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« WDW Construction: Liberty Square | Main | Pop Quizzes: Magic Kingdom [Part 1] »
Monday
Mar112013

Pop Quizzes: Magic Kingdom [Part 2]

I conclude my informal interviews with Magic Kingdom Cast Members. How well did they do? 

Pirates of the Caribbean

Older gentleman: “I can tell you anything you’d like to know...”
Young lady: “This attraction opened in... Disneyland’s opened in...”
Young man: “This attraction has a great history...” 
(Each offered accurate history and many accurate facts.)

Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise 

Me: “When did this ride open?”
Group of five Cast Members: “Ummm... Not sure... Probably a long time ago.... Like years ago...”
Me: “So do any of you know if it’s new or not?”
Group: “At least five or six years old... Maybe when the park opened... Maybe like 1980.”
Me (asking one of them who has worked at Walt Disney World for over ten years): So was it here when you started?”
Lady: “Ummm... yeaaah. Yeah.”
Me: “Was it based on the movie?”
Group: “No.”

Liberty Square River Boat 

Me: “Is this the same as Disneyland’s Mark Twain?”
Young man: “Similar with the following differences.... Meet me up at the door of the wheel house and I’ll tell you more.”
Me: “EXCELLENT.”
(Up at the Wheel House)
Young man: “Come on in. You can ride in here. This is the Captains Quarters and up those stairs we have the Wheel House. We steer the wheel for show but the boat is guided by an underwater track. Would you like to sound the whistle and ring the bell?”
Me: “Do I!”
Young man: “Here’s the procedure. We sound the whistle and ring the bell for different scenarios...”
Me: “I’m from California and love Disneyland but would like to learn more about Magic Kingdom.”
Young man: “Absolutely. What would you like to learn about?”
(Excellent and memorable experience full of accurate history.)

Jungle Cruise

Me: “Were there ever live animals on this ride?”
Young lady (at the entrance): “No, although Walt Disney intended on using live animals at Disneyland.”
Me: “Did Walt Disney design this park?”
Second young lady: “Yes. All of it.”
Me: “I’m sure plans for this park changed a bit after his death, right?”
Second young lady: “I don’t think so.”
Me: “Did Walt design Epcot?”
Second young lady: “Yes he did.”
Me: “Not Epcot the theme park though.”
Second young lady: “Yes. Have you been over there? That was Walt’s dream for his Florida property.”
Me: “I think he wanted E.P.C.O.T. the city, not Epcot the way we know it today.”
Both young ladies: “NO. The theme park. The whole park was based on his ideas.” (It really wasn't.)

Adventureland Egg Roll Cart (Near the old Plaza Swan Boat waterway.)

Me: “Where were the Swan Boats?”
Gentleman: “I don’t know.”
Young man: “Around here somewhere.”
Lady: “There were two Swan Boat rides. One was by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The other shared a dock with Jungle Cruise.”
Me: “Two, huh? I hear they circled the Treehouse. Is that true?”
Lady: “No. There’s nowhere for them to go around the Treehouse.”
Me: “Looks like there’s a waterway right there.”
Lady: “No. It wouldn’t have worked.” (It did work.)

Pop Corn Stand at Big Thunder Mountain

Me: “Have they begun the new additions to the Big Thunder queue?”
Young man: “The what?”
Me: “The queue.”
Young man (looking to young lady): “You know what that is?”
Young lady: “No.”
Me: “The line you wait in to get on the ride.”
Young man and young lady: “Oh. No, they haven't.” (They had.)

Frontierland Merchandise Stand

Me: “Where were the Swan Boats?”
Two young ladies: “The what? No clue.”
Older lady: “They went around the moat.”
Me: “Only the moat?”
Older lady: “Yes.” 
Me: “What can you tell me about Walt Disney World history?”
Older Lady: “Anything you’d like to know. I’m like a walking encyclopedia. There are names on Main Street windows.... Walt wanted to acquire all the land he could in this area...” (Provided mostly-accurate information about the Florida property.)

Parade Audience Control in Frontierland

Me: “Where’s Carousel of Progress?”
Lady: “Behind the Castle.”
Me: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean the Carousel, I meant Carousel of Progress.”
Lady: “I’ve never heard of it.”

Hall of Presidents

(Those guys knew everything about everything, especially their attraction.)

