Theme park cast member stories: Writing your own script
By Robert NilesEvery Monday, Theme Park Insider editor Robert Niles shares one of his stories from working as a cast member at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. If you have ever worked at any theme park and have a story you'd like to share in this weekly feature, e-mail Robert.
Published: July 20, 2009 at 7:16 AM
Most Disney World attractions jobs require some level of spieling - that is, speaking a script to guests. At minimum, you offer a few safety instructions as guests board a ride vehicle. At the other extreme, you're working a ride like Jungle Cruise, where your spiel is the attraction.
By dumb luck, I was one of the few male cast members who worked more than a year in Magic Kingdom West attractions and never once pulled a shift in the Jungle. But that didn't stop me from telling silly jokes to try to get a laugh.
Weird Al is right about one thing - the Magic Kingdom is filled with actors - former actors, aspiring actors and part-time actors. The nature of the job attracts people who are comfortable in performance. So we spiel. (To this day, if you call me for a public speaking or TV gig - and my sked is free - I'll be there.)
There was no script for spieling on Tom Sawyer Island, but I always enjoyed talking with (and performing for) the guests. So at those times when we enough people in the rotation to cover a dock attendant, I made up some spiels, rather than stand there in awkward silence while waiting for the next raft. None of these were SOP (standard operating procedure, Disney-written spiels); I just made 'em up myself.
My favorite was a "safety" spiel.
"Good morning, everyone!" (Wait for response.) "Oh, come on, you can yell louder than that; I said Good morning!" (Wait for response.) "My name is Robert and I'd like to welcome you to the Tom Sawyer's Island rafts. Now our rafts are the only way over to Tom Sawyer's Island, which really is an island. It is completely surrounded by the Rivers of America.
"So just come on back to the raft dock where you arrived on the island when you want to come back to Frontierland. Now, if you don't want to ride the raft back, though, there is one - and only one - other way back off the island.
"Everyone raise your right hand, over your heads, please." (I raised my hand, and waited for the crowd to do the same.) "Now put that down, and raise your left hand, over your head." (You have to envision us all raising and lowering our hands over our heads.) "Now, the right again, then the left, and the right... and if you want to add in a kicking motion, that'll help you get off the island a lot quicker, too.
"Or... you can just come on back to the dock and wait for the raft."
This spiel, in addition to waking everyone from their slumber before they visited what is, essentially, a playground, helped prevent the second most-frustrating question we got from guests: "Is there any way else back off the island?"
(The first most-frustrating question was "Are these rafts on tracks?" Grrrr.....)
I had a go-to line while driving the rafts, too, which I delivered as I pushed the raft away from the mainland dock.
"If anything should go wrong during our trip, oxygen masks will drop from the compartments above your heads, and your seats may be used as a flotation device."
Of course, the TSI rafts have no roof, and no seats. Still, every time I cracked this joke, some people would look up to find the masks or down to find their seats. And their friends would laugh at them for doing it.
I'm sure the current and former Jungle skippers who read TPI have some personal favorite non-SOP jokes that they could share, as do folks who worked other attractions. Feel free to share 'em in the comments.
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