Guest Post: Behind the Magic as a Disney Cast Member

Good morning everyone! This week on my blog, I will be bringing you a different guest post every day from Monday until Friday from a different blogger as I am away on my holidays this week! I’ll be chug, chug, chugging along on a boat along the Norfolk Broads, without a laptop or much WiFi for that matter so I thought it would be a perfect chance to get some guests on and talk about different topics than what I usually write about. So… let’s kick things off shall we and first up we have a wonderful post from Mairéad, all about her time working in Disney World!

When I was younger, I wasn’t your stereotypical Barbie-loving little girl who loved dressing up and watching Disney films. Instead, I grew up with four older brothers watching football on a Saturday afternoon, and pretending to be professional wrestlers out the back garden.

Fast forward about a decade and I remember being on a plane to Florida for the first time, on my way to work at the most magical place on earth. Sounds cliché, I know, but after being there for a year, I can’t think of anywhere on this earth that is more special.

When I left the airport in Orlando, a burst of hot, humid air engulfed my face, and it is at this exact moment I knew I had arrived.

When I arrived at my housing complex, I was placed in an apartment with 5 other girls, 3 from the UK, one from Norway and one from Germany. There were four housing complexes in total where the cast members stayed, and each included a gym and swimming pool.

One of the major perks of being a Disney cast member was being able to visit ‘Mickey’s Retreat’, which is an area specially reserved for Disney cast members and their friends and family. There were swimming pools, volleyball courts, a play park and boats. It was the most picturesque place I’ve ever seen, and it was only around the corner from our complex.

But as a ‘cast member’, my trip to Disney was quite different than the average family holiday, because it was my job to make magic for the guests.

For the entirety of my program, I was based at Epcot; in the UK Pavilion in the World Showcase. I worked in food and beverage, so my main place of work was the beautiful Rose and Crown restaurant.

Being a cast member at Disney was an incredible experience, and it all began at Disney University. On our first day of work, we were introduced to the rest of our arrival group and began our ‘traditions’ training. This is when we received our official name badge which showed guests who we were and where we were from.

And then the hard work started; on the food and beverage cultural representative program, we began our training on the front of house which involved working mainly in the fish and chip shop, on the beer station and outside the restaurant.  I was incredibly lucky to become an official Disney Trainer, which meant that I was responsible for training new cast members on both the front of house and in service.

In a normal week, we would usually work a minimum of 32 hours. There were always extra hours available for those who wanted a little bit of extra money.

We would have worked on the front of house for around 6 months, before moving in to service in the restaurant. We had to complete a bar and service test to be able to become a server in the Rose and Crown, and this involved intense training over a number of weeks.

But when we became servers, we were able to earn more money and enjoy ourselves more outside of work, through ‘staycations’ and traveling. Staycations were a favourite pastime of cast members, many of whom stayed in as many Disney hotels as possible to fully enjoy the Disney experience.

One of the most amazing things about being on the program was being able to make magic for the guests who came to the UK Pavilion, especially the children who were transfixed by their surroundings.

One of my favourite memories from being there was when I heard a man call his daughter ‘Mairead’ from afar. In America, many people struggle with the pronunciation of my name, so I always used to describe it as ‘Parade but with an M’.

When I heard the man call his daughter, I asked him about how he pronounced his daughters name and he told me that Americans couldn’t pronounce it properly so he also described it as ‘Parade but with an M’.

The little girl was as stunned as I was when she realised that another person shared her name, and we got a photo together and I gave her a free pin from our collection as a gift. The smile on her face as she skipped away was the most beautiful memory.

Outside of work, we were able to get in to the parks free of charge, so at times we would have went to Magic Kingdom in the morning, then go to work in the afternoon.

At other times when we had a full day off, we would spend our day in Epcot ‘drinking around the world’ throughout the World Showcase. And if we had a few days off in a row, we would be able to travel; I visited New York a few times too.

But being a cast member is an experience like no other, and gives you the opportunity to learn so much about Disney that you would never have known otherwise.

You become enchanted by the things that no one else may even notice, and you become so trapped by the Disney bubble that you don’t really want to get out of it.

And just like when you are on holiday, when it is time to leave, you feel the sadness overcome you like a tidal wave. Because it truly is the most magical place on earth, and when you are there, you are transported to a place of happiness and magic, and nowhere else can really compare.

You can find Mairéad on the following links: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Blog | Blog

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