Disney Tips and Advice from a Cast Member
Above is me as a 16-year-old girl. Below are my children on a vacation a few years ago. I still love and believe in the magic of Disney. This is my Disney tips and advice from a Cast Member (an employee of Disney.) Once upon a time in a far away land, I was “very good friends” with Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Pluto and other Disney characters. I’m also the daughter of two former Cast Members and originally from Orlando. I am now the mother to three and very much still covered in Pixie Dust This despite having been hundreds of times to the parks. I’m sharing my Disney tips and advice from a Cast Member to help give you some pointers I still use and share with friends to this day. Cue the pixie dust…
This is me and Sleeping Beauty – the Disney Princess I used to be – a few wrinkles ago. I worked at Disney when I was 16 and stopped when I was around 20 years old. It was my first job and I loved every second of it. I wanted to share some Disney tips and advice from a Cast Member with you because I get asked by so many of my friends who have never been.
You won’t find a Travel Agent’s guide to Disney, or even overwhelmingly practical advice like I’ve seen Disney bloggers provide. My advice comes from a girl whose “playground” as a teenager was Disney. When we went out as teenage malcontents where did we go? Disney hotels. The Yacht and Beach Club brings me back to childhood. The back roads of Disney, as we used to call them, are now all hotels. So much of Disney’s land used to be orange groves we got into trouble in! On weekends when we were bored, we went to Disney to ride one ride or see a friend in a parade. Growing up, I also knew what time by was by when I could hear the fireworks from our house.
Every one of my old friends “knew” a princess well. Belle, Jasmine, Esmeralda, Cinderella, Alice, Ariel…someone I went to school with was “special friends” with each of them. It was a blast and some of the most special memories of my life. “Underground” Disney is a series of rooms I’ve been in more times than I can count, and I can walk the park with my eyes closed.
My husband loves going to Disney with me for two reasons main reasons, the first being that Disney is still absolutely magical to me. Still. I’ve been literally hundreds of times, but every time I walk down Main Street I feel giddy and happy and excited. He feels that through me and sees the park through my eyes – therefore our experience with our kids is truly magical.
Secondly, he gets to turn his brain off. I know all the back walkways around the park. I know where the bathrooms are, I know where the rides are so he literally goes into “just follow her” mode and he’s happy as a clam not having to be in charge. 🙂
When visiting characters I like to whisper to them that I was Pluto or a Disney princes. Buys my kids extra time with them because they love it!
A dear friend of mine is going and today she and I talked. She asked me for my Disney tips and advice from a Cast Member, and I gave the advice I’ve given many times. My husband and I were sitting down tonight having a glass of wine and I was telling him about this conversation and he goes “you have to share that on the blog!” because it’s all true! So here it goes my Disney tips and advice from a Cast Member…
Do not, repeat DO NOT buy a balloon for your kids on Main Street at Magic Kingdom.
Your husband will hate you and you haven’t even been in the park 3 minutes. The balloons are gigantic, and tied to a stroller they will bang him in the head and block his view the entire day and he will curse the entire day and you within minutes. Trust me. I experienced this.
We went with friends years ago and all of us got balloons (we were new parents and it was our first time going as parents not individuals) and I swear all of our husbands almost abandoned us before we got to the statue of Walt Disney. Promise your child you will buy them a balloon but at the END of the day on your way out. If you look at these pictures you’ll see my husband’s oh-so-happy face with the balloon shoved into the stroller, and a second where you can see the size of this monstrosity.
My Thoughts on Buying Toys
My Granny taught me this rule growing up. We never went on a family vacation without her telling us at the start of the trip that we would get a present. It was up to us when we wanted to buy it – but we would get one. She said “go into the gift shop and get it now if you want. Or you can hold off and wait, but you get one.” It made it special, and knowing we got a present up front made us picky but happy. My girlfriend today said she’s having her kids to chores around the house to earn “Disney dollars” which I also love. But don’t say “we’ll see” cause I swear on my life your child will drive you crazy asking for toys every 4 minutes. Maybe even 30 seconds. Mark my words.
I’m behind the camera – heart melting seeing Alice greet my daughter! I was Alice, too and she is far and away my favorite character!
