What’s Being a Cast Member REALLY Like?

Being a Cast Member at Walt Disney World is a dream held by many. Nothing excites a hard core Disney fan more than the possibility of making their love of the parks a career and helping to create magic moments!  

Cast members

Credit: Disney

Recently we caught up with a friend of ours who made that dream a reality! Krista Carmichael worked as a character performer during her college program in 2007. Naturally,  we had some questions! Check out her interview below: 

DD: What role did you perform? 
Krista: Character Performer, friends with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
DD: That sounds amazing! What was a typical day like? 
Krista: Being a character performer, I was not assigned to one specific park, I covered all 4 parks. I would arrive at the park I was working at, clock in/check in and then do the required warm ups and stretches. After warm ups it’s off to costuming, Mickey and Minnie alone have quite the wardrobe to keep up with. I would really have to pay attention to my schedule and make sure to get the correct costume for the day. This would be especially confusing between the months of September and January due to various Holiday celebrations going on! Now that I’ve got my costume and all the required accessories, it’s off to the set location. If it was a outside location, set times are 20 minutes long, and inside locations went up to 45 minutes long per set. It’s a lot of dressing and undressing with scheduled downtime for drinking lots of water! Sets include meeting and greeting guests, signing autographs and taking pictures. More advanced character performers are casted in roles in the parades and shows however I was not one of them.  At the end of the day, I drop off my costume into the laundry and go home. 
DD: Oh my goodness! That sounds like it would get hot! Did it? 
Krista: It was HOT!!! I didn’t think I was able to sweat as much as I did on those long hot Florida days. But I loved it. Bottom line, I had a blast and I would do it again!
DD: Any plans to go back? 
Krista: I am currently in the process of going back, I just need to work some things out and allow the universe to open some doors for me.
DD: Fingers crossed for you! What was it like to be a Cast Member off duty
Krista: I lived in Disney housing at Vista Way (we can do another Q and A on Vista Way another day!) I lived with 6 other young ladies my age, we were all between the ages of 18-20. It was a blast to be around other cast members 24/7, we all just lived, worked, and breathed WDW! There was a good chance on my off days I was going to a park, even for an hour just to catch those WDW vibes we all know and love.  I truly miss Pleasure Island! Every Thursday was cast member night so there was no cover with a cast ID, it was such a great way to blow off steam and “get to know” other cast members. 
DD: That sounds like an absolute dream! So tell me, is it truly the dream people think it will be? 
Krista: It is what YOU make it to be. You can be upset that you’re picking trash at the magic kingdom or you can be excited that every day you get to go to the magic kingdom and pick up trash.
DD: That makes total sense. So speaking of it being what you make it, what was the best part? 
Krista: Free WDW admission 
DD: hard to argue with that! The worst part? 
Krista: 3rd party bus transportation, not having a car during your college program can be rough. Not only are you on a strict work schedule you now have to live off the bus schedule and hope a bus doesn’t break down on the way to Magic Kingdom! I remember driving my car down and the freedom it gave me to be able to finally drive to work again. Granted the bus was great for those nights at Pleasure Island for a safe way home! 
DD: I’ve enjoyed Pleasure Island a time or two, I completely get it! What is a memory that stands out to you? 
Krista: I will neither confirm or deny that my “character “ one day started a food fight at The Garden Grill Restaurant at EPCOT.  Since then I don’t think they serve those little ice cream sundae desserts to the kids anymore….
DD: Ha! That must have been something!
Krista: I’ll never tell! 
DD: fair enough! Thank you so much for talking with me today! 

So there you have it. A typical day in a Cast Members life. We have to admit, it sounds pretty awesome! 

Cast members

Credit: Disney

Krista had some final advice, “always be nice to Cast Members, always!” 

We couldn’t agree more! Cast Members are some of the hardest working and most underappreciated people we know! No one works harder to create magical memories during your special vacation, yet all too often they’re the ones that take the brunt of entitled attitudes or bad behavior. Here’s to you Cast Members! May your days not be sweltering and your guests not bratty! 

About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.