The following are opinions based on fact. Don’t freak out.
Just about everyone has been to Disneyland. If you grew up in Southern California, you probably went there at least 10 times in your lifetime. And for people visiting Southern California, it was a rite of passage. You simply HAD to go to Disneyland when you were in town.
So, what’s it like behind the scenes at ‘The Happiest Place on Earth?’ We looked at what current and former employees of Disneyland had to say on the popular website Reddit to get their insights.
There are some surprising things happening all around you there.
1. The people in the costumes have to go through abuse.
Being kicked, poked and all around mocked by kids is a regular occurrence. Luckily, though, there are secret back areas where they can take smoke breaks to get away from it all. Yes, you heard that right. Depending on who is in the costume, Mickey, Donald and Pluto smoke cigarettes.
2. There’s a strict dress code for people who work there.
If you’re a ‘head’ character like the above-mentioned Mickey Mouse, you have more leeway on your personal hygiene. But if you’re Peter Pan or a Disney Princess, you have to look a certain way. That most likely means no facial hair for guys and clean skin for women.
3. A lot of gay and lesbians work there.
According to one former employee, a majority of the people inside of the costumes are either women or gay men. And, there are a higher number of gays that work at Disneyland than you’d see in the normal proportion of the population.
4. There are more than one Mickeys and Donalds running around.
Running around in a hot costume in Southern California on a summer day (the busiest time of the year) can not only be very hard, it can be really unhealthy. To create the illusion that Mickey is always present, there are lots of people dressed as Mickey Mouse running around in different areas of the park, letting people get breaks to relieve themselves.
5. It’s hard to be a Disneyland character.
Not anyone can fit the bill. To work at Disneyland as a ‘character’, you have to go through a strict tryout process that lasts all day. Tryouts can sometimes involve an entire day and hundreds of applicants. You have to show emotion, prove you can dance and have a great personality to make the final cut.
And height is probably the most rigorous criteria. You have to be close to the exact size as the character in real life.
6. There’s a secret bar that only a few people know about.
Club 33 is a private, members only club located in the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. You can find it if you look for the Blue Bayou Restaurant (on “33 Royal Street). It’s marked by an address plate with the number ’33’ engraved on it.
Here, you can order cocktails, beer and wine. It’s the only place in Disneyland where you can get booze. If you can get yourself a membership, that is.
7. There are underground tunnels that you don’t know about.
There’s an underground tunnel near the Tomorrowland Terrace and a tunnel that goes from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure. There’s also an underground food court for employees.
In Orlando’s Walt Disney World, there is a maze of tunnels that take employees and characters to lots of locations throughout the park. That way, you can’t see Mickey moving from location to location in a golf cart.
8. Disneyland has a union.
In order to keep wages and requirements fair, there’s a union to protect the workers. Can you imagine what would happen if Chip and Dale went on strike outside of the park?
9. Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel is where it’s at
If you stay at the Disneyland Hotel and eat dinner at Goofy’s, you’ll get tons of extra face time with all of the characters.
10. There’s a special ‘cast only’ entrance.
In order to keep Disneyland as secure as possible, employees and characters enter the park in a secret area on Harbor Boulevard. There, they have their IDs scanned and undergo security guard scrutiny.
11. If you lose stuff, you might get it back.
There is a lost and found at Disneyland. However, if you lose money, odds are the employee who found it will keep it. And the coins you throw into the fountains are usually donated to charity.
12. ‘Code V’ means someone puked.
If you’re ever standing around an area and you hear employees talking about ‘Code V’ (for vomit), then you probably want to avoid the area or seat where they are heading towards. Unless you want to see puke.
13. There’s a forum where Disneyland workers vent. It’s awesome reading.
Google ‘Stupid Guest Tricks’ and you can read all about the frustrations and pet peeves (and other juicy stuff) that Disneyland employees talk about with one another.
14. There is a small basketball court at the top of Matterhorn Mountain.
The people who scale the mountain for entertainment purposes (the mountain climbers) have to pass the time once they get to the top. A former mountain climber installed a mini basketball court at the top where climbers can hang out during breaks.
15. There are TONS of stray cats that roam the park at night.
According to employee accounts, the cats are left alone to freely walk around after guests leave. They’re good at hunting mice and other rodents.
You can occasionally see one running around during the day, but they usually stay hidden behind rides and in the areas you can’t access.