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For generations, Disney has been known as the world’s foremost purveyor of magnificent childhood memories. But what if we told you that not everything in Disney’s magical kingdom is as it seems. Rarely do we ever stop to think about what goes on daily behind the scenes.
Over the years many first hand accounts of what it’s like to work as a Disney Parks employee have leaked out, and some of these stories are sure to surprise even the most die-hard Disney fans. Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the web to compile a list of the funniest, scariest, and downright weirdest “backstage secrets” as told by former disney employees. Click below to get started.
1. Club 33 ain’t that type of place…
Part creepy but mostly crazy story here. We had a rich guest come in to Club 33 (super secret yet not so secret restaurant in New Orleans Square) for the first time I believe. He wanted a private room and some Disney princesses to “have fun with” and wondered if any of the hostesses or waitresses were interested.
When we told him we could not accommodate him, he looked shocked as if I was crazy for rejecting his creepy request. Thankfully, this was the one and only time I had to deal with that kind of nonsense, but some of my other coworkers said that stuff like that happened quite often. What is wrong with people?
2. Ashes to ashes
I used to work at the box office. I once had a woman come up and ask for a ticket into Disneyland, she then placed a box on the counter while looking for her wallet. I don’t know how she managed to get that box past security. I see a picture on it and then I see dates I realize that they are the ashes of her little girl. I had to keep her at my window while I waited for security. It broke my heart but a lot of people like to dump ashes on rides and it literally just gets vacuumed up at the end of the night.
At the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, people would try to throw their loved ones ashes into the graveyard. I’m not kidding, we once we had to close down the ride to clean and sanitize. This has supposedly become so much of a problem over the years that employees have been trained on how to handle a guest when they think remains are being scattered around Disney.
3. Don’t worry, I’ve got my plane with me
Former Walt Disney World merchandise cast member here. I was in the Disney College Program last Fall. I worked primarily in the Star Tours gift shop “Tattooine Traders”. This is one of my best stories.
We had several autographed pictures behind the counter; Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie were $10,000. I was on the register near the pictures when this older gentleman asked me how much the centerpiece was. I told him “$10,000 sir!”.
He looked at me and said “that would look great in my theatre room, how many do you have in stock?”. I said “two including the one on display” he said “perfect I’ll take both!”. The total after taxes was a bit over $20,000. I was a bit flustered swiping that credit card, I know there are some rich people out there but never really got to see if first hand. My favorite part is that as I offered to ship it home for him he says “no thanks! I have my plane with me!”.
4. The wet stuff coming from the sky
I worked at Hollywood Studios for more than a year while I went to the University of Central Florida. The dumbest story I have is about a woman who exited the ride where I worked and discovered “wet stuff coming from the sky.”
I was standing near stroller parking helping people organize their strollers. The woman came up to me and told me that she didn’t like the wet stuff coming from the sky and that I should tell my boss to turn it off. At first, I laughed because I thought she was kidding, which only pissed her off more. “Don’t they know that this stuff ruins people’s vacations?” She said. “We have no way of controlling the rain, ma’am. This is Florida and we get quick storms like this in the summer, but it might go away after a while,” I said. “What about the bubble?” She said. I was thoroughly confused by what she meant by bubble so I had to ask that she was saying “bubble.”
Apparently she thought that all of Disney was under a big bubble and we controlled the weather. I confirmed that there was no bubble, that this was the real deal. She walked away insisting I was lying and that something should be done about it.
5. Some guests try to get WAY too friendly
I am a former photographer at Disney World and worked very closely with the characters. There were some creepy regulars. There were this couple who’d pretty much come in everyday and would get super mushy with the cast members, like a first name basis kind of thing and they would make sure to catch specific performers during their set.
No one knows how they know this info, we think they just stalk them. Some cast members think it’s harmless but I think it’s incredibly odd and pretty dangerous. They even expect some special treatment because they are regulars. I’ve only encountered them a couple of times but they managed to find me on Facebook just based off my name tag info.
6. Security is Always Watching
I played a female character from an animated film. Me and my female coworkers had to fend off countless come-ons from adult males (often with their kids and even wives nearby) without breaking character.
Most visitors don’t know this, but there are security guards watching us actresses at all times (discreetly but not far away). Unless it’s really bad, the guards usually don’t approach people until they walk away because they don’t want to make a scene. Some of these guys look pretty intimidating, I wouldn’t want to get on their bad side.
