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Secret Codes Disney Cast Members Use Every Day

Professionals ranging from doctors and nurses to pilots and flight attendants speak a language peculiar to their employment. That is, most industries create a culture with “secret codes” familiar only to their workers. The insiders may speak in code to streamline operations, communicate in high-stress environments, protect customers from unpleasant events, or shield the public from behind-the-scenes activities. In the same way, Walt Disney World cast members live and work in a culture requiring them to use code words every day. Pay close attention, and you may hear the following secret codes while visiting your favorite theme park.

10. Cast Members, Costumes, and Roles

The most widely used codeword you’ll hear at Walt Disney World is “Cast Member,” a title that applies to its entire staff. The idea Walt wanted to convey when he coined the term was that everyone who worked for him acted in the performance of his theme parks. In keeping with the theatrical lingo, cast members refer to their uniforms as “costumes,” regardless of their appearance. From the decked out bellhops at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to the janitor who services the restrooms, they all wear costumes. Additionally, cast members aren’t given a job, as we would understand it. Instead, they receive a theatrical “role” to perform, even if the part involves dishing out ice cream or ringing up purchases.

9. On Stage/Backstage

Using theatrical terminology, cast members divide theme parks and other resort venues into “On Stage” and “Backstage” spaces. On Stage areas exist in the public view, so at Walt Disney World, it indicates any place that guests can see or visit. On the other hand, Disney’s Backstage only allows employees to enter. Of course, if you want to poke around secretive Backstage areas, then you can book a special tour for an additional fee. However, don’t get any ideas about taking pictures on these tours, unless you want to be ejected from the park. Photos are prohibited.

8. Shows, Attractions, and Parks

Many attractions and shows have designated codes that cast members use while talking to each other. Not all of them can be mentioned here—the list is too long—but some examples include “Coaster” for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, “GMR” for The Great Movie Ride, “HOP” for The Hall of Presidents, and “Bear Band” for Country Bear Jamboree. Also, you may notice a cast member ask another if he’s been to “MK” (Magic Kingdom), “The Studios” (Hollywood Studios), or “DAK” (Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

7. Code 101 or 102

Though this sounds like police lingo, it actually communicates the functionality of an attraction. Cast members will never tell you that a ride is down or broken; such a statement may cast a gloomy spirit over your day or cause you anxiety about safety issues. They usually announce that the ride is “temporarily unavailable,” but to each other, they call it “Code 101.” Attractions are identified as “Code 102” when they resume operations.

6. White Powder Alert

Some guests love visiting Walt Disney World so much that they want to make it their permanent home…forever. You won’t find a real cemetery on the Disney property, but a few fans consider having their ashes dumped among the headstones at Haunted Mansion. Whenever park guests try to fulfill the wishes of the dearly departed by spreading their cremated ashes at Walt Disney World, they run the risk of provoking a “White Powder Alert.” Cast members use this phrase to report the incident, which results in an immediate evacuation and a Code 101 at the attraction where it occurs. Though you may be trying to honor your loved one’s wishes, you’re actually committing a crime, as Disney does not give permission for guests to spread human remains on its property. Guests producing a White Powder Alert risk being banned permanently from Disney Parks.

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5. Code V

The mentioning of “Code V” or “Signal V” occurs more often than cast members would like to admit. Mixing too much food or alcohol with the thrilling attractions around Disney Parks occasionally produces vomiting, thereby triggering a Code V. Naturally, the “protein spill,” as cast members call it, requires instant attention to prevent contamination. In fact, it generates a Code 101 if it creates a mess on an attraction. In any case, a cleaning crew will disinfect the area as quickly as possible.

4. Signal 25

Hopefully, a “Signal 25” doesn’t occur while you’re visiting Walt Disney World, but it has happened in the past. Cast members send a Signal 25 to their co-workers when smoke or fire appears. This code has been used a number of times in the past to deal with fire emergencies, some of which occurred on the monorail and theme park attractions or during fireworks presentations and shows with electrical systems. Fortunately, the Reedy Creek Fire Department effectively handled these emergencies, preventing serious injury and death and providing data to help the resort improve safety. You’re not likely to encounter fires the next time you visit Walt Disney World, but be prepared to evacuate if you hear this code.

3. Signal 70

A cast member uses the term “Signal 70” when reporting a lost child. The cryptic term prevents parents and other listeners from inciting panic and communicates the situation quickly to cast members to speed up the search. Also, when a lost child interacts with Disney staff during a Signal 70, cast members will dub it a “lost parent” situation to avoid scaring him or her. If you have the misfortune of experiencing a Signal 70, then it’s good to know that cast members will guide your child to a Baby Care Center, where Disney movies, coloring books, and the like will occupy them until your reunion.

2. Alpha Unit

When a cast member indicates that an “Alpha Unit” has arrived, they’re referring to emergency first responders. In particular, this points to Emergency Medical Services arriving via ambulance in response to a 911 call. Naturally, if you or a loved one suffer from an injury or medical emergency, then you’ll be comforted when cast members speak of the Alpha Unit arriving to provide assistance.

1. Treasured Guest

Perhaps our parents and grandparents speak of us as their treasured children to communicate the extent of their love for us, but a cast member using the term means something quite different. By all means, Disney prohibits cast members from using negative or insulting language, especially in front of the public. However, tense situations sometimes occur due to a guest’s unruly or rude behavior, and cast members need to warn their co-workers about them. They diplomatically refer to the troublesome person as a “Treasured Guest.”

About D.W. Noonan

D.W. Noonan was blindsided by the magical universe of Walt Disney when he married a dedicated Disneyphile in 1994. His wonderful wife dragged him into countless days of binge-watching great Disney films. As children began showing up in the Noonan home, D.W.'s growing passion for all things Disney led him to vacationing with his family in Walt Disney World each year and taking a journey to visit Disneyland. He is especially proud of his two teenage daughters, who danced for Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World in 2015. Though D.W. lives in Maryland, he longs to hear these familiar words when he returns to the resort: "Welcome home."