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« Pop Quizzes: Magic Kingdom [Part 2] | Main | THEN AND NOW Photo Collection »
Monday
Feb252013

Pop Quizzes: Magic Kingdom [Part 1]

I worked at Disneyland after graduating high school in 1998. I have fond memories of training and orientation that taught us newbies all sorts of stuff about the park. We learned the importance of knowing the history, policies, and procedures of every part of Disneyland. In recent years I’ve often wondered just how much park Cast Members are expected to know. I went around Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and asked basic questions and wrote down the answers.


Journey of the Little Mermaid (Former site of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

Me: “What used to be here?”
Young man and young woman: “No idea.”
Me: “I think it was a submarine ride.”
Young woman: “No, not to my knowledge.”
Young man: “It was a bare field of land.”
Me: “I remember a submarine ride.”
Young man: “Oh, ‘Leagues Under the Sea’?”

Storybook Treats (Across from former site of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

Me: “Where’s the submarine ride?”
Young man: “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
Older man: “Umm... Don’t know what that is.”
Middle-aged man: “Never heard of one.”
Me: “I loved it when I was a kid. I know it was here.”
Manager: “Maybe it was in a different park. Are you sure you rode one here at Magic Kingdom?”
Me: “Positive.”
Different manager arrives: “It was called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and it was my FAVORITE as a kid. I loved it. It was right over there. It was a large ride and was just beautiful. I miss it a lot. What would you like to know about it?”

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Across from former site of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

Me: “I remember a submarine ride. Where was that?”
Young lady: “Umm I don’t think there was one.”
Me: “I think it was over there.”
Another young lady: “I think that was always just nothing.”
Me: “What was this place before it was Winnie the Pooh?
Both ladies: “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”
Young man arrives: “I can help you. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea... Mr. Toad... 1971... The following books and videos might interest you... Let me write them down.” (Several minutes of intelligent conversation after which I learned he had already clocked out for the night.)

Stroller Parking near “it’s a small world” (Former site of Skyway to Tomorrowland tower)

Me: “What was here before?”
Man: “Empty space.”
Lady: “Skyline ride.”

Yankee Trader gift shop (Next to former site of Skyway to Tomorrowland tower)

Me: “What was out there before all that construction?”
Lady: “Nothing.”
Other lady: “Glider ride.”
Me: “What are they building?”
Lady: “They didn’t tell us.”

(Later that day)

Me: “What are they building out there?”
Man: “A new ‘Tangled’ area that will offer great places to rest.”
Me: “Like restrooms?”
Man: “Not only that, but places to sit and charge your phone and other devices.”

Haunted Mansion

Me: “What can you tell me about the history of this ride?”
Two young ladies and one young man: (Each knew all sorts of history about the attraction and the surrounding area).

Columbia Harbour House Restaurant

Me: “Question. Did Walt Disney ever eat here?”
Young lady: “I... don’t know... Well he never lived to see the park open...”
Me: “But I’ve seen photos of him on rides and stuff.”
Young lady: “Well maybe he did live to see the park built.” 

Frontierland Mercantile

Me: “Where’s Carousel of Progress?”
Lady: “Ummmm. Peoplemover?"
Me: “No. Carousel of Progress.”
Lady: “I don't know what that is.”
Older lady: “It shows different areas. I mean eras. Walt saw live people acting it out in the 1940s and said he wanted to make that but with animatronics.”
Me: “Where did Walt see it?”
Older lady (asking a young man): "Where was that place Walt went to get ideas?"
Young man: "Queens. It was a World's Fair" (Rolled his eyes.)

Country Bear Jamboree 

Me: “I’d like to know about the history of this attraction.”
Older gentleman: “Well, this location opened in 1971 and was...” (Continued with many fascinating and accurate facts.)
Young lady inside: “Disneyland’s version opened after this one...” (Proceeded with the history of the attraction in both locations including Disneyland's dual theaters.)

