Any frequent visitor to Walt Disney World has surely had at least 1 quintessential Disney “magical moment”. It’s that moment when an unexpected experience, sight, or kindness sprinkles the vacation with an extra dose of pixie dust that becomes an incredibly special lasting memory. It may be an amazing character greeting, a free waffle given away at the very end of a long night, or a rainbow over Cinderella Castle. For me, I am always blessed with at least one special Disney moment per visit. More times than not, it is the dedication and spirit of a Walt Disney World cast member who is responsible for this moment of spontaneous happiness.
I have heard a few people recently say that the Disney magic seems to be dying; they felt as if the cast members seem disinterested and not willing to go to the extra effort to make a visit magical for the guest. I am so happy to say that I don’t believe it- not even for a second. I have come across so many amazing cast members on my recent trips to the World, who have gone out of their way to make my day special. Have I run into the occasional grumpy cast member? Sure…but anytime that there is such an enormous group of people working toward a common goal, there is bound to be a bad egg or two. In my experiences, the majority of the dedicated individuals that choose to work for Disney hold the spirit of Walt in their hearts. They believe that it is their primary goal to make each guest’s experience magical. They have a smile on their face and are always looking to make that magic, even through the blistering heat and torrential rain.
Never was this more apparent to me than on my recent trip in July. It was the day before I was to depart from Walt Disney World, and I was determined to catch the Festival of Fantasy parade. The parade was elusive to me; over my past 2 trips, the weather had caused the parade’s cancellation the 5 times I had been in the park to see it. Since I was flying solo and didn’t have my kids to complain and really wanted a good viewing location to take some pictures, I found a shady spot in Frontierland (on a raised planter near the bathrooms) about 90 minutes before the start time. I settled in, figuring I could catch up on email and twitter while I relaxed under the tree. Soon I was joined by 2 lovely young ladies, and we struck up a conversation. They introduced themselves as off-duty Magic Kingdom cast members. Over the next hour, these women showed that they exemplified what a Disney cast member should be. Not only did they spend time talking with this middle-aged mom about everything under the sun, but they showed kindness to all those around them, both adults and children. They asked me all about my trip and what magical experiences I had encountered. They shared their experiences working at Disney and their hopes for a continued career with the company. The love for both their work and for the magic of the parks was clearly evident. Most importantly, they both interacted marvelously with the children around us, bringing smiles and giggles to all. As new cast member friends joined them, they introduced me and included me in their conversations. When the parade finally began (I had a few very nervous moments with some ominous clouds heading our way), the young women made certain that I had the best view for picture taking, telling their friends that I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to see this parade for so long! When the parade ended, we said goodbye and headed our separate ways.
It was certainly not necessary for these young ladies to befriend me, yet they went out of their way to make my parade experience special. Their kindness and obvious love for this magical place that means so much to me was touching and made my time waiting for the 3 o’clock parade a highlight of my whole trip. The most impressing quality of these beautiful young ladies is that it was not outwardly obvious that they were cast members, but they still went out of their way to enhance the vacation of all those around them. They continued to deliver that special Disney magic even though they did not have to. Unfortunately, I did not get their names, so I am unable to give them the formal compliment that they so deserve. To the 2 lovely fairy godmothers sitting with this middle-aged mom on that hot July day in Frontierland- I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You, and those like you, are the heart and soul of my beloved Walt Disney World.