The Application and Interview:
I applied as soon as finals week ended in the spring. It was a simple online application through Disney Careers, and within 3 weeks I was interviewed and hired. The interview wasn’t too difficult, and I found out I got the job two days later. This can vary from store to store; I was just lucky mine were so prompt. Just be yourself!
There was a LOT of paperwork and many training videos to fill out and watch in the beginning. Yes, it was a little boring, and I was eager to do the real work. But mine only lasted for a week, and I was good to go! It was a little nerve-wracking at first being finally handed my “ears” (headsets) and official uniform, but be confident and my guests were all so understanding that I was still training. Also, my coworkers and managers were willing to help me, and were very patient. Honestly, the hardest part for me was box office training (working the registers) because I’ve never done it before. I made a lot of mistakes at the beginning and was super slow. However, within 2 weeks it became second nature and now I can give you change for $100 in a millisecond, or exchange a thousand things with two different payments in a few minutes. You’ll be supervised by a manager your first few transactions, so you’ll have help if needed.
My shifts were usually around 5 hours (occasionally 4). Every 2 hours, I would be assigned to one of three roles: box office (cashier), face (store greeter), or guest service (customer service). Then I would rotate positions with my coworkers when my manager said so. Each day I would start and end with a different role, stay longer at some roles, or stay shorter at other roles. Be flexible! In my opinion, box office made the time go by fast, but there was a lot of responsibility associated with it. Being the face could get boring at times, but you got to cheer people up as soon as they walked in. I loved saying farewell to guests with the usual “Have A Magical Day!” Guest service was fun too, as I got to meet so many new people from all over the world and show them my knowledge of Disney products. Granted, my store is a tourist destination, so we get more international visitors, but it was still a great experience! I met people from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, Spain, Italy, France, Bangladesh, and almost all 50 states! Getting to speak Chinese to my Chinese guests was really neat as well. Every day was a fun and exciting new adventure with new guests! Also, there was a great assortment of Disney music playing overhead on the speakers plus periodic sing-alongs from Disney movies, in which I sang my heart out (and got some strange looks but whatever). In addition, our store had really fun events such as dance parties, mini parades, arts and crafts, trivia, and virtual scavenger hunts. I tried to help out with the events as much as possible, and had a blast being involved with the kids. The parents ARE watching, so I took it upon myself to be extra responsible to show that I was a great role model.
Were there some rude and grouchy guests? Of course. As a Cast Member at any Disney venue, you’re gonna have to deal with them anyways. Apologize if you did something wrong, keep a friendly smile, and wish for them to have a magical day. But for every rude guest, I got many amazing guests who truly loved Disney and loved talking to others about their passion. As for my managers and fellow Cast Members, they have become a second family to me. They welcomed me with open arms and gave me a surprise go-away celebration when I left. We all have our inside jokes and catch phrases. I always left the store with a smile on my face, and tried hard not to cry on my last day.
The best part of being a cast member at any Disney venue is the “magical moments” you bring. It always made me feel good to know I helped a customer find the right product, size, style, or price. But there were two very special moments that stood out:
- I was working at the box office when a dad and his young terminally ill daughter came up to purchase some Sophia the First and other Princess merchandise. I instantly greeted her as “your highness”, and proceeded to ask her about her favorite princesses (her favorite was Sophia). She was so eager to share all of her princess knowledge, and I complimented her on her intelligence, beauty, and kindness—she would make Sophia proud! Her father had tears in his eyes and told me that I had made his day. I almost cried myself seeing the little girl tell me on the way out “thank you, I feel like a princess.”
- A family came in and the kids immediately ran up to the counter and told me “WE’RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!” It was their first visit ever, and they wanted my help and recommendations! Although it may seem like I’m a seasoned veteran, I’ve only been going to Disneyland this often since I started college; I only went 3 times in my entire life before Chapman. Knowing how special this treat was, I took the family aside and spent the next hour explaining the benefits and disadvantages of each ticket (we sell tickets at our store), staying on property/off property, where to eat, what rides to do, etc. The parents were writing down everything I said, and I even pointed out some items we had in store that would help them (i.e. water bottles, fanny packs, autograph books). The entire family left with 3 day park hoppers, but not before profusely thanking me for being their “free Disney vacation planner” (hey, future career maybe?) and all of my help. It was so rewarding to know that I had helped make this family's trip a little easier!
Overall, it was a great summer that I would not exchange for anything. This was my first real, non-Chapman job, and I’m so glad I decided to work there. In my opinion, the Disney store is a great place to start being a Cast Member. Sometimes the park atmosphere can be a little overwhelming for a new employee; the store atmosphere is just right from the “normal world” to the “Disney world”. And while not the best part of the job (ok maybe it was…), I loved using my Cast Member discount! (I probably bought half of the store, let’s be honest) Cast Member life is crazy and hectic at times, but so rewarding and fun for a Disney lover.