Anonymous asked: Hello! I work at Star Tours in Disneyland, and we do indeed have a cameras that snaps the picture fairly soon after guests sit down. Sometimes the cameras are broken and only the back rows have legible photos. We do not choose guests who are wearing the glasses or who are looking "away" from the camera/front of the ride. We do pick goofy faces if it's appropriate, and usually kids - like one time, I picked a kid who did a smolder. It worked.
Thanks for adding this info!
Anonymous asked: Hi, could you please tell me if you know anything about the tunnel on the walk from Frontierland to Fantasyland, that you can see across a little lake with jumping salmon right by big thunder mountain? Thanks! You rock!
That tunnel was part of the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland that preceded Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. If you look closely, you can still make out the railroad tracks inside the tunnel. The train would come out of that tunnel after passing alongside the Rivers of America, and would cross a bridge from that tunnel back to the “mainland” of Frontierland.
For a while, part of the bridge was still visible coming out of the cave, long after Big Thunder Mountain sprung up, but apparently it collapsed during a storm in 2006.
(photos from Disneyland Report)
Anonymous asked: i've heard that you can be selected as the rebel on star tours by making a face at the screen. is that true or is it just random?
While I wasn’t able to find a cast member who was willing to confirm or deny it, I’ve found multiple sources that state that the Rebel Spy is chosen by a cast member. According to one of the more specific posts:
Everyone’s picture is taken right before the cast member checks everyone’s seatbelts. Once the cast member leaves and the doors close, the cast member then chooses one person’s picture to be used. The CM does not use pictures that have people flipping the bird or wearing their 3d glasses. It usually seems like the CM only chooses pictures of little babies or adults making stupid faces. I have ridden ST over a dozen times and I was never chosen.
Anonymous asked: I think it's a shame that blogs like this ruin the magic of the Disney Parks. I'm sure you put a lot of effort into it, but the parks are a lot better enjoyed not thinking about how everything works all the time. I know that Disney is very open towards the workings of attractions/shows nowadays, but having backstage photos online showing parts of character costumes and guessing how that all works just goes a bit too far. And now I shall await the usual "Then don't visit this blog" reply…
Nah, no “don’t visit this blog” reply. You get to make your own decision on that.
What I will do is point out that Walt Disney himself spent a great deal of time showing people how things worked when he was alive. Ever since using the Disneyland TV show on ABC to share updates on the park as it was being built,
…to sharing with us preparations for the 1964 World’s Fair,
…Walt was never one to act like the knowledge of how things worked was in any way sacred.
Walt taught us about audio animatronics,
…he showed us how the multi-plane camera worked to make cartoons look more realistic,
…he showed us the scale models of attractions that were being planned,
…he showed us how cartoons were made.
Somehow, in recent years, some of that thirst for sharing knowledge has been lost. Some people have started treating this information as something that shouldn’t be public, like we’re supposed to just accept that it is “magic” and move on.
Walt Disney was an entertainer, and he loved to blow people away with fantastic new effects and attractions.
Walt Disney was also a teacher who loved to educate. He understood that imagination requires knowledge in order to become reality.
If there was one thing Walt loved more than blowing your mind, it was explaining how he had done it (or how he would do it in the future).
As with all entertainment, there is a suspension of disbelief that comes into play when you are experiencing it. But that doesn’t mean that the secrets behind how its done should never be shared.
Walt Disney took us on amazing journeys - but he didn’t hoard the road map, he shared it with us. Whether or not you want to read the map is entirely your choice.
Anonymous asked: I read this book (Cast Member Confidential) and it kind of crushed all sorts of hopes and dreams of the park or ever working there... What are the (serious and maybe one not so serious) pros and cons of working at the park...?
I handed this ask off to a friend who worked for the mouse, and here’s what they had to say:
I haven’t read Cast Member Confidential, so I can’t speak to the book specifically. I read part of it, but I kind of had to put it down after the whole “Tarzan jumping off a parade float to save a drowning kid and then getting back on the float to finish the parade like nothing happened” bit. At this point I figured the book was going to play loose with the truth, and that it wasn’t worth reading it for the sake of answering this question. So instead I’ll rely on my own experience to give you the pros and cons.
Here’s what I will say, though: Working at a Disney park is entirely what you make of it. It’s hard work, it’s office politics, it’s seeing people in management who couldn’t name four of the seven dwarfs, much less “get” what Disney is all about, it’s thankless work for unappreciative tourists in motorized scooters. It’s cleaning up puke, it’s “playing hurt,” it’s heat exhaustion, it’s taking money from the hand that you just saw scratching the owner’s butt (on the inside of their pants) and pretending that you aren’t sickened by the thought of it. It’s cast member parties (or perhaps not being invited to them), it’s high school mentality, and, yes, you may work with people who will make you wonder what the hell Casting was thinking when they offered that person a job.