7. Rude Code Names
I don’t work there anymore, but when I was there, there were code words for every character. Mickey is referred to as “ the rat”. My favorite tidbit is that, because nothing bad is supposed to happen in Disney, there are weird euphemisms for a lot of things.
If there needs to be a puke cleanup at one of the rides it’s called in as a “protein spill”. Here are a few more…
Someone stealing? “A Robin Hood”. Out of product? It’s “gone back to Neverland”. Missing kid? “Lost boy” …. a missing kid being a “lost boy” is a pretty lazy euphemism.
8. Clean up on aisle five!
When we would have a “protein spill” on my ride (a slow-ish ride at Hollywood Studios), the custodians would ride with it to clean it since we couldn’t afford to take the vehicle out of the lineup. Plus, it was faster to just block it off and have them clean it during the 6-minute ride.
That also applied to the one time a grown man went #2 in his pants and left some of it on the seat. Granted, we were ride-stopped for like 5 minutes and the guy had probably waited like 90 minutes in line. But still, his wife stayed behind to yell at us because the ride had stopped and because of that he had poo’d himself.
We just called a custodian to do a ride along and clean it and didn’t let people get into it until she was finished. I mean, it sounds bad but I think there are a lot worse custodial jobs to be had. If you add “and you’ll be doing it while riding a Disney ride” at the end of any job responsibility, it makes it a little better.
9. Heads Up, It’s Mickey!
I’m a former employee, but not of the the parks themselves. We were given a tour backstage at Disneyland and I have an image burned into my mind that has never escaped me.
It was of a clothing rack, one on wheels, placed behind the Tower of Terror. On it, placed on hooks, were about 10 Mickey Mouse heads that must of been either drying after a wash or moving to a new location. The blood orange sunset, combined with the tower and what appeared to be decapitated Mickey heads hanging from hooks is a fond creepy memory.
10. The Ghost of Soar’in
I was a cast member from 2007-2014. It was said that there is a ghost of a little girl at Soar’in (for those who aren’t familiar, it’s a flight motion simulator that “takes you around the world”).
They say she died in the parking lot before DCA was built, but no one can say exactly how. Some have claimed to hear footsteps coming up the metal stairs that lead below the screen during a flight. But there is only one cast member in the tower and the room is closed off during a flight, so an open door would stop it immediately.
Imagine sitting there, basically tuning out the show you’ve heard SO many times, and you start hearing metallic footsteps. It’s dark, you feel like you’re being watched. Very uneasy feeling.
11. The Mile-Long “Magic File”
I got two different people banned for life from Disney. Both in the same store in a one month period. One was trying to return stolen merchandise for credit, the other was stealing pins.
The doofus stealing pins actually used their credit card to purchase something else and my investigative skills came into work. I found all of the receipts from the time of the theft, looked each person linked to those receipts up on Facebook, and found the culprit. More people in their party came in later to steal more, and the guy involved this time was wearing the EXACT shirt from his Facebook picture! I alerted our management, who alerted security. The guests ended up being charged to their rooms for the pins that were stolen, and asked to never return to Disney properties.
The other story is during my time at the front desk… There was this woman who was wrecking havoc all over property. Her Magic File (think Disney permanent record) was as mile long and traversed parks and resorts. Some of the stories were bonkers. This woman left her ‘service dog’ in her room all day while they were at the park, she complained that she was allergic to onions after ordering french onion soup, and let her dog relieve itself in the lobby of Wilderness Lodge and say that it wasn’t her mess to clean up. Security finally came to her room and informed her that she was no longer allowed on property. She is banned for life.
12. Well, That Escalated Quickly
I used to work as a host at a restaurant on Main St at Disneyland. Once, a woman came up and asked where the bathrooms were, so I told her. She then decided that the line was too long so believe it or not, she tried to just pull down her pants and relieve herself in the lobby. Security came VERY quickly!
On a not so funny note… A lot of people try and spread their loved ones ashes at Disney. It’s especially popular in the Rivers of America. I’ve never seen it but apparently security stops someone once a week.
13. Disney Princesses are Not Always What They Seem
Funny Fact: One attraction that guests love seeing is Tinkerbell. She flies out of a castle every so often and the kids seem to love it. What the guests don’t know is that Tinkerbell is attached to a tiny steel cable and is also a very short Korean man in a winged-leotard suit.
