I guess Disney World isn’t always the happiest place in the world. Content has been edited for clarity.
“I was a lifeguard at the Contemporary Resort about a decade ago. It was a pretty small pool for Disney, but in the summer it was packed wall-to-wall with kids, and it seemed like every single one of them would play dead man’s float so we had to constantly watch them to see who was actually drowning. On average we did about two rescues a day, mostly just pulling kids out who started struggling or if they started to pull other nearby kids under because their parents were off sipping drinks. Occasionally tipsy adults would pass out but they usually floated on their backs so we’d fish them out while staying dry.
One time I was at a position where my back was to the jacuzzi, which we did not guard. I happened to take my eyes off my zone for a second because of a noise behind me, and there was this little girl about seven or eight in there by herself. Signs were posted saying ‘No Unattended Children’, so I called for another guard to watch my zone and then I knelt down and politely told her she wasn’t allowed to use the ‘hot water tub’. She ran off to her mom.
About five minutes later, this ticked-off woman was standing about a foot away from me yelling in my ear that I kicked her daughter out of the pool. I apologized for not making eye contact but I had to watch my zone, then explained that children couldn’t be unattended in the jacuzzi and that we didn’t guard that area so it was not safe for her. She immediately turned red and started screaming (louder) that I had let ‘that other child use it’ and she pointed to a boy that looked about 16 (I was only 18 at the time).
I said, ‘Ma’am, I’m sorry but the rule is for children under 12 and we can’t check everyone’s ID so we have to use some discretion. If you’d please excuse me, I have to continue guarding this area pool.’
The rationale actually had more to do with height and body weight than age, but rational arguments wouldn’t work with someone that angry anyway so I didn’t try.
I thought it was over, but while standing right next to me she turned to her daughter and said, ‘Honey you can go ahead and use that. And don’t listen to him if he tells you to get out.’
Then she started to walk off.
I signaled for another guard to watch my zone again, then turned and said to her back, ‘Ma’am if you do that we will have no choice but to ask you to leave the property.’
Technically a lifeguard didn’t have that authority but they would back us up on that.
At 18 you might legally be an adult but you still feel like a kid. And it’s hard not to instinctively defer to ‘adults’ particularly where their kids are concerned, but holy mole this woman was going to leave this little girl in a jacuzzi by herself while she got wasted on 8 bucks daiquiris. At least it got her attention, but she turned back and I really thought she was about to slap me but just went on this tirade about how ‘We paid our money here’ and ‘You’re supposed to be watching our kids. That’s what your paycheck is for.’
The other three guards were getting overwhelmed and this was creating a scene. I couldn’t leave the area, so I called a Code Three which alerted Walt Disney World’s security, who were constantly watching us and the pool on camera. Before she was finished with her rant, there was a uniformed guard standing next to her. Unfortunately, Code Three also meant that the pool had to be cleared, so about 200 guests were lined up on the sides of the pool watching all this go down.”
Goofy Gone Bad
“The year was 2001 during the summertime. I was fresh out of high school with no skills or talents, so naturally, I became a proud cast member at Walt Disney World. I got drafted into a terrible job. No, not foodservice. Not janitor either. Those career paths would have been a treat compared to the venerated title of ‘Character Handler,’ or the guy who makes sure the dude in the Mickey costume doesn’t get rolled over by deranged guests. I spent many hot, long days standing against the hordes of horrible parents trying to get their horrible kids into pictures. But it was all worth it to have just this one experience.
I worked with a particular Goofy who was kind of a prick. The sort of fellow you wouldn’t want hugging your wife. It could only end one way, and it happened on my shift.
I was doing some crowd control when I heard some shouting. I turned just in time to see a guy who was probably barely 21 but clearly quite wasted, flipping Goofy off. There was a woman nearby telling the man to calm down. Meanwhile, Goofy was playing it cool and shrugging. This only prompted the man to accuse Goofy.
‘Don’t play innocent,’ he said, ‘I saw you touch her butt.’
Right now I was in full meltdown mode. Somewhere between worrying that Goofy might actually get punched, and being generally thrilled. It was my job to handle this kind of thing since the actor wasn’t allowed to speak for himself, so I started walking over but then Goofy shrugged again. And then he made some sort of gesture which conveyed that he was caught red-handed and feeling bashful. I was not sure if he was trying to tick the guy off, but it worked because Goofy immediately got shoved.