Mickey’s PhilharMagic 

Me: “What was here before?”
Two young ladies and one young man: “Don’t know.”
Me: I remember something from when I was younger...”
Young man: “We probably weren’t even born then.”
Young lady (after hitting young man): “That’s so rude. You just called him old.” (I’m 32 years old.)
Second young lady: “Something to do with Lion King.”
Older gentleman: “Mickey Mouse show and maybe a Finding Nemo show but I’m not sure.” (He meant Mickey Mouse Review.)

Merchant of Venus gift shop:

Me: “Can you tell me about that model city visible from the Peoplemover?”
Young man (Operating Participant, non-Disney): “Yes, it represents Walt Disney’s idea for a city called E.P.C.O.T. I don’t know much about the model itself but I can tell you about the E.P.C.O.T. city concept...” (Provided accurate information.)
Young lady: “And Disney ended up building a city eventually. It’s called Celebration.”
Me: “That’s not even close.”

Casey’s Corner

Me: “When did this park open?”
Older lady: “I don’t know.”
Me: “What about Epcot?”
Older lady: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Do you know?”
Young lady (dancing behind the food counter): “Um, this park opened in 1971.” (Continued to dance around instead of getting me my corn dog nuggets.)

City Hall

Me: “I’d like to know more about the Progress City model I saw from the Peoplemover.”
Guest Relations lady: “No one here will know about that. Sorry. The morning people know more than the night people.”
Me: “Was that model moved here from Disneyland?” 
Guest Relations lady: “No.” (It was.)
Me: “Wasn’t that city supposed to be built instead of EPCOT Center?”
Guest Relations lady: “Well Walt did design EPCOT Center.”
Me: “Not really.”
Guest Relations lady: “Yes because international CPs work in the different villas.” (Did she mean World Showcase pavilions?) “Ask a tour guide at Chamber of Commerce. They’ll know.”

Chamber of Commerce

Me: “Who can tell me about that model city?”
Older lady: “My manager.”
Manager: “I don’t know much about it. Come back in the morning. The tour guides know more.”

 

I can't say I was too surprised. Having worked in a variety of Magic Kingdom frontline roles, I saw countless coworkers incorrectly answer even the most basic questions. As many people on Twitter have mentioned, it's policy for Cast Members to say, "I don't know the answer to that, but I can help you find the answer". Sadly, this almost never happened on my little tour. Even worse, I was often told false information. It appeared that many quizzees felt it was better (and perhaps faster) to give an answer, albeit false, than to say "I don't know" then be required to help find an answer.  

I must mention I was pleasantly surprised a number of times when Cast Members went above and beyond. They answered questions accurately then took it a step further. The River Boat experience, for example, is something I had not previously experienced. I rode the entire trip around Rivers of America in the Wheel House.  It will be something I'll remember throughout my life. Kudos to everyone who cares enough to accommodate the nerdy inquiries of people like me.

 

NEXT TIME: Pop Quizzes: Disneyland

 

Pop Quizzes: Magic Kingdom [Part 1]
Pirates of the Caribbean Like You've Never Seen It
A Look at the Progress City Model- Then and Now
Magic Kingdom Map Found in a Main Street Wall
Swiss Family Treehouse Model


Reader Comments (16)

Fascinating! It's especially interesting to learn from two sources that apparently they only staff knowledgeable cast members during the morning...

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

More complaints come into city hall in the afternoon and evening... and CMs with seniority (management too) will bid for the morning shifts. Leave the "My child didn't get to drool on Mickey Mouse today give me my money back!" to the new hires.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEpcyclopedia

Ugh...this makes me so aggravated. When I worked onstage, I always enjoyed sharing history with guests and other cast members. Misinformed, uninterested, and ignorant. Can you come teach a class? I'd be the first to sign up...pencil and notebook in hand. The question is, can we stump you?

