What is working at a Disneyland/Disney World like?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
I worked at Disneyland and at the Disneyland Hotel during high school and college. While there were a lot of rules, there was also a spirit of fun there. Smiling wasn't mandatory, but encouraged.
Your job is to serve the guests and keep them happy. Even though you are working with a lot of people, most of them are enjoying themselves and this can be contagious. Likewise, when the employees have a good attitude it helps the guests enjoy their stay.
One of my trainers said that for some people, this is something they only get to do once in a lifetime. They save for years to be able to come here. You have the ability to be the person that made their trip worth every penny.
Even though it could be hard work, I often drove home with a smile.
I worked at the Disneyland Resort for a couple of years starting in 2002. In a company as large as Disney and a place as complex as Disneyland there are a variety of job opportunities beyond what you might typically consider. For example, I worked in I.T. on databases, and my work was all "backstage" in an office building. Obviously, that will be a different working environment and experience from a cast member working "on stage" as a costumed character, the host for a ride, or a salesperson in a store. But some experiences are shared; all cast members have to go through the same core training at Disney University that helps them understand Disney's heritage and values, and even "backstage" staff (like myself) had to learn Disney's standards of service and how to behave "on stage," and whenever I was on stage, I had to live up to the same standards as any other on stage cast member.
Understanding the "on stage" aspect of the resorts is a key to understanding the experience of working at one of the Disney resorts. The resorts are a show, like a giant theatrical production, and everyone is a cast member. When you are "on stage," you're expected to keep up the appearance of the show, which includes having a good attitude, a good appearance, and a good demeanor. The comparison to being an actor in a theatrical production is probably the best comparison I can make. When you detract from the show (except for cases of safety and service), you diminish the experience for the guests, you tarnish the "magic" a little, just as an actor destroys the illusion of a production when they step out of character.
Being able to do that, to stay in character, day after day requires commitment to the show. I would say that the employees I have known who worked the longest at one of the resorts and got the most out of the experience were people who lived and breathed Disney. You will probably have a good experience and definitely learn a lot about customer service if you work at Disney even if you aren't that "into" Disney, but you'll get the most out of it and turn it into a lifelong career if you really capture the vision of what Disney stands for and truly "value the magic."
I worked at the Disney Store and at Walt Disney World, and I can say that the jobs were fun and also tough. However, the training I received from the store and the resort gave me skills that I use now in my present profession. The rules for working for Disney were established to create a Disney image, and to some, seem almost military.
Each aspect reflects on the notion that you, the Cast Member, are a representative of the Company and its service. The training program behind this goes into the details, but the short of it is to be positive in appearance and attitude. That one insight is something that is a VERY good skill to keep.
So yes, it's tough. But it's also fun, and if you do good work, you will get opportunities. I was at DisneyQuest and got to teach drawing Disney characters. And when I retire, I will go back.
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