Not So Fun Fact: The face characters (people whose face you can see), specially the princesses, are THE MOST arrogant people I have ever met in my life. Most believe that they were selected for the job because of their ravishingly good looks and unsurpassed ability to take-on the persona of a stuck-up princess. Only one of those reasons is actually true. I didn’t like most of the people I worked with at the park, but Disney in general is a nice place to work because of the visitors.
14. Weird Questions from Weird Guests
I used to work in the park stores. There was this one guy who came in and sat with a little girl (who was left alone in the theatre by her nanny) and started asking her weird questions like who she’s with and how old she is. It wasn’t until my fellow cast member (also a guy) noticed and approached them that the guy stood up and left immediately.
We also had another incident where a guest complained to one of my stage leads that there was a man going around and asking children how old they were. Turns out he didn’t know the size of his own kid’s feet and he was trying to find another kid who is the same age to figure it out. My stage lead yelled at the guy and scared him half to death! lol
15. Love Found in Totally Unexpected Way
I never worked at Disney but I have a story all the same. Once when I was at Disney World, a girl from a Brazilian tour group pushed me (like physically elbowed me) out of my spot while waiting in line for some night-time Epcot thing.
I’m not a confrontational person so I didn’t do anything except look annoyed at her when all of a sudden this little Chinese lady starts going off on the girl. She actually made her move and told me to take my spot back. The girl from the Brazilian tour looked absolutely terrified over the rage this woman put down on her on my behalf.
Ten years later, that “little Chinese lady” and I are now married with 3 kids…
16. The Missing Man of Space Mountain
As a space mountain cast member, we would rotate positions every 45 minutes. I was at load (where people start the ride) and this guy standing in line was very nervous, arguing with his friends in another language (maybe Portuguese?). Even though he looked absolutely terrified, he got on the rocket anyway. Before I sent him off, I made sure he wanted to go. He nodded and continued into light speed (27 mph btw).
After a few minutes, the ride suddenly stopped and an emergency code was called over the intercom. The guy had gotten off the ride. You see, at the beginning of the ride, you are going pretty slow as you climb the coaster, so he just decided to jump off. The creepy part of this story is that we all searched the building for about an hour (lights on, about 50 people searching) and no one found him. So this man got off the ride, went down about 200 steps, and somehow found the exit- never to be seen by us again.
17. Thieves are EVERYWHERE!
As someone who spent years visiting and working at Disney, here’s a valuable piece of advice. Do NOT leave your belongings unattended for even a split second. People will leave their shopping bags in their strollers, thinking they are safe, but those gets swiped pretty regularly. Way more often than you’d like to think.
Security once caught a lady that would come in the park, pick out a high end stroller and walk out with it. Then sell it online. Never underestimate how awful people can be, even at the happiest place on earth. I mean come on, who steals from someone in the Magic Kingdom?!
18. A Cult-Like Atmosphere
My daughter was a Disney employee… The workers are paid below living wage but many are so obsessed with Disney culture they would rather be poor than work elsewhere, especially the young ones. Many spend their off days at the park too.
Disney takes advantage of this loyalty for sure. It is a very cult like place for employees with many of them having “getting out” and “life after disney” stories. After five years of misery, I was finally able to convince my brainwashed daughter that she was being taken advantage of. She quit and got a different job that actually paid her a decent salary so she could finally get her own place.
19. “People Don’t Quit, They Snap”
There are definitely some people who take their job way too seriously. They live and breath Disney. But most employees seem to treat it like any other job and are pretty loud about their disdain for the job backstage.
There is a YouTuber who made a couple videos about working at Disney. My favorite moment from those videos is how he describes something along the lines of “people don’t just quit, they snap. The conditioning just breaks after smiling and listening to the same song ALL day, EVERY day. Eventually they just go to their car and leave”. This is completely true.
It was pretty common when I worked there that people would just leave before their shift was over and never come back. My first day of training the guy left during lunch and never came back. When I quit, I drove to work and walked up to the gate. As I was about to swipe my badge I just stopped. I watched as other employees walked in. I just turned around and went home.
20. Donkey’s Done it Again
My aunt used to work at Disney when I was growing up. Every time I visited her she would get me into the park, and this being the 70’s, I didn’t need a parent to go with me. The craziest thing I ever saw was on this little Mark Twain trail in frontier land.
I was walking by myself and stuffing glob after glob of cotton candy into my yap hole when all of a sudden I get the urge to go to the bathroom. Now I was only 11 but had an idea of just how bad it would be if I couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. So I dropped trough and squeezed my little rump cheeks through the fence surrounding a donkey on the trail.
