Top 5 Cast Members to Talk To at a Disney Park

Of course, we all talk to hundreds of Cast Members during our trips. But I don’t mean ‘talking’ as in asking where the bathrooms are or “Excuse me, is this the FastPass line?” I’m talking about the Top Five Cast Members to actually have a conversation with.

But let’s qualify this a bit more: By conversation, I don’t mean a sit-down one-hour share-your-life-story talk. Cast Members are busy people. However, some of them are available for some brief Guest interaction, and would love to chat it up with you.

         Erin, from DCA

So with that in mind, here are the Top Five Cast Members to talk to during your next trip:

Chat No. 5

Cleaning staff. Very much a thankless job, these CM’s aren’t just there to sweep up and empty garbage cans. Most of them know the Park better than anyone and can give accurate directions to anywhere from anywhere! And I’ve never met one yet who wouldn’t give you the time of day. In my experience, they will even approach you if you look the least bit lost. Taking a few minutes to interact with these great people could just make their day, and yours!

Try asking them: Where would you go in the Park right now if you could?

Chat No. 4

Parade Route wranglers. Before any parade starts, there’s usually a lot of standing around. Many of the Cast Members who are there to keep you behind the ropes will also have time for a brief chat. They may even be wearing a Pin Trading lanyard, which is an indication they want Guest interaction. But these CM’s are busy, so make it quick. Hey, can you spot the Cast Member in the picture below?

  

Find out who their favorite character is in the Parade, and why.

Chat No. 3

Attraction staff. These are the poor unfortunate souls you see standing in front of a ride that is not operating, or the person who operates the same thing over and over, like the Monorail Pilot below. They may get to stand for hours telling disgruntled Guests they can’t ride their favorite attraction today, or just push the same button. Sound like fun? Not much, so they could use a little interaction!

     You can still talk to Monorail Pilots at DLR, but not WDW

Try asking for a piece of unknown trivia about the attraction itself.

Chat No. 2

Merchandise Cart staff. CM’s in stores are usually pretty busy and get lots of Guest interaction throughout the day. But the poor guys and gals stuck on some of the merchandise carts are all but ignored. For example, the ones outside the EPCOT main entrance, or any cart stuck in a deserted corner of a Park. These people are bored, to say the least!

If you really want to make their day, buy something during your conversation!

Chat No. 1

World Showcase staff. This is in the number one spot because it’s the no-brainer of the list. Each Pavilion has CM’s who are from that actual country. So if you’ve ever wanted to meet someone from Morocco or Canada (and who hasn’t fantasized about meeting a Canadian???) then that person is only a few steps away! Again, make sure they’re not too busy first, but then approach them for some nice conversation.

      Nanni, from Norway, loading the Maelstrom (now Frozen Ever After)

Topics: What city are you from? How long have you been here? What’s your favorite Pavilion, and why?

Any Cast Member who is standing around and looking bored is fair game! And part of their job is to interact with you anyway, so why not take advantage of that and have some great conversations. You can learn something new about the Park or Resort you’re visiting, and they can enjoy a Guest experience to make their job more worthwhile.

That’s what they call Win-Win?

Bonus Round

Who might be too busy to talk to you? How about:

     Lightning McQueen Wrangler

Where to Get Your Disney Loot

Loot 1

My wife and I just got back from three fun-filled weeks in not-so sunny Florida. Although we had more rain than was usual for the time of year (Dec. 23-Jan.12) we still managed to travel around the State and, of course, visit Walt Disney World!

Now, as you look at our Disney loot above, you’ll notice that not all of it came from the Mouse’s house. So in this post I’d like to share with you where we got our loot, and give some recommendations as to where you can find some great deals on Disney items outside of the Parks and Resorts.

First, we found the following item at the duty-free shop as we crossed the border (we live in Canada):

Border find

This was regularly priced at $24.95 US but we got it on sale for just $9.99 US. Just the Smarties alone were worth that! But we also got a neat carrying case, and a toy racing track complete with Lightning McQueen himself. Not a bad find, and it became the first piece of loot on our trip.

