On a trip to Walt Disney World in October of 2009, I participated in Disney's Hollywood Studios' attraction "The American Idol Experience." When I was checking in for my show I met an AIE cast member, Ashley. We had a memorable little conversation about fashion and then that was the last time I thought I'd see her. Months later I got a message on Facebook from Ashley! She happened upon a photo of me doing American Idol Experience and remembered my performance and decided to say 'hi.' Ever since then we've kept in touch and Ashley is actually going to be my touring companion in a week when I'm down at WDW.
I decided to interview Ashley on what it's like being an attractions cast member at WDW. Big thanks to Ashley for participating!
Stacey: Where are you from and what drew you to being employed by Disney?
Stacey: It's so interesting that you learned to appreciate WDW until you were basically an adult. I love how you knew you just HAD to work for the company and be a part of the magic. What attractions have you worked at in your three years with Disney?
Ashley: I've worked at Jungle Cruise, Soarin', American Idol Experience, and Space Mountain. My favorite so far has been American Idol. Even though you don't operate a ride, you have so much free time to interact with guests, wander around and make Magical Moments, and just the fact the we were in Hollywood Studios...my favorite park. Then come 3 o'clock we didn't have a show so we had a blast watching Block Party Bash when it was still there. I think AIE is great. It really does make the guests feel like stars. Though it does take a lot of your day up and it's not as popular as it should be. It's definitely a great experience. Not to mention I met an AWESOME girl named Stacey!
Stacey: Aww, thanks! Sounds like you've sort of had a taste of all different types of attractions. I agree, American Idol Experience is seriously underrated. Well, that and all of Disney's Hollywood Studios. Tell me, what is the best and worst parts about being an attractions cast member?
Stacey: I really had NO idea that many people attempted to use invalid FASTPASSES. Ridiculous! Hopefully with the new FASTPASS features that they're going to implement in the future these troublesome guests will be limited. But, I'm sure the “bad seeds” are far and few between compared to genuinely happy and thankful guests. Do you have a magical guest moment that sticks out in your mind?
Ashley: My favorite guest memory is with this family who I will never forget. I was working Soarin' and I got a party of about 8. As I'm bringing the family into the theater to their seats, the little boy was pointing to the signs that are telling you to remain seated with your hands inside. But, he was pointing to the sign and saying, "Mommy, no dancing! No dancing!" I've never laughed so hard! I started to give the little boy a hard time for it. When their flight landed, I went in the theater and asked if they would like to ride again and of course they said yes. While they were waiting for their flight I did the pre-show safety spiel but added, "We would like to remind you at Soarin' there is no dancing." All I could hear was them laughing! They took pictures with me and I gave them FASTPASSES which they used for Soarin' again. One of the greatest families ever and I hope I run into them again. A few months later a friend showed me a blog where the mother actually posted the story and the picture!
Stacey: I think cast members are the driving force behind the Disney parks' success. Making every guest feel special at some point is what keeps people coming back. As a guest you don't just feel like a body through the gate but rather a human being looking for an amazing vacation experience. Everyone deserves that. You mentioned earlier that your favorite park is the Studios. Why is that?
Ashley: If I could change anything I would bring back Block Party Bash and Spectromagic. I want the Year Of A Million Dreams back also. That was an awesome promotion for the company. I would also take out Stitch's Great Escape. Turkey legs would be prohibited. And Fantasmic would go back to being every night.
Stacey: Fantasmic DOES need more show times! It's hands down my favorite nighttime show in all of WDW. Lastly, and this is an important question... Have you ever seen any celebrities in the parks?
Ashley: Yes, so many! Michael Phelps, David Tutera, Mandy Moore, Jodi Benson, Rhianna, Ryan Seacrest, Megan Fox, and tons of athletes. I can't even name them all.
Thank you so much, Ashley for chatting with me about your employment with the Disney company. Have fun in the parks and keep spreadin' the magic!