Backstage Secrets About Working at Disney World

Disney World is a magical world full of princesses, pirates, and castles. Every child dreams of going there, and as an adult, it seems like a fantasy job to work there. However, getting a job at Disney is not an easy process. There are many strict rules that the employees or “cast members” must abide by.

Disney World Sign
Source: Jerome LABOUYRIE /

Did you ever wonder how Disney maintains the magic throughout the park? It’s because their workers go through an extensive training process to know the perfect response to every possible situation. Some cast members have shared their experience working at Disney after leaving the job. Check out these crazy Disney secrets you never knew.

Business, No Pleasure

Disney keeps their standards really high to make guests really feel the character. Cast members cannot have any tattoos. You can get around this by wearing long pants and long sleeves. However, this isn’t the best idea in the Florida heat.

Characters at Disney world

Cast members are also required to wear their hair back unless a costume involves a different hairstyle. Disney also forbids the ‘goth look’ so cast members cannot wear black nail polish. Also, they need to keep their costumes in mint condition at all times.

“Cast Members”

The workers at Disney World are never referred to as “employees.” Instead, they are called “Cast Members.” This really helps with Disney World’s magical experience.

Cast Members at Disney world

The “cast members” are supposed to come off as real, not working. So not calling them employees probably helps them stay in character. Plus “cast member” is a cool job title.

Their Own Lingo

If a guest accidentally goes into a prohibited area of Disney, the cast members describe it as going backstage. “Backstage” includes places such as computer rooms or anything else that may ruin the illusion.

Micky Mouse in a Bubble

Cast members also use the term “onstage” when referring to retail stores. All cast members, including cashiers. They have to stay in character when “onstage” and provide top performances for the guests.

Like a Real Jungle

The Animal Kingdom opened to the world in 1998 after costing over $1 billion to construct! Disney Imagineers flew all the way to Asia and Africa so that they can replicate the landscapes and wildlife as realistically as possible.

Jungle at Disney World

Disney’s first priority is to protect the animals. For this reason, all plastic, including straws and balloons, are banned from the park. The Animal Kingdom is also the home of Expedition Everest, Legend of the forbidden Mountain. At $100,000,000, this is the most expensive roller coaster in the world.

Never Break Character

When they are in costume, Disney World’s cast members are not allowed to break character under any circumstances. This is a strict rule intended to maintain the magic in the park.

The Beauty and the beast costume

There are no exceptions. This means that cast members can’t even break character when they are feeling sick. They need to commit themselves to the guest experience.

Even on Down Time, There’s a Dress Code

When Cast Members don’t need to in full costume, they can’t just wear whatever they want. They have to wear business attire, and there are consequences for breaking this rule. The punishment forces them to wear full costumes during their downtime.

Worker at Disney world with custome

On the official Disney careers website, it states the dress code as “The Disney Look.” Girls are allowed to wear a dress, suit, or formal pants with a dressy blouse. Boys must wear suits or dress plants with a professional collared shirt.

The Costumes are Usually Very Small

The Disney characters help set the mood of the Disney World and differentiate it from other theme parks. However, the costumes run very small. Rumor has it that it’s a vestige from the 1970s!

Cast members at Disney world

This is easy to get around. Cast members just have to remember to order their costumes a few sizes bigger. Otherwise, they will be stuck in a hot and tight costume in the heat!

Worlds Must Never Crossover

Whenever you got to a new part of the park, you will notice the cast members wear outfits representing the specific area. Walt Disney once noticed a character walking through the wrong part of the park and put this rule in place.

Mickey and Mini Mouse with Micheal Jackson

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. There was a story of a little boy with cancer who came to the park. He wanted to meet Darth Vader, but there were no costumes or memorabilia in that area of the park. Finally, the cast member put on a Darth Vader costume for the child. However, it took an hour of waiting to make this big decision.

There are Strict Size Requirements

Getting to be a cast member is a frustrating process. Disney has very strict rules for who can play a Disney princess. The most important factor is height and body shape. You must be at least 5’4. Anyone shorter is immediately out of the running.