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Near Splash Mountain)

Me: “Is that open?” (Pointing to Splash Mountain)
Lady: “No. They are fixing it.”
Me: “What's it called?”
Lady: “I don’t know.”
Me: “What happens in the ride?”
Lady: “They have boats and the boats crash down.”

 

Now does everyone working in the parks need to know the history of everything? I don't think so. Should they know a few basic things about their location? Yes. If they don't know the answer to a question, should they try to find an accurate answer? My group in 1998 was taught to do this.

Now many Walt Disney World College Program interns had arrived less than seven or eight weeks prior to my quizzes. I tried to avoid quizzing too many CPs for this reason. But had they been properly trained, wouldn't they have had some fresh history in their minds? Many of the people who didn't know a single answer had been working at the park for years. A few actually mentioned that Walt Disney World is no more than a job to them. What happened to putting on a good show, "Cast Members"?

 

COMING SOON! Part 2. Plus Pop Quizzes: Disneyland.

 

Related posts:

Story Time
Disney Management Apathy / Hockey Analogy
Little Box of Treasures
THEN AND NOW: MK Fantasyland [Part 1]
Matterhorn for Magic Kingdom Fantasyland


Reader Comments (22)

OMG, that was fascinating! I need to start asking CMs questions and seeing what the answers are!

THANK YOU for doing this! Sincerely, it was just....it was nice to see both sides...I don't know that I really have words for some of the answers...

February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMariah

During my training, I seemed to be the only Disney Geek who knew everything Disney. Almost all the other rookies knew very little about the parks or Disney in general. And many had never even been to California Adventure, despite being assigned to that park.

February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Hughes

What sad responses, for the most part.

February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

My experiences have been the opposite, and it is what brings me back year after year. Any questions of cast members have been immediately answers, and, in the situation where the question was very obscure, they promptly found a cast member that knew the answer. One was, "What is the name of the Indian Chief from Peter Pan." Certainly there will be cast members just getting a paycheck, but I have never run into them.

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJCH

I can understand cast members not always knowing things but I had to actually help a tour guide remember things...

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWayne

You're invited to visit The Disneyland Hotel and ask me anything you want. It's always been important to me to be able to answer questions about my area, but then, I'm a nerd like that. :)

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerri

As a current cast member, I can tell you the traditions class is nothing like it was in the late nineties. It has gone from an in depth three-day experience to a quick eight hour orientation. The traditions class for cps is egen shorter (three-four hours I believe). Show is something that has been lost in the pursuit of profits.

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkenney

I'm a long time reader of your blog but have never commented until now. I find some of those responses incredible. I've visited Walt Disney World every year since 1998 (when I was 6 years old) and obviously don't expect CPs to have the kind of knowledge of the park that you or readers of your blog probably do, but for Cast Members to not know the name of Splash Mountain is unacceptable. I'm due to start my College Program in June and I know that if someone asks me a question like those you asked I'm going to find it difficult to stop talking! A love of Disney and Disney history should compulsary for every Cast Member. I actually live in London and the College Program selection process over here is very rigorous (1700 applicants were whittled down to 220, I believe) so we had to know our stuff and be enthusiastic to get through. I couldn't say how tough the American CP recruitment process is though...

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I've been following your blog for a long time, but today I felt the need to chime in... I am also a former cast member, I did the International College Program in 2004/05. Yes, to pretty much 80% of us, "young kids" it is just a job and a way to go to Disney for cheap. I'll admit to not even liking Disney when I signed up for it. But Traditions (which for us internationals was only 2 days long because we'd only work there for 2 months, but my friends that went in later programs and worked for 6 months had a week long Traditions, while guest relations have a month long training) really did emphasize the fact that we should go above and beyond to answer the guests' questions, and many of us went even beyond-er. 8 years later and I still talk about my training and experience at Disney as one of the best customer service trainings ever, and it did help me for all jobs I had since.

That said, I think when they hire all those "young" people, they are mostly looking for cheap labor. Because, we did make minimum minimum wage.

