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Cast Member Corner: Life after Disney

Cast Member Corner: Life after Disney

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What happens when a Disney Cast Member finally, reluctantly breaks out of the Disney fold? What kinds of jobs is he likely to do when the parades and shows and Goofy Studio Mysteries are over, and he's faced with life in the real world? How does his tenure at the parks affect his view of events and people and places?

I have a friend whose entire reason for working as a tour guide at Disney-MGM Studios was to become an animator. Which he did. Then he was laid off, and then he got picked up by Dreamworks. But I imagine that's a pretty rare case. I ran into another former-cast-member friend in the bank, of all places. But he wasn't a teller or a security guard. He was on a production crew, filming a commercial for said bank.

Many of us can be found trying to make a go of it at radio and TV stations, where we've sadly discovered that they don't pay all that well, either. I worked the morning show on a small town AM station, did some voiceover for local TV ads, and at my current real life computer job for a local ISP, I'm also 'The Voice' on our phone menu system: "If you know your party's extension, please dial it now." "To report a problem with your service, press 2." "To hear me say that in Swahili, press 8." It ain't the jungle, but it pays the bills. I also announce the soccer games at our local high school, and am hoping to work my way up to football - volunteer, of course.

It may be a testament to the types of people that apply at Disney in the first place, or it may be something that is instilled in us when we get there. That desire to be 'on stage,' to perform, to be the center of attention, to direct and lead, to be heard and seen doesn't go away when you pack up your locker and turn in your ID.

And what about when you're back in the parks as a guest? Do you sometimes find yourself still picking up trash? Do people inexplicably approach and ask you questions as if you're still a cast member? How do they know? You're in civilian clothes, right? But still they come, and still they ask.

When you hear Disney conversation, in the parks or somewhere else, do you hold a debate in your mind, back and forth, whether to walk up and get involved in the conversation and set them straight, or to just walk away and leave them wallowing in their ignorance? Can you even do that? It's hard, but sometimes talking to them is even harder, particularly when they're absolutely sure they know that there's a tunnel entrance on Tom Sawyer's Island and that Disney trains mosquitoes so they can sell more bug repellant and that Walt's head is frozen and stored somewhere under the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Sometimes the "I used to work at Disney" card will open many doors. It can also open the way for a barrage of questions and headaches. Ever had this one:

Potential Employer: "It says here that you used to work for Disney."

You: "Yes."

Potential Employer: "Wow - what was that like?"

(fifteen minutes of stupid Disney questions, including that Pirates thing)

Potential Employer (without even glancing over the rest of your carefully prepared resume): "That's so cool. When can you start?"

Not that instant hire-ability is anything to sneeze at, but really, I mean, c'mon. They're kidding, right? Of course, given the current state of affairs that particular little exchange may very well be going out of style.

So we do the 'monorail guy' voice on our answering machines, collect the collectible collectibles (further lining The Company's coffers) and carefully select when to bring out the "Oh, yeah, I used to work there" and when to leave it safely tucked away. It's something you never quite get rid of though, isn't it?

Wanna see what I mean? Let's play a little game, and find out how much of a MouseHead you are. Get up from your PC (if you're at work, you'll have to wait until you get home) and do a quick walkthrough of your house. Count the number of times you see Mickey's head. Clothing and hats, if viewable from the walkthrough, count. So do paper products (cards, calendars, paper towels). A repeating pattern, such as wallpaper or linens, can count as one. Score yourself:

1-15: Lightweight (and probably saner than most of us).
16-30: Middle MouseHead
31-45: More MouseHead than average
46-60: Leaning towards MouseHead obsession
61-75: You're on the MouseHead edge
75 +: Major MouseHead. Seek professional help. Please. Now.

Guess which group I'm in...

By the way, you can come on over and compare your scores with other MouseHeads at www.MouseHeads.com. While you're there, why not vote in our online poll, leave a forum message, submit a story or comment on an existing one? We look forward to seeing you there.

www.MouseHeads.com. We miss you, too.

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