I’ll admit, many of our Disney vacations have consisted of my family and I flitting from one attraction or character to the next, barely stopping for a bite to eat unless we have an ADR at a sitdown restaurant. And bathroom breaks? No way! The kids just have to wait until we get back to the hotel! Ok, ok, I’m not really THAT bad, but I have been known to zip through the parks without really giving much thought to what we were seeing and doing. A few years ago, after we started visiting at least one Disney park a year, I realized that I didn’t HAVE to rush around to fit everything in, and that’s when I really started “experiencing” Disney.
Disney is famous for all the little details they put into their parks and if you slow down, you’re much more likely to see those things, and they will most likely make your experience that much better. But, even though I truly LOVE the little details, I think the thing that has really helped me “experience” the Disney magic more than anything else is talking to Cast Members. While you may run into someone having a bad day here and there, the vast majority of Cast Members love to spend a few minutes with you and often have great stories to tell.
During our vacation to Disneyland a few weeks ago, my husband let me head over to the park early to get some pictures while he fed the kids breakfast and got them ready for our day in the park. I got some shots of Main Street and then headed into the Fortuosity Shop to see what new watches they had in stock. I’m coveting one of the one-of-a-kind watches you can purchase, so I was hanging out over by the Artist’s Chair looking at some of the options. Charles, the artist-in-residence for the day wished me a good morning and called me by my first name (I was wearing a nametag from the D23 Expo on my lanyard), so we started talking about how observant Cast Members are and how he has learned to pick up people’s names as they browse in the store. That somehow lead into talking about his hometown back in Nebraska (which sounds an awful lot like a real-life Main Street!) and ended up back at the drawing his was working on when I walked in – the boat scene from Tangled, which I mistakenly thought was the Little Mermaid “Kiss the Girl” scene. While I didn’t purchase a watch from Charles that day, I thoroughly enjoyed our 15 minutes or so together and will keep an eye out for him the next time I visit.
After getting my Main Street pictures, I wandered over to the Tiki Room and struck up a conversation with Phil. We first started talking about pins and how it’s getting harder and harder to detect fake pins but that he has been doing it for so long that he kind of has a “sixth sense” about it. Did you know there are Cast Members who are designated as “Master Pin Traders” because of their experience? Well, there are, and Phil is one of them – go to him if you want an opinion on a pin you’ve traded for. There’s NOT a 100% fool-proof method to know for sure, but Phil can give you a pretty good idea. As we were talking he noticed my camera and asked if I was taking pictures of anything particular. I explained that I am just getting started with photography and still trying to learn. So, even though he was in the middle of setting up the queue ropes for the next show, he took a few minutes to take me through the entire loading area to show me some great vantage points for some nice tiki pictures as well as info on what time of day to come back to get the PERFECT shots. The light wasn’t quite right that day, so my pictures aren’t stellar, but I will definitely keep his advice in mind and will be back to shoot Pele just as the sun hits her exactly right. Thanks for the tips, Phil!
And finally, my favorite interaction from the entire trip. We were waiting for Mickey’s Soundsational parade to begin and the kids were starting to get a little antsy/crabby. A Cast Member noticed Colorado Princess in her Belle dress and came over to talk to her . We started chatting and found out that she has 17 grandkids. And they are ALL boys, so she doesn’t get a lot of “princess” time at home. As we were talking, she started edging over to Colorado Dad, reached into her pocket and quietly pressed something into his hand. Then, reached into her other pocket and put something else in his hand. She looked at Colorado Dad and I and said something to the effect that she can’t give things out to everyone, although she wishes she could. At this point, I was dying to know what she had given Colorado Dad, but I held back until she walked away to finish her pre-parade duties. I leaned over to see what it was and found that she had given Colorado Princess a small glass slipper. And for Colorado Boy, a Disneyland Resort pin with Dumbo on it. Wow, super cool!! Colorado Princess was instantly in love and slept with the slipper in her hand for the rest of the trip. I didn’t even notice the Cast Member’s name (unlike Charles, I am NOT observant ) and we didn’t see her again that night, but we will always remember that little bit of magic she gave us!
This past trip is probably one of my favorites so far and it really is in large part to the Cast Members I met. Not only do these folks go about their “regular” park duties, but they all help contribute to that Disney “magic” that we all love so much. If you haven’t taken the time to chat with a Cast Member on your previous trips, I really suggest you take the time to do so on your next trip – even if only for 5 minutes. Your trip is bound to be enhanced by it!