of hiding it from us. One way to keep the gross, weird, and scary happenings under wraps? A series of codes. No guest wants to be waiting in line for Splash Mountain only to hear an employee say “We need to clean up some puke.” Instead, cast members must memorize an entire language of codes about emergencies. Some of the most common are Code V for vomit, Code H for horse poop on Main Street, and Code U for urine. Others include White Powder for when people try to spread a dead person’s ashes in the park and Signal 25 indicates a fire. These sound a lot more pleasant and don’t send other guests into a frenzy about health and safety concerns.
1. Treat Celebrities Like Everyone Else
It is just a fact that celebrities love visiting Disney parks as much as the rest of us. But even if you see your favorite singer strolling down Main Street or a famous actor on Space Mountain, cast members are supposed to treat them like any other guest. First of all, this helps keep up the façade that nothing exists outside of Disneyland. It is its own little universe with no movie stars outside of it. Not making a scene also helps celebs keep their privacy a little more easily. Just like you, they are there to enjoy a fun and relaxing day with their family! Character actors especially cannot act like they recognize famous guests. This would be a major example of breaking character while on the job. In fact, there is a rumor that any cast member who asks a celebrity for a photo or autograph will be fired.
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