Me vs. the Walt Disney World Smiling Police
Hey, I love Disney World cast members. Heck, I used to be one. But there's one thing that some Walt Disney World employees do which drives me nuts, and I really wish they'd stop.
Here's the scene: My son and I are walking out of one of Epcot's Future World pavilions, just before lunchtime. We're heading over to The Land, but the August mid-day heat's already baking the park. As soon as we walk outside, the hot air slams us and my son just starts to melt. He'd been having a great time, but the high heat and humidity - coupled with a rumbly tummy - are draining him.
We walk past the cast member stationed at greeter.
"Hey, you need to smile!" he orders my son, while sporting a huge grin. "No need for a grumpy face."
This comment immediately changes my 10-year-old son's mood from tired and hungry to seriously ticked off. All he wanted to do was hurry across the hot plaza to a nice air-conditioned lunch. But now he's got some Disney World cast member riding him, because he doesn't look happy enough.
I've had Disney employees pull this on me in the past, too. Yes, Disney wants its cast members to smile. And it very much would like its guests to be happy and smiling, too.
But, dear Disney cast members, while it is your job to smile, it's not ours. You are getting paid to be there and smile. We're paying out the wazoo to be there, and can sport any facial expression we want, thankyouverymuch. Your job is to give us reasons to smile - not to order us to do so.
Worse, by telling a guest to smile you are, in essence, criticizing him or her - which was an absolute, you're-getting-a-verbal-now no-no back when I went through Disney University.
I suspect that the Disney University lesson that cast members should try to get guests to smile has morphed into a belief among some trainers that cast members should tell guests to smile. That's a training error that Walt Disney World management needs to address and correct.
I'd like to encourage that greeter to find ways to put smiles on the faces of the hot, tired and hungry people emerging from his pavilion. Wearing that big grin himself was a great start. Asking people if he can help, complementing them on their clothes or souvenirs, or even simply wishing them well all can initiate a positive interaction between cast member and guest.
But telling someone to smile sounds like an order - and that's a negative interaction, something cast members should be working hard to avoid.
I've not ever encountered this demand at other companies' theme parks. I attribute that to Disney's obsession with promoting guest happiness in its parks, shown by mass smiling. While that's a noble goal, giving people a reason to smile and telling them to smile are two very different things.
I just wish that all Disney cast members would recognize that.
If they really wanted a smile then a Handout of FastPasses or pins would normally do the Trick lol
Amen! Another thing I don't like - which always happens at Epcot in those breezeways - I don't want to have those big bouncy balls thrown at me. If I want to interact, I'll make it known. Sometimes you just want to relax on your own without the forced smiles! I might not be smiling, but I'm still enjoying myself!
Ever have one of "those days" at work, and someone in the wrong place at the wrong time talks to you like the Disney employee? And you just want to throw them out the window or club them over the head with the closest thing you can grab?
Ive never experienced this in my seven visits to Walt Disney World but here here!! I dont think I would like that either!! Its their job to make US smile! And yeah, a free handout of pins or fast passes wouldnt go amiss either! ;o) xx
YOU should have punched that person right in the face…. The nerve of them trying to get a child to smile at a Theme park.. What is wrong with the world… Who wants to see a kid smile.. Whisky… Tango…. Foxtrot…
I'm guessing it was an innocent attempt on the cast member's part to cheer up the child. But yes, that was not the way to do it--the employee was in essence criticizing the kid for not smiling, which is not going to make the kid feel any better--or smile.
Everyone has a laughin' place... I guess it just wasn't your son's that day!
It's worse when the cast members aren't even working and they're still being the smile police! I've got friends who work at Disney World and they are so brainwashed that they fake smile and wish everyone a magical day and demand the same from all others around them while going to see a movie for crying out loud.
Robert, I m sorry, but you're being just alittle bit too paranoid about this. He was just trying to be friendly and it was not meant to be taken straight forward or this seriously. This is really something best to just let go of.
Disney became the market leader in theme parks because it *did* sweat all the little details. "Ah, someone was having an off day" or "Hey, it's just one little incident" aren't phrases that ought to be in the lexicon of any top customer-service business.
Shut up and smile!
In my opinion this seems a tad like Disney bashing.
I can think of at least one *very* important reason for cast members to cut out the "hey, smile!" comments. Hundreds of families every year come to Disney World as a short escape from grief and illness. These are not "spoiled kids" who are not appreciating what they have, but rather survivors who should be left alone if they wish to be.