Princess Yasmin

There is a very reasonable explanation for this requirement. The company just can’t create a new costume for each cast member and accommodate different heights and body shapes. However, small women still have the opportunity to play Tinkerbell.

The 3 O’clock Parade

Interestingly, cast members have said that one of the most common questions they get is “What time is the 3 O’clock parade?” it’s a funny question, but the cast members remember the time even after leaving their Disney job.

The 3 O’clock Parade

Unfortunately, daily parades don’t always go over too well. In 2004, a cast member was tragically killed after getting run over by a float during the parade. He was working at Disney for eight years!

There are Some Perks

Being a cast member is pretty hard work. Luckily, Disney rewards them with some awesome perks! Cast members always get free admission to the parks when they aren’t working. I wonder if they actually go on their days off.

Fireworks from Disney Castle

Also, they get discounts on everything from food to merchandise. They can even get discount cards for family and friends. I need to make friends with a cast member!

The Cast Would Have to Share Underwear

Can you imagine sharing underwear with your colleagues? Gross! Until 2001, cast members were required to share underwear. The costumes involved tights and bike shorts, so they were used as undergarments. Sadly, the costumes weren’t always clean, and some cast members contracted lice and scabies.

Pigs dolls celebrating

There are very strict rules about the cleanliness of the costumes. Cast members have to drop off their costumes to get cleaned after every shift. Then, they have to pick them up at a building that holds over 15,000 costumes!

There’s No Such Thing As “I Don’t Know.”

“I don’t know” is a common phrase used by almost everyone every day. Cast members need to get out of this habit because they are forbidden from saying those words.

Disney world’s Castle covered with lights

Cast members must give guests answers or direct them to someone who can. Since Disney employees go through extensive training, they learn the practical way to answer all questions.

The Iconic Two-Finger Point

Cast members are required to use two fingers while pointing, or guide using an open palm. Walt Disney didn’t like it when people made hand gestures using one finger. He considered it rude, and he wanted guests to feel comfortable at all times.

Man who points with two fingers

There is also a rumor that the real reason was because of Walt’s smoking habit. In most photos, Walt points to attractions with a cigarette in between two fingers. Since it’s no longer socially acceptable to smoke, the cigarette was airbrushed out, and it appears as though Walt is pointing using two fingers.

“Lost Adults”

It’s common for children to get lost in such big theme parks. However, when a child goes missing is Disney World, cast members refer to them as “lost adults.” As you can imagine, this is for safety purposes.

Children looking for their parents

Disney does a lot to prevent kidnapping. The parks were just awarded a patent for their device that can track everyone that sets foot in the parks by their shoes. This device helps to see what rides people gravitate towards but, it can help prevent kidnapping as well. Most kidnappers will change a child’s shirt so that they don’t get recognized, but not their shoes.

The Hidden Mickeys

All around Disney are hidden little Mickey Mouse Heads. It’s like a scavenger hunt. Guests come to parks specifically to look for them. There are websites dedicated to finding and reporting these little Mickey heads.

secret hiding place

There are eight Mickey’s walking around the park at once. However, when cast members are asked how many they have to say one. The Mickeys also have to be spread far apart where only one can be seen at a time. This way, it doesn’t ruin the illusion.

The Cast Member’s Secret Code

If a cast member says “Have a Disney day” to you, it means you got them upset. Cast members need a way of staying sane while staying in character. Since guests know the cast members have to be true to their character, they will be rude and know the cast members can’t be rude back.

Cast Members

Some will even Bully the cast members trying to get them to break character. This is extremely obnoxious behavior and if they say “Have a Disney day” it’s there was of saying f*** off.

No Posting about Work on Social Media

Disney cast members are forbidden from using social media and electronics during work hours. Off the clock, they aren’t allowed to talk about their job at all on social media. Disney actually has workers whose job is to stalk all cast members social media.

