Walt Disney theme parks are called the "happiest places on Earth" — but is that really the case when you work there? If some of these stories from former Disney employees are anything to go by, not really. The following strange and funny tales have been culled from Reddit and take us on a wild journey into the weirdest things that Disney workers have had to put up with. You'll never look at Goofy in the same way again...
"You have to be in specific height ranges to play the different characters. Because Mickey’s height range is so short he’s usually played by a woman.
Likewise for Donald, although the most successful and best known Donald that I knew while I worked there was a little person."When the princess characters come backstage they have to take off their dresses so they don't get dirty while they're on break, so the princesses are usually walking around in a smock and bloomers if you see them back there. There is some serious cognitive dissonance when you walk back and see Snow White in her bloomers on her phone cursing up a storm." — leopoldisacat
“I was working with Ariel, and cast members will always count down before they take a photo so people have time to get into position. I counted down, and this teen boy decided to try to rip off one of Ariel’s shells.
I had to open his camera and expose his film so the photo didn’t get developed and passed around. I found out later that I was supposed to take it to the Kodak shop to have the film developed and that one removed.” — leopoldisacat
Death in the family
“During the construction of Pandora at Animal Kingdom, a very beloved superintendent passed away of an immediate heart attack. Mid-sentence and while opening the door to the construction trailer, George Burke just…died. The project was very affected by this. His knowledge of the work that needed to be done was deep and irreplaceable. His laughter and personality were loved by all 1,400 workers who were there.“A couple of years after he passed, we were finishing the project and found the perfect way to pay homage to George. They invited his family to the middle of an active construction site to let them view it.
George’s red hard hat, with the black Nordic Cross on top, was attached to the rockwork, in the middle of the flowing river, to the left of the entrance to Flight of Passage, and plastered over. The family, friends, and a few Imagineers were the only people there.“Only we can point out where the hardhat is underneath the plaster, theming, and plants. I revisit the spot every time I go back to Pandora. :-) Peace!” — Evening-Career7325
All in the hands
“My SIL got a role as Cinderella at Disneyland Paris. She had to practice Cinderella’s autograph over and over because although different actresses play her all over the world, the signature of the character has to be identical anywhere it’s signed for consistency." — jennyrob669“Buddy I went to college with was a Disney cast member. He had to learn how to write Goofy’s name left-handed because Goofy was a lefty.
He's naturally a righty, but that's the one thing he could do as a lefty and had to write it in such a way that it didn’t smear the glove he was wearing. It was a very unnatural way to hold a pen without the gloves on.” — IndianInferno
“There are three hidden phones in the Magic Kingdom that when you pick up have dialogue from Disney characters, like a stitch in Tomorrowland." — mdmahmud880“I’m not a cast member, but when my family went to Disney, my daughter, who was five at the time, tripped and skinned her knee. No one’s fault.
But a cast member saw her crying and took us in to clean and dress her knee. They gave her a voucher for a free doll and called a number on the phone to have her talk to a character.” — dkichline
“A friend of mine worked at Disney World. According to her, Epcot is the best place to work.
When she was at the Magic Kingdom, she said she went home crying all the time because the moms were so mean.“She also said that cast members got to do something I think is called “magic moments.” At her gift shop, she could just give a parkgoer something for free. She said that was a perk.” — nerdmoot
The Sunshine Tree
“I worked at WDW 1993-1997 in Frontierland and Adventureland (Foods). Mostly I worked the Turkey leg wagon in Frontierland.“The few months I was assigned to the ‘Sunshine Tree Terrace’ refreshment stand, there was a huge, fake ‘Sunshine Tree’ in the space. It had transparent green plastic leaves and plastic oranges. There were light projectors on the ceiling to make it look like the sun was filtering through the tree. The leaves, and sometimes the oranges, would fall off.
They had been installed in 1971, so 23 years later they would just drop. Every time one fell off, I took it home.“In 2005 the Sunshine Tree was removed and destroyed. I have a shoebox full of leaves, and 3 oranges: the last surviving pieces of the Sunshine Tree.” — Jef_Wheaton
On the QT
“I worked there for three months two years ago with my GF at the time and anything newsworthy that happens there (usually negative) immediately gets shot down by the official page of Disney (Twitter, Insta, Facebook, etc). They keep everything hush-hush.“Lightning struck a bathroom building, and there was a small fire. My GF and I weren’t working that day, but we were there enjoying the park for free bc we’re cast members, and she records it and posted it on her Twitter.
News media pages were commenting and asking her questions like when, how, what’s being done, and before she could reply the Disney page said to disregard the video bc it wasn’t true and the video is edited, and the media pages stopped asking after that. She gets called into the office the next day and was super-close to losing her job.” — diego2757
“I worked in reservations. They give you a name that is not your own, and you better use it. My name is not Robyn Leigh, but in Disney reservations, it was.” — honeybunhitta“I worked at the Disney Store for one month in college.
