One of the aspects of my Disney vacation that I most look forward to is interacting with cast members. In case this is your first foray into Disney culture, cast members are any and all Disney employees, from characters to actors to the folks selling you a churro. It seems that Walt with his extensive career in showbiz wanted to keep that feeling alive in his parks. Rather than settle for simply good customer service, Walt insisted on only the best care for his guests. Years later, Disney developed their employee onboarding program to continue the lessons taught by Walt and his initial Disneyland crew, ensuring that even today we receive the same high-quality experience every time we visit a Disney park.
In my other, non-Disney-blogging life, I spend a lot of time focused on creating positive customer experiences in a complex and busy environment. It is a constant challenge, but when your team pulls of a great experience for somebody having a terrible day, it makes the effort worthwhile. That is why when I experience something amazing, I always feel the need to tell somebody else about it.
The first time I really felt that Disney magic from a cast member was on my honeymoon. My new wife and I had just arrived at the Grand Floridian on Disney’s Magical Express. We strolled in, soaking up the opulent surroundings, hauling along our new bags. (Well, one bag. The other was lost by the airline and we spent a good hour or so arranging for them to deliver it to our hotel. This was before Disney picked up the bags for you, of course!) We approached the front desk and I handed over my ID to the smiling cast member on the other side. As she arranged our room, she broke into a larger grin and exclaimed, “Oh, it’s your honeymoon! Congratulations!” She reached into a drawer and pulled out two large buttons that would ensure everybody else knew the same. “Make sure you wear these everywhere,” she suggested. We had no idea how good a suggestion that was.
The magic we experienced ranged from champagne with our first meal to excited greetings from every cast member we passed. We even received a special phone call from Mickey and Minnie at the gates of Epcot one morning. I will never forget the cast member who summoned us over to hand us a phone. “Hey, you made it! Come on! There’s a phone call for you! Right over here, please!”
This isn’t to say that only those celebrating something special receive great service. Not a chance! On one trip to the Wilderness Lodge, we found that the Whispering Canyon Cafe was our favorite way to start the morning. If you haven’t been there before, give it a whirl the next time you are around. Make sure you ask for ketchup with your meal, too. We fell for the servers who came to recognize us after only one visit. Despite the crazy atmosphere, they always found time to make us feel at home. These cast members must see hundreds of new folks every single day, but they realized we wanted to become “regulars” for our brief stay. That experience was part of what keeps that resort at the top of our list.
You can see this in so many small ways, too. Replacing lost or popped balloons for free. Giving away a cupcake just because a little girl asked for one. Reserving a dry seat under an umbrella right after the rain starts. Sitting down at the table to talk to the family. Offering a fast pass because the restaurant ran out of beans. Staying in character and playing into a guest’s outfit. Every time I visit the Parks, I see thoughtful gestures like these that remind me of why I keep coming back.
My challenge to you: look for those moments on your trip. They are everywhere! Want a bonus round? Write down the cast member’s name and let Disney know about it. If that moment made your vacation extra special, make sure that cast member gets something out of it, too! You can stop by guest relations in each park and tell a manager about your experience first-hand. You can email guest relations if that line is a bit long. If you receive a survey after your trip, there is almost always a question that asks if a specific cast member made your trip more magical. Call attention to those cast members who go above and beyond even the highest expectations of Disney.
Want to experience that magic again up close? Can’t wait to give some recognition to an amazing cast member? Give us a call and let one of our ConciEARS customize a vacation experience for you!