Former Disney Cast Members reveal the true secrets behind 'the Happiest Place on Earth'

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By stefan armitage

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Every day, thousands of Disney fans flock to the "Happiest Place on Earth," where dreams come true and fairy tales become reality. But have you ever wondered what's really happening behind those castle walls?

From hidden tunnels to character swaps, former Disney World Cast Members have taken to Reddit to pull back the curtain and dish out some delicious Disney secrets.

Get ready to swap your Mickey ears for a detective hat, as we dive into a world of enchanting tales and behind-the-scenes magic that even Walt Disney himself might've kept under wraps! Is Disney really full of the "magic" we see as guests? Let's see...

size-full wp-image-1263232215
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty On Stage and Off Stage

The Disney parks are one big performance. So much so that anything guests can see if referred to as "On stage", and everything behind-the-scenes is "Off stage".

"Honestly, I was surprised as to how much work goes into the acting. Literally, each person out in the park is 'in character,' which often leads to funny stories behind the scenes after these people rest from a long day of being cheerful and happy," redditor memezdankton learned when asking for Disney secrets, via Bored Panda.

"In fact, Disney employees aren't technically 'employees'. They're 'cast members'. And not just the ones who play actual Disney characters. Everyone working in the park, whether they're ride operators or food servers, is a 'cast member'."

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Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Attention to character details

Reddit user IndianInferno reveals how cast members who play characters are instructed to pay attention the smallest details - even down to which hand they write with. After being given the role of Goofy, they were instructed to learn how to write the beloved Disney character's signature with their left hand - as Goofy is left-handed. The only problem? They were right-handed.

size-full wp-image-1263232220
Credit: Gerardo Mora / Getty The dark truth behind meet & greets 

Reddit user leopoldisacat explains: "People sexually harass the characters super frequently. I was working with Ariel and cast members will always count down before they take a photo so people have time to get into position. I counted down and this teen boy decided to try to rip off one of Ariel's shells.

"I had to open his camera and expose his film so the photo didn't get developed and passed around. I found out later that I was supposed to take it to the Kodak shop to have the film developed and that one removed - but I'd always heard the rumors about ruining the film and nobody really trains you on that so I just went with it."

size-full wp-image-1263232221
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty The WOMAN behind Mickey

Despite Minnie Mouse always been seen as the woman behind Mickey, the iconic mouse's height actually means several women have to don the Mickey mask.

"You have to be in specific height ranges to play the different characters," Reddit user leopoldisacat explains. "Because Mickey's height range is so short he's usually played by a woman. Likewise for Donald, although the most successful and best known Donald that I knew while I worked there was a little person."

size-full wp-image-1263232214
Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty The horror for Disney Ducks

Despite Donald and Daisy being the most famous Disney ducks, anybody who has ever been to the parks will tell you that, sometimes, the most innocent thing you can see at the parks are actual ducks. However, not all the ducks get a 'Happily Ever After'.

As redditor Lrehcsa1926 explains: "I used to occasionally work at one of the outdoor carts in front of the castle at Disneyland. There’s water in various areas of the park, so we got lots of ducks, and in the springtime, the babies would hatch and walk around with their mothers. People don’t always pay attention to where they are going and sometimes step on one of them, usually killing them. If I was able, I would step away from my cart to escort a family of ducks to safety."

size-full wp-image-1263232224
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty 'Magic Moments' for special guests

Many people often visit the Disney parks for a special occasion.

As user nerdmoot explains, Cast Members are able to provide guests with "Magic Moments" - this can be anything from an instant re-ride of Space Mountain to a free gift from one of the shops.

In fact, while celebrating my honeymoon as Disney, my wife and I were given free "Bride and Groom" pin badges at one of the stores on Main Street USA. It certainly helps to be wearing a "Celebration" pin badge so Cast Members recognize you. These can be picked up for free from City Hall or from certain Cast Members.

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Credit: Instagram/amatchmadeindisney Hands where we can see 'em

According to PropofolPopsicles, Cast Members must make sure that "both hands have to be visible in photos (e.g. one outstretched and the other on someone’s shoulder).

"The biggest no-no is hands behind backs not visible due to the possibility of someone saying you grabbed them inappropriately."

size-full wp-image-1263232227
Credit: Noam Galai / Getty Practice makes perfect

User jennyrob669 explained that her sister-in-law used to play Cinderella at Disneyland Paris, and she was instructed to practice the princess' autograph over and over, "because although different actresses play her all over the world, the signature of the character has to be identical anywhere it's signed for consistency".

size-full wp-image-1263232228
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty No such thing as 'vomit' at Disney

There are certain code words Cast Members use to ensure certain issues aren't overheard by park guests.

For example, redditor KP_525 explains that when a person pukes on a ride, it is referred to as a "protein spill". I don't know why, but that sounds much worse than just saying "vomit".

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Credit: Handout / Getty Ashes to ashes

User gnomzy123 explains that, due to the significance Disney has to a lot of people, some families actually spread the ashes of loved ones on attractions - with Haunted Mansion being a popular choice. According to DisneyFanatic, the code word for this is a "White Powder Alert."