I was ‘Bill’ because that was the name tag they had for a new employee at that store. Not even close to my real name.” — onearmedmonkey
“I worked at Club Disney for the brief time it was open. We had codes we used on the radio headsets that were coordinated with character names.
For instance, code Baloo meant there was blood that needed to be cleaned up immediately.“One day, I'm taking a stroll around the club to check on things when I spot a small boy about two years old taking a massive dump right in the middle of the play area. He sees me, starts to cry, and runs away... So I just called, 'I have a code Pooh situation in the play area, and Piglet’s on the loose.'” — in_the_vortex
All in a day's work
“Former WDW Cast Member. I swear most of my crazy stories come from working there. Things I’ve seen...— A mother climb a tree and swing down in the middle of another family’s meet and greet with Beast. She didn’t want to wait in line.— A man try to swim in Cinderella’s moat during fireworks.
I was guarding the ropes, I tackled him.— Snow White being thrown over the shoulder of a man in Epcot in an attempt to carry her away.” — Betty...Crocker
There's always a line
“My brother-in-law worked there in the student program. I don’t remember what attraction it was for, but he said a little boy from Make-a-Wish got to go to the front of every line. This one lady saw it and [moaned] so loud about how this little kid didn't deserve to cut in lines... He told the lady to get out of line and stop being [mean], explained that the kid was with Make-A-Wish.
She apparently didn't care and asked for a manager.“She is banned from WDW. My brother-in-law almost lost his job right there due to all of the commotion that was caused. Luckily, he didn’t.” — broken_long_thumbkey
“As my name implies, I work at WDW as a Cast Member. There are a lot of crazy things I’d rather not get into, but the worst was one night during the fireworks exit, we had a bunch of 20-year-olds being dumb on the resort platform.“They start punching each other in the arms. One of them ended up missing his friend and cold clocking a 12-year-old girl. 12-year-old girl’s dad had to be 6' 4" and 320 pounds. And built.
I mean really built.“It took four security guards and two Orange County deputies to pull the guy off the kid. His friend ended up jumping into the bushes to get away from one seriously angry father.” — monorail_pilot
“I worked in monorails. About a year or so ago a guest got off at Epcot Station and then told the Cast Member at Unload he was going to be sick. The CM opened up the trash can so he could puke in it easier.
The Guest then proceeded to take off his clothes and took a massive dump in the trashcan. People, man...” — CaptOMalley
The worst family
“I worked in Tomorrowland attractions at WDW, and there were many stories, but one of the craziest was when I noticed a child with Down’s syndrome waiting in the back hallway — not a normal place for guests. I figured he was waiting on his party to finish riding. I was bumped out of my position for a break 5-10 minutes later, and he was still there.“I got him to walk down to the unload area with me figuring his family was probably freaking out about where he was. No one was down there waiting for him.
I waited for 15 minutes and realized his family was not on the ride.“After calling managers and coordinators conducting a search throughout Tomorrowland, we found his family riding Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. They just left him at Space! I have never been so upset at work. There are so many others, but this one always comes to mind.” — lmgray
“I was working in the kitchen at Cinderella’s castle when this family of four came in for their dinner. About halfway through the dinner, the husband politely stands up and taps his glass for attention. He announced that his wife of 15 years has been cheating on him for over a year.
The entire place stood still in shock. He motioned for his kids, paid the waitress, and left the wife crying at the table.” — Azov237
Mickey strikes back
“I was a Disney employee for the summer. My two favorite memories:— Coming out of a bathroom stall and washing my hands next to a half-dressed Mary Poppins.— I was sitting with a group of guys by where Mickey and Minnie get dressed. When they came out, the guys started cat-calling Minnie.
The guy that was Mickey said, in a perfect Mickey voice, 'If you look at my girlfriend again I'm gonna pop ya!'” — anonymous
Snake in the bushes
“I worked a ride in Animal Kingdom a long time ago. Saw an 8-10 foot long snake emerge from an area with lots of plants and bushes. It slowly works its way through a line of about 200 people.
Weaving its way through people’s legs, strollers, bags, etc... then it just casually slips back into another wooded area. No one noticed!” — anonymous
Lost in translation
“I was in line at Disneyland California with a group of Japanese teenage tourists who were ahead of me in line. I speak Japanese, so I could understand that they were making fun of Americans.
