LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It takes a village — more than 58,000 cast members to be exact — to keep the show going at Walt Disney World Resort. With more than 3,000 different job roles available, it’s hard, if not impossible, to find a more diverse group anywhere.
Whether an individual’s expertise is in exploring the big blue world at The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot or designing topiary Disney characters, there’s a place for a staggering array of skill sets within the 40-square-mile Vacation Kingdom. Here are some of the more unique roles:
- Life is a song at Harmony Barbershop in Magic Kingdom, where licensed cosmetologists perform basic haircuts with a sprinkle of pixie dust. The shop specialty is the first haircut — a ceremony commemorated with special “First Haircut” Mickey ears and a certificate with a placeholder for a lock of hair — which barbers perform about 300 times a month. Basic cuts are standard for the older set, but with giant-sized neon scissors and combs on-hand, the barbers guarantee that even a basic ‘do is far from ordinary.
- Seven days a week at 4 p.m., two cast members from the animal programs team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge transform into safari guides, leading club level resort guests on the Wanyama Safari, a three-hour tour and dinner experience that recreates a true African afternoon game drive. Guides receive in-depth training on the 200 animals housed at the lodge before leading the hour-and-a-half experience through the resort’s three savannas. While leading the tour, they dispense insider knowledge about the natural history and management of the animal collection, pointing out as many of the resort’s species as possible.
- Blooms and blossoms abound for topiary artists and designers at Walt Disney World Resort. The creative process begins with a “maquette” — a wire and clay sculpture of a Disney character — which is used as a reference for a full-size steel frame created by the team’s welders. Designers then stuff the frame with moss, choose the plant material (common choices are Ficus pumila, Moneywart and Alternanthera), and decorate with small individual plants called plugs. Completed topiaries are irrigated, manicured, trimmed, fertilized and transported to locations throughout Walt Disney World property where they grow over time before guests’ eyes.
- It’s better down where it’s wetter — or so say the Walt Disney World animal care aquarists, a team of marine scientists who monitor the day-to-day care of the resort’s many species of fish, turtles and sea life. The main marine environment, found in the heart of The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot, contains 5.7 million gallons of seawater and is home to sea turtles, sharks, stingrays and small fish such as neon gobies and peppermint shrimp. The aquarium team rotates between systems, also working with the leopard sharks, bonnethead sharks, parrotfish and southern stingrays who call Typhoon Lagoon Shark Reef home.
- At the fingertips of 180 Walt Disney World seamstresses are no less than 1,000 fabrics, 75 shades of thread and more than 800 kinds of buttons. Each day, these materials combine to create and maintain the 15,000 unique entertainment costumes and 15,000 operational garment pieces worn by members of the Walt Disney World cast. And every piece is built from scratch — one of the most impressive being the “parfait” hat worn in “Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage,” which took more than 58 hours of handiwork to create.
- The Fairy Godmothers-in-Training at Downtown Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique have one goal in mind: turn as many little girls as possible into princesses. The process involves providing head-to-toe makeovers for guests, including Disney-inspired up-do hairstyles, makeup, nails, and for some, full imperial regalia including princess dresses, crowns, wands and shoes. Fairy Godmothers-in-Training must also coach guests in the art of royal behavior, instructing proper technique in the princess wave, curtsy and walk.
- Adrenaline rushes, pounding heartbeats and full-throttle action are part of a normal workday for the precision drivers at “Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. More than 20 drivers rotate through a schedule where they perform up to three shows and two tracks per day in one of five European chase cars or three hero cars, all outfitted with a special motorcycle engine for stunt-precision driving. Among the maneuvers the drivers perform are spectacular 180s, 360s, sliding 90s, two-wheel driving and fly-through-the-sky jumps.
The Walt Disney World Resort has a variety of guest service roles available in the theme parks, water parks and resorts throughout the year. For more information on employment opportunities, call the Walt Disney World Jobline at 407/828-1000. For more information on administrative, professional or technical roles, visit www.disneycareers.com.