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

I bet I know the answer, but does Disney allow CMs to get paid for choosing to go on a tour like Keys to the Kingdom? Seems like it would a great way for a well-meaning CM to brush up on facts missing from normal CM training. I these aren't work-sanctioned things, is there at least a hefty CM discount? I can't imagine working for Disney and giving "I don't know" as an acceptable response.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDreamitdoit

Actually the Walt Disney Company helped build Celebration, so that cast member was correct. The 5th Anniversary shirts and pins for Celebration had copyright Disney on them and imagineers helped design the town.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCelebration

Celebration- Yeah, but I think he meant that Celebration isn't even close to what E.P.C.O.T. was supposed to be.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJumperJH

I think most visitors are more interested in grabing a fast pass, then learning the hisory of the park. The cast members reflect the guest. As far as the morning CM's having more knowledge, I think that shows the seniority they have in schedule preference. Older cast members probably get first choice, and have more of a set schedule.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

I think it's expecting a lot from a Jungle Cruise CM to be able to intelligently discuss minutia (City vs. Center) of Walt's plans for Epcot while they're working. It's not impossible, of course, but they have their minds on the job at hand. The Swan boats are forgivable to me as well. They weren't there long and weren't a major attraction when they were there, which was a long time ago now. As I read those, I thought "Why not ask a CM at the Animal Kingdom Lodge about the Bob-A-Round Boats?" ;-)

Not knowing where the Carousel of Progress is or that a big change is happening in the ride you're working in front of is unforgivable, though. Not knowing what used to be at Philharmagic isn't a huge deal, I'd just hope that your question inspired them to find out so the next time they're asked, they'll know.

It would be really funny if they'd recognize you and say "Wait, you're the guy that used to run around backstage all the time, aren't you? You tell me! And neener, neener, I put the hidden mickey back in the ballroom!"

If this reads as snarky, it's not meant to, but I don't have time to re-word.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave

This is sad and hysterical at the same time. I want to punch all of these CMs. (except the elderly ones). Thank you!

March 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Todd Anderson

Good to see they said "no", but I think what irks me the most is when people think that the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is based off the movie.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

As always, an excellent post, Mitch. Something like this is common, all over. While I'm not directly at Disney, I do what I can to help out the misinformed. Overall, I've noticed there does seem to be lacking in general knowledge of the parks.

However, from that side, I can understand dealing with pushy guests with incorrect information (in this case, they thought you were wrong or weren't sure). I can imagine that they were just doing what they could to please you, or based off what little they knew, in order to just get through one guest to get to another. I hope, as was mentioned above, that they did go and check back; I always do when I have a doubt or am incorrect.

I'll have to check out the wheel house next time; I usually just tend to use the trip to relax. I've always enjoyed the CM's at the Hall of Presidents, too; I think it's because only specific people enjoy and make that experience what it is.

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerek

Along similar lines, whenever I'm walking about the park taking notes and observing, I like to ask CMs questions pertaining to the story of the attraction or area, just to see how closely they work with it. Most of them just think I'm crazy, or ask me what I'm up to.

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerek

Wow.....very critical point of view.....and not one that I think is EITHER fair or practical.....as a Senior Designer for FAN I don't see the point of all this.....NOT EVER CAST is giving the completely UNABRIDGED Disney Univeristy Styled HIstorical POV so that quess can quiz them...also seems a little redundant .....although wisdom and knowledge are quibs and cute points of view....I'm not sure the average guest become so Quizical toward Cast Members......maybe we've let our "fandom" become a slight obsession......don't get me wrong I love Disney and YES our Park Cast should probably know a little Disney History but let's not take it so far shall we....

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPPigTN

Just like going to a retail store and a salesperson not being able to direct you towards anything, every cast member should have a basic knowledge of the property and its history. That is their job. When I went through Traditions in 1993 we were instructed that if we didn't know the answer to a guest question to find someone who could. Overall, i think the current attitude is the same for all of America, "it's not my job." Or "what do I care, I get paid wether I know this crap or not." By holding cm's to these low standards, as the commenter above clearly does, there's sadly no hope for any improvement, ever!

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Whoa, City Hall!?! That's the answer you got from City Hall!?!?! OK, that actually shocked me. If they don't know better, there's no hope.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTexasScot

I can't expect all employees to know some of the more in depth knowledge and history about the parks, but our Keys To The Kingdom tour guide seemed to only know her script as well. (Which was nearly word for word from the Imagineering pocket guide you can purchase in the Emporium!) Outside of the script, she was no expert. I did this same sort of drill where I would quiz her with a few challenging questions to see if she really knew her stuff or not. She proceeded to either make up an answer on the spot or tell me something she thought was true told by someone else, and did not once resort to say "I don't know". A little bit disappointing, I was hoping to get a guide who could answer some questions I had for a long time that I would expect an employee of her status to know.

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

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