Our YouTube channel (and other social platforms) get quite a few comments. Some of them are funny, some of them are touching, and some of them are just downright mean. Comments seem to come in waves that build on each other. One thing I’ve noticed recently is people seem to feel that it is ok to make less-than-kind comments toward Disney Cast Members and performers. I received one particular question over the weekend that I had to bite my tongue to not respond to in an equally unkind way as I was offended on behalf of the Cast Member it was about (who I do not know). That one question, however, got me thinking about how Cast Members are treated… or in this case, mistreated.
Disneyland (or Disney Parks in general) is an idealized look at what the world could be. As we enter through those magical gates and enter the world of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy there are so many magical experiences to be had. This magical place is brought to life by Cast Members who give their hearts and souls to create an environment where guests make happy memories that can last a lifetime. I will be the first to acknowledge that nobody is perfect and there is no such thing as a perfect company. However, the Disney theme park experience really is about providing experiences that bring together and add a positive light to the world.
With all of that in mind, I return to my initial thoughts about the question I received over the weekend. It was a “gotcha” question that if asked to Cast Members would put them between a rock and a hard place. It was a question that would make a Cast Member uncomfortable at the very least. It was a question that simply wasn’t nice to ask. However, it is one that I also saw pop up several times throughout the course of the weekend. This got me wondering if perhaps Disney has gotten so good at creating magic that the illusion has covered up the fact that the people who make magic are still people. Because of that, people feel like it is ok to ask uncomfortable questions, say unkind things, or take a cheap shot for a quick laugh.
I recognize that there is a much bigger discussion about what is causing these unkind comments and questions that could be had. However, I also think that an effort should be made by us as guests to recognize that cast members are people too. They deserve the dignity, respect, and kindness that we all hope to receive ourselves. I think in general kindness builds up an environment and community that people enjoy as opposed to mean comments, cheap shots, and hurtful words that in the end break things down instead.
At the end of the day, Disney is supposed to be a happy place where dreams come true and lifelong memories are made. This isn’t solely the responsibility of the Cast Members to make that happen, however. It is on us as guests to also contribute to the culture of the Disney Parks. Whether it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip or the trip of the week, guests can help make a culture of positivity that builds as Cast Members and Guests share acts of kindness, words of affirmation, and simple smiles. Yes, there will be hiccups along the way where people could have done things better. However, what you focus on will grow. I have to wonder what would happen if we took moments to focus on the good instead of making jabs at the bad.
It has always amazed me how effective positive reinforcement can be. I fully recognize that this post will be seen for its Pollyanna perspective by some. I hope, though, that more will see this as the beginning of a dialogue about how we can continue to build a happier and kinder community that treats people with dignity and respect. A community that people are glad exists at the end of the day. A community that genuinely cares about the feelings and well-being of each other, including the Cast members who are so integral to making the magic that we get to experience.
I don’t know what the next step is beyond this. However, I do know I’m going to keep occasionally posting about kindness in our community. I hope that it at least starts a conversation about how we can be kinder, how we can build people up, and how we can leave Disney a happier place because we visited rather than the alternative. What do you think? Are you up for helping build a kinder community? Are you up for at least discussing it? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below about how we can continue to make this community even better and more magical than it is. I’d also love to hear how we can encourage our community to be a positive impact on Cast Members, instead of the alternative.
If you have read this far, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my ramblings on how we can make this a kinder and more positive community. I hope we can come together and make a difference.