What do Cast Members do on their days off? Well it’s more complicated than you could really imagine, as there are over 60,000 cast members and it’s utterly impossible to bunch them all together in one generalized article.
That being said, I’m completely up for providing an insight into what I did on my days off when I was a Cast Member in EPCOT. Once again, I’m not going to say that every single person who works at WDW does these things, as we all are coming from different backgrounds and are there for many reasons.
I was there for the Cultural Representative program, which meant that the majority of my shifts were to be in the Canadian Pavilion. We had two schedules to choose from, with a 4 on 4 off (10 hour days) and 5 on 2 off (8 hour days). Because I was doing the 5/2, days off were a little more precious…but it also gave me the opportunity to look at my work days in a different light without overdoing it.
Top 10 Things Cast Members do on their Days Off
DAY TO DAY
This is probably the biggest thing that my friends didn’t quite understand when I couldn’t meet them in the parks on my day off. There are things that we had to do which didn’t involve the “vacation kingdom”, and as boring as they were…it was a great escape from the pixie dust.
Depending on where you were living, you could either do your laundry in your apartment or in a laundry room. My first apartment was at one of the oldest properties, and thus there was a number of things that we just didn’t have access to. On days off, you may have had to dedicate a couple hours to waiting for your laundry to cycle through. My second apartment had laundry in the unit, so that was easier to have it running throughout the day without stressing too much.
Fun fact – after the first week or so…we would just wear our costumes for the majority of the time. The Canadian outfit was great because the shorts were basic tan and we always wore a black tee under the lumberjack shirt, which basically meant that we would be able to change out of the shirt and hiking boots before heading out to the park.
Living at Disney World is incredibly expensive, so we’d do grocery shopping as often as possible in order to keep costs down. It would have been great to live on theme park food, but if you could imagine how costly that would be…you’d want to head to Publix too!
WALMART / TARGET TRIP
Most of the Cultural Representatives didn’t bring cars with them, so we had to deal with buses. There are multiple routes, and one of them took us to Walmart / Target, which allowed us to get things that weren’t available at the Outlet mall or the Publix across the street within walking distance. Things have definitely changed with the influx of online ordering, but when I was down there…it was still an investment of time to head to the Walmart for things like towels, bedding and shoes.
Fun fact – I only bought one pair of hiking boots during my contract. On the last day of my contract, I actually walked through my shoes! I’m not sure how many miles those boots lasted through, but it was impressive to say the least.
I tried to call home as often as possible, but with the timezone change, it would usually be easier to schedule a chat with the fam on days off. Plus, back then we didn’t have skype or FB calling, so we had to do a lot of calling cards.
If I was down there now, it would be so easy to set up shop in a Starbucks with wifi…but then you wouldn’t have the five minutes of your mom saying that she’s missed you! haha
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IN DISNEY STUFF
Why would you move to Florida if you didn’t want to spend your time in the parks? Some of my favorite memories are things that happened on days off, because it was less stressful for picking a park before or after your shift. I almost ever ended up at the Magic Kingdom before or after my EPCOT shifts, just because it was so difficult to deal with the buses. Let’s go through some of the ‘Disney Stuff’ that CMs do.
PLAY IN THE PARKS
Most of my colleagues at the Canadian Pavilion had different schedules than I did, so even if I wanted to hang out with them…it would either be for a short time or we just ended up seeing each other at work. When you have a day off though, you actually would make friends in other lines of business or
DINNER WITH FRIENDS
When you work at the Walt Disney World Resort, you’ve got the world at your fingertips…and that also includes the best food that you could ever imagine. As a cast member, you’re given perks throughout the resort, and sometimes there are extra perks that come with the holiday season. Taking advantage of these discounts could take you to lunch at a signature restaurant when you get to dress up all spiffy-like and feel like a million bucks with friends!
Looking back on my contract, I wish that I had done more dining at Table Service & Signature restaurants. That being said, segments of the company are better equipped to do costly things vs other roles, where you’re looking for the most ‘cost efficient’ entertainment.
Not going to spoil anything, but the training that’s offered through Disney University to cast members is by far the best investment of your time off. From leadership courses to classes on professional development and everything in between…absolutely epic! BUT I have to share that part of the Magic is to do early morning behind-the-scenes tours of various attractions. I can’t really share which ones I did, but waking up at 5am in order to be at EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in order to see stuff with their work-lights on will be with me forever!
This is a fun one because it’s getting easier and easier to gain access to unique times in the parks where you can get those perfect backdrops. Be it early in the morning or late at night, Cast Members are some of the most photogenic folks that you could ever meet, so if you want the REAL Instagram spots…just follow a few CMs in your feed.
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Find a friend with a car and you’re golden! Most folks don’t bring cars down, but if you’re in Food & Beverage the likelyhood of renting a car for a day or a weekend to drive the 70 minutes from The Commons to Cocoa Beach is as simple as mentioning it.
Getting outside of the “Disney Bubble” is important for a sanity check, because most times you’re either making the Magic or playing in it. Taking these longer trips away from the resort actually helps with bonding and growing friendships…but don’t worry about the tan…you’ll already have that!
When you work at Disney World, you usually have an annual pass to Universal Orlando (and maybe a couple other theme parks). I picked mine up at Publix during one of my first grocery trips, but it’s all about knowing that you’re a $20 Uber ride to Butterbeer and the incentive is there.
ORLANDO PREMIUM OUTLETS
The trek to the Outlets wasn’t really a trek…it involved a 3-minute walk and a side-entrance that put you right in the middle of the action. Keep in mind that my costume from the Canadian Pavilion was actually fairly versatile, because kaki shorts and black shirts were in abundance, but picking up $5 shirts from the Oakley Vault or 2/$30 dress pants at Perry Ellis always helped grow the non-park day wardrobe.
They also had Starbucks AND the Disney Character Warehouse, so there was never a reason why you couldn’t spend a little time after your shift at a mall that closed at midnight daily!
I hope that this was a fun and interesting look at what Cast Members do on their day off. It was a ton of fun to go back to when I was working at the most Magical Place on Earth!