More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

The ‘Art’ of Guest Show at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

Darcy Clark

by , Disney Springs Marketing Manager

I’m a big believer that good ideas can come from anyone. That’s why, when I got the green light to write for the Disney Parks Blog, I asked my co-workers to come to me with any story suggestions they had. (My theory is: if they think it’s cool, you will too!)

My friend Louis told me about the talents of a few cast members on our Guest Show Team. Not only do they keep Downtown Disney nice and tidy, they also entertain our guests with their amazing artistic skills. Take a look:

Hayes is One of 15 or so Cast Members Who Has Learned to ‘Paint’ Mickey, Minnie and Other Classic Disney Characters Using Nothing More Than His Broom and Water

Hayes is One of 15 or so Cast Members Who Has Learned to ‘Paint’ Mickey, Minnie and Other Classic Disney Characters Using Nothing More Than His Broom and Water Hayes is One of 15 or so Cast Members Who Has Learned to ‘Paint’ Mickey, Minnie and Other Classic Disney Characters Using Nothing More Than His Broom and Water

Hayes, featured above, is one of 15 or so cast members who has learned to “paint” Mickey, Minnie and other classic Disney characters using nothing more than his broom and water.

Hayes told me that it’s not uncommon for guests to gather around and snap photos of his work. I’ll admit, I was mesmerized watching him do this! Though I would have guessed he’d been doing it forever, Hayes has only worked at Downtown Disney since January. As part of the Disney College Program, he jumped at the chance to attend an optional training class to acquire this unique skill. (I think I would have too … if you ask me, it’s the ultimate “party trick”!)

The moral of the story is this: the next time you visit Downtown Disney, be on the lookout – that friendly custodial cast member you see just may be more than meets the eye!

Has a cast member ever dazzled you unexpectedly? Share your story in the comments below – I’d love to hear it!

(And if you want to be wowed by a daily dose of Downtown Disney news, follow us on Twitter at @WDWDowntown.)


  • Back in August of 2007, I took my 2 daughters on a magical 2 week WDW Resort vacation. We had the pleasure and honor of staying at both Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. My youngest daughter was 6 years old at the time and completely obsessed with Cinderella. Her favorite shoes were the “glass” slippers that we purchased for her at the Magic Kingdom. She wore them constantly those 2 weeks!

    One day while returning from the parks, it poured rain and her feet and shoes were so wet, that it became almost impossible for her to walk in the shoes. We took the shoes off, and I carried her from the bus to the Concierge Lounge at the BoardWalk Inn to grab some snacks. That’s when she realized she had accidently dropped one of the treasured glass slippers!

    The Cast Member who was working at the Concierge desk in the Lounge that afternoon sprang into action immediately and amazingly retrieved the shoe. Not only did he find the shoe, but he then got down on one knee, slipped it back on her foot and created her own special “if the shoe fits” moment! And, yes I have a picture of it! The smile on her face said it all.

  • On my first ever visit in Oct 2011 we ate a late dinner at Flying Fish one night. We were staying at All Star Movies and didn’t have a car so we had to rely on Disney transportation. We went to the Boardwalk bus stop to wait for a bus to the Magic Kingdom (it was open late for the Halloween party) where we would then hop a bus to ASMo. The bus at Boardwalk was waiting when we got there and the driver asked where we were headed. I thought that was odd, since it was MK bus, and we told him we were going to MK. There was one other couple with a small child on the bus already and the driver asked if it was ok if he dropped them off at Pop first. We didn’t mind. After a stop at Pop, my wife mentioned to him that we really only wanted to go back to our hotel. The drive radioed in and took us straight to our resort!

    That wonderful driver saved two groups a lot of time and hassle bus hopping that night. And as magical as it was for us, I bet it was even more magical for the couple with the small child!!

  • Two memories stick out for me the most (some 20+ years apart, though there have been plenty of others in between!).

    The first one was on my very 1st visit to WDW. I was 2 ½ and could spell “Mickey Mouse” before my own name (I think the catchy tune helped). Well, we were at the park and I saw Mickey. It was love at first sight and I ran to him. I was very much one of those kids who didn’t like strangers or other people and stuck close to my parents; but Mickey, he was a different matter altogether. Mickey knelt down and gave me a big hug. He unclipped my “leash” (it was the 80s so I had a strap around my wrist to keep me from getting lost or separated from my parents) and tossed it to my mom, took my hand and off we went. I never even looked back at my parents. As we were strolling, we ran into Minnie. Mickey knelt down next to me and patted his heart, pointing at me, and then pointing at Minnie and shaking his head, as if to say “I love her, Minnie, not you.” And Minnie just stood there with her arms crossed and tapping her foot, none too happy with this new development. It was at that moment my love affair with Mickey blossomed.

