Disney has spoiled Husband and I tremendously. Every place we visit, and any entertainment we watch is compared to Disney and it’s high standards. When we were hired to work for Disney we had to go through lots of intense customer service (or as Disney calls it “guest relations” training. During these training hours we were taught that the most important rule at Disney is keeping the customers happy and making their day magical.
If a guest tells you they dropped their hamburger, you give them a new one. If a child is crying because he can’t ride Space Mountain, you tell him a joke, give him a sticker, or allow him to hop to the front of the line at Buzz Light-year. But, keeping the customers happy is not the only part of keeping the magic alive. There are so many rules, tips, and tricks.
You are referred to as a “cast member” not an employee. You must point with two fingers or an open palm (which creates a weird habit). If you see trash you must pick it up. All cast members must look clean, straight-laced, and presentable (no facial hair, no crazy piercing, no tattoos, etc, etc.). If a guest asks what time the 3 o’clock parade is you must answer them without sarcasm. Everyone should always be smiling, friendly, and willing to help. AND, if you are a character you have a whole different mess of rules.
I was not a character, but I can share would I learned from character friends.
First, you never ever ever take your head off, for any reason. Once, Goofy was at the water park taking pictures with guests on the beach and got over heated. He passed out, but because heads are not to be removed, his two helpers had to carry him “backstage” completely limp, all the while telling guests and little kids that Goofy was just being goofy and playing around.
Second, no two characters are ever in the same location. There is only ONE Mickey Mouse. There is only ONE Cinderella. There is only ONE of any character. So if I guest asks where to take pictures with Mickey you tell them the one closest location where Mickey is scheduled to be at that particular park. There is no way Mickey could possibly be in Toon Town and Tomorrow Land, he’s just one mouse!
Third, there are all sorts of physical requirements when someone is a character. Most fur characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, the chipmunks, and so on) must all be short. It doesn’t matter if they are old, young, male, or female, as long as they’re short. Often when someone is flirting with Mickey and kissing his cheek, there is a middle-aged woman inside that head playing along with him or her. The face characters must resemble their character and are often on the taller side (minus Alice or Tinkerbell). So if you are 5’8, wide eyed, clear faced, and have a bright smile, you can probably pass as a few different princesses.
There are lots more rules and secrets, but I’d hate to ruin all the magic. Just keep in mind that these sorts of rules and policies are now what Husband and I expect from basically everyone.
We are shocked when we stand in line somewhere and do not have songs and games on big screen TV’s to entertain us as we wait. We are appalled when we are unhappy with something at a restaurant or store and no one seems to care. Then there’s the enormous disappointment we have while watching parades or fireworks, none can compare to Spectromagic or Wishes. Where’s the magic?!?!
However, the worst, the absolute worst are the characters in Time Square. There are dozens of people who show up at Time Square everyday dressed as famous characters. They follow tourist around, flirt with them, take pictures, and then inform them that they must pay them for their services. WTF? Mickey Mouse doesn’t charge children to take pictures with him!
What’s worse is that these characters are filthy. Their faces are always distorted and on crooked, and the whole costumes looks like it’s been handed down over the last 50 years and rolled through the dumpster a few times. The “characters” even have the nerve to take their heads off! And, do not even get me started on the fanny packs they all wear.
There are also lots of not–so-famous characters hanging around. There is usually a man painted in silver from head to toe, another guy holding up the “I need money for weed” poster, and the infamous naked Cowboy. The Naked Cowboy has been around for about 20 years. He was originally one guy (Robert Burck), but has become so popular that the he trademarked himself….
“Burck owns the trademark to his Naked Cowboy character and operates it as a franchise. Franchisees must undergo a screening process, and are required to pay Naked Cowboy Enterprises $500 per month or $5,000 per year, which authorizes a person to operate as a “Naked Cowboy” or “Naked Cowgirl”. There are a number of franchisees, with the third and fourth recruits Burck’s fellowSecaucus, New Jersey resident Robert Coffman and Burck’s girlfriend, Cindy Fox.” ~Wikipedia
He’s prove to be so successful that besides a naked Cowgirl there is also a naked Native American, and a naked Statue of Liberty.
These aren’t as sacrilegious as the out of place Disney characters, but still just as dirty.
As grubby as these “characters” are, I guess they have to stay, because Time Square without the crazies would be like Magic Kingdom without the princesses. Husband and I will just have to accept the fact that not everyone was trained by Disney brainwashers professionals. Time Square is nothing like Disney World, but it does have it’s own bit of magic.