Working at Disney: Be Careful What You Ask For

Anyone who has hung around the Disney product has always wondered what it would be like to work for them. The fantasy that we experience as a customer shades our perception of what it must be “Off Stage”. Oh oh, I want to be a Monorail driver. I want to work as a Jungle Cruise boat operator. Are you Face or Fur?

Information on the work environment is not secret. There are seminars, even a Disney University. So what is it like to work for arguably one of the largest global employers?

Walt was a task master. He drove his people hard. And from an organizational standpoint, Disney still does. This set the foundation of expectation for generations to come, and it is these expectations that give us the product we are addicted to today.

The training is so detailed. Terminology, facial hair, height, even how you point, are all trained nuances to the “On Stage” experience. Remember you are part of a show!

Bert Anthony was an illustrator for the Disney Studios. The rumors somewhat contradict the events, but in the end, Bert was fired. Bert was also an ASU graduate who designed Sparky, the mascot and logo, created in 1948. I don’t know, but maybe Bert was a bit bitter about his termination?

In the beginning when Walt wanted to make feature animated films, he instituted a perfectionist process. You have probably heard the stories of the “Sweat Box”, the equivalent of Rushes or Dailies. It wasn’t hot in there, it was stressful. There was a box much like a voting booth. It has a small projected and animators would bring their work there for Walt to review. He would thread the film and run it through. The Animators would wait outside, “sweating” what Walt’s review would bring. Imagine how they all felt when Walt obtained the technology for Color Filming shortly before the black and white release of Snow White! The groans must have registered on the Richter scale. It is that perfectionist idealism that translates through all the Disney product today.

Disney Legend Herb Ryman, a man many believe to be Walt’s #1 animator, would talk about how Walt was the master motivator. Another Disney Legend, Harrison “Buzz” Price talked about how Walt could always get the maximum talent out of his people. Walt had that knack to see what one could do, and push them to get to that level, and Disney continues to manage based on this talent expectation.

In the end, if you cannot agree with the work ethic generated, Disney University will tell you, “Find Your Magic Elsewhere”. Remember, many of them wish to give you that lifetime memorable experience you are looking for. It doesn’t take much to tell them how much you appreciate their effort. For those of us who enjoy the fruits of these Cast Members labor, let us not forget, they work hard to give us this experience. Incredibly Hard!

It ain’t easy being Disney, right SEJ101?

Source: Commentary/Opinion.

dngnb8 is one of our contributors to D-COT and helps provide some very interesting historical info as well as the latest official Disney news.


  1. *AHEM* It’s Monorail PILOT :goofy: ;)

    I look forward to being in a Sweat Box one day. But not all of it. :P

  2. Yikes! I think I’ll stick to being a tourist :)

  3. My hubby and I play the fun game of “what’s the worst job at Disney?” He always joked it was the person selling the big inflatable balls in EPCOT (gone now) but now claims the parking attendants who are outside in the cement jungle all day is the worst. I tend to lean toward Guest Services – I can’t imagine dealing with the complaints like “Frozen is down and I didn’t get to use my fast pass!”

  4. Just a note of correction of my fat finger on the keyboard. It is Harrison “Buzz” Price. Darn fat fingers. It was a typo Buzz, Honest! No disrespect intended.

    Buzz was the person who discovered the Dominguez farm, which is where they build Disneyland. In fact, just a little tidbit of history

    There is a tree between the Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones that was planted when Mr Dominguez married his wife. It is still there.

    My apologies for missing that typo

  5. This was a good read. When I am there, and wrapped up in the moment, I definitely think I want to work there. Until I see a cast member getting yelled at for no reason, and then I come back to reality and want to just visit. :)

  6. I don’t think I could ever make the cut! I’m too stubborn. LOL

  7. Our last August trip solidified my decision. Too hot to be so nice.
    I’ll stick to being a guest, thank you very much!

  8. I don’t think WDW work would be good, but maybe working at Disney Hilton Head Island resort? Seems pretty chill around those parts.

  9. It’s tough but this all speaks to why the Walt Disney Company is so successful. I often think about wanting to work for Disney. Since I’m in the legal field I would love to work in something corporate like licensing or trademark, but I think it’s way too cutthroat for me to ever be successful :(

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