Fireworks and lights in the park

That way, they can keep track of what is being said about them. Since Disney’s main priority is to keep the magic, they don’t want any negativity said about them. Plus in Cinderella posts a picture of herself in costume, it ruins the illusion that this is a real princess.

The Disney inside Scoop

Disney has a very strict rule about trash in the parks. Cast members are required to pick up any trash they see. They also can’t lean over to pick it up. They must swoop that trash just one swift movement.

Disney’s Park

Also, there are garbage cans every thirty feet in the park. Apparently, Walt Disney stood at the park and counted how many steps people took before littering, and it was thirty steps.

No Selfies!

This next rule is very strict. If any cast member gets caught taking a selfie in their costume, they are definitely out of a job. Posting a picture in costume is a perfect way to break character.

Woman takes a selfie

Disney will not let you off the hook for this. They have no tolerance for anyone ruining the magic. If a Disney executive finds you taking a selfie backstage, it’s your last day as a cast member.

“Code V”

As we said, cast members go through very long training processes learning how to speak to each other and guests. They are forbidden from using the word vomit. If anyone throws up on a ride, you will hear cast members say “Code V” on the radio.

Facility in the park

There are a few more secret code words. “Code P” is used when someone accidentally peed in the park. “Code H” means that a horse from the parade pooped in the park!

The Smellitizers

Each part of Disney World has very specific smells. This is psychological; smells trigger emotion. They have smellitizers spraying out scents all through the park. That’s why Jurassic Park smells like a rain forest, and Main Street smells like fresh cookies.

Disney park at night

Disney’s employee ‘bible’ states that Cast Members must always wear deodorant. Those costumes in the hot Florida sun can get very sweaty and smelly. This rule is so that guests don’t smell sweat when they get too close to a cast member.

There’s a Secret Store

Since Disney Parks are huge, people are bound to lose things there once in a while. One guest lost a very sentimental pocket mirror. After it was found, Disney wrapped it very carefully and mailed it directly to the rightful owner.

Family enjoying the Park

When an item is lost, it’s kept in the lost and found so that the owner to claim it. Whatever isn’t retrieved, cast members can buy at a special store. All the money from the lost and found items goes directly to charity.

“Don’t Date Disney.”

After working together for 70 hours a week, cast members get pretty close to each other. Sometimes they even become romantically involved. This is prohibited but, Gaston and Wendy can be found in supply closets on multiple occasions.

Disney’s characters as a couple

Some cast members ignore the cameras even though it can cost them their job. One time, a photo of a cast member dressed as Jack Sparrow was caught kissing his girlfriend who played Ariel, was leaked to social media. The problem was that he was in full costume. As you can imagine, he was fired immediately.

They Must Have a Perfect Signature

The extensive training that the cast members go through is so that everything is perfect. To play a character perfectly, they need to know how to write like them as well.

Mickey Mouse with a child

Cast members need to know the character’s signature perfectly and write it exactly every time. That’s why when two kids show each other’s Snow Whites’ signature, it looks exactly the same. It helps keep the magic.

No Tweeting Either

As you get tell, Disney goes to great lengths to protect its image. Living in a generation where people post their every move online, this rule might be a hard one to keep.

Disney's guests showing a photo

All cast members are forbidden from using any form of social media while working. Besides, they are forbidden from discussing their job on any social media account while they aren’t working. If anyone breaks this rule, they will automatically be fired.

They Can’t Say Who They Play

When asked which character they play, cast members are not allowed to say. They can say they hang out with “so and so” character or what characters they are friends with.

Disney Character taking a photo with a guest

This gives little hints about who you play while staying in character. This is another way Disney trains its cast members. Again, the purpose is to preserve the magic of Disney World.

The Music Never Ends

If you have ever been on the ride It’s a Small World, you know how annoying that song can be, and it always gets stuck in your head. Well, this what the cast members experience only on a never-ending basis.

Disney’s Choir

The song never stops. Even at night, when the park is closed, the music is still playing. This would be way less creepy if it was any other song ever written. I wonder how the cast members don’t go insane!

