Essentials The 101 Series

Disney Lingo 101: The Language of the Disney Parks

Your essential guide to the most frequently used words around the Disney Parks

*Photo Credit: Theme Park Connection

During your visit, or on this blog even, you’ll hear people use certain terms when referring to things in the parks. Most Disney fans refer to this language as “Mouse-speak” or “Disney-speak”. While fans like myself are fluent in this language, you, and the other visitors to this blog, may not be. This handy guide will help you understand the keywords of this not-so-secret language along with the more “correct” terms for referring to certain things.

Things You Might Hear Cast Members Say:

Cast Member: This is the most important term you could know. In all of the Disney Parks, the people you see working in the shops, in guest relations or even the custodians, are not referred to as Employees. The term Disney likes to use is “Cast Members”. Walt Disney’s envisioned that every guest’s experiences in the parks be their very own adventure, their own movie, even. This movie theme is seen most explicitly in Magic Kingdom, with the “opening credits” on the windows of Main Street U.S.A., for an example. (more on this later) Each “employee” you meet is a part of the cast, hence the term Cast Members. 

Guest: As mentioned briefly above, Guest is the word used to refer to the visitors of the park. This terminology is put in place in order to make visitors feel welcome, as if they’re coming home (this welcoming approach was also the reason behind the change from turnstiles to touchpoints back when MyMagic+ was first introduced). In other words, you’re not a visitor, you’re not a customer, you’re a Guest. 

Backstage: Still keeping with the movie/film set theme, Backstage is how Disney likes to refer to the Cast Member Only areas of the park. Once Cast Members are in Guests’ view, they are onstage. When they go through the gates of the Cast Member Only areas, they are now backstage. 

Lost Parents: Let’s get one thing straight, in Disney, children are never lost, it’s the Parents who are lost. The Disney philosophy has always been this: A “lost” child in Disney is never truly lost. They know where they are, they’re in Disney World. What they don’t know is where their parents are. This is why if Cast Members spot a child who can’t find their parents, they will ask the child “Are your parents lost?”

Magic Band: Magic Bands are the name of the brightly-coloured wristbands you might see some people wearing around the parks. These wristbands can hold everything, including your park ticket, your Fastpasses and even your hotel key (if you’re staying at a Disney hotel).

Fastpass: Fastpasses are used to enter the Fastpass line (if a ride/show offers it). The Fastpass line is generally shorter than the Standby line, and access to Fastpasses are completely free-of-charge, so I encourage you to take advantage of them.

My Disney Experience: My Disney Experience is an app available for iOS and Android. The app is extremely helpful, whether you’re using it to check wait times, book a dining reservation, or even book Fastpasses. It’s overall an essential app that I highly recommend that you on your visit. 

Extra Magic Hours: Extra Magic Hours are time slots, given to guests staying at select Disney Hotels, in which they can access the park before anyone else. These time slots are usually an hour before the park opens or 1-2 hours after the park closes. Every day a different park offers the time-slots, Hotel Guests will receive a schedule upon check-in.

Community Terms (Words you’ll hear the Disney Community say, but not always the Cast Members)

The Utilidor: The Utilidor is the backstage area of the Magic Kingdom park. What makes Magic Kingdom unique is that it has a series of tunnels underneath the park. That’s right, when you’re walking around the Magic Kingdom, you are actually on the second floor, not the first. The Utilidors are used by the Cast Members as transportation between the different lands of the Magic Kingdom. The Utilidors are strictly off limits to guests unless you take the Keys to the Kingdom tour, a tour for ages 16 and over that includes an hour in the Utilidors.

Disneybound: You may not hear the Cast Members say this, but you might hear other guests saying this. “Disneybounding” is the act of dressing in normal clothing that has a colour scheme reminiscent of a certain Disney character. It’s a common activity that you can do by yourself or in a group. If this sounds interesting to you, check out the essential guide to Disneybounding here.

Dapper Day: Dapper Day is a Disneybound event that occurs once every year. On this day, Disneybounders dress in vintage clothing from an era of their choosing. Of course, it is still disneybounding, so the outfits will be reminiscent of certain characters.

Fur Character: If you have already paid a visit to my comprehensive list of available character meet and greets, you should recognize this and the following term. Fur Characters, essentially, is the term used to describe what we call “mascot” characters, like Mickey, Stitch, or Darth Vader. These characters usually can’t speak to you directly, so it’s up to you pay attention to what they’re trying to say. 

Face Character: Face Characters include characters like Cinderella (and all the princesses), Peter Pan, or Mary Poppins. Unlike Fur Characters, Face Characters can speak to you directly. You can ask Face Characters questions or just have a friendly conversation with them. For tips on character interactions, check out the post Character Interactions 101: The Essential Guide to Character Meet and Greets.

This concludes your essential guide to Disney Lingo around the parks. Hopefully these will be helpful to you during your next visit!

Everyone's Guide To Disney is an advice and planning blog for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Jada, who has been visiting Disney for now 12 years (and counting) writes from her personal experience, and hopes to help others have the best Disney trip they possibly could.

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