One of the comments I always hear about my first book, Brittany Earns Her Ears (2015), is that readers wish I continued to write about my second Disney College Program. I hadn’t planned on writing about my second program at the time, since I was only contracted by my publisher to write the one book.
That book really is just a slightly edited version of my journal from my Disney College Program, which I wrote religiously every day to have material for the book, despite varying levels of exhaustion from being a CP. The second time around I didn’t journal (though now I really wish I did!) so I didn’t have all of that material ready to work with for another “Earning Their Ears” book.
I did have some brief talks with my publisher about writing a second book though because people did seem to still want it, but then the show I worked at (Lights, Motors, Action!) closed. With my work location closed, my publisher and I agreed that another book didn’t make much sense as so much of my role in Attractions was so specific to that location, the book probably wouldn’t be that interesting to prospective CPs.
What might be interesting though, is my experience working at Fantasmic! Anyone can pick up shifts at Fantasmic, you do not need to be working in Attractions or statused at that location, but I did end up working there a lot because that was one of the ways they made up our minimum hours at Light’s, Motors, Action! And with the Disney College Program back in full swing AND Fantasmic returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios soon I thought sharing my experience there could be fun…
The setup of working at Fantasmic is sort of similar to other shows at Walt Disney World (scheduling and some of the positions, there is a lot that is otherwise very specific to Fantasmic.) Fantasmic is one of the largest shows on Disney property, and with so many Guests entering the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater all at once loading the show can be a lot. Before we get to the show load, however, let’s talk about arriving for your shift and positions.
I’m sure this is a different process for people who are statused at Fantasmic, but when I worked here, I would arrive backstage and clock in for my shift and pull a position (a process that is pretty standard among most Disney Cast Member roles.) Then I would wait for track talk, essentially a meeting with the managers and coordinators where they would go over projected attendance numbers for the show and anything else that we needed to know. Track talk took place on the standing pad in the stadium, and pulling our position took place in the breakroom that was essentially a large trailer backstage.
The first position you’d encounter entering the theater would be greeter, so I’ll start with that. I’ve never been a greeter for Fantasmic (the Cast Members who stand at the entrance to an attraction) as my guess is that this position only goes to people who work full-time or part-time at Fantasmic. Beyond that, I have worked at the FastPass entrance, which obviously does not exist now but it’s quite possible Lightning Lane will take its place. If that’s the case, it would likely function the same as Lightning Lane at other attractions, and it would be a position that only other trained Attractions Cast Members can work.
Next up as you walk toward the theater, there would be more Cast Members (who work at Fantasmic) directing you for where to go. I haven’t worked those positions as it wasn’t my home location, but those positions looked pretty chill– If you do end up at Fantasmic they’d probably be fun!
Beyond that you have strollers. Stroller parking anywhere at Walt Disney World is stressful, and on Fantasmic it can be…hit or miss. On the one hand, they have such a system down that your time at work flies by and there isn’t much time for say…a Guest to find you instead of their stroller and flip out, but at the same time, it’s really fast-paced and the first time you do it when you’re less familiar with the setup you will probably be stressed.
You have to separate the Disney strollers from the non-Disney strollers and instruct everyone who has a rented Disney stroller to take all of their stuff out of it and bring it with them into the theater. That’s the hardest part. People pack their strollers and don’t want to touch them, but this is all done for the sake of efficiency (one of Disney’s Five Keys to a Great Guest Experience.) By getting everyone to empty their strollers before they sit down for the show, they’ll be able to grab any stroller on their way out of the park rather than spending the time in a massive crowd searching for theirs, or if it’s easier, they can leave their stroller and head right out of the park.
Next you have wheelchair walker, the worst position you could possibly have at Fantasmic in my opinion. Multiple Cast Members would be wheelchair walkers for each show, and basically what this meant is that you would stand near the entrance to the seating area and flag down Guests traveling in wheelchairs, ECVs (scooters), strollers tagged as wheelchairs, or any other mobility devices to seat them. You’d ask them how many in their party and then walk their entire group to a designated seat.
I realize this doesn’t seem that stressful, and maybe to be fair I would probably handle it better now, but the problem with this was twofold- that the seating areas were difficult to keep track of, and other Guests would try to sit in wheelchair seating and you’d have to keep kicking them out. Each section of the stadium has different numbers of wheelchair spaces and transfer seats to accommodate different party sizes, so you sort of had to remember where Guests would be going based on which seats were still available and how many people they had in their group, and then you might have to get creative with seating and place say two people in front of one person in a wheelchair and one person in a transfer seat. If it was crowded, you might have to seat members of different parties next to each other on a kind of small bench (if that was the only space next to the transfer seats) and that could also be difficult, too.
The other position I’ve worked in, and by far the easiest, is working one of the aisles. You would be assigned an aisle to stand at in the stadium and simply direct Guests where to sit. Each section of the show is filled one at a time, so once your section is filled you are pretty much done and just helping Guests by giving directions and answering questions, and enjoying the nostalgic pre-show music. If you were working the dining package section, you had the added step of checking that Guests had tickets to sit there, but this really wasn’t difficult.
There were a couple of other positions that I can’t speak to since they were only done by Fantasmic Cast Members (I know one was an aisle-like position that was closest to the water, I assume they had similar job functions but there was an extra safety training or something they had done that I hadn’t.)
Once the show was loaded, aisle Cast Members stay nearby in case Guests have questions. Then, once the show starts, you wait to go on break! I’m not kidding. You either have a cue in the show that means you can just leave to go to break, or depending on the position, you wait for someone to relieve you. If you pick up a Fantasmic shift (meaning you’re not there for a full work day, just a couple of hours) you’d get a 15, otherwise you likely took a lunch before the show started.
After break, most positions grab either a trash bag or a picker, or a broom and you would go to wait on one side of the stadium for the show to finish. As the show empties out, you’d work your way across one row of the stadium sweeping or picking up trash or recycling. That sounds horrible, but with such a system in place it really isn’t. What is horrible is the condition Guests leave the stadium in, but really cleaning it up isn’t bad.
That’s mostly it! There are some smaller nuances like giving certain Guests VIP seating, and a Magical Moment that takes place with the first Guests to enter the theater, but I’m not sure if any of that will have changed now for when the show reopens.
Whether you get statused at Fantasmic, or are looking to pick up shifts there on your Disney College Program, this show is lots of fun to work!