I had nothing to wipe with except the cotton candy bag. Meanwhile I hear a commotion up ahead and it’s two workers dressed in safari gear walking towards me. I pull my pants up and casually lean against the fence like I’m just watching this donkey do nothing. Next thing I know the workers have gloves on and are examining my poo talking about how the donkey has a terrible illness again. What a life.
21. To Return or Never Return, That is the Question
I used to be a Cast Member at the Disney Store. My craziest story was during the beginning of the holiday season. I had a man come in to return 14 princess dresses for his girlfriend. Since he had so many dresses, the transaction was going to be a bit long. I went through the process, while he was arguing on the phone with his girlfriend. He complained that she should be doing this herself, since he doesn’t know anything about the transaction and she was complaining that it’s because she is sick.
Well Disney has a policy where whatever form of payment you paid is the form it will be returned. His gf didn’t give him her credit card for the return. At this time, the line was getting long and my manager wanted this guy out, so she made an exception for her to send a picture of her credit card to his phone. I put in the numbers in the front and asked to see the back for the code. The man swipes to the next picture in his phone, but it wasn’t of the credit card, it was a thumbnail of a video with a girl’s private part.
I had to act professional but the guy was super embarrassed and got out of there as quickly as he could after the return. I bet he would never do returns for his gf ever again.
22. Be prepared for ANYTHING!
When I worked at Wilderness Lodge we had a guest that was visiting the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. This lunatic stripped down to his red boxer shorts outside one of the restaurant windows and then proceeded to run through the campground as security chased him.
Somehow he found a backpack leaf blower and put it on and continued to escape security. They finally found him passed out in a utility shed all curled up next to that leaf blower wearing nothing but his boxers and covered in scratches from the woods. I think it’s safe to assume he was banned for life after that incident. Some people are just flat-out crazy!
23. Bad parenting at its finest
I used to work as a sales clerk in a Fantasyland gift shop. As one can imagine, items in the shop were super over-priced. It was a very common occurrence for people to complain about the high prices.
One warm day in Fantasyland, this dad was appalled at how expensive the little fan/spray bottle things were. He refused to buy one for his kids, claiming he had a better idea. A little while later when I was leaving, I saw him take a big gulp of water and then spit/spray it out onto his two little girls faces. It was amazing to watch. Human nature is a crazy thing.
24. Bad parenting round two!
A woman was about to enter the Space Mountain ride with her son, who wasn’t tall enough and didn’t want to go on the ride. She then took a pair of high heels out of her backpack and forced her son to wear them. The ride attendant gave her the sassiest ‘you’re an idiot’ look and told her to exit the line.
She had the audacity to complain for over 20 minutes. I remember just feeling really bad for that boy, watching his mother exploit him like that for the sole purpose of getting on a ride. It’s unsettling to imagine what else his mother made him do that day.
25. The Ol’ Flash and Dash
“My cousin and I had painted some t-shirts with the Colorado flag inside a Mickey Mouse head shape before we went to Disney. While we were there it started raining so we bought sweatshirts, took off our wet Colorado t-shirts, and then headed to Space Mountain. As we were waiting in line, there was a man across from us wearing a Colorado t-shirt and was with his wife and kids.
My cousin then yelled, “Hey, we’re from Colorado too!!’ and then lifted her sweatshirt to show him our Colorado shirts…but forgot we had taken them off. Needless to say, we did not ride Space Mountain. I’ve never seen my cousin run that fast.”
26. Seven years of stories squeezed into thirty seconds
“I worked there for seven years. I once had a guy THROW HIS TODDLER AT ME. I had a guy take off his fake leg and swing it at my face. I had a young woman hand me a ziplock bag full of ashes and ask me, ‘Where can I leave grandma?’
I had numerous people ask me if I could turn on the A/C because they honestly believed Disneyland was in a giant glass dome. Oh, and I was once scheduled to spend the day at Disneyland with Gary Busey. That was fun.”
27. Non-Disclosure Agreements
Disney is kind of a stickler when it comes to having its employees sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements). Even the general staff and costumed characters at the parks have to sign them.
Disney’s always been real big on that magician mentality where if you know the inner workings the magic is dispelled (that just happens to go hand in hand with protecting the business/image/bottom line). It’s an awfully convenient way to make sure everything, good or bad, stays in-house. I’ve seen a few employee get canned over the years for violating their NDAs. It’s surprisingly more common than you might think.