Now, remember, this Goofy was kind of a prick, so he threw his hands up, ready to fight. Granted, his job was already over at this point, so he had nothing left to hold him back when the angry dude decided that it was time to mess Goofy up. They quickly become enthralled in the most hilarious brawl I’ve ever seen.
Goofy got the worst of it. Sort of. Imagine trying to pummel a man encased in foam armor. It didn’t really protect, but it sure as heck got in the way. It was almost like a hockey fight. At some point, Goofy did manage to get the guy’s shirt over his head, pummeling him with the full wrath of white cartoon gloves. I was not breaking up this fight.
I just called security and kept everyone away from it. Security got there pretty fast (we were close by), but before they arrived, Goofy’s head spun around and was finally missing a glove. His overalls were ripped. He was missing buttons and various accessories. Best of all, he was still swearing and throwing fists like a tipsy sailor, ticking off the security dudes even more. If only smartphones had been invented. Twelve years later and I’m still laughing about it.
There were about 40 kids to witness Goofy get his butt kicked in. But he definitely deserved it.
Goofy did, of course, lose his job. His assailant, however, got turned over to the cops. I got to make my first police statement. I did hear later on that the guy was arrested and charged with assault.
The moral of this story is: Don’t mess with the Mouse.”
The Jungle Cruise
“I worked on The Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. About halfway through my shift, I was stationed at the ‘rear unload’ position. This meant that I was assisting guests who were seated in the rear half of the boat back onto the dock. The procedure meant that I had to stand in the exit with one leg in the boat and the other on the dock while lightly touching the guest’s elbow as they moved up and out of the boat. Now, it typically wasn’t very difficult for the guest and myself to fit in the exit while they moved up.
Then, just as the fireworks were starting, a boat floated around the corner at the end of the cruise that literally dipped a little bit in one specific area. Clustered in the right-rear area of the boat was a family of just four people. The boat gracefully floated on its track to a full and complete stop, then I roped my end down and got myself into position. The boat wasn’t very full but the family in question still managed to be the last to disembark.
The third member of the family, the last on the boat, was a woman who, in spite of the laws of gravity and nature, was able to walk five feet to her Rascal scooter. She reached up to grasp the bars while at the same time suffocating me with her arms. As she moved up and pressed her weight against me, I was forced to readjust my position without looking. I lost my footing on the slippery dock edge and fell, butt first into the murky green Jungle Cruise water. She managed to somehow not notice, likely only noticing the fireworks. I resurfaced and spit out a mouthful of water. It wasn’t very deep (about six feet) and I wasn’t injured. My fellow cast-member working front-unload quickly approached the edge of the dock with my lead. In a matter of moments, there were five managers and a Disneyland paramedic in front of me.
‘Did you get any water in your mouth or up your nose?’ Asked the paramedic.
I replied, ‘Yeah, I got a mouth full and I think I might have swallowed a bit.’
‘Would you like a tetanus shot? You’re going to definitely want a tetanus shot,’ said the paramedic.
‘Um…ya. I guess that might be a good idea,’ I said, remembering the several opossums and one raccoon I had seen in Adventureland.
At that time the paramedic helped me out of the water. But before I could stand, he pulled out a syringe, rubbed disinfectant on my bicep, and stuck me. He did this in the open, on the spot, and in view of guests. I was told to immediately go to costuming to change, and then to go home and shower. So, by myself, I started to make my way. And of course, the ‘backstage’ route was blocked due to fallout from the fireworks. So I had to walk the entire length of Main Street U.S.A. drenched in jungle water and wreaking like a wet rodent.”
“While working at Spaceship Earth in the summer of 2005, the parks had an influx of Brazilian tour groups. Each group consisted of about 200 college-aged kids with matching shirts. Every one of them came into the park acting like they had won the World Cup. Spaceship Earth was the first attraction they went on, still chanting and yelling until they got to the boarding area, where we finally got them to calm down. We divided them into their four-seater cars and hoped they didn’t disturb the slow-moving, quiet ride for anyone else.
Five minutes passed, and the ride came to a shuddering halt as the ‘Emergency Stop’ was activated. A loud beep emitted from the loading console, signaling that one of the sensor mats, lining the entire length of the track, had been tripped. Another Cast Member and I ran into the attraction to the Renaissance section. Lo and behold, there was the Brazilian tour group. They were all sitting in their cars, attempting to look innocent and looking at us nervously. We asked them if anyone had jumped out of their cars. One girl understood us and began to say something until one of her friends stopped her by saying something in Portuguese. The girl suddenly forgot the question and stayed quiet.