Walt’s Plane is Backstage

In 1964, Walt bought the Grumman Gulfstream 1 model. Cast members can see the plane backstage. Walt decorated it together with his wife. The plane includes sofas and can seat up to 15 passengers. Walt used the plane in Florida when he was looking for a location to build Disney World.

Walt Disney’s Airplane

He nicknamed the plane “The Mouse,” and it even has a Mickey Mouse logo painted on! If you aren’t a cast member, you can still see the plane! You just have to take the Backlot tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

No Selfies Backstage

Disney prohibits its cast members from sharing pictures on social media. However, they aren’t even allowed to take pictures while they are backstage!

Disney’s guests with Mickey Mouse

This rule was added in the last few years after social media exploded. Even if you spot a celebrity in the area, cast members cannot take pictures with them while working.

Disney Pin Trading

All cast members at Disney World, the Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris must wear at least 12 pins on their lanyard. The pins are intended to be traded with the guests.

Pins on Disney’s shirts

If you see a cast member wearing a pin you like, just ask them to trade. The pins need to be in good condition when traded. They should also be traded in a hand-to-hand transaction, one at time.

Facial Hair Rules

Disney requires all their castmates to be clean-shaven. In 2000, the rule loosened, and men were allowed to grow a mustache but still, no beard. Mustaches could not extend the corners of their mouths.

Disney Characters

In 2012, the rules were changed again, allowing the male cast members to have beards and goatees. However, the beards need to be neatly trimmed, and they can’t be more than a quarter-inch long.

No Long Hair

Since Disney has so many rules for their castmates, it’s no surprise that they have a rule for hair length. Males can’t have long hair. The purpose of this is so that nobody stands.

Disney prince

The rule specifically says that “men’s hair must extend over their ears or fall in their eyes.” Of course, Disney makes some exceptions for certain characters with long hair.

You Must Have Eyebrows

Men aren’t the only cast members with strict rules regarding their hair. Disney encourages a classic up-do or a simple shoulder-length hair cut for a woman. For characters such as Pocahontas or Rapunzel, braided hair is acceptable.

Disney’s princess

Hair color also must look natural, so not pink highlights. Female cast members are also prohibited from shaving their eyebrows. Even cast members that aren’t working in costumes must follow this hair code.

Cast Members Speed

At one point, everyone gets stopped for a speeding ticket, and Disney cast members are no exception. Apparently, the Disney police pull over more Disney employees than guests for speeding.

Disney Car

However, visitors get traffic violations too. In 2016, two visitors hit a pole that was holding up the iconic Disney sign that said, “Walt Disney World: Where Dreams Come True.” The sign was knocked over, and emergency crew members came to fix the damages.

Disney Wants You to Spend

Like most billion-dollar corporations, Disney knows how to get guests to spend. If you stay at the Disney resort, there is a policy that everything you buy can be delivered directly to your hotel.

Disney Shop

You also have the option of getting it delivered to the front of the park when you are leaving. This is an incentive to buy more merchandise that gift shops all around the parks.

Cast Members Make Purchasing Easier

Cast Members are there to make sure guests are having a wonderful magical day. That’s why if you ask nicely, a cast member will bring your purchases to the front of the park.

Buyers at Disney shop

This way, you don’t have to carry them around all day. You just conveniently grab them on your way out of the park. Disney is there to make your shopping dreams come true while making money.

Disney Characters Never Frown

Disney is very committed to protecting its image. Making sure that every guest has a magical experience comes with cast members being in a good mood. For this reason, there are a few things that are prohibited while working.

Disney’s Characters

The main one is frowning. The only circumstances under which a cast member is can frown is if they are playing a character such as Grumpy. I mean it makes sense, who would want to see an angry Snow White?

They Always Maintain Good Posture

Working at Disney means always being on you’re A-game. This means you must be alert and never look sad or tired. Cast members need to maintain good posture at all times.

Disney Parade

The only exceptions are when they lean over to take a picture or sign an autograph for a guest. It must be challenging to up perky and poised at all times. Especially after dealing with hundreds of people all day!