Lighten up Robert. I think there are worse ways you're son could have been treated. Going to WDW would be a once in a lifetime dream for a lot of kids. So, I would consider your son pretty darn lucky.
Wow, Robert, I think you've stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy here, but I think it's a great topic. I've never applied to work for Disney for the very reason that I am unable to smile constantly without looking and feeling incredibly fake, and I reserve smiling for when it's an honest emotion. I suffered Bell's Palsy some years ago which damaged some of the nerves on the right side of my mouth, and sometimes when I smile, it's a crooked smile, which isn't my fault (but would likely prevent me from getting hired at Disney). I also think sometimes Disney employees can appear to be scary robots (not unlike the animatronics on the rides) when they smile non stop for hours, and I'm naturally suspicious of a corporate policy of forced smiling. I think if they could replace all cast members with smiling robots, they'd do it in a heartbeat. I'm sorry about your experience, but I also sympathize with the cast member who was standing outside in the unbearable August heat who still tried to smile through the sweat stinging his eyes when you and your son walked by.
I think this is blown WAY out of proportion.
Robert, I don't know if this is true but I remember reading that "It takes more muscles to frown, than it does to smile." No wonder I see so many wrinkled faces walking around this old planet of ours. "SMILE" Robert, I don't want to see your face wrinkling up, now how would that make our fearless leader look like? lol :)
What a jerky cast member!! Depending on what kinda mood I was in I would have either laughed at him or swore at him and made his smile go away.
I have mixed emotions here. Personally, after having worked with children for many years; I see the cast members side in that you would like to see them happy. I know that you have to leave many children alone and not provoke them during the slight meltdowns). Then again, I know myself. I am not one who is going to be smiling nonstop at a theme park, especially if I am concentrating on finding my way to my destination (and even more so if there is food involved). I know that tempers are even shorter during excessive heat, and even the most innocent remarks can become annoying. I don't mind the simple, "Hey smile," but if they persist and begin to question the reasons for my mood and follow me till either smile or laugh(which has happened) then I am in an even worse mood.
First I want to congratulate Robert on a fine thread… Any article that you can clearly pick sides on and create some controversy is great….
Yeah, I think you are reading too much into it Robert. I know, you are all suprised where I fall in this debate, SHOCKING!
I think the "Smile Police" thing is a bit of an over reaction. Now, I take the tone of the piece to be totally serious.
I am not a ten year old child but obviously an adult and this has happened twice to me at WDW. I am a rather serious person - I enjoy Disney and fun as much as anyone but I don't always show it on the outside. Once I was walking from one area of The Land to anther, and a cast member seemed to be putting up ropes to block an area. I asked if I could cross, and he replied "Only if you SMILE!". I gave him a puzzled look, and he said "You're in Walt Disney World, you have to SMILE!". I turned around to take another path rather than dealing with this. Why should he care if I smile or not?? As I left he yelled after me "You can come though here! I was just trying to make you SMILE!!"
Miss Manners addressed this issue in March of this year. Her answer follows:
On second thought, Robert, I believe Grinches belong in Uneventful Studios/Islands of Advertising.
The smile police are at the DLR for sure!
As a Cast Member, I'm insulted by some of these comments. As for the smile thing, it works 90 percent of the time in achieving a smile. For the whole dying of cancer comment...are we supposed to assume everyone is dying at the parks and that going to WDW is part of a grieving process? What a strange notion. The people who are there from Make a Wish are the ones who already are smiling non stop.
Here's a question to fry your brain! Is the cast member playing Grumpy (of the 7 Dwarves) smiling inside the costume?
"I personally find that my shifts go faster if I smile and am happy about it. Like most Cast Members, we are happy seeing others happy. If this in inhuman, unnatural and strange to you, then maybe Disney isn't the place for you."
Well, frankly, Scarlett, as a stockholder, I don't give a darn whether or not that guest is smiling. What I'm grateful for, and what has ME smiling, is the fact that said grumpy guest is already INSIDE that park, and will be buying souvinirs, drinks, snacks, lunch and (hopefully) dinner (or is paying rack rate at one of the grossly overpriced resorts for the privilege of "free dining") and will keep my dividends rolling in. And if that Cast Member is vested in the company employee stock plan, he should be smiling right along with me.
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