The Importance of Cast Members

The Importance of Cast Members

One of my favorite places in the world is Disneyland Paris. Of all the Disney parks world-wide, it is perhaps the most beautifully designed experience. There are so many details that can be found such as the signature icon, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant at Disneyland Paris. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

On my YouTube Channel, I have videos posted of Disney Imagineers talking about the amazing lands of Disneyland Paris. Signature icons like this stand out across the park. But get up close and each of these majestic attractions is full of beautiful, intrinsic details, like the stain glass you see below:

The story of Sleeping Beauty told in stain glass at Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Imagineers know that despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that go into creating these beautiful attractions, it’s all for nothing if the guest experience isn’t supported by the Cast Members. To that degree, they emphasized this at the end of the one of the videos:

Here are some key messages from this vignette:

  • It’s easy to forget when designing a great experience the importance of what the Cast Member brings.
  • Cast Members bring the story to life.
  • People most often talk about how great the service is of the Cast Members than any other aspect of their experience.
  • Imagineers put their work in the hands of Cast Members to maintain, keep the park beautiful, to keep the story alive, and to bring about the spirit of the parks through their smiles.
  • Cast Members are truly the host–the guest experience is in the hands of the Cast Member.

Of course, getting the right Cast Member delivery requires having the right Cast Member. This was particularly important when Disneyland Paris opened, because many potential candidates from that area were not familiar with the guest-friendly expectations Disney makes of its Cast Members. Fortunately Disneyland Paris Resort has now been through a generation or so of guests, so that many new hires were once guests who enjoyed Disneyland as children themselves. They see how powerful the guest experience can be.

Emphasizing the role of Cast Members is not just Disneyland Paris’s challenge. It’s the challenge of all of Walt Disney attractions. Walt Disney World alone needs to hire thousands of new Cast Members each year. Staffing some 70,000 roles throughout the property is no easy job. That’s why a few years ago Disney Parks put out videos like the ones below, letting potential hires know not only what it’s like to be a Disney Cast Member, but what is expected.

In your organization, you probably don’t have castles or Cast Members. But you do have staff, and you want to emphasize the importance of your employees. Ask yourself:

  • How do I demonstrate that my employees are important?
  • What would fall apart if I didn’t have capable employees supporting me?
  • How do employees add or distract from the investment that I have made on the entire guest experience?
  • To what length do I communicate expectations to potential hires of what I want in a great employee?
  • What resources do I utilize to support my employees in the work they do?

We often say that employees are our greatest asset. How do you invest in those assets? Or, do you treat them more like a liability? That’s the opportunity every organization–maximizing your most important assets. Always consider: how important are your employees?

Leadership matters when it comes to having great employees. That’s why you may want to check out my latest book, available on Amazon and Kindle. Take a look at Disney, Leadership and You. Find new ways you can lead your employees to greatness. Check it out today!

Disney, Leadership and You
Disney, Leadership and You, written by J. Jeff Kober.


J. Jeff Kober

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