The Biggest Thing I Learned by Going to Disney World Almost Every Day Last Year

When I try to explain my job as a theme park content manager to people, I find it difficult. How does one explain that going to theme parks every day is actually…work?

Hanging with one of my favorite co-workers, Bruce.

But it is! It’s the most glorious, wonderful, hardest, most amazing job I’ve ever had! The main components of my day to day include curating YouTube videos and social content, as well as sending photos and information to our amazing writing team to use for the website. Because of this, I spend almost every single day at Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando.

And I learn A LOT when I’m there. Not just about the best way to handle and navigate the parks, how to tackle Genie+, and which snacks are worth your Mickey dollars. (I share all of this in AllEars TV videos! Shameless plug). I also figure out REALLY important things — like how to prevent chafing in the Florida sun and which lipstick will survive a whole day eating at an EPCOT Festivals. But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about something we probably already knew — but I saw it on display this last year more than ever.

People are the Worst. And the Best.

2021 was a very trying year for most of us. And there’s no better place to see this in action than the theme parks — which have always brought out the best and worst — in humanity.

On a related note, theme parks are scientifically proven to be the #1 place in the world to people watch. (I am the scientist.)

We love Cast Members!!

There were several moments this year that stick out to me when I think back on theme park people-watching this year. The 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, for one.

I watched grown humans SCREAM at Cast Members because their mobile order was taking a long time (which granted…it was. But do you really think yelling at a Cast Member is going to help your case?! On what planet is that acceptable?). I saw a man have a MELTDOWN because he had to wait in a long line for a popcorn bucket. I later then saw adults have tantrums because said popcorn buckets sold out. It was shocking, appalling, and genuinely disheartening. This is the FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY of Walt Disney World, and everywhere I looked, I saw people behaving in a way that should embarrass them.

The popcorn bucket in question.

Bad behavior isn’t just rampant on the 50th, either. It’s not even exclusive to 2021, to be fair. I was a Guest Relations Cast Member many years ago and dealt with my fair share of screaming adults. But there’s something about 2021 (and 2020) that changed human behavior.

Another prime example of this is masks. (DUN DUN DUN.) No matter how you feel about masks — that doesn’t change the theme park rules. Your personal opinion doesn’t change the fact that the Cast Member reminding you to have one on where required had NOTHING to do with the rules. But that doesn’t stop Guests from screaming at Cast Members or rolling their eyes. In 2021 alone, you’d be horrified at the names I’ve heard employees at Disney and Universal called — all by people who don’t want to follow the theme park rules.

It sounds dramatic, or like THIS that is what I focus on while visiting the Most Magical Place on Earth. But like I said, I am drawn to people-watching. And as a former Cast Member, I am particularly sensitive to people treating them badly. Plus, it’s just (or at least it really seems this way)…more common.

It certainly doesn’t FEEL magical to walk through Fantasyland or Diagon Alley and hear someone get yelled at over something they have no control over. And it’s not just masks. It’s limited edition merchandise selling out, and Genie+, and distancing procedures with characters.

Walt Disney World can be an incredibly stressful vacation, and it seems like now more than ever, people are taking out those frustrations on Cast Members.

Cast Members welcoming Guests back to Artist Point!

But…like I said at the beginning, people can also be the best.

I also saw a lot of really truly wonderful moments in 2021. Just look at those Artist Point Cast Members welcoming back guests!

I watched a grown woman walk into Diagon Alley and burst into tears. Her granddaughter said “Grandma, what’s wrong?!” and she replied “Oh nothing dear. It’s just… like I imagined it.”

I saw a little Latina girl in glasses run up and grab a Mirabel doll and shout “MOMMY! She looks just like ME.” I saw girls and women of all ages shout and scream and wave as Princess Tiana, Moana, and Mulan joined the lineup during Magic Kingdom Cavalcades.

I saw a family give out little cards and candy canes to Cast Members during the holidays. I overheard a woman tell her mother she’s FINALLY pregnant over dinner at ‘Ohana.

I witnessed grown men cry because they saw the Millennium Falcon for the first time, and heard families gasp and cry together when Tinker Bell took flight during the fireworks.

These moments, I am reminded…that people, and these places, are also the best.

Diagon Alley at Christmas

If you’re still reading this — thank you for listening to the ramblings and people watching observations of a theme park lunatic.

