One of the things I enjoy while on vacation is talking to the locals. They are usually wonderful sources of information about the area we are visiting. This is particularly true at a Disney property. The cast members are a fascinating bunch. How they came to work for The Mouse, the history of the park or hotel, and what's coming next are all topics that I love to cover.
On our recent trip, I chatted with three cast members who were particularly special or interesting. My first shout-out is to Richard, the official greeter at the Yacht Club resort. He was so jolly he reminded me a bit of St. Nick. He shared insights about the train and village display in the lobby, how to get rid of red ants, and bits of his personal story. Our second acknowledgement goes to a delightful woman at World of Disney. Sadly, we don't remember her name but she stood outside the store holding a Duffy stuffed toy and advertising a donation program the store was promoting. From her we learned of Disney Springs, a revamp of Downtown Disney we had somehow missed hearing about. Finally there was an interesting man in Hollywood Studios at the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow attraction. He chatted about the rumors of updates to that park, the ebb and flow of the number of guests, and his kids.
Friendly, pleasant cast members were in the majority but we ran into something new this year: surly, gruff, and irritated employees. While surprised by the overtness of this non-Disney behavior, we realized that what we were seeing was exhaustion. Coming off the Thanksgiving weekend and moving into the holiday season, these cast members were just plain done-in and had been bumped with a stroller one too many times.
We witnessed a lot of communicating while on this trip. We spoke to cast members, they spoke to each other, and the Disney company spoke to all of us. We generally liked what we heard however we couldn't help but feel sad that the corporation had stretched the manpower in the parks so thin that nerves frayed and tempers flared. That communicates so much to employee and guest alike.