Cast members


There is a huge building in Orlando with the word CASTING on the roof.  It is the nerve center of Disney staffing: the place where all of the Donalds and Goofys and Cruellas and princesses and cowboys and restaurant staff and happy greeters get hired and trained.



Because they are not staff, you see.  They are “cast members.”



They are always in character, or almost always.  Now and then you see a tiny flicker of weariness: the waitress in the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café seemed tired and overworked, and some of the people working on the rides were almost (but not quite) testy.  But most are amiable and perky to the point of being unnatural.



(Universal has tried to copy this idea.  Their “cast members,” or whatever their equivalent term is, are just the tiniest bit less perky than the Disney cadre, but they do their best.  The Universal people are not, I think, given quite as much Manchurian Candidate Juice as their Disney counterparts, and are forced to improvise.  At Doctor Doom’s Fearfall in Universal, for example, the cast members are all dressed in odd Space Age / Ruritanian outfits, and one kid leapt and did a dramatic pirouette and said “Velcome to de Latverian Embassy!”)



The Disney people are (I’m sure) briefed on their roles.  In places like the Haunted Mansion and the Tower of Terror, for example, they are very grim and morose, reinforcing the idea that horrible things are about to happen to you.



But I will most remember the kid who greeted us at Spaceship Earth in Epcot, our last night there.  He made conversation with us while the little cars were being emptied and lined up; I didn’t notice it right away, but he was walking backwards on a big rotating disk, at a very methodical pace.  Partner asked him how long his shift was, and he said it was eight hours.  “Walking backward the whole time?” I said.



His expression changed very slightly.  “I even dream about it,” he said.



I believe him.



May the ghost of Walt Disney bless him and grant him a pay increase.



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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