It’s also magical, in every sense of the word. It’s seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when they see Mickey Mouse or Cinderella for the first time. It’s having a parent tell you that they’ve been saving every penny that they could spare for this day for ten years, and that it’s been worth every luxury that they went without for all that time. It’s realizing that you’re smiling not because “you have to,” but because you can’t help it because you’re surrounded by so much true happiness. It’s saving a life (the Tarzan story may have sounded like BS to me, but I guarantee you that cast members do, on occasion, save lives). It’s doing that one tiny thing that makes the difference that turns a frustrated guest’s terrible day into a joyous day that they’ll never forget. It’s free admission into the parks — let’s be honest, that’s a definite plus. It’s knowing that for every bad cast member that you work with, you work with ten others who make working there truly special.
Working for Disney definitely isn’t for everyone. There are good things and bad things about it, just like every other job. I will tell you right now that there is no such thing as a perfect day at a Disney park. Something will ALWAYS go wrong, and sometimes that bad situation may involve you somehow. Your patience will be tried, over and over again. Sometimes you’ll get backstage and you’ll just want to scream over a guest that was angry at you for not letting their 39”-tall child go on the attraction with the 42” height requirement, or the guest who, after changing their kid’s diaper, put the old poopy one on your food counter and walked away.
Yes, I heard about cast members busted for drugs, if that’s one of the things that upset you. It’s true, it happens. Some cast members should not be cast members. In any organization that has thousands and thousands of employees at each location, there are going to be bad seeds that somehow make it into the company’s employment. But the fact is, Disney takes that very seriously, and those people rarely last very long.
The bottom line is that you can’t let your perception of working for Disney to be formed based on a single source. I’m guessing that the person who wrote Cast Member Confidential had a less-than-stellar experience based on this ask. I, personally, loved my time working at the park. And I wouldn’t expect you to base your perception solely on me, either, especially since the people at Backstage Magic tell me that I’m answering this anonymously.
Use the tools at your disposal to gather more information. Do you follow any cast members who sometimes beg for asks, or who just come across as being the type who wouldn’t mind answering questions? Ask them about their experiences. Ask them what the pros and cons are of being a cast member. Cast members on tumblr seem to be pretty open, as a whole, though many won’t want to talk about certain backstage things for various reasons, but while I do see cast members on tumblr complain about rude guests or rough days at work, they also seem to share a love for Disney that carries through the rough times.
Also remember that, if you get a job with Disney, you’re not stuck there. If you end up in a position you don’t like, you can transfer after six months. If you decide that working for Disney isn’t for you at all, you can always quit. You’re not signing up for life (unless you want to, of course). You’re not going to be banned from Disney property because you decided that working for them isn’t for you (unless, of course, you do something terrible, like stealing, in which case you may get banned).
Working for Disney isn’t for everyone. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s right for you. But speaking from my own experience, I had the time of my life working there.
"I absolutely LOVE WDW! I have been going there as long as I can remember. My mom was actually told about 5 years ago that she had just passed her 100th visit. We live in South FL so the 3 hour drive up is one my family makes frequently. I was perusing your archive of articles and saw one on River Country. My family likes to stay at the Fort Wilderness Campground and I have some great memories of days spent at River Country. One of the times we stayed at the Campground, my dad and I decided to take a nice bike ride at night. We had no intention of hopping the fence at the now defunct River Country, but that is exactly what happened. It was roped off and chained shut but we found our way in. As you would imagine, everything was overgrown and moldy. It was surreal walking around River Country and seeing the pools empty. The memories I had of spending hours their were now being superimposed on this skeleton of a park. As we continued to walk around we had to continue to dodge the lights of passing boats. We made our way out with only a couple scraps and bruises but it made for a great story.
The next day while taking a boat to the Contemporary we asked the boat captain why they closed River Country. His answer was that when they build the lake and connected it to the already existing River Country they didn’t take into account the fact that the emissions from the boats would make their way into River Country. They weren’t any plans to redo the park into anything else and as of 2013 River Country is still there, closed and begging to be explored again.
My only regret is not finding this blog sooner because I would’ve been compelled to snap a ton of pics. Here’s hoping to another late night romp through the Country :)
Since you’re here, have some photos of the now-desolate River Country:
Here’s what it looked like back in the day, vs. now:
The folks over at Modern Day Ruins have some neat year-by-year photos, I highly recommend checking it out here!
Thank you again for the story, and I hope the readers of Backstage Magic have enjoyed their Presidents Day long weekend!
Anonymous asked: Hello, I love everything about Disney so very much. Though I have only been to the MK park. But is it true that there is a suite in the top of the Cinderella castle they use for promotional giveaways?
Here is a really helpful article on some of the basic information, what the suite looks like, etc. There are some beautiful photos and a walkthrough to give you an idea of the decor inside.
In 2007 (I believe, I don’t remember the time period exactly) there was a special promotion where a guest was chosen every day to stay in the Cinderella Suite with up to five guests, as a part of the Year of a Million Dreams.
If you’re looking at the outside of the castle, you can see the windows of the suite on the left-hand side at certain angles (the windows being the three tall side-by-side ones.)
Here’s a close-up:
Here are a few links to bloggers describing their stay at the castle:
[three- this one has some incredibly descriptive detail about the items in the suite!]
Hope this helps, and sorry for the large gap between answers, folks. I’m juggling real life over here, too.