I want to start with full disclosure. I have been a cast member at the Walt Disney World resort and am returning to a new role soon and know firsthand that there can be “magical” moments made between cast members and guests. I also know some of the challenges that these cast members face and what they can do for guests to help make their visit to Walt Disney World everything that they expected and more. Having said this I will say that even though cast members around Walt Disney World usually provide superior guest service you will occasionally run across some that truly exemplify what being a cast member is all about, exceeding expectations. On a recent visit my family and I witnessed the most consistent amazing guest service that we have ever experienced. I would like to share those experiences now.
We started our day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As we arrived to park our van the cast member at the parking ticket booth greeted us with an excited hello and with the enthusiasm usually reserved for children grabbed the scanning device to scan my MagicBand as he made sound effects and wished us an amazing day in the park. What a way to start your visit! This was not a person simply asking for money (proof of AP) to park, this was a person excited that we chose to visit his park and was really having a great time doing his job. These types of cast members are your unsung heroes of the cast member world. They do not have the most exciting role to play but an extremely important one as they are the first cast member with which most guests come in contact. At Walt Disney World you will usually find that it is the cast members in these types of roles that have the most impact on your visit.
As soon as we entered the park we headed for Kilimanjaro Safari for our FastPass+ Reservation. This attraction is one in which the experience is greatly impacted by the cast member that you have as your safari guide. We have had experiences that ranged from incredible to adequate on the same attraction. This particular day our guide was fantastic. He was very funny and made everyone in the vehicle feel that it was going to be a great trip through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. He pointed out things that I have never seen on this attraction and went off script to help strengthen the story line. When our safari was complete we walked into a gift shop to take in some free air conditioning. Our 2 year old was exploring the merchandise when a cast member got down on his level and started talking to him. He was so excited to “talk” to her. She asked if he saw animals and he enthusiastically replied “Yes!” She continued talking to him and when we went to leave he kept waving and saying “bye bye”. I swear that we heard him say “I love you” but that is not confirmed. She didn’t give him a sticker; she didn’t give him anything but her complete attention. As we left the store my wife and I stated that this is what makes Disney, Disney.
When it was time to sit down and have lunch we chose to eat at Pizzafari. Choosing the correct option for a 2 year old is quite a chore and we decided to grab him a cheese pizza kid’s meal. He usually loves pizza but this day he was having nothing to do with it. As we tried to get him to eat his pizza a cast member who was cleaning tables and restocking condiments overheard and asked us if he liked macaroni and cheese. We said yes, maybe that is what we should have ordered. Before we knew it the cast member brought us a bowl of macaroni and cheese. He almost ate the entire bowl. This cast member saw an opportunity to make our son happy. She not only saw the opportunity she did something about it. Now this time we did get something for free but really it was the fact that she cared enough to offer help that made the difference. You might think that this was enough amazing guest service to span an entire day but it was only lunch time.
After lunch we made our way past a Disney Vacation Club area. My wife and 2 year old were waiting in that area while my 10 year old and I were looking at something. One of the cast members was talking to them and my 2 year old really took to her. They were playing and talking and laughing to the point that my son, again, just wanted to stay and hang out with the cast member. He wasn’t concerned about all the attractions around him. To him she was the attraction and he was content to stay there. When I arrived there were some wood stand-ups that you could take a picture with someone’s head through the cut out holes. My wife lifted our 2 year old so his face was looking out one of the holes and the cast member that had been playing with him ran over and stuck her head in the other one for the picture. This is just above and beyond what I would expect. She of course also offered to take our picture if we all wanted to get in.
At this point my 10 year old and I continued over to the Transportation and Ticket Center as we were heading to EPCOT. When arriving I made my way to a soda machine to purchase a particular flavor that I have only found in two machines on property. The machine was one where you could swipe your credit card and purchase the soda. My son wanted another more popular flavor so I selected it first. I heard the machine make noise but no soda was dispensed. I thought that it might just be a problem with that flavor so I selected my soda and the same thing happened. Feeling like a complete fool but still not wanting to be out six dollars I walked with my tail between my legs to the merchandise area to explain my situation. I really thought that I was out of luck because I had no clue where to turn. The cast member at the merchandise area was incredibly nice and understanding. He didn’t question me one bit. He gave us our money back and had another cast member grab my son his soda and gave that to us as well. Here is a situation where I thought I was out of luck and a Disney cast member took care of me.
All of these experiences occurred on the same day to the same guests. How amazing is that? How many other amazing cast member experiences were being made? You can assume many. I’m sure that anyone reading this, who has visited a Disney Park, can share stories about how cast members have provided them with guest service that went above and beyond. I would love to hear your cast member stories in the comments below. I think it is great to share these stories so that the cast members know how important they are and that everything that they are doing is noticed and appreciated. Of course they would all tell you that they enjoy what they are doing and seeing a smile on a guest’s face or seeing the guest have the time of their life is all the recognition that they need. It still would not hurt us, as guests, to say Thank You! This is my opportunity to say thank you to all the cast members around the Walt Disney World Resort. What you do every day is what keeps us coming back. For me Walt Disney World is not about attractions or food or characters, it is about people.
“You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”—Walt Disney