1. Background music
Seriously, it’s the same track of songs over a set period. If you’re lucky, you work outside of a heavily-themed area and get the general park sound, but for the poor souls who work areas where there is an extremely short set list... well, Fantasyland cast members, I feel your pain. I know during my tenure at the parks, I would blast music on my drive into work and keep playing that set list in my head until the end of the day.
2. Babies crying
There is always that one baby in a crowd who has reached his or her limit for stimulation. I understand that sometimes you need to take a baby with you to a theme park, but, for me, it can kill the experience for everyone around you. While this doesn’t apply to everyone, my fellow brothers and sisters who work in the designated kiddie areas know this pain well. There's nothing like the screams of a little one who is meeting a fur character for the first time... and doesn’t understand the character is not going to eat them.
3. Attraction and mechanical noises
This is a shout-out to all the back-of-house crew and others who work around loud attractions. These folks spend so much time around loud noises that some companies do hearing testing every few quarters to make sure no one is going to have hearing loss. Anyone who has ever pulled a shift around Hulk understands. Team Members that have adapted to working around noise that they have become masters at reading lips and understand crude hand signals.
While theme park employees, for the most part, should be 100% focused on our guests… sometimes you just have to learn to block them out when they are in mass herds. Unfortunate team member are often confronted with a mass migration as they head to clock in or out for the day when the changing of shifts takes place during a show dump or parade step off. There were times I felt like Red 5 swooping into the Death Star trench. You do not stop. Look forward, head up and take every gap you see.
5. Our fellow cast/team members
Applies to all jobs. Sometimes you have that one person who crawls under your skin and sometimes you just want to tell that person to jump off a bridge. Also... some groups of team or cast members work in areas that require you to spiel at the same time. A prime example of this is the Great Movie Ride. During the peak hours of the day, they require two tour guides to say their opening spiels at the same time. If you don’t block out the other tour guide, you will mess yourself up — every single time — and once you make your first mistake, it can be very hard to recover your show.
6. The idea where some things have been
A necessity for all park or resort employees who touch things that have been used by our guests. From the sheets in the hotel room to the 3D glasses that everyone uses, our world is a daily fight with germs and nastiness. Part of the reason I think the insurance for most park employees is very reasonable is because we are subjected to illness daily. To top things off is that we often share microphones, uniforms, and equipment with our fellow team members. I have had a case of flu almost take out an entire attraction group because we all have shared the same equipment daily.
7. Broken show pieces
Mainly applies to Attractions cast members. Every veteran Attractions CM is passionate about his or her ride or show. If one thing is off, they will fight tooth-and-nail to get it working. Lot of times we lose the battle and end up looking at the same broken show piece for months until the ordered part is installed or it is removed during a rehab. Over time, you just have to block it out because it will kill you from the inside to see the same animatronic frozen in time... well, at least until someone puts a strobe light in front of it.
Everyone blocks the fireworks out unless it’s your job to go make sure all of the charges went off. The only time you pay any focus to them is when a new show is going off, and you don’t have the timing memorized, or when you hear a bang that should not belong.
9. Upset parents
There is always that one parent who will not take a height limit seriously. That one parent whose child is exactly a half an inch too short and they don’t seem to understand why they were able to go on at an another location. While team members try to be diplomatic, there are just some times you have to block out what they are saying. Their mouths are moving but nothing is truly hitting its point. It’s like a scene from a Charlie Brown cartoon.
Imagine this... you are a rushing to get to your opening shift at any park and suddenly you are hit with the most tempting smell in the world — theme Park food. And I am not talking about that microwaved fare you get with some of the smaller theme parks. I'm talking about the mouth-watering park food will make you overpay by 20% any day. You want to stop for that freshly baked muffin, but you're going to be late. I once had the chance to take a walking tour with an Imagineer when I was working for the Mouse. We walked Main Street USA, and he pointed out to us the fact we could smell the Main Street Bakery in full glory first thing in the morning. That's when we found out it was designed that way. That's right people; Disney pumps food scents in the air to draw people into the shops to spend money.
Now as in the saying, "What goes in...comes back out," we reach the dark side of smells that we have to block out daily. Every team or cast member who works in attractions knows that VOBAN is one of the foulest creations ever devised. While VOBAN is a necessary evil when soaking up what Disney has affectionately called "Protein Spill" Or "Code V," the smell used to cover up said the spill is so potent it will clear a room. Think of Kitty Litter mixed with sawdust and then brewed in a vat of essence of cleaning products and taxi cab air freshener. I have seen the use of VOBAN to clean up a protein spill cause a protein spill just a few minutes later.
Are you a current or former theme park cast or team member? What was the one thing you had to block out while on the job in order to get through the day? Tell us in the comments.
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My goal is to really shine a light on what makes working at a theme park unique and priceless experience
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