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnita Boeira

It would be interesting to compare the responses from a healthy sampling of WDW vs. DL cast members to see which ones are more knowledgeable about their park's history. To actually know what the answers mean, I think you would really need to ask a few questions about the cast members that you are surveying, to determine if this is just a job to them or if they consider themselves passionate. Finally, it would be interesting to know if they feel that management considers historical knowledge of the park(s)/Walt an important part of their job or not.

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave

One of my "memorable" face palms in WDW came at the Studios in the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream showcase - a cast member was telling guests that WDW was built prior to California, and, another one didn't even know there was a California Park.... "SIGH".... is that basic enough history to know? ;)

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKD

Those would be fun on video.

February 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrumpyFan

As a former cast member of the Magic Kingdom I can say that during training days, Disney does exactly what you said. A lot of information is given to all of us, especially of your land/area. Before you are trained at your location, you pass through a park training and then through a land training (at least at the Magic Kingdom, that has so many things to learn about each building/attraction). Maybe a lot of people just don't pay the attention they were supposed to... It's sad to see so many 'I don't knows' when they probably have learn those things.

March 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaĆ­s

Reading this entry, I keep remembering an old SNL parody of the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea where everybody got confused and thought that "league" was being used as a measure of depth.

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/93/93qleagues.phtml

March 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

You get what you pay for. I wonder how many appalled Disney Geeks would be willing to work for the peanuts these cast members make.

March 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJR

Ironically, working at Universal has made me notice a lot of these traits in cast members. I've been going to both the parks for so long that I love knowing all the little trivia bits and "what-used-to-be-here"s, so even when the team members at Universal don't know anything I can't help but shake my head. You'd think Disney would encourage their cast members to learn more about the history!

Although, I'm bitter. I can't stand the "just a job" attitude people have. If you don't love it, don't work there!

March 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGH

Ask DLR CM's about Epcot. You'll be horrified. Not intricate questions even, just basic knowledge about its existence. Then you can bring the topic up with DLR APs. They will defend to their graves the concept that Epcot CM's should know about DL, but that DL CM's shouldn't know anything about Epcot.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEpcyclopedia

It's really sad to hear that some Cast Members don't seem to have the enthusiasm required to answer a few questions about the wonderful place in which they work. I worked for The Disney Store in the UK in the 1990's and back then you had to 'live' the Disney Values. We were able to answer trivia about the Disney parks from thousands of miles away. Don't the CM's realise that they are such lucky people, being able to work in such a fantastic place. I still feel a sense of pride at being a former CM, and would love the opportunity to work in the parks and share their history with guests.

March 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZS

I was a CP for about a year. The training was terrible when it came to history. We had to put together a timeline of the company from Disney's birth to modern day. I had it in five minutes, and everyone else (we're talking 30-40 people) didn't have a clue. This was only because I'm a huge Disney history geek. I loved sharing park history with guests, but very very few CP's knew anything about the park. Really, the only CM's who could tell you quite a bit were ones I had met via the online community. And yes, sadly, many do just view it as a job. I can name many names of people who should NOT be working for Disney at all. Some just don't care about "good show." Of course, your average guest doesn't really know much about park history, so I guess the company figures they don't have to kill themselves to teach it.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterReesie

I was an MKCP assigned to the Jungle Cruise during Spring of 1988. If we didn't know the answer, we were required to find someone with the answer; else be terminated on the spot.


When I returned for a visit in '94, I made a quip to the Lead that I was surprised to see a Lady Skipper. I was told in no uncertain condescending terms that women had always been Skippers. [Untrue] I asked him how long he'd been there and it was only a year. So being the smart-alec that I am began two quiz him on the plane and the difference between California and the Magic Kingdom. I received all incorrect answers. O.o

March 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKC

Some of these comments are as *eye-rolling* as the answers given in this entry. There is nothing wrong with having never been to DCA. Nothing.

I am absolutely terrified to hear CM's responses in Disneyland.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I guess no one knew where 'If you had wings' was located. Geez.

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJim Mitchem

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