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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cast Member Confidential: A Disneyfied Memoir by Chris Mitchell

Cast Member Confidential: A Disneyfied MemoirIt's summer vacation! Who's going to Disney World? Sadly, not me.  I have actually never been to the Magic Kingdom itself, but I did spend one day at Epcot, 8 or 9 summers ago. In retrospect, I wish we'd done the Magic Kingdom, but it was a very fun day. This doesn't mean I was able to resist picking this title up when I was at the library a couple of weeks ago. (Months ago? Who knows, time flies these days!) Cast Member Confidential: A Disneyfied Memoir by Chris Mitchell is exactly what the title suggests- the memoir of a cast member, as Disney employees are called.  After everything in his life turns ugly, Chris runs away from home and joins the photography crew at Disney World. He is almost immediately shown the ugly side of the job, and the almost cultlike working experiences. 

I found the actual facts of working there very interesting- being called a "Cast Member",  how the shifts work, how the employees get around the grounds without being seen by guests, how they prevent two Mickey Mouses from appearing in the same location- that sort of thing. I was less than interested in the scandalous details that Mitchell includes- orgy of staff parties (literally), drinking on the job, porn at work, some illegal excursions with coworkers, sex while on the clock, etc.  It wasn't the best written book I've read and I felt like he included the illicit details to make it interesting.

When looking for the link to this book I noticed quite a few memoirs of this type, including Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member by Kevin Yee, which my library also had on the shelves. While I checked that one out as well, I found the writing in it to be even more disjointed.  Any suggestions for a well written memoir of this behind-the-scenes type? 

Have you been to Disney World? Disneyland? Are you like an acquaintance of mine who goes every year even though her only child is 18? Has Epcot bothered to update the out-of-date exhibits from 2001 yet? Which park would you recommend, if you were to only see one?  Is there an amusement park you like better?
Cast Member Confidential
Chris Mitchell
Citadel Press
320 pages

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  1. When I visited Disneyworld, I was extremely disappointed with the Magic Kingdom. Why? Well, our Disneyland is way bigger, and way more awesome and since I LOVE Disneyland, I was expecting the Magic Kingdom to be the park of all parks. Didn't happen.

    I enjoyed Epcot the most but not for the outdated displays (which are still there) but the FOOD! They had the best restaurants with non-disneyfied food.

    What is up with Disney? Their food is the same all over and it sucks!

    If we went again, I would add on the water parks because that seemed to be where all the action was.

  2. Have only been to Disneyland. The last time we tried to go, it was so full we never even made it to the front gate. (Went to Knott's Berry Farm instead.)

    The illicit stuff sounds like other places that have a whole bunch of young people taking temporary (or not so temporary) jobs far from home - you know, kind of like college kids getting their first taste of freedom. Might be different now with all the sexual harassment laws in place.

  3. Went to Disney and Epcot (and MGM- that's one of Disney's, right?) when I was 7 and again when I was maybe 9 or 10- grandparents lived in Florida, so we always took a day to do the theme parks when we were down there. I liked Epcot the best, even though the chicken I ate there was very, very dry.

    I put this on my TBR list- I like reading books about experiences I'll never have. :)

  4. I went through a phase when what I really wanted to do when I grew up was to be the Tinkerbell that flies from the Matterhorn to the Castle every night before fireworks. Not joking. I was obsessed. I was also 15. :)

    My grandparents used to live in Anaheim so I grew up on Disney. Even though I'm almost 29 I still think it's the happiest place ever. I love Epcot, too, but I'm a giant nerd. Scott and I tried to plan a trip with his family there last summer (Florida, not Cali) but we actually ended up in your neck of the woods instead!!

    Back to the book--just that he threw in illicit details for interest makes me not really want to read it. But sounds like it could be interesting.


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