The last two years have been incomparable. They have pushed people to their breaking point, in ways I don’t even know if we as humans even understand yet. But if people-watching has taught me anything, it’s that people are more stressed than ever before — but they’re also embracing joy more than ever before.

Obviously, I have no actual scientific evidence to back that up. But what I will say, based on my very professional people watching, is that let’s all take a breath moving into 2022. Let’s cling to what is good and joyous. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Spend time with family, laugh as much as possible, and eat things that make you smile. Dance around Main Street — or your living room. Life is tough, especially right now, so do your best to make a little bit of magic every day — whether you’re at home or in a theme park.

And please, for the love of everything, don’t yell at Cast Members.

Cast Members make Disney magical!

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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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47 Replies to “The Biggest Thing I Learned by Going to Disney World Almost Every Day Last Year”

  1. Grew up living 20 mins from Disneyland. Before moving to North Dakota we were annual pass holders for quite a few years. We now go to Disney World almost yearly with our son and family. You do an incredible job informing us of all the ins and outs. We love you and your videos. BTW I think it was about $2.50 for Disneyland when we used to buy ticket books that covered admission plus maybe 10 tickets to ride. At least I think that is what they were. So many years ago.

  2. Thank you Molly for your heart and love for Disney! Makes my heart happy to watch your videos with my boys who love watching and enjoying your Disney videos!

  3. Today is the last day of a 9 day stay at Disney World. I am here celebrating with my son who is turning 40 years old. This has been a different vacation for me than in the past as it wasn’t with my grandchildren or with my own children when they were younger. We were in the parks every day and I had a chance to see exactly what you have described in your article. You are right on point about people. Also, I want to thank you for what you do. I have been watching You and other Disney youTubers for several years. The information you have posted was extremely valuable. As I experienced the food and sights and sounds of Disney this week I thought to myself how hard it would have been to capture the content that you and the staff put out each day. Thank you for helping to make my vacation special. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  4. I would like to say your are right. but it is also wrong for a cast member to be rude. We went to studios and my husband went to smoke at the smoking area, that I wanted to find my husband. The cast member,scared me by his response. his voice was sarcastic, and said there is no smoking the park. I said yes, I know but where? He said outside the park.. I was stunned. I just wanted to know where it was. I’ve never had a cast member not be nice. I almost cried. they can cut right through you with there words also.

  5. First – thank you for your videos, they were very helpful. My wife and I went to the Orlando Theme Parks for the first time ever. We are Disneyland regulars, but had never experienced Walt Disney World. Your videos helped to answer many questions we had.

    Second – considering the stress that the pandemic, masks, vaxx mandates, etc. have placed on us as a society – I think people in general have been great. We were only there for a week, but I didn’t see much bad behavior, and I saw a ton of good. There were two cast members in particular that were fantastic in Disney Hollywood Studios. There were dozens of great guests from all over the US that we enjoyed chatting with while in line, on the Sky-liner, or just eating next to us.

    Thanks again for your great videos. We will be taking our children this fall, and look forward to the updates you will provide before then.

  6. Well said, we must all just stop and think before we speak. Stop and think how we ourselves want to be treated and most of all, be grateful that we are able to visit some of the greatest places on earth. Happy 2022!!

  7. Thank you for your awesome and wise insight Molly. Love and appreciate the wonder of being able to have the opportunity to go to the parks, and always thank and support the wonderful cast members!

  8. Wonderful post to remind everyone how important it is to be kind. And especially not to ruin the magic for others. Thanks Molly!

  9. I think one of the reasons people mistreat others is because they can. There really is no consequence. How many people are shown the door at Disney for mistreating employees compared to the number that do? The number of people who pay a price, for example, for their behavior on an airplane is quite small. In a time when you feel absolutely powerless, some people have this need to lash out. To let out their frustration. Kind of “Better Out Than In” mentality. It would be interesting to figure out what percentage of those who lash out come to regret it an hour, a day, or a week later? Who actually looks in the mirror at themselves and says “That is simply not who I am. I wish I had not done that”. Be nice to have someone at the parks (new job for someone like Molly ?) who hands the person lashing out a card that reads “Hey, you’ve just verbally abused someone who is simply trying to do their job. That person has a name. Her (His) name is _____. When you have had a chance to calm down, ask yourself how you would feel if someone treated you at work the way you just treated her (him). You can send _____a card at the following address if you want to apologize. Have a Magical Day” But, I guess, most people would say “Why should I do that? No one would do that for me in a similar situation”. And the wheel goes around again.

