From fantastical shows to thrilling rides, Disney World is a magical fairytale for kids and adults alike. But there’s more to the enchanting playground than meets the eye: secret rules that all employees have to abide by, for one. This is what really goes on behind the scenes at Disney, and some of it doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
20. Never break character
It doesn’t matter what role the employee has, they’re always “on stage” when they’re in the public eye. The Disney rulebook states that no staff are allowed to break character or use their own voice. That whole “be yourself” schtick doesn’t apply here.
19. Tweeting is forbidden
An employee posting updates on Twitter, Facebook or any social media about their character or role is a strict no-no. It’s just as well Tweetie Pie is with Warner Bros. A former Disney princess revealed that staff aren’t allowed to even tell people what character they play.
18. Princesses have a height limit
According to a retired Disney princess who answered questions on Reddit, all the princesses have height restrictions. They have to be between 5’4” and 5’7”. Fairies, meanwhile, all range from 4’11”to 5’2”. If you’re too short or too tall, some dreams can never come true at Disney World.
17. Strict training is required
Some people are born princesses. Most of us are not. Training to become a Disney World character is intensive, involving five days of preparation. One former princess said, “Mostly they just want you to study the film intensely. I can quote the movie from start to finish from memory.”
16. There’s an age limit
If you’re playing a female Disney character, there’s an age limit. Most of the girls range between 18 and 23. “Rarely is a girl over 27 who does princesses or fairies,” said the former princess. Girls who have spent a century or so sleeping in a tower need not apply.
15. No nail varnish allowed
Disney keeps a close watch over the cosmetic habits of its staff. One of the rules for women is that they aren’t permitted to wear multicolored or neon nail polish.
14. Don’t talk about things outside of Disney
Disney staff aren’t allowed to discuss anything that lies outside the boundaries of the Disney universe. A former princess revealed, “We also weren’t supposed to refer to things outside the Disney realm. Snow White does not know Thomas the Tank Engine.” Now there’s a spin-off we don’t need to see.
13. Never refuse photos or autographs
According to a former Disney princess, “Finding a solution to guest problems is a number-one priority. I couldn’t flat out refuse autographs or pictures or answering questions.” Who would have thought being a princess would be such hard work?
12. Smile at all times
Cast members have to smile literally all the time. A previous princess confirmed the rule, and a woman who played Belle said her face was left in pain from all the smiling. Does that mean that even Baloo has to grin and bear it?
11. No mutton chops allowed
Some employers place restrictions on how staff can have their facial hair – but Disney takes this one step farther, dictating how men must style their sideburns. The official rulebook reads, “Sideburns should be neatly trimmed… Flares or muttonchops are not permitted.” Disney’s heroes often have more than their fair share of close shaves, after all.
10. There’s a special code word for… accidents
Sugary food plus rides plus overexcited children equals… a recipe for disaster. And cast members have a secret phrase for when clean-up is needed after kids throw up. It’s known as “Code V” or a “protein spill.”
9. There’s a certain way to pick up trash
All staff are required to pick up trash in order to keep the park clean. Melissa VanDyke, who was part of the Tarzan Rocks show, even said there’s a special way to do it: “You need to swoop it up gracefully.”
8. There’s a secret code for people trying to spread ashes
One of the more bizarre types of incident that happens at Disney is people trying to spread the ashes of their dead loved ones – yet it’s such a regular occurrence that staff have a code word. They must say “white powder alert” to report guests.
7. Never point with one finger
Staff at Disney are under strict instructions to point with two fingers or the entire hand – but never with one finger. A former cast member said this is “so it’s not interpreted as being rude.”
6. Use guests’ names
Disney keeps a close eye on guests’ names, either via their name tag or by checking out your credit card. That’s because all staff members have to thank visitors by name. Some of Donald Duck’s pronunciations should be interesting.
5. Disney workers can’t choose their character
Employees have to stick with their assigned character, said a cast member who played Pocahontas and Mulan. “You do not have any say in what character they fit you in. They do not tell you why you are not chosen for that character.” Although if you were always assigned Beast or Dopey, it might be hard not to take it personally.
4. Don’t get spotted outside your area
Workers can’t be seen by the audience outside of their dedicated area, in case it spoils the magic or blows the tiny minds of visiting children. Staff have to scuttle along underground tunnels when they’re going in and out.
3. Don’t talk about “lost children”
Disney has this weird rule where if a kid gets separated from their parents, it’s the adults who are considered lost, not the children. “How could a child be lost at Disney? It’s the happiest place on earth!” said a former employee.
2. Never ask a celebrity for their autograph
Famous people like to go to Disney world too, but it’s a super strict rule that cast members can’t ask celebrities for their autographs. In fact, you would get fired if you break this rule. Celebrities probably love it here.
1. Stick to the script
From performers to cast members, from retail vendors to attraction hosts, everything is completely scripted, down to the letter. Disney workers have to stick to the official script and not deviate. It doesn’t seem like such a fairytale any more, does it?