They were laughing and even occasionally pointing at people.“I was just staying quiet, but then one of the cast members who evidently also spoke Japanese walked up to them and told them in perfect Japanese, 'You guys should really be careful, most Americans can speak Japanese.' They all froze up and looked around at people, many of whom were giving them dirty looks. I nodded at them like I was backing him up, and they were horrified. They all left the line promptly afterward.” — O7Knight7O
Remember the time
“A co-worker of mine at Disney World once helped escort Michael Jackson through some employee-only areas to avoid the crowds surrounding him. He got an autograph on a napkin.” — Schweppes7T4
“It was nice of your coworker to give Michael Jackson an autograph.” — IranianGenius
“It was nice of your coworker to give Michael Jackson an autograph.” — IranianGenius
“MJ used to sneak in wearing a disguise and go around solo. Or at least that’s what the old-timers who used to work Captain EO told me.” — MykeXero
Rain in my parade
“I worked in Frontierland Foods, mostly at the Smoked Turkey Leg wagon, from January 1993 until August 1994, then a few weeks each summer through '97. I saw one of the stiltwalkers trip and fall during the Surprise Celebration parade.
He was on the 6-foot stilts and went down hard.“Two other stiltwalkers came over and positioned their staffs so he could climb up and get back on his feet. He had to have gotten hurt, but he went on to finish the parade.” — Phantom_Scarecrow
“I saw guests nearly get hit with pieces of firework shell from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a special event after normal park hours.
They were launching fireworks all around the park, not just behind the castle, and a big chunk of shell landed right in front of the Turkey Wagon.“I ran out and picked it up before anyone noticed a smoking hunk of cardboard and plastic in the street. (I still have it somewhere!)” — Phantom_Scarecrow
Havin' a ball
“I was taking my paycheck to cash it at the Cast Member’s bank, which is behind the real bank on Main Street.
As I walked up, the gate that leads out to the street slammed open, and Donald Duck stomps through, followed by Minnie, Goofy, and a few other characters.“Donald ripped his head off, slammed it on the ground, and yelled, ‘Stupid kid kicked me in the balls!’ I had to try to not laugh at the enraged, 4’6” actor in half a duck suit.” — Phantom_Scarecrow
No context Disney
“Snow White was sitting on a chair in the tunnel, just outside the door. She was in full makeup and wig, her dress was hanging next to her, she was wearing only her Bloomers, and she was smoking a cigarette. Of course, the actress is in her late 20s, but it threw me for a second there.“I was also startled, that same week, to see Suzie Mouse from Cinderella.
Suzie was sitting in our break room, head off on the table, and HE was reading the newspaper. (Mickey is almost always a girl, and a lot of the taller female non-"Face" characters are played by males.)” — Phantom_Scarecrow
A lot of turkey
“We got the legs pre-smoked, in 50-pound cases. We had to weigh each leg, and they had to be between 18 and 26 ounces. I’m assuming they bought them in bulk from a turkey supplier because we went through TONS of them.
On New Year’s Eve, 1993, we sold 3,490 turkey legs. At $3.85 each, that's more than $13,000 worth of turkey legs sold in one day!” — Phantom_Scarecrow
Pass it around
“Employee at the original Disneyland here. I have spent most of my time at the gate and screening tents.“Guy comes in with his mom’s pass (he is about 22 years old), no picture on file, with a name of Pauline. Wanting to not directly call him out, I asked about it and he stated it’s just a weird name his parents gave him and I shouldn’t ask about it. We pull up the file to ask him some questions about the pass (simple things like birthday, email, etc. to see if it matches the info on the card).“
He gets on the phone as we pull it up and as we ask him questions he describes the question on the phone (saying BIRTHDAY really loud when it’s asked of him). It's obvious it’s his mom he called because he didn’t know her bday. He even got it wrong when his mom told him directly on the phone. We took the pass, and he [was] eventually was escorted out.” — Tagstit
“Angry guy with poor English is trying to get into California Adventure with no ticket. I find out he is really trying to go to his car. I explain in as many ways as I can that the park is not where his car is.
He gets so mad that he takes all my maps and throws them on the ground and shakes my turnstile.“I opened my gate and let him in. Felt evil, I wish I could have followed him to see how far he went before realizing he is nowhere near where he wants to be.” — Tagstit
“When I worked on Space Mountain circa 2003, Tom Cruise came on Space Mountain with his then-girlfriend Penelope Cruz and her family. His group gets on the ride, they go have fun, and they come back to the station. As is standard procedure, we asked if they wanted to stay in the car and ride again. We dispatch the car, and as it starts to move forward, Penolope’s non-English speaking family starts flipping out. Apparently, they didn't want to go again. So they stand up. This causes us to press the button to stop the cars (in the station only).“The alarms start flipping out the escorts.
