Cast Members: A Chosen People
When we think of what makes Disneyland—and all the Disney parks—special, a number of factors may come to mind. Maybe it’s the rides, the shows, the themeing, the food, the atmosphere, the fireworks, or the parades. maybe it’s a particular one of those that holds a special memory.
All of those are valuable, and they do all work together to make these places unique. But there’s something else, something without which the rest would be nothing. The Cast Members.
Walt Disney said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” That’s really true. I’ve been to many places, and while each of them have good people, the level of quality, service, dedication, and show provided by Disney Cast Members is second to none anywhere that I’ve ever found.
Disney Cast Members are special group of people. And, as Christians, so are we.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, NIV)
Look at what it says about us: we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Let’s look at each of those a little more closely.
Disney has a careful selection process when it comes to hiring Cast Members. It used to be even more stringent than it is now, but it still holds true that not just anyone can walk in off the street and work for Disney. And the really good ones remain there for years. One Disneyland Cast Member, Oscar,just celebrated 55 years of service at Disneyland. Disney Cast members are chosen.
“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love Hepredestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6, NIV)
We, too, have been chosen. We have been adopted into His family. We are His chosen people.
The Greek word for holy means, when applied to people, “to be set apart for a specific purpose”. Cast Members certainly fit that description. They are set apart for a specific purpose: to be employed by the Walt Disney company to operate the park in their various capacities. Each has their own role to play. Walt Disney said, “Disneyland is the star, everything else is in the supporting role.” Being hired as a Disneyland Cast Member means being set apart for a purpose, as one with role to play.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (I Peter 1:13-16, NIV)
To call a person holy is to say that they belong to God, they are used in His service or dedicated to Him, or in some special way are His property. Nothing, except for God, is holy of itself or by nature. It becomes holy by being dedicated to God and His service. (See this devotional for more on holiness.)
The analogy breaks down a little here, but not because of an inherent flaw in it. It happens because of how rarely Cast Members get shown much appreciation.
I don’t know how recognition works inside the company itself, but I so often see Cast Members get criticized, yelled at, or even insulted by guests for doing their jobs. I do see some guests thank them, and that’s always encouraging. Most of the time, what I see is guests ignoring them, as though they were just part of the scenery.
My wife and I always thank Cast Members for doing their job, whether it’s directing us to a line, giving us our food, or helping us onto or off of a ride. (We do need to get better at thanking custodial Cast Members, though.) One step we have taken to really show our appreciation is with autograph books.
Of course, we have one for the characters, but we also have a separate one for Cast Members. We carry it with us to the Disney parks as often as we can, and if a Cast Member does something that makes a magical moment for us, or that just shows an extra reminder of what Walt wanted his people to be, we ask them to sign our autograph book.
You should see the responses. They are always touched, and a couple have been near tears. No one has ever asked them to do that before. I don’t understand why, though. They are such an important part of our trip that I can’t imagine Disneyland or Walt Disney World without them.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)
We are dearly loved children of God.
Here’s the bottom line:
Cast Members are chosen, set apart, and appreciated & valued. What they do comes from that identity, and the more they grasp it, the better they tend to be as Cast Members. It’s not hard to tell which ones really “get it”.
We are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Who we are comes from our identity, and right there our identity is summarized. The more fully we understand and internalize this, the more we live out the characteristics in this verse—and His love. It’s not performance, trying to earn His approval. It’s a natural expression of who we know we truly are and we do it out of love and gratitude.
Question: Have you taken time to intentionally show appreciation to a Disney Cast Member? What did you do, and why? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.