(Fun fact, my uncle actually spread my auntie's ashes on It's A Small World.)

size-large wp-image-1263232230
Credit: Instagram/amatchmadeindisney The Magic Kingdom is on the first floor

Yes, it may be hard to imagine, but the entire Magic Kingdom that guests see is actually the "first floor" - as there is an intricate network of underground passages beneath the park known as the "Utilidors."

These subterranean passages are the operational beating heart of the Magic Kingdom and were originally conceived by Walt Disney himself to ensure that the onstage magic remains undisturbed.

Cast Members use them to move stealthily from one location to another, trash is whisked away unseen, and characters from different lands never cross paths where they shouldn't. And, as redditor uhsorrybro revealed, there is even a Subway restaurant down there for Cast Members to grab a meal.

Pirates cursed to play forever

Former Cast Member formerCM shared an interesting Easter Egg about the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, writing: "Depending on which path you take on Pirate of the Caribbean there is a grate that you can look through to look down on 2 skeletons playing chess. If you look at the board, the pieces are actually in a stalemate (thus the skeletons!)."

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Credit: MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images Mulan's clever get-out

Former Disney princess too-tsunami revealed that she used to work as a number of Disney princesses during her time at the parks, including Mulan. However, this would often lead to guests asking her to speak Mandarin.

In order to get out of this, she says she would tell guests, "I'd tell them that I bet Mushu if I could go an entire day without speaking Chinese he'd feed the chickens for me tomorrow."

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Credit: Handout / Getty Dealing with creepy dads

The former princess also revealed that she was often "hit on" by guests while working in character.

"I was hit on as Pocahontas more than Mulan or Silvermist, and it definitely has to do with the amount of clothing she's wearing.

"I've never been touched inappropriately, but there's always the family that makes the grandpa or the dad get a picture alone & they'd whisper how pretty I was or ask when I got off of work. I'd get slipped the occasional phone number on a napkin, but nothing ridiculous has ever happened."

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Credit: LMPC / Getty No pointing with one finger

It may sound odd, but Cast Members aren't allowed to point with one finger. According to formerCM: "We were required to point a certain way, wave a certain way, motion a certain way etc. I still find myself using the 2 finger point.

"The reason for that particular one is that it's easier to identify where a person is pointing when they use 2 fingers and that hand formation 'forces' you to align your hand with your arm, again aiding in navigation."

Featured image credit: Joe Raedle / Getty

Former Disney Cast Members reveal the true secrets behind 'the Happiest Place on Earth'

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

Every day, thousands of Disney fans flock to the "Happiest Place on Earth," where dreams come true and fairy tales become reality. But have you ever wondered what's really happening behind those castle walls?

From hidden tunnels to character swaps, former Disney World Cast Members have taken to Reddit to pull back the curtain and dish out some delicious Disney secrets.

Get ready to swap your Mickey ears for a detective hat, as we dive into a world of enchanting tales and behind-the-scenes magic that even Walt Disney himself might've kept under wraps! Is Disney really full of the "magic" we see as guests? Let's see...

size-full wp-image-1263232215
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty On Stage and Off Stage

The Disney parks are one big performance. So much so that anything guests can see if referred to as "On stage", and everything behind-the-scenes is "Off stage".

"Honestly, I was surprised as to how much work goes into the acting. Literally, each person out in the park is 'in character,' which often leads to funny stories behind the scenes after these people rest from a long day of being cheerful and happy," redditor memezdankton learned when asking for Disney secrets, via Bored Panda.

"In fact, Disney employees aren't technically 'employees'. They're 'cast members'. And not just the ones who play actual Disney characters. Everyone working in the park, whether they're ride operators or food servers, is a 'cast member'."

size-full wp-image-1263232216
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Attention to character details

Reddit user IndianInferno reveals how cast members who play characters are instructed to pay attention the smallest details - even down to which hand they write with. After being given the role of Goofy, they were instructed to learn how to write the beloved Disney character's signature with their left hand - as Goofy is left-handed. The only problem? They were right-handed.

size-full wp-image-1263232220
Credit: Gerardo Mora / Getty The dark truth behind meet & greets 

Reddit user leopoldisacat explains: "People sexually harass the characters super frequently. I was working with Ariel and cast members will always count down before they take a photo so people have time to get into position. I counted down and this teen boy decided to try to rip off one of Ariel's shells.

"I had to open his camera and expose his film so the photo didn't get developed and passed around. I found out later that I was supposed to take it to the Kodak shop to have the film developed and that one removed - but I'd always heard the rumors about ruining the film and nobody really trains you on that so I just went with it."

size-full wp-image-1263232221
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty The WOMAN behind Mickey

Despite Minnie Mouse always been seen as the woman behind Mickey, the iconic mouse's height actually means several women have to don the Mickey mask.

