August 31, 2010

Disneyland taboos are still important

Over at Jungle is 101, the terrific blog written by friend and fellow former Cast Member Mike, is a report of a recent Disneyland guest experience. Unfortunately, as he tells it, what should have been the simple purchase of a Dole Whip during a visit to the Enchanted Tiki Room turned into a complicated ordeal and a visit to City Hall after employees displayed anything but Disney courtesy. A number of comments to Mike's post reported disturbingly similar employee behavior on other trips.

It seems like it might be past time to dust off the original handbook given to Walt's new hires back in 1955. I received a reprint of this manual for creating happiness when I joined the Cast in 1983, and I still use the lessons that it taught today. Here's the text of one of the most important sections, which seems particularly appropriate in light of Mike's Adventureland incident:

Just as every land has certain taboos, we have ours at Disneyland. A taboo is something that is never done under any circumstances. Our taboos are few, but we must all abide by them at all times.

One taboo prohibits drinking by hosts and hostesses within Disneyland, or having the odor of liquor on your breath while at work.

Smoking, drinking of coffee or other beverages, or eating while at our work station is also taboo at any time.

Loud or profane language used within the hearing of guests is prohibited.

Gambling, fighting, or arguing in loud tones also ruin the magic of a Magic Kingdom and are taboo at all times.

Remember...these taboos apply to all of us, at all times. A taboo means there is no second chance.

I know that the stress of working with high numbers of sometimes rude people in Anaheim's August heat can make anyone feel irritable. I've done it, and I've felt it. A Disneyland Cast Member, however, isn't just anyone. He or she is—or should be—a people professional. It is highly disciplined work that is all service to others.

It's not a job that everyone can do, and Walt knew that. Once, for example, he noticed a Disneyland railroad conductor treating guests curtly and told an assistant, "See if your can't give that fellow a better understanding of the business we're in. Try to cheer him up. If you can't, then he shouldn't be working here. We're selling happiness."

Sadly, it sounds like all the people working the tiki juice bar were selling on Mike's recent trip was Dole Whips. If that.

Tangaroa not happy.


Mike said...

Thanks, Anne! Believe me, in the day when Cast Member conduct was governed in accord with the guide you are quoting, these two would not be given a second chance.

The funny thing was, it was not even hot---this was in the early evening, just before dark. It was even that crowded (for the Dole Juice Bar). Even if both those conditions were in place, as you so aptly note, a Cast Member has no excuse to be rude to guests.


Keep up the good work, Anne! Love your blog, as always.


Connie Moreno said...

I was a castmember in 2007 and I have to say that while we went through tons of training, courtesy and the guest experience was simply glossed over. I couldn't believe it. And once I started working on stage, I was appalled by the lack of professionalism from my fellow castmembers. Sad, very sad.

JG said...

Those are good rules at any time, thanks for posting them.