Theme park cast member stories: Earning your money, then giving it back
Written by Robert Niles
As I remember it, Thursday was payday at the Walt Disney World Resort. And, curiously enough, Thursday was the day that Disney ran "cast member specials" at many locations around property.Tweet
The weekly prime rib in the Magic Kingdom employee cafeteria. Admission and drink specials at the Pleasure Island bars. Heck, some fellow cast members pounded so many drinks at the ritual Thursday night Pleasure Island CM gatherings that they practically gave back their entire paycheck to the company before it even saw the CMs' checking accounts.
Of course, many of us suspected that was the point. And the whole "Pleasure Island" irony wasn't lost on too many cast members, either. We knew the Pinocchio story.
But that didn't stop plenty of folks from having their fun, giving back their cash, then returning to the salt mines (or the Jungle, or the Mansion, or the Horseshoe) the next day - to start earning enough for next Thursday night.
Of course, many other cast members not only knew what was going on, but also decided to play a different game. They skipped the cafeteria prime rib (though, to be honest, at less than 40% of the price of the same meal "on stage" - it was a pretty good deal) and never darkened the doors of Pleasure Island. The tried to schedule Fridays off, knowing that they could pick up overtime shifts when others called in "sick" on Friday morning. They saved what the company paid them, and rarely succumbed to temptations of paying it back.
Like many cast members, I suspect, I floated somewhere between these extremes. Most weeks, I saved my cash and worked as much OT as I could get (or physically stand). But some weeks, especially after a couple of OT-heavy checks, I ordered the prime rib lunch, or joined my fellow CMs at Pleasure Island.
I guess for some folks, working at Disney was a job. And for others, it was a party. But for most of us, it was a little bit of both.
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