  10. Thank-you Molly for all your advice for my Dec. Trip to Disney World. It became a magical vacation. Because of you I was very successful with food ordering, Genie+ and had the the most relaxing vacation of all time.

  11. Thank you for this…for all the wonderful, encouraging validation you’re giving to others. It’s been a tough 20 months, but we’re making it through together.

  12. What an outstanding Post this is! We just got back from a week stay Port Orleans French Quarter last week. Sadly back to the real world. Everything Molly says here is true. There was truly magic and disdain during our trip. The Rise of the Resistance was truly incredible. Actually worth the $15 extra dollars but Ratatouille was not very impressive.That’s another thing Molly could cover. The shear volume of extra BS fees added over the years. I’m sure that has more guest in the disdain column….

  13. I love to people watch too!

    I just want to add that you are completely correct….and a lot of the cast members (not the majority) have lost their ability to make magic happen for guests. It’s just really different now. I know they are tired of rude guests, but I have been sad to see the decline in the customer service experience over the past two years at Disney World. Maybe it’s Covid mandate related, maybe it’s lack of training related….. but whatever it is, I want it to go back to pre-Covid shutdown. It truly has me sad.

  14. This is exactly it! I don’t go daily but a few times a month, and it’s incredible to see the best and worst of people… last week I walked up to a photopass CM and called her by her name. She was surprised! Before I left she said that she thought I had to have known her, as no one randomly uses her name. I told her that I hope everyone uses her name from now on, she’s a wonderful and worthy person after all! So molly, I hope your message rings true for the guests who rely on the CMs that make the magic happen

  15. Thanks, Molly! We’re heading to Disney World in September and will treat all cast members with the respect they deserve!

  16. I’m also a people watcher & agree with your observations. We were there in December to celebrate birthdays, retirement & more. Not our 1st trip as a family, but the most emotional.

  17. Hi Molly, you hit the nail on the head with this. We cancelled our visit for early 2020 and have been hoping that we will be able to visit soon. We are from Massachusetts and use to visit twice a year before the pandemic. Watching your videos have kept our hopes up that the magic will still be at the park and hopefully the people realize that kindness is the best medicine for what ails us all.

  18. My favorite “Molly Moment” (TM) of 2021 was when she did the 4-park challenge, ending the day at the Magic Kingdom. She got on the PeopleMover for the first time in over a year and I was so happy to be riding along and then I saw Molly was emotional as well. It was a great “challenge” regardless, but that was the icing on the cake. I showed it to my Disney friends and they loved it, too. Keep up the great work and keep your “ears” to the ground for the next Disney rumor!

  19. I have had cast members be just as rude. One yelling at my 7 year old for tripping into them another telling me in colorful language that I was in line but the wrong line only to have a supervisor move us under a rope instead of taking our party of nine back through a crowd at rope drop. I do not defend abuse at any point but cast members lose it too.

  20. Molly, I loved reading this (all the way to the end) 😉 Everything you said was spot on. We love WDW and enjoy every magical visit!
    Thank you for all of your awesome videos, they always make us smile!

  21. I can’t wait to do our first Universal Studios Orlando vacation this summer! It will be our first vacation in 3 years. My husband I always say it’s better to be sweet then bitter! Please and Thank you go a long way! Thank you Molly for all of your great posts, hope we see you USO;)

  22. This hit me right in the feels! For the most part, I think these recent times have brought out the worst in humanity and I have to make a point to look out for the joy so thank you for reminding me to do that.

  23. Such a great article! Went to WDW for the umpteenth + time in December. Crowds were not bad. There were some truly rude and obnoxious guests. I was disgruntled until I ran into awesome cast members and truly nice people. Thx Molly for this. I was hesitant about returning for a few years but now I can’t wait to go back.

  24. Molly, I agree! Choose Joy, folks!! Going to DW in March! I so hope to bump into you. I just love all of the content!!! It all has been super helpful!

  25. Molly, thank you for this ‘rambling’ post. It made me cry with joy for the work that you and your team do! You are all very much appreciated because you not only help me plan richer Disney trips, but the allears site brings joy to our days between trips. My family knows one of the highlights of our trip last year was when I chatted with you at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie.

