Disney theme parks can be a magical place when you’re a kid, but as we grow older, the seams start to show. Nothing can really be the happiest place on earth, after all. And certainly not a place run by a massive corporation that cares a little too much about making sure no scandals touch their parks.
But Reddit convinced some former cast members to spill stories about some of their stranger experiences working in the parks, and it’s a fascinating peek behind the curtain for those of us who prefer uncovering the dirty truth to seeing the Mouse’s illusion of magic running smoothly.
I worked in reservations. They give you a name, that is not your own and you better use it. My name is not Robyn Leigh, but in Disney reservations, it was.honeybunhitta
There are Three hidden phones in the magic kingdom that when you pick up have dialogue from Disney characters like a stitch in Tomorrowland.mdmahmud880
Ever heard about people spreading ashes of their loved ones in the POTC or Haunted Mansion ride? Its goddamn true!gnomzy123
Buddy I went to college with was a Disney cast member. He had to learn how to write Goofy’s name left-handed because Goofy was a lefty.IndianInferno
In disneyland, in the peter pan ride, i was always in awe with the floating stars that you zoom by in the ride. Turns out they are just LEDs on the end of wire hangars (attached to the walls, mostly) that are wrapped in electrical tape.Amazingawesomator
Third hand story here: my brother told me that the costume characters (I.e Mikey Mouse) could be sued if they took off their costume heads in any circumstance- including if they fell into the fake lake, because that would destroy the magic of Disneyland.SillyMathematician77
Once, Mickey fell during a performance and was seriously injured. Every Mickey in all parks were pulled from making appearances for a few days and when they reemerged they all wore a band-aid for a few weeks.KP_525
Disneyland first interview papers include a blank outline of a person to indicate where you have tattoos. It’s referenced if you want to change positions internally, to indicate how said tattoos could be revealed, based on what your new uniform would be.case_sensitive
My favorite tidbit came from a backstage tour: the flying asteroids projected on the ceiling of Space Mountain are actually lumps of chocolate chip cookie dough, filmed as they were thrown through the air.CortlandAndrusWhoWas
A friend of mine worked at Disney World. According to her Epcot is the best place to work. When she was at the Magic Kingdom she said she went home crying all the time because the moms were so mean.nerdmoot
My SIL got a the role of Cinderella at Disneyland Paris. She had to practice Cinderella’s 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.jennyrob669
They issue black T-shirts and black shorts for the costumed characters to wear underneath and sweat in. One day there was an uproar because in the breakroom there was a sign “ No Blacks Allowed” (meaning the undergarments). They started calling them “basics” after that.redeyeofbull
Have you ever seen a drunk, headless Winnie the Pooh fall down a flight of stairs? I have. The craziest thing I remember happening was when Lilo decided to toss a drink on an Epcot Germany employee, who knew that she would most likely get fired for having alcohol stains on her lederhosen.almost_queen
Once, while I was working, a guest at the Contemporary resort jumped and killed themselves. Magic Kingdom shut transport down for a little bit to get things cleaned up. This occurred at night, so the only reason it was reported is because guests on the monorail and in one of the Contemporary’s restaurants saw somebody jump from the roof.mfotaku
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.Lrehcsa1926
I’ve never worked there, but once, in a professional capacity, I was given a 6am walking tour of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. What I was most struck by was the pirate characters up on bridges or seen in windows or on the attacking ship, none of them have any legs. They’re top-half only, mounted onto poles. If the boat riders can’t see a part of an animatronic character, then it doesn’t need to exist.Egheaumaen
When the princess face characters come backstage they have to take off their dresses so they don’t get dirty while they’re on break so the princesses are usually walking around in a smock and bloomers if you see them back there. There is some serious cognitive dissonance when you walk back and see Snow White in her bloomers on her phone cursing up a storm.leopoldisacat
Some highlights (or lowlights, depending on POV).
-Family celebrating 19-year-old sons recent sobriety. Son ODs in bathroom at resort hotel, as we’re resuscitating him, a scream from the joining room. Dad has dropped from cardiac arrest. Son lives, Dad dies.
-On a slow day, being one of the only guests onboard the Gran Fiesta Tour at EPCOT, a Drunk Guest got his hand got caught in a ride mechanism after jumping in the water. Pavilion shut down the ride for ‘standard maintenance’. Shout out to the astute and fast-acting cast member who shut the ride down.
-Any guest who has cardiac issues after going on a thrill ride – shout out Mission: Space, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours. Not all make it, unfortunately.
-maintenance worker head struck by rollercoaster. Tragically passed from injuries.
-People fall off things. A lot. Roofs, rides. Varying outcomes
-Suicides. It’s incredibly sad, and was the most mentally devastating aspect of my time there. Especially the ones discovered by family after returning to resorts from parks.
From Disney’s perspective, if it’s out-of-view of the guest, there’s no reason for it to be public and break the magic. There are some high-profile incidents (alligator, bus hitting boy) that were unavoidably public. But there’s much going on backstage to avoid most of these stories getting out.JzaMaxwell
I was on the TTC Resort Platform working the night of the Monorail crash. It will be 13 years this July and I still wake up screaming from time to time. There is no amount of therapy that will or can erase that memory from my mind.driver_dylan