Next we visited many Flea Markets and Antique Shops around Sebastian, FL, where we were staying. And this is what we got there:

Loot 2

We picked up the Jesse dolls for just $20.00 US for the pair and the Chevron Autopia cars for just $15.00 US for the pair. The three Vinylmations we got for $10.00 US for all three. Now this is a good tip: We were able to trade one of them for a better character at WDW when we went later on. The purple guy on the right (from Monsters U) is my WDW trade. So in effect, we only paid $3.33 US each for Vinylmations that usually cost over $12.00 US. The rest of the items in this picture are simply things you can’t buy at WDW anymore, so they are great finds, and a great reason to check out even the smallest of second-hand shops while on vacation!

Next we made a trip to Disney’s town of Celebration:

Loot 3

Michael Eisner, the former CEO of the Walt Disney Company, started the ball rolling on this beautiful old-style community. If you haven’t gone, you should! It’s only about 15 minutes from Downtown Disney and well worth the drive. There are nice shops and Disney-like settings to enjoy. We picked up the local newspaper (free) and a glossy map of the town (also free) but had to pay $40.00 US for the hardcover book about the history of this town that is not really a town. Read the book, you’ll understand! Loot like this can only be found in Celebration, and will help to complete your Disney obsession!

Next, we went to Theme Park Connection (the address is on the site). It isn’t too far from WDW and well worth the trip. It’s a warehouse of Disneyana where they buy and sell. We picked up some great stuff:

TPC Loot 002

These are vintage publications from the Disney Vacation Club, Cast Member exclusives, theme park maps from 1998, a press kit, and a really cool package giving all of the stats on the Disney Company as of the 50th Celebration in 2006. We picked up all you see above for just a little over $20.00 US. And again, you can’t get this stuff at WDW, so if you want a few unique items for your loot bag, be sure to visit TPC, or similar places!

And now, yes, we did finally get to WDW and buy some stuff:

Loot 4

As you can see, we didn’t buy much directly from the Mouse. He doesn’t dicker on price! But there were a few items we just had to have. We brought two Vinylmations from home to trade, and you can see the two final figures we ended up with on the right of the picture (subnote: most of the trading places had truly awful characters to trade, and it took over a dozen tries over 4 days to get just these two acceptable trades. Be prepared!). We bought the Boo Vinylmation for full price in a blind box and were thrilled when we got her as she was the only one we wanted out of that series! The kitchen stuff was bought with a gift card we got given to us for our wedding anniversary (24 years on Jan. 13th!) The rest are just a few small items that came into our loot collection near the end of our trip when we were… running out of money!

So if you can manage it, be sure to spend some time looking around the shops and second-hand stores of Florida before you spend all of your loot money at the Mouse’s house! Deep discounts can be found at Disney Outlet stores which usually carry much of the same stuff you’re planning to buy on-site anyway.

I hope you enjoyed sharing in my loot! Do you take loot pictures too?

Lightning McQueen Races in the Smarties Grand Prix

I love Smarties. You love Smarties. Lightning McQueen, although he races for Rust-EZ, loves Smarties! As we were crossing the border on our way to Florida, we stopped at the Duty Free Shop. And although most people would probably be stocking up on booze and cigarettes, we were just there for a bathroom break.

But put me in large area that sells curios and such, and I’m bound to buy something! Something like:

          

The Super Loop Racer

This came with three tubes of Smarties and a great toy, so I was hooked on sight. But when I saw that it was marked down to $9.99 US from $24.99 US, my wife had to stop me from buying more than one!

They had me at ‘Smarties’

For ten bucks, you just can’t go wrong! Three tubes of Smarties (170 g each, which not being Gluten Free, I got to eat them all myself) and a cool race track toy was just the ticket to become the first official merchandise buy of our trip.

Not quite ready to race

At first, I thought this was how this toy was set up, so I punched the Launcher over and over again, trying to get McQueen to do the Super Loop of Doom. But he hit the side of the track. He missed completely. He crashed. I gave up! I figured we had another good idea gone wrong on our hands and took a pit stop to have dinner.

But while eating, and eyeing up the toy, I realized I hadn’t quite finished with the assembly yet:

NOW we’re ready to race!

The Launcher slots into the track (a detail they don’t show you on the packaging) which lines up McQueen for a guaranteed trip around the loop. However, you still have to steady the whole thing and hit the Launcher just right to get a full rotation. But it can be done, although I wonder how a younger child would fare.

Again, trust me to find a Disney collectible long before I reach Walt Disney World, and even before I officially start my trip! That’s just SO me.

Middle of Winter? Let’s think about the Flower and Garden Festival!

