Recognizing the cast members who make the magic

November 15, 2019, 1:26 PM · Walt Disney World is publicly honoring two of its Magic Kingdom cast members. It's the "Skipper of the Year" awards, presented to cast members who work the Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise and the Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen.

This year's honorees, nominated by their fellow cast members, are Jay Friesner at the Jungle Cruise and Richard Reyes at the Skipper Canteen.

As a former cast member who worked Magic Kingdom attractions on the west side of the park, I somehow managed to avoid ever once working on the Jungle Cruise - the only Magic Kingdom West attraction I never worked, even as a fill-in greeter. Nevertheless, from watching them every day, I know how hard pulling shifts in the Jungle can be... and how a great skipper can make the difference between a "ho-hum" and an "oh-wow!" experience on the ride.

Whether you call them cast members, team members, model citizens, or some other corporate-approved name, the people who work in theme parks truly are the ones who make the magic. They put in the hardest work (often for the lowest pay) and even if you never notice them, they make the roller coaster trains run, the food moving, the bathrooms and walkways clean... and the jokes flowing in the jungle. So congratulations not just to Jay and Richard to but everyone working the Jungle and all other attractions and in-park locations at Disney and other theme parks around the world. Thank you for all you do!

Replies (1)

November 18, 2019 at 8:16 AM

The Cast members ARE what make Disney a special vacation. I try to recognize at least one Cast member every time I spend a week. I just have a hard time recognizing only one (or two). One time, I had my son (15) and my daughter (almost 21) and a friend of hers (almost 21) waiting to see Spectro Magic. My son dropped his autograph book and accidentally kicked it into a storm drain. My wife asked a Cast member if they could get it. She checked, and the cast member came back with good and bad news. Good: They can get it. Bad: he wouldn't want it back (soaking wet).

She had a new book for him. She asked if she could fill in his name and she would take it in the back to see if she could get some signatures. She came back with more good and bad news. Good: She got some signatures. Bad: He doesn't have any pages left.

She explained to me (on the side) that the characters were lined up in the back to sign books for the Make a Wish foundation, and she just added his book to the line-up.

Although being a 15 year old and not caring about the characters as much as when he was younger. He beat his sister and her friend with the most signatures.

That Cast member really made his day!

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