  26. I’m not crying you’re crying 😿

    But seriously this post is amazing. I was lucky enough to run into Molly while waiting in line for Figment bucket on first day of Arts Fest and this post just solidifies in my mind that she is a quality human.

    I think it’s these random moments of kindness and joy while just people watching that are one of the best and most heartwarming parts of a Disney vacation.

  27. Molly’s posts are all great, but this this was over the top great! Our family loves you Molly and hope to meet you in the parks one day!

  28. Best post ever! WDW is the best for people watching and we saw all types in Nov 2021. We have been planning our May 2022 trip for five years and are hoping it goes as planned. The cast members are awesome and we strive to go our of way to tell them so!

  29. Great post Molly… You and the All Ears team were instrumental in making out 2021 trip a success, despite all the challenges brought on by the pandemic and the 50th. Oddly enough, your videos gave us a little perspective when we witnessed a lot of this same behavior you mention in your article. We watched a 60+ year old man scream at cast members at the EPCOT main gate because the Magic Band reader shut down and he had to go to a different line… That same individual even pushed my six year old son in the mens room later that same day. The attitude of entitlement currently infecting society is what makes it all the more important to stop and remember what truly matters in life and that we should all stop to enjoy the magic once in a while.

  30. When things aren’t going well, look around before commenting. All of this is real to the little kids. Don’t say anything that they can hear that would ruin that.
    When someone who is “earning their ears” is doing something for you, remember that we were all new at something at some time. I usually seek out new people so that they can learn and take a breath while they are doing it.
    Most cast members are great, but I have noticed a decrease in the “Disney Magic.” Maybe better training is needed or maybe it has been too many difficult guests in a row, but I won’t take a less than great experience with a cast member out on someone else.
    No, I don’t work for Disney. By taking a few extra minutes here and there to engage cast members I’ve met some really great people and appreciate all that they do.

  31. Molly, this article really resonates with me and I am so glad you took the time to write it.
    I am a former cast member as well but 11 years ago I moved a few hours away and haven’t been to Central Florida since Nov. 2019. While I have witnessed both the good and bad that you described I can only imagine the more recent, perhaps more intense, versions. I can only hope that enough people will read your words and it will make at least a little difference. A little pixie dust can go a long way, right?
    I hope you have more magical days in 2022 than you had in 2020 and 2021 combined.
    Thank you for all you do – sometimes I envy your job, once in a while I don’t. 😉 LOL And I hope to bump into you one day. You never know.
    Have a wonderful day!


  32. I want to know if you or someone on your team can make a sample template (about business card size) that could have something Disney on it and it states something like “Thank-you from a grateful Disney guest to an outstanding cast member!”? Then we WDW (And ALLEARS.NET) fans could make them and them hand out to specific cast members that do a fantastic thing or to one that may look like they just need to hear someone tell them thank-you.

  33. Definitely agree with this! I was a Cast Member many years ago myself and now I often think I couldn’t work at Disney again. That’s a sad thought, but I too have witnessed the nasty behavior of grown adults and I don’t know if I could handle it. Disney World is a place like no other and I wish people would remember that Cast Members are a big part of that. Doesn’t cost anything to be nice. It isn’t a big deal to wait your turn. It isn’t the end of the world if an attraction has to close. What kind of behavior are we modeling for our children and grandchildren?
    Thanks for all you do, Molly!

  34. Got me teary eyed reading about the finally pregnant story… I found out I was pregnant on a Disney vacation. We had been trying forever and I had already decided we were done trying after that month. If that isn’t Disney magic I don’t know what is! Taking that miracle baby back to Disney in 2 weeks!

    1. Thank you Molly for this message. It true the last two year have push everyone to a breaking point. I lost my job and important family member, I know this sounds weird planning my Disney trip was the only thing that keep me same. Since am the oldest I always have to be in control and helping everyone else. On my free time I would watch your videos and laugh when you laugh. I will be greatful to you. I learn so much and it really made my experience at Disney better. Another aspect that we need to look into is that human emotions have been push to the surface and are easily irritated, most people act like nothing is wrong until they snap. The happiness I got from going to Disney and seeing the extra magic the cast members do for us really made my year.