"You have to be in specific height ranges to play the different characters," Reddit user leopoldisacat explains. "Because Mickey's height range is so short he's usually played by a woman. Likewise for Donald, although the most successful and best known Donald that I knew while I worked there was a little person."

size-full wp-image-1263232214
Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty The horror for Disney Ducks

Despite Donald and Daisy being the most famous Disney ducks, anybody who has ever been to the parks will tell you that, sometimes, the most innocent thing you can see at the parks are actual ducks. However, not all the ducks get a 'Happily Ever After'.

As redditor Lrehcsa1926 explains: "I used to occasionally work at one of the outdoor carts in front of the castle at Disneyland. There’s water in various areas of the park, so we got lots of ducks, and in the springtime, the babies would hatch and walk around with their mothers. People don’t always pay attention to where they are going and sometimes step on one of them, usually killing them. If I was able, I would step away from my cart to escort a family of ducks to safety."

size-full wp-image-1263232224
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty 'Magic Moments' for special guests

Many people often visit the Disney parks for a special occasion.

As user nerdmoot explains, Cast Members are able to provide guests with "Magic Moments" - this can be anything from an instant re-ride of Space Mountain to a free gift from one of the shops.

In fact, while celebrating my honeymoon as Disney, my wife and I were given free "Bride and Groom" pin badges at one of the stores on Main Street USA. It certainly helps to be wearing a "Celebration" pin badge so Cast Members recognize you. These can be picked up for free from City Hall or from certain Cast Members.

size-large wp-image-1263232225
Credit: Instagram/amatchmadeindisney Hands where we can see 'em

According to PropofolPopsicles, Cast Members must make sure that "both hands have to be visible in photos (e.g. one outstretched and the other on someone’s shoulder).

"The biggest no-no is hands behind backs not visible due to the possibility of someone saying you grabbed them inappropriately."

size-full wp-image-1263232227
Credit: Noam Galai / Getty Practice makes perfect

User jennyrob669 explained that her sister-in-law used to play Cinderella at Disneyland Paris, and she was instructed to practice the princess' autograph over and over, "because although different actresses play her all over the world, the signature of the character has to be identical anywhere it's signed for consistency".

size-full wp-image-1263232228
Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty No such thing as 'vomit' at Disney

There are certain code words Cast Members use to ensure certain issues aren't overheard by park guests.

For example, redditor KP_525 explains that when a person pukes on a ride, it is referred to as a "protein spill". I don't know why, but that sounds much worse than just saying "vomit".

size-full wp-image-1263232229
Credit: Handout / Getty Ashes to ashes

User gnomzy123 explains that, due to the significance Disney has to a lot of people, some families actually spread the ashes of loved ones on attractions - with Haunted Mansion being a popular choice. According to DisneyFanatic, the code word for this is a "White Powder Alert."

(Fun fact, my uncle actually spread my auntie's ashes on It's A Small World.)

size-large wp-image-1263232230
Credit: Instagram/amatchmadeindisney The Magic Kingdom is on the first floor

Yes, it may be hard to imagine, but the entire Magic Kingdom that guests see is actually the "first floor" - as there is an intricate network of underground passages beneath the park known as the "Utilidors."

These subterranean passages are the operational beating heart of the Magic Kingdom and were originally conceived by Walt Disney himself to ensure that the onstage magic remains undisturbed.

Cast Members use them to move stealthily from one location to another, trash is whisked away unseen, and characters from different lands never cross paths where they shouldn't. And, as redditor uhsorrybro revealed, there is even a Subway restaurant down there for Cast Members to grab a meal.

Pirates cursed to play forever

Former Cast Member formerCM shared an interesting Easter Egg about the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, writing: "Depending on which path you take on Pirate of the Caribbean there is a grate that you can look through to look down on 2 skeletons playing chess. If you look at the board, the pieces are actually in a stalemate (thus the skeletons!)."

size-full wp-image-1263232233
Credit: MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images Mulan's clever get-out

Former Disney princess too-tsunami revealed that she used to work as a number of Disney princesses during her time at the parks, including Mulan. However, this would often lead to guests asking her to speak Mandarin.

In order to get out of this, she says she would tell guests, "I'd tell them that I bet Mushu if I could go an entire day without speaking Chinese he'd feed the chickens for me tomorrow."

size-full wp-image-1263232235
Credit: Handout / Getty Dealing with creepy dads

The former princess also revealed that she was often "hit on" by guests while working in character.

"I was hit on as Pocahontas more than Mulan or Silvermist, and it definitely has to do with the amount of clothing she's wearing.

"I've never been touched inappropriately, but there's always the family that makes the grandpa or the dad get a picture alone & they'd whisper how pretty I was or ask when I got off of work. I'd get slipped the occasional phone number on a napkin, but nothing ridiculous has ever happened."

size-full wp-image-1263232238
Credit: LMPC / Getty No pointing with one finger

It may sound odd, but Cast Members aren't allowed to point with one finger. According to formerCM: "We were required to point a certain way, wave a certain way, motion a certain way etc. I still find myself using the 2 finger point.

"The reason for that particular one is that it's easier to identify where a person is pointing when they use 2 fingers and that hand formation 'forces' you to align your hand with your arm, again aiding in navigation."

Featured image credit: Joe Raedle / Getty