I have always considered myself to be knowledgeable about all things Disney. When my family went on trips I was exclusively in charge of planning, restaurant reservations, and getting us from point A to point B. I knew when I started working at Disneyland that I would get to see some backstage places, and get to know a little bit more about how it operates, but I have realized so many things during the first month of working here that I don’t think I ever would have if I remained a guest.
There are so many things I wish I can add to this list you’re about to read, but can’t. It’s very important for Disney to keep the magic of the park, and I literally signed paperwork that said I would do that. So there are some things that I would LOVE to tell you all about, but must keep my mouth shut. It’s like the saying ‘I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you’ but instead it’s ‘if I tell you I get fired’. And nobody wants that. I hope.
Even though I need to keep some things to myself, there is still plenty of cool things to share! So let’s get started.
1) The Disneyland Cats are REAL
Prior to becoming a Cast Member I had heard about the many cats that make Disneyland their home, and deal with any mice so their isn’t a mice problem at the resort. I had never seen any of these cats before during any of my vacations, and honestly thought they were too good to be true (I LOVE cats).
Turns out they are real and I see them ALL the time. Since I’ve been in California I think I’ve seen 8 different Disney cats! Most of them I have seen on the west side of Disneyland (New Orleans area), but I also saw one as a guest in the woods by Grizzly River Run in DCA. If you see a brown multicolored cat over there his name is Chester.
If you want to see one of these cutie patooties I would recommend keeping your eyes peeled during a tram ride from the Mickey And Friends parking garage. I once saw two cats during a tram trip! Here’s another fun tidbit: sometimes the guests and Cast Members will feed these cats, who are usually feral, and in time domesticate them. Since the cats stop catching mice if they become too dependent on people, Disney will catch these domesticated cats and ADOPT THEM OUT. There is an opportunity to ADOPT a Disney cat. I’m sorry I’m yelling. It’s just so exciting.
I’ll move on.
2) People Hide Stuff In The Esplanade
I laughed out loud just typing that title. For some context, the Esplanade is the area between Disneyland and California Adventure. It also includes the bus areas and the walkway to the tram. For some reason, people bring things to the park that security does not allow through to the park entrances. These things include alcohol, drugs, weapons, selfie sticks, etc. Once guests realize they can’t get these types of items through security, they decide to try and hide them in the east side of the Esplanade, to be picked up after their day at the park.
What they don’t realize is that there are custodians who are going through the entire east Esplanade, looking for things that don’t belong. In one Esplanade shift I found both a very high quality selfie stick and a full bottle of men’s cologne. Both items were behind bushes, obviously trying to be hid. I went home knowing two people would be disappointed to find their items missing from their hiding place at the end of day.
It has become a game for custodians in the Esplanade. What can we find in the bushes?? It’s hilarious.
Here’s a tip! Don’t hide stuff in a public place! Check the Disney website before bringing items that you may think are questionable. And if you do accidentally bring something that isn’t allowed through security that you don’t want to throw away, the only sure way of knowing you can keep is to put it back in your car or back in your hotel room.
3) The Disney Trash Cans Are EXPENSIVE
Since I’m in Custodial I deal a lot with the trash cans located around the park. Other than them fitting pretty well into each land, I’ve never really thought much about them. During my training I learned that each of the trash cans are worth anywhere from one to ten thousand dollars.
Did your mouth drop open? Mine did. The ones that are more expensive are the ones that are textured or stylized differently than the normal cans, like the Indiana Jones queue cans and the new cans for Galaxy’s Edge. All of the Disney trash cans (obviously) get a ton of use, and we as custodians are instructed to treat them carefully. Guests are not so careful. If you see trash cans that have scratched up paint, they’re still being used because they’re so expensive to replace! See in the lower left corner of the photo below: trash cans worth more than some get paid in a month.
4) Attractions Don’t Go Down Because They’re Broken
During all of my trips to the Disney Parks I was always amazed at how often the attractions broke down. If Disney has some of the most state of the art theme parks in the world, why do their rides break down all the time? The answer to this isn’t that they’re actually breaking, most of the time the attractions go down to ensure safety.
Each of the attractions have Cast Members and safety features to make sure everything is in it’s proper place. If anything occurs that is abnormal, the attraction has to shut down so it can be checked. Once, while I was working in Tomorrowland, Space Mountain went down for two hours because a napkin fell out of a rocket and interfered with a sensor.
Some attractions also have strict schedules that need to be kept. If it takes too long to load ride vehicles, and vehicles get too backed up at the unload portion, this can also cause a ride to go down. Rides also can lower capacity or shut down if there is a need for a custodial clean up.
Any time a ride goes down, there are safety procedures and checklists that need to be done by the Attractions Cast Members to ensure that everything is in working order. Sometimes of course, the rides can break, that is not an impossibility. But most often something occurs that either needs to be taken care of (custodial!) or there is just a break in the flow of the attraction. Very rarely do the attractions actually ‘break’.
5) Disneyland Is Never Empty
Disneyland is open to the public A LOT. At least twelve hours a day, and often more, thousands of people are enjoying and working in the parks. What many people don’t know is that the park is busy during the hours it’s closed as well!
Day shift Custodial Cast Members stay in the park up to an hour and a half after the park closes. When we are all leaving, the night shift Custodial workers are all arriving! They deep clean the park overnight, so that it looks brand new in the morning. As well as custodial, there are also overnight maintenance workers, merchandise stockers, and probably roles I don’t even know about working through the night to prepare the park for the next day.
This means that not for one second is the Disneyland Resort empty. I’m not sure if it has ever been empty, in all honesty. Since the park is open every day of the year these night duties also need to be done on a nightly basis.
I had already loved Disneyland enough, but I love it even more now after learning these quirky things about it. I hope to continue to know more about the happiest place on earth as I get deeper into my cleaning career, and I will be sure to share all that I learn with you!
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