The Cast Members at Walt Disney World all work extremely hard to bring a magical experience to Guests. They are guided by five tenets (called “The Five Keys”) to direct everything they do: Safety, Courtesy, Inclusion, Show, and Efficiency. While Cast Members are expected to adhere to this code of conduct at all times, it is the first key that is most important.
Safety comes first in everything Disney does. Whether it’s closing a malfunctioning attraction, ending a show early, or giving directions to Guests, safety is at the forefront of the decision. Did you know that safety even determines how much a Cast Member is paid?
It’s not an uncommon practice to offer “Hazard pay” or to pay more for undesirable shifts or working conditions, and it’s a practice Disney World actively employs. The Fantasmic! shows at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World (and soon, Disneyland Paris, too) use pyrotechnics that, as we have seen recently at Disneyland, can get out of hand. For this reason, there is an element of danger when performing in the show.
Most performers are trained to escape quickly, calmly, and professionally. We saw Mickey peace out down a pneumatic lift on stage when Maleficent caught fire. There is one character on the show, though, that cannot escape. Ariel.
Because of her fin, she is tethered in place on the riverboat, where she sails along with the other characters. This means in the event of a fire, she can’t escape. Prince Eric throws a flame-resistant blanket over the princess’s head before running for cover himself. Ariel then turns herself away from the flames as best she can and hunches down as low as she can possibly get while tethered to the boat.
For this reason, she receives Hazard pay making her the highest-paid character on the show. After seeing the dragon go up in flame, we hope it’s a substantial amount. TikTokker Taryn (@benchlandia) uploaded a video of Ariel being covered before the other characters evacuated. You can see the process in action here.