Where to go for Quiet
OK, I may regret sharing this but a long time secret of mine is the “People Mover” ride. It’s in between Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland. It has an escalator that goes up and it’s where we go when we need a “break” from people. There’s no line, it’s a “ride” for the kids, but really it’s a “sanity break ride” for the parents. There’s no crowd. It’s on an upper level so you feel a sense of space from people touching you and it’s an easy way to catch your breath. Caveat – I went to Disney last year and for the first time in my life I saw a line. My mouth dropped. Never in almost 20 years have I seen a line for this so-called ride. Someone tipped people off and I’m not happy about it. And yet here I am tipping you off – stupid, stupid, stupid me.
5 Alarm Meltdown
If you’re husband looks like he’s in dire need of a beer, or a bullet to his brain, or may ask for a divorce because the crowd/heat/whining is killing him, ABORT MISSION and run to Adventureland for a Turkey Leg. They sell them at a cart across from the Diamond Horseshoe. Side note: my parents met for the first time in front of the Diamond Horseshoe. After 25 years of marriage they are now divorced. But my Dad was one of the original crew of The Jungle Cruise and my Mom sold tickets in front of the Tiki Birds. I can recite the entire Jungle Cruise script “welcome aboard danger lovers and thrill seekers….whose here for the first time? Oh good, me too!” I digress. Turkey Leg. Your husband will feel like a man again eating this. So when he’s losing his mind and masculinity get him a turkey leg and all will be forgiven.
Preparation does Not Equal Perfection
Remember no matter how much you prepare, it will NOT GO AS PLANNED. It just won’t so stop stressing about it. It’s a giant park full of people. And when have you seen hundreds of thousands of people make something go smoothly? You haven’t. Your kids will whine and someone will overheat. The FastPass thingie will get mixed up, if you’re like me you’ll do “one more ride” before eating and then get crazy HANGRY.
My Own Favorite Disney Horror Story
When our identical twin boys were 3 we went and they were potty training. One refused to use a “big boy potty”. He would only use his dinky Fisher-Price “froggy potty” so he literally held his bladder for 7 hours until we got back to the hotel room. He whined all day but he REFUSED TO GO on a real toilet.
We went to the bathrooms across from Pirates of the Caribbean and his identical twin was sitting on the potty (they were still sitting, not standing due to height constraints) and as I was kneeling in front explaining to his brother how he could DO THIS. At that moment, his brother swiveled and said “but it’s so easy!” and peed — all over me. Yep. He was covered in peans I was covered in pee. And his brother was still crying that he had to go to the bathroom.
And guess what I did? The Disney expert that I was FORGOT THE CHANGE OF CLOTHES. So off go all of his pee soaked clothes, I cover my skin and shorts in soap and water, and my son comes walking out naked in a diaper. I’m soaking wet and my husband was wondering what the heck took us so long. I gave him a “don’t even ask me or I’ll either scream, cry or laugh look” and $80 later we were the proud owners of new Disney clothes.
Yes, I know you can borrow clothes from Disney in instances like this. But I needed those Mickey socks to laugh at when I’m 80 so we bought them. Ugh. Story for the ages that one.
Most Important Rule
DECIDE, and I mean this, DECIDE to have fun at Disney.
Put on your Pixie Dust Panties, or Mickey Mouse ears or whatever you gotta do to remember this really is The Happiest Place on Earth. And before you set foot onto that monorail, or tram from the parking lot, see the place through a child’s eyes and see it for the magic that it is.
If you go in already upset about how much it costs, claustrophobic, annoyed with the lines, or mad at your wife/kids/father in law, you’re in for a long day of pain. 🙂
So get optimistic, get full of wonder. And when your kid screams through “Small World” get off and say “well, you can’t tell your therapist that I didn’t take you to Small World because I did and you still hated it, so it’s not my fault.” Because for the record, I have the mantra that no one should go through childhood not going on that ride. And yes, my husband suffers through it every time we go and he hates me for it.
But then we get a Turkey Leg and all is forgiven.
So fellow Disney Princesses and Princes, what is your favorite advice? Do tell…