    On my most recent trip to Disneyland (this past October) a cast member totally made that trip extra special. My friend and I had gone to Mickey’s Halloween Party the day we got to the park and I had a sketch autograph book; I had drawn a collage of about 6 villains, among others pictures. We were meeting the Evil Queen from Snow White and I asked her to sign my drawing. She did and told me to make sure that Maleficent didn’t see it, as she wasn’t in the sketch. I told her that I had drawn Maleficent on her own page as we were coming back for the next party in a few days; I was going as Princess Aurora and my mom was going to be Maleficent (I went as Merida at this party). Well, the Queen wanted to know if I was coming back to Disneyland before the next party and I told her I would be. She “commanded” me to find her at the Conjure a Villain tent with her “portrait” on its own page; I promised I would.

    A few days later, I found out when the Evil Queen would be appearing and made sure I was there. I had her picture all ready and before I could say anything, she spotted me and said, “You remembered!” She was so excited; she showed it off to everyone in the tent. It was the most excited I’ve ever seen the Evil Queen—with the possible exception of giving Snow White the apple (she was so enthusiastic, she almost broke character!). I told her of course I did it; I didn’t want to get a poisoned apple in the mail!

    It’s always nice to be remembered and have an experience that’s personalized.

    • You must have really impressed the Evil Queen! So glad you followed through … you definitely don’t want to get on her bad side!

  • Darcy, this is a great idea for a blog post. My CM magical moment came from the Sugar Key Loaf at the Grand Floridian in WDW. One evening we came back a little too late for the 5pm-7pm concierge snacks, including Yeungling beer which I hadn’t had since my college days. Bummed, I asked Abdul, a CM helping there, if all the Yeungling was in fact all gone. Without a word, he gestured for me to hold on a moment, passed into the back kitchen area, and then came back with two icy Yeunglings in hand for me! Needless to say I was beaming with happiness the rest of the evening. That’s always a story my family likes to tell when we talk Disney.

    • Ice cold Yuengling always makes me “beam with happiness” too! Cheers to that fantastic memory!

  • So many times I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a cast member wow a Disney guest, even in the smallest way. For my family one visit sticks out. It was years ago, my 26 year old little sister was only 3 or 4 at the time. It was to be her first ride on the Haunted Mansion! She put on a brave face for her big sis, but as we got closer and closer to the house, her fear grew larger and larger. By the time we entered the growing room my mother had to hold her because she was crying so much.

    Now anyone who has been on the Haunted Mansion knows that the cast members there are the more somber of the Magic Kingdom; not a lot of smiling, sinister laughs, dark, deep voices. It adds to the ambiance of the ride! But for my sister, it just added to her fear.

    That is until the cast member standing behind us realized just how scared she was. He lifted his hat, gave a big, sincere smile, touched her little hand and told her “It’s ok, it all make believe.” Once we reached the loading area the cast member escorted us to the baby swap room where he stayed with my sister so my mother could ride with me. When we came back, Kat, my sister, was all laughs again! He totally changed her mood!

    It’s been over 20 years since that happened and my mom still tells the story every time we’re in line for the Haunted Mansion. The magic of Disney at it’s best.

    • Twenty years later and this story is still fantastic! (I hope your mom never stops telling it!)

  • Those towels animals always amaze. Last fall, during our stay at Port Orleans Riverside, we were lucky enough to stop back to our room when our Mousekeeper, Elizabeth, was there. She gave my daughter a towel animal tutorial and left her some rubber bands and eye stickers to make more ducks! And the next day, she left us an elephant. This would be a great story for the Disney Parks Blog – everyone loves those towel animals!

    • Meredith, those towel animals always amaze me! There’s nothing like coming back to your room after a long day in the Parks and having a new friend greet you. Once I came back to a monkey hanging in my closet doorway – I think he was my favorite!

  • When my girls were 5, they were on the Alice ride at Disneyland with their dad when it broke down. They weren’t scared, but after the cast members showed them out, one of my daughters started to quietly cry because it was her favorite ride. She refused to leave the queue area because she wanted to ride again as soon as Alice reopened. The cast member there was so kind to her, and told her the ride was stopped because one of the caterpillars (the ride vehicles) was turning into a butterfly, and needed help getting out of the ride and into the sky. After about 20 minutes, the ride did reopen, and we got on the first caterpillar. When we came back to the loading area, the cast member sent us through the ride again without stopping! We returned later in the day to find the same cast member, and she recognized us and sent us through twice again! It is still my daughter’s favorite Disney memory, 5 years later.

  • On our first trip to Disney, we arrived early to get signatures from Jasmine and Aladdin in Magic Kingdom and were treated to a ride on Aladdins Carpets with Jasmine and Aladdin. Even better Photopass got a great picture of them in flight. Very Magical first trip!

