Have you ever dreamed of being an astronaut or a princess when you were five years old? Fast forward 20 years later and – if you’re anything like me – you probably haven’t abandoned that childhood dream of yours. But, there’s one teeny tiny problem: you haven’t got a degree in engineering or biological sciences, and Kate Middleton managed to steal Prince William from right under your nose (there’s always Harry, but come on, let’s be real: he’s fifth in line to the British throne and you’re not getting any younger. Yep, I went there).
But, like with every other problem, there’s a solution to your predicament. If you still want to dress up like a princess for a living as much as you did when you were a young girl (or boy. We’re not judging. And no, I’m not talking about becoming a drag queen. Unless, of course, that’s what your heart truly desires. Again, not judging), you might want to consider getting a job at Disneyland. And to help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the most bizarre employee rules you need to know about working at the Happiest Place on Earth.
1. No Social Media
The first rule about working at Disneyland is you don’t talk about working at Disneyland. Cast members (the word “employees” is simply discouraged behind park gates) are strictly forbidden to discuss their roles on social media sites. One former Snow White princess revealed in a Reddit thread they “weren’t allowed to post or talk about the things we did as a character, or even to tell people what character we were.”
We assume the social media ban for cast members also extends to posting selfies on Facebook and snaps of their Mickey Mouse-shaped pizzas on Instagram.
2. Never Point with One Finger
If a guest happens to ask you how to get to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, make you sure you don’t point out directions with just one finger. In some cultures, pointing is considered rude and, wanting to avoid offending anybody, the company now strictly forbids cast members to use this gesture.
They’re instead encouraged to point using their whole hand, or preferably two fingers. The two-finger point goes way back to Walt Disney himself and his smoking habit, according to a current employee as reported in The Huffington Post. The anonymous cast member said that it’s a tribute to Disney, who was frequently photographed pointing at attractions with a cigarette between two fingers and that it is part of their training.
Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote Saving Mr. Banks in 2013, Tom Hanks pointed out (get it?) that the company started airbrushing cigarettes out of the photographs as smoking became less and less popular over the years. The result? A very awkward two-finger point now used across Disneyland among cast members.
Something to look out for on your next visit!
3. Swoop to Collect Trash
Disneyland is renowned for its cleanliness – it reportedly places trashcans no more than 30 steps apart throughout the park – so what do you do when you see a piece of trash lying on the ground? You pick it up, of course, but do it wrong and you’re in big trouble, mister!
Apparently, you’ve got to be graceful and inconspicuous about it. Simply bending over to pick up an empty pack of chewing gum is a big no-no. Instead, cast members have to perform a swooping action – I knew those ballet lessons would come in handy one day!
And turn, pirouette, swoop, and jump!
Meanwhile, everyone must pick up trash – no one can evade the swooping rule, not even the highest executive!
4. You’ve Got to Know Everything
There are three little words that equate to career suicide at Disneyland: “I don’t know”. Speak these words to a guest and you’re swiftly shown the park exit.
You’ve got to be prepared to answer any question a guest asks you – if you don’t know the answer, ask someone who does, but the phrase “I don’t know” should not exist in your vocabulary. Of course, there are some questions that you can only laugh off, like “Are those your boobies?”
5. Commit to the Brand
If a little girl comes running up to you and asks you about Happy Tree Friends (which would be disturbing to say the least), you’re pretty much expected to play dumb.
Even if Popeye is your favorite animated character, you’re fully expected to commit to the Disney brand, and that means nothing else exists outside of Disneyland and the Disney universe. There’s no such thing as Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, or Garfield – only Disney.
6. Be Careful What You Say
Like “I don’t know”, some words and phrases should never be spoken in any of Disney’s parks and code words are used instead to avoid any uncomfortable situations for guests.
Let’s say you’re Rapunzel, and you’re about to take a picture with a cute little boy who’s just come off the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride for the seventeenth time in a row. As can be expected, he throws up on your dress. So, what do you do? Do you:
a) Scream “The little shit’s puked all over the place, y’all!” or
b) Discreetly tell a park operator that there’s been a “Code V”
As we’re talking about the Happiest Place on Earth, option B is the correct answer. And yes, Code V is a subtle yet hilarious way of saying vomit. But wait, it used to be called a “protein spill” back in the day.
7. You’ve Got to Look the Part
If you want to get a job at Disneyland, especially in a costumed role, you’ll have to meet some very specific requirements, also known as the Disney look.
Tattoos, for example, are a big no-no and should be hidden at all times. The same applies to body piercings other than the traditional ear piercings for women. Even eyeglasses and sunglasses “should not detract from the costume or contradict the theme of the show”, while frames and lenses should be a conservative color and style.
Depending on the role, you’ll have to meet certain height and body type requirements – I mean, no one wants to see a fat Prince Charming.
Male cast members can grow beards, moustaches and goatees but are expected to keep them neatly groomed and well-maintained (if you’re unable to grow a decent beard, on the other hand, you’re expected to be clean-shaven every day), and they cannot cover your upper lip.
Women, meanwhile, have to keep their fingernails presentable at all times, and any charms or decals are off limits.
Oh, and you’re not allowed to shave your eyebrows. One can only imagine how this made it into the employee handbook.
8. Never Break Character
While costumed roles typically take five days’ training, you’re expected to become one with that character. You’re to live and breathe that character. That doesn’t sound creepy at all.
You’re expected to memorize lines from the movie your character appears in, to speak like them, and to act like them. You simply can’t break character - even when signing autographs! Mickey Mouse, for example, has been trained to sign autographs in a handwriting style that has an uncanny resemblance to the font used in the Walt Disney logo.
Naturally, you’re not allowed to smoke or drink on the job, either. Which is probably a good thing. I mean, a drunk Ariel sitting on the curb while smoking a joint doesn’t exactly scream “Disney Princess” now, does it?
9. Don't Forget to Smile
If following all the above rules wasn’t enough to worry about, there’s one that you should never, ever break, and that’s smiling.
Even if the world was coming to an end around you, you’re expected to smile every single second when on the job. Any long faces and you’re fired.
Do you work at Disneyland, or have done in the past? Do you know any other bizarre rules cast members must follow? Let us know in the comments section below!