Everyone but the people who work the ride are flipping out. Beeping, yelling, good times. Anyway, we release the ‘station stop.’ I have to manually tug the car to the next spot in the station, via the passenger handlebar in the front. This is when my hand came in contact with Tom Cruise’s.” — MykeXero
“Hello! I played a multitude of characters at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, from 2007 to 2009, including Goofy, Woody, Baloo, Mr. Incredible, Frozone, Captain Hook, and other tall ones.“So the Tweedle-Dee story: I was out in Fantasyland/Hub as the Queen of Hearts (who is pretty much always played by a dude) and there was an Alice and both Tweedles out there with me as well. We were having lots of fun as a unit, and the Tweedles cause general mischief while Alice talked to the kids. We were over near the Dumbo ride, and there's a small fountain over near the line for the ride that was drained for whatever reason on this day.
All of the coins that people throw into were still in the fountain.“I guess one of the Tweedles decided they wanted to steal some change, but they're only about 5’5”, and the costume is basically built around a hula hoop to give them the round shape, so when he bent over into the fountain, he fell in and was stuck. I just remember turning around and seeing his feet sticking into the air kicking back and forth out of the fountain. It was amazing.” — IWasGoofyAMA
It's all an illusion
“Former cast member here... Eventually, they opened a new division that was the ‘Disney World Priority Seating’ call center. So, people would be calling me in Kansas, looking to make brunch reservations at Cinderella’s Castle.“We were told to never let people know we weren’t actually on the property.
If a customer asked where we were located, we were told to say ‘I’m at Disney.’ They would even write weather updates every half hour or so on a big board overlooking the call center room.” — Casparilla
Not a real princess
“My favorite story is when a woman was dressed as Snow White in the parks and pretending to be the character by signing autographs and taking pictures with people.
She was escorted out by the PD and caused a huge scene and resisted arrest. There’s a photo hung up backstage in one of the parks of it.” — rawrslagithor
“In Disneyland, in the Peter Pan ride, I was always in awe with the floating stars that you zoom by on the ride. Turns out they are just LEDs on the end of wire hangers (attached to the walls, mostly) that are wrapped in electrical tape.” — Amazingawesomator"That’s awesome!
My favorite tidbit came from a backstage tour: the flying asteroids projected on the ceiling of Space Mountain are actually lumps of chocolate chip cookie dough, filmed as they were thrown through the air.” — CortlandAndrusWhoWas
A vault fit for Scrooge McDuck
“Former cast member from the early ’90s. There was a central ‘bank’ near the Magic Kingdom tunnel entrance where all the park gift shops, restaurants, etc would deposit the day’s cash. Each day an armored truck would drive into the tunnel to haul away the loot.
I can only imagine how much cash they took outta there!” — Aware_Masterpiece_23“And they have Scrooge McDuck painted on the wall!” — pionmycake
Ashes to ashes
“Ever heard about people spreading ashes of their loved ones in the POTC or Haunted Mansion ride? It’s true!” — gnomzy123
"They do it because ‘There are 999 ghosts, and there’s always room for 1,000!’ Grandma, who’s loved Disney her whole life, wants to be that 1,000. Unfortunately, if you attempt this, she will just end up in a Dustbuster in the break-room closet.” — xandrenia
Not for everyone
“I went to college with a woman who played Snow White. She said she wanted to quit on her very first day because she had so many screaming, vomiting, angry, hungry, drooling children handed to her for photos.
She said it was the absolute worst. I’m not sure how long she stuck it out for, but I know it wasn’t long.” — Witty-Message-2852
“I worked at the Disney Store back when they first started popping up at all the malls.
They made us sing the M-I-C-K-E-Y song at the end of every staff meeting and about half of the staff would cry when they sang it because they just loved Disney so much.“They would send you home if you didn’t have the ‘Disney Spirit’ (if you were in a visibly bad mood or unhappy). If you got sent home for this more than three times, they would fire you.” — Basicpseudonym
“During my first character breakfast, I thought I’d be funny — while a server was walking by, I stole the carafe of OJ off the tray she was balancing on her back shoulder. Having never worked in a restaurant at this point in my life, I didn’t realize how balanced everything was.
The tray immediately flipped off her shoulder and threw breakfast all over. I felt pretty bad, but the server took it in stride and just played it off as Goofy being Goofy.” — _flatline_
Get your tackle on
“I worked at the Safari at Animal Kingdom for a while... I was on my rare parade duty, which is quite stressful.
The logistics of Animal Kingdom’s parade are pretty [bad], once the parade gets going, you’re pretty much stuck where you are.“One guy decides he really needs to get to the other side of the street and is about to run out in front of a VERY heavy float that wouldn’t be able to stop, got to him just in time, kinda half/tackled him until I could explain how he almost died.” — CoconutPete44
To catch a thief
“When I was there I worked on Main Street as part of my college program. The one thing that really caught my attention was this lady wanted to buy a huge pin set we had framed and on display for the Haunted Mansion but not for sale.
She leaves and I move positions and then I see her just run out of the store with the frame. It was insane.” — UCMCoyote