Working at Disney World, the place where dreams come true, is not as easy as it seems. While starting work here in the beginning can feel very new and exciting, working in the same role and location can wear on a person after awhile. The honeymoon phase subsides and one’s motivation to work can start to waver.
To keeep myself motivated and keep the magic alive, I like to visit the parks as a guest and experience life at Disney from the other side. Experiencing magical moments for myself is a great mood booster and I keep track of what made my day. Is it when a Cast Member asks me about my day and we talk for more than 5 minutes? Or when a CM surprises me with an extra snack because they know it’s the first time I’m trying it? Even something as simple as a CM walking by me and handing me a sticker with a smile on their face has made me day. I keep all those instances in mind and try to create my own magical moments with guests.
Although there are many CPs working at Disney, I’ve also had the chance to speak to many full-time, permanent Cast Members who have been with the company for more than five years. I’ve come across a CM who worked with the company for over 30! Some of them have retained the same role throughout the years and some have been cross-trained in several roles or positions. What made them stay with the Disney company for so many years?
In the journal article, “Why Do Employees Stay? A Qualitative Exploration of Employee Tenure,” written by John T. Self and Ben Dewald, it’s mentioned that “incentive programs, praise, recognition, and ongoing opportunities for development improve employee retention” (61). Disney also provides these types of programs, opportunities, and rewards for those who have been with the company for a long time. They have the Legacy Award to recognize Cast Members for outstanding work in guest service and for their commitment to the company. They also provide workshops, classes, and events for Cast Members to learn from. Disney offers so many opportunities for Cast Members to grow within the company that it really feels like anything is possible while working here.
Another important note the authors make in the article is that “the interviews conducted with long-term employees reinforced the employees’ sense of loyalty by having management select them and then connect with them in a personal way” (70). I’ve noticed that the merchandise leaders and coordinators at the Art of Animation Resort usually take the time out to speak with each Cast Member about his or her life and are very much aware of the team’s individual lives without prying. Although it’s important to establish a professional relationship, it’s also important for leaders to build a stronger, closer relationship with their team. Although I am not a full-time, permanent Cast Member, one of my leaders set me aside halfway through my program to ask me how I was doing so far. She asked me about my classes and how I was enjoying myself and I really appreciated the brief but personal one-on-one time spent with her.
The most magical part about working for Disney, aside from being able to bring magic into guests’ lives, is feeling that I am appreciated and wanted by the company. It’s only too easy to want to stay working here forever, as many of the current Cast Members have done! We experience magic every day, whether it’s through our guest interactions or with our supportive and strong team.