After failed attempts to get someone to confess, we ran back to the loading platform, trying not to keep the other guests on the ride from waiting any longer than they had to. Seven minutes had elapsed since the ride stopped. We racked back into the ride and started it up again. The intrusion alarm went off again. We ran back up to the same area and the same tour group acted as nothing had happened.
Fifteen minutes had gone by now, so we had to evacuate the ride. I got the section with the tour group, so I went back up to Renaissance. At least five of the tour group were out of their cars and posing with the audio animatronics. Oh heck no We raised our voices and motioned to them to get back in their cars until we told them to get out. The evacuation went smoothly as we kept an eye on as much of the group as we could, and directed the entire group to the exit, where our Duty Manager, four security guards, and an Orange County police officer were waiting for them.
The Duty Manager proceeded to talk to the tour group leader, then addressed the group. All of them were to have their tickets taken away, kicked out of the park, and banned from the property. No one in the group said a thing.”
“This guy was separated from his wife getting into the first row because he wasn’t paying attention and the gates closed. Space Mountain has a very delicate time system, and generally, we don’t have enough time to re-open gates. I was trying to shout across the track and tell him that we would pull his wife out so they could be re-joined, but I guess the Cast Member checking the lap bars asked and she said she didn’t want to be pulled out.
So the guy solved this problem (Was he too scared to ride alone? Or just a prick?) by jumping into the track like a prick to chase after her car when the gate opened. It was the first time that I ever had to hit the emergency stop.
Another time, a rather tall man was sitting in the back row and looked really uncomfortable. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to ride, as his legs were smashed against the seat in front of him. He assured me that he did. The next thing I know, I turned around to see him climbing down one of the flights of stairs leading up into the attraction. This dimwit decided he wanted to get out, and because he was so tall, the lap bar didn’t go down so far as to lock him in the ride. It just boggles my mind that he decided to climb out in a pitch-black area, where he had no idea where any stairways/walkways were, and just take his chances that he wouldn’t fall into a track and be crushed by a ride vehicle.
My actual favorite/craziest story was when someone had left an abandoned bag at the base of Space Mountain for more than 15 minutes. So we followed the normal security procedures and they brought a bomb dog out to sniff it. When our Pluto came to check the bag, he sniffed it and then sat down, which signaled that there was something wrong with this bag. So we had to evacuate all of Tomorrowland, literally, all of the attractions, stores, restaurants, and all the Cast Members were standing at all the entrances freaking out because now we were sure a bomb was going to go off and we were all going to die. Turned out that the backpack was just forgotten, full of carne asada burritos. Pluto sat down because he thought he was getting a treat.”
The Jungle Cruise Again
“I was a Jungle Cruise skipper during my time at Disneyland, and lots of crazy things happened in the jungle. One day, they loaded a boat and sent it out into the jungle, as normal. The skipper got about halfway through the trip and out of nowhere, this Korean lady started screaming at the poor guy sitting in front of her. The skipper tried to calm the lady down, but she kept screaming and yelling at him in Korean.
Then, she full-on attacked him. She lunged at him with claw hands and started scratching at his face and kicking him. He was doing his best to fend her off, but she was on him.
When things like that happened, it’s what we called a ‘four-shot.’ The skipper loads four rounds into the six-shooter, fires them all (to alert the other boats in the jungle, and hopefully the people on the dock), then radios into the dock that they are having a medical/security issue. Then they just book it as fast as that boat can go back into the dock. The dock stops loading and just sends everyone ahead of the boat into the jungle so that the emergency boat can come right in.
So the skipper got the boat into the dock, and when she rounded the corner, basically half the people on her boat were trying to hold this lady down while the guy she attacked was cowering in the back, bleeding. Luckily, security had arrived and medical shortly after.
It took three security officers to eventually subdue the lady, while medical services strapped her down to a gurney. After they had her secured, they took her backstage behind Tomorrowland to an ambulance.
Eventually, they got a translator and tried to talk to her and her family. It turns out that the lady was schizophrenic and had decided that she wasn’t taking her medication that day so she could try to better enjoy the park. She just happened to have an episode in the middle of the jungle, and the poor dude sitting in front of her got all the wrath.”
