It was during the Christmas season, on a night when there was no party, but the park stayed open until midnight. The Emporium was open until 1 a.m., though by 12:15 it was mostly cleared out. The usual last-minute shoppers were going through the store: the parents wheeling out their sleeping or crying children, the couples picking up a souvenir to commemorate their first trip, and the families happily recounting their days.
I was well into my ninth hour of work, and still had three more to go. All night I’d been recovering our Zone 1—housewares, kitchenware, trinkets, snowglobes, etc.—and I could feel the bags under my eyes. Every step I took burned my heels, which were sore from standing for so long. Still, I was doing my best to wish each Guest a magical night and send them and their special gift on their way.
I’m not sure how long he was watching me as I continued on with my work, oblivious, but eventually a hand tapped me on the back and I turned to see a twenty-something year old smiling down at me. “Ehhh, please, you have Belle?”
It took a second to register what he was asking through his accent, and I sort of blinked, stunned and desperately trying to collect my thoughts to form a rational, understandable answer.
Seeing the dazed expression on my face, he hastened to apologize for his English, and clarified, “Sorry, I’m looking for a Belle…hmmm, water ball?”
A water ball? “You mean like a bouncy ball?” I asked, saying the first thing that popped in my head.
“No, no,” he shook his head and mumbled something under his breath in Spanish. “A water ball…like, you shake it and things fall.”
Being a proud owner of over 20 snow globes, I’m honestly ashamed that I didn’t think of it first, but his words were just what I needed to get what he was asking for. “Oh, you mean like a snow globe?” I replied.
“Yes, a snow globe!” he nodded excitedly.
“Yes, we do. Here, I’ll show you.”
He followed me over to the snow globe shelf, where I bent down and picked up the Beauty and the Beast snow globe we had and offered it to him. He took it with gentle hands, his eyes lighting up at the sight. “Yes, perfecto! I am buying it for mi madre. She loves Belle!”
“Then I’m sure she’ll love that! Is it for a special occasion?”
“Si, for her birthday.”
“Is she here with you?”
“Back at the hotel,” he laughed. “She was tired.”
“I’m sure. Disney is a tiring place. Well, I have no doubt she’ll be very happy.” I gestured to the nearest register and went on, “One of those Cast Members can ring you up real quick.”
“Oh, gracias!” he thanked me, and hurried to the counter.
Knowing he would be a few minutes, I hastened to the main stockroom, an idea going through my head. When I was little, I was obsessed with characters’ autographs, and, with tons of practice, had mastered many of the characters’ signatures. Seizing one of the autograph books we have for just such an occasion, I quickly sprawled out a quick note and signed Belle’s signature for the man’s mother. Then I returned to the floor.
I got to the register just as he was being handed a bag with the snow globe inside. Thanking them, he began walking for the door leading out. I sped up, gathering up my skirt in one hand.
“Wait, sir!” I called after him, reaching him just as he got to the door. His eyes met mine and a wide smile stretched the corner of his cheeks. Returning the smile, I went on, “This is for you.”
He set his package down, took the paper from me, and stared down at it for a minute or so, then looked back up at me, confused. “Where did you find this?”
“I’m very close with Belle,” I explained. “I know where she normally is and found her and asked for her to make something for your mom. She was happy to do so. And she told me to tell you to wish your mother a Happy Birthday for her.”
His face was one of amazement. “You can do that?” he said, stunned.
I laughed. “Yeah, of course. Belle is always happy to make new friends.”
“Thank you!” he said, and without warning he threw his arms around me, hugging me tightly.
“Hey, it’s no pro—”
But the hug wasn’t enough. His arms grew tighter, and then he was picking me up off the ground and swinging me around in his grasp, making my skirt fly out and my head spin. To this day, I can still hear his laughter as he thanked me again and again and again.
Eventually he put me back down.
“You have a magical night, sir,” I said, giggling, “and Happy Birthday to your mom.”
If you are a current or former Disney Cast Member, I’d really appreciate it if you could reply to this post with your role and where you work(ed).
Obligatory question mark?
Of all the shifts I had at Disney, my 5 a.m. closings were the worst. Most Cast Members in Magic Kingdom label nights when the park is open late as Extra Tragic Hours, and for good reason—by about 1 a.m., you can steadily feel your sanity slipping away. You feel like one of those dolls on It’s a Small World: going through the motions, and blinking every five seconds to keep your eyes open.
Over the ten months I worked for Disney, I can only remember four different instances when I was able to hang out with all of my roommates at once. We worked at different parks, in different roles, at different hours. Any stretch of time we weren’t working was devoted to sleeping, or fulfilling the other basic necessities of life.
On one of the rare occasions we all had the same evening off, we decided to go into Magic Kingdom. It was a beautiful night, and the park was open until twelve—plenty of time for us to explore and get in that crucial roommate bonding.
Are you the same person, or…? But yeah, it goes together, so why not?
For those of you who don’t know, this is Jimmy. We met while my family was visiting WDW; my sister, father and I were in line for Mission: Space when I recognized him from pictures on his blog. I introduced myself, and that was that.
During the second half of my program, I practically lived in the Emporium. On top of working 45-60 hours every week, I oftentimes would go in on my days off just to
annoy say hi to all my co-workers. No matter how I try to phrase it, it will come off as stupid, and slightly insane. So just take my word for it: I loved everything about that store.
Guests loved the Emporium, too. Especially when it was raining. They’d flee inside, spraying water with their footfalls, squealing in panic as though the sky was going to crash down on them at any moment. It was hilarious.
On one such day, when the sky came alive, turning from sprinkles to a downpour in a matter of seconds, the inevitable happened: the Emporium became overrun with angry guests. They squeezed into every nook and cranny they could find, their wet ponchos slapping me as they flew by. I’d been inside when the storm first started, but that didn’t matter. Soon, I was just as soaked as they were.
When I was little, my grandfather used to tell me that the only way to avoid rain was by running between the drops. “Faster! Run faster, Brittany!” he’d shout with a laugh, purposefully at the back of my heels, as though by doing so I’d heed his words. My young self believed him; huffing and puffing loudly, I would dig in deep and force myself forward, counting each drop that hit me as a sign that I wasn’t fast enough. Never fast enough.
I was working at the Rapunzel meet’n’greet on Main Street. For my followers who don’t know, Rapunzel is notorious for accumulating the worst lines in Disney character history. Since her movie came out, she’s been the most popular princess in the parks, and it’s a rare thing indeed to endure a wait less than forty minutes to meet her.
This particular day, the line was sitting at about two hours long. Neither food, nor strollers or ECVs are allowed up the ramp, and in the hot Florida sun, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that tempers were running high. People were agitated, overheated, and dehydrated.
More than I can possibly tell.
I have this…issue…with walking. Issue here meaning that I’m not very good at it. Like, at all. Air, grass, dirt, my own feet—it doesn’t matter. If there’s something to trip over, I guarantee you I will find it. Any blogs on here who know me personally will confirm this.
My Last Shift at Mission: Space
The night I finally clocked out was a memorable, bittersweet one.
December 31, 2012
I was quite upset that I was working till 2am that night. I missed Thanksgiving, Christmas and now I’ll be missing New Year’s Eve/Day with my family. I have never done that before. However, Disney does some incredible things when you’re down..