Lightning McQueen at the Flower and Garden Festival!

Lightning McQueen at the Flower and Garden Festival!

Although it’s the middle of winter, and not very warm out, we thought we would talk a bit about the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival!  This yearly spring event brings Epcot World Showcase to life as thousands and thousands of flowers are brought to life for everyone to enjoy!  While I haven’t been fortunate to attend it — yet — I have seen some of the big display pieces, as they tend to leave them up for several weeks after the event is over.  In the case of the picture of Lightning McQueen above, that picture was taken on June 20, 2011 — well over a month after the festival ended on May 15th that year.  Since the grounds around Epcot always look so much better than my words, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite pictures from Epcot that include the use of landscaping to enhance the view for the Guests.  Enjoy!

Tow Mater shows us how to drive backwards!

Tow Mater shows us how to drive backwards!

This picture of the Tron Monorail is one of my favorites!  I love the purple flowers and the way the monorail looks!

This picture of the Tron Monorail is one of my favorites! I love the purple flowers and the way the monorail looks!

The gardens at the Canada Pavilion are always incredible!  This is meant to remind us of the world famous Victoria Gardens!

The gardens at the Canada Pavilion are always incredible! This is meant to remind us of the world famous Victoria Gardens!

This scene is actually from the Living with the Land boat ride.  I like the look of it even if it's not from the Festival!

This scene is actually from the Living with the Land boat ride. I like the look of it even if it’s not from the Festival!

While my post doesn’t do justice to the incredible special event that the Flower and Garden Festival is, I hope that it has brought you out of the post-Christmas, middle of winter blahs that January often has.  Just think, only a couple of months and we’ll be staring at Spring and dreaming of a trip to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival!  Now, please click on the image below and go check out the rest of the entries for this week’s Riding the Rails segment — courtesy of your Magical Blogorail!  Have a Disney Day, everyone, and remember, here at My Dreams of Disney, we’re working to help turn My Dreams of Disney into Your Dreams of Disney!

Happy Birthday Epcot!

Spaceship Earth, the focal point of Epcot!

Spaceship Earth, the focal point of Epcot!

Happy Birthday Epcot! Just like the Magic Kingdom, Epcot opened on October 1st!  Of course, there was 11 years between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, so last year was the 30th Birthday of Epcot, and that makes this year birthday number 31!  Epcot has so many incredible details that it’s really like going to two theme parks rolled into one!  For starters there is Epcot Future World, which features Spaceship Earth, among other great pavilions.  Then there is Epcot World Showcase, which features 11 pavilions dedicated to different countries around the world.  If you haven’t seen my reviews of them, head over to my “Epcot’s World Showcase” page to read about each of them!

For this special birthday post, I thought I would let my pictures do the talking, and share with you some of the incredible things that await you at Epcot!  Sit back, relax, and enjoy your photographic journey through Epcot — the second park at Walt Disney World!

Epcot has a monorail stop that rides through part of Future World! Look at the Tron Monorail!

Epcot has a monorail stop that rides through part of Future World! Look at the Tron Monorail from 2010!

Epcot is known for it's special events -- and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is near the top of the list!

Epcot is known for it’s special events — and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is at the top of the list!

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is another special event worth seeing!  This is Lightning McQueen from 2010!

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is another special event worth seeing! This is Lightning McQueen from 2010!

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is another special event worth seeing!  Lightning McQueen wouldn't be complete without Mater!

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is another special event worth seeing! Lightning McQueen wouldn’t be complete without Mater!

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is another incredible show that is a must see at Epcot!

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is another incredible show that is a must see at Epcot!

The Voices of Liberty perform inside the American Adventure Pavilion prior to the show!

The Voices of Liberty perform inside the American Adventure Pavilion prior to the show!

Street Performers -- like this one in the United Kingdom Pavilion -- are a lot of fun to watch!

Street Performers — like this one in the United Kingdom Pavilion — are a lot of fun to watch!

Of course, character greetings are part of every Disney park! Here Sophie is joined with her buddy Donald Duck!

Of course, character greetings are part of every Disney park! Here Sophie is joined with her buddy Donald Duck!

I hope you have enjoyed taking a look at some of the things that you can expect to enjoy at Epcot when you visit!  Happy Birthday Epcot!  Are you going to be there to celebrate? If so, tell us what your favorite part of Epcot is, and thanks for stopping by!