Space Mountain Again
“Back in the day, I used to work Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom. You would have your typical stuff to deal with like vomit, food, and shoes falling off. One day, we put a group of kids, one of which was admittedly too small to be on the ride, but we let him on because his bigger sister said she’d hold onto him in their seats. So we let them go and got back to chatting.
When they finally came back, two of them were missing, the boy and his sister. So, naturally, we just completely lose our cool. We all let a kid too small get on the ride. We could lose our jobs for that or go to prison. So, we shut down the ride, told everyone someone vomited all over the seats, and went looking for this kid and his sister.
We literally had to climb around Space Mountain looking for these two, using the carts as something to hold onto. It was a huge pain in the butt.
When we finally saw them, it was bad. The boy was facedown on the tracks, dead as far as we could tell. And his sister was leaning on a pole connecting to the tracks, looking completely shot and dejected. Me and two other employees literally just broke down and started crying for a solid 15 seconds or so before the girl burst out laughing and her apparently not-dead little brother followed suit.
One of the most unbelievable experiences of my life. The worst part was we couldn’t really tell anyone about it because we let a kid on the ride that was too short. So they basically just messed around, climbed around on a roller coaster, and got away with it. So incredibly dangerous and yet we were so lucky. To this day, none of us know how those kids got off the coaster. I mean, clearly, something malfunctioned, but they shouldn’t have been able to get out in the first place. But somehow those kids managed to do it without killing themselves.
Mind-blowing and utterly horrifying.”
Big Thunder Mountain
“One day, a kid ate a bunch of pasta with marinara and then promptly threw it all up in front of the entrance to Big Thunder Mountain. It was a huge pile of watery barf, easily two feet wide and three feet long.
So we called the custodian and set up a couple of trash cans to do our best to block the area off so people couldn’t step in it.
This dude, wearing all white (white shirt, shorts, shoes) came running down the path from the exit of the ride to try and get back into the line as soon as he could. We tried to yell at him to stop running, but it was too late.
He thought he would be a super cool guy and jump between the trash cans. He didn’t count on there being a river of barf. So he jumped, landed in the barf, and his legs slipped out from under him, and he fell/ rolled into all the red marinara barf. It took him a few seconds to comprehend what had just happened, but he eventually let out a blood-curdling scream.
Thankfully a manager was walking by when all this happened, so my fellow greeter and I didn’t have to actually deal with him. We did have to write a quick report on what we had witnessed, in case the guy tried to sue or something though. As far as I know, nothing came of it though.”
“When I worked on Space Mountain circa 2003, Tom Cruise came on Space Mountain with his then-girlfriend Penelope Cruz and her family.
His group got on the ride, had fun, and they came back to the station. As was standard procedure, we asked if they wanted to stay in the car and ride again. This was so they didn’t have to get out, just to immediately reboard. It was star privilege.
We dispatched the car, and as it started to move forward, Penolope’s non-English speaking family started flipping out. Apparently, they didn’t want to go again. So they stood up. This caused us to press the button to stop the cars (in the station only).
The alarms started going off as the ride was about to break down. The alarms flipped out the security. Everyone but the people who worked the ride were flipping out. There was beeping and yelling. Good times.
Anyway, we released the ‘station stop’. I had to manually tug the car to the next spot in the station, via the passenger handlebar in the front. This was when my hand came in contact with Tom Cruise`s hand.
I never washed it again.”
“I worked in Frontierland Foods, mostly at the Smoked Turkey Leg wagon, from January 1993 until August 1994. I saw guests nearly get hit with pieces of firework shell from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a special event after normal park hours. They were launching fireworks all around the park, not just behind the Castle, and a big chunk of shell landed right in front of the turkey wagon. I ran out and picked it up before anyone noticed a smoking hunk of cardboard and plastic in the street.
Another time, I was taking my paycheck to cash it at the Cast Member’s bank, which was behind the real bank on Main Street. As I walked up, the gate that led out to the street slammed open, and Donald Duck stomps through, followed by Minnie, Goofy, and a few other Characters.
Donald ripped his head off, slammed it on the ground, and yelled, ‘Stupid Kid kicked me in the junk!'”
“I was working in the kitchen at Cinderella’s castle when this family of four came in for their dinner. About halfway through the dinner, the husband politely stood up and tapped his glass for attention. He announced that his wife of 15 years had been cheating on him for over a year. The entire place stood still in shock. He motioned for his kids, paid the waitress, and left the wife crying at the table.”