  • When I was a child, many moons ago, my parents took me to Disneyland. I was only 3 or 4 at the time and it was my first trip. Our trip was a spur of the moment trip, because my parents just need a break from life, as my grandmother had just past away after a very long illness. During our trip, we saw several of the 7 dwarfs and I was waiting meet them. Some teenagers were ahead of us and starting picking on the dwarfs and were being mean to them and I started crying and got really upset. The cast members took care of the situation and then arrange to have Snow White meet with me and we had a nice long chat. I still have the photos from that 1st trip and my visit with Snow White.

  • Yup, on my last trip back in November, I’ve had a CM arranging something magical for me:

    On November 7, 2012, I happened to be at the Magic Kingdom park, where I attended the 11:00am performance of the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party. With the idea of dancing along with Baloo, I positioned myself at the hub, where the float with Baloo (my favorite character!) and King Louie was supposed to stop for the dance routine.

    Well, the float stopped and my beary friend looked right at me, jumped down from his float and even pushed King Louie aside. Neverminding the choreography he was supposed to do, he ran right into my arms. I think, Baloo remembered me from the last time I met him in his “jungle” back in November 2009 and November 2010. Now how cool is that?! But things went on: Baloo took me by his paw and neverminding all the other dancing guests around, he spent the whole dancing routine just with me. That was awesome – dancing with Papa Bear right in front of my beloved Cinderella Castle!

    While busy dancing, I hardly noticed that one of the cast members starring in the parade approached friends traveling with me. The CM surely has noticed my special bond for Baloo. When the dancing was over and the parade floats were due to leave, one of my friends told me what the CM told her, although in a clever, not straight-forward way. But somehow, I smelled a surprise was around the corner. So I did what I was basically told: Follow the parade behind the last float, all the way down Main Street to the Trolley barn, holding the end rope while walking. This was a fun experience and Barbara, one of the CMs on my side at the end rope sure was fun, too. How cool walking down Main Street with guests looking at you and taking pictures. When we got to the point where the parade left to the backstage area, I and my friends were given “I’m Celebrating” buttons and we posed for a photo. “What a special moment!” was my final thought.

    I almost wanted to leave when a couple minutes later, a Cast Member approached me again and told me to follow into the barn where the horse trolley is stored. Coming in from the sunlight, it was quite dark at first. I recognized two eyes, something furry and blue. Of course – it was my biggest friend, Baloo! He stood there, with open arms and paws and at the moment I realized this, I ran up to him, yelling “Papa Bear, Papa Bear!” and we shared the biggest bear hug ever! There it was – a private meet & greet with my favorite buddy! I was so surprised, that I had tears in my eyes! The whole thing lasted for 5 minutes (but it seemed much longer to me) and the friends who were with me took photos and videos of that moment. This was very emotional – and Baloo did such a great job. He was like I knew him from the Jungle Book movie. That big, cuddly friend! I always loved the strong relationship Baloo had to Mowgli in the movie. Now I really did feel like Mowgli with my friend at my side!


    • It sounds like Baloo made a magical moment for you – way more than ‘The Bare Necessities’ … what an amazing memory!!!

  • We met one of the water artists at Epcot last September. We were walking through World Showcase and realized the wet walkway was a picture of Mickey! We stopped to talk to the lady, who was very nice, and she let both of my sons try their hand at making Mickey ears. They got “Official Disney Water Artist” ID cards and had their picture taken by another CM who was supervising the artist. Very neat experience and one of those magical moments that makes Disney so special.

  • My family was one of the only families on the bus one day. Since we were sitting near the front, the bus driver told us tips and tricks to having a great WDW vacation. We changed some of our plans because of some of the things she told us, and we had such a magical trip after that!

    • I’ve always thought our bus drivers are some of the hidden gems of Disney — this just supports my theory! Thanks for sharing!

  • My family loved vacationing at Disney World when I was younger and during a trip when I was about 7 or 8 I had a great memory created by a cast member. My family was eating at Liberty Tree Tavern and the waitress accidentally spilled a whole bunch food all over my lap. The manager rushed over and said “Come on, lets go shopping!” He took me and my dad to the nearest gift shop and let me pick out a whole new outfit! I have trouble remembering all the great times I had as a kid, but I’ll never forget that night!

    • Something that could have been awful (a ruined outfit? No thanks!) turned into one of your most cherished vacation memories! Kudos to the Manager who took you on your mini shopping spree — what a great example of the Disney difference!

  • My Family and I were in line for Peter Pan’s Flight and a cast member had just finished “painting” Pluto. He seemed that he was on his way somewhere else when my oldest son asked him if he could paint one more for his little brother. With out even batting an eye the cast member started a new broom painting and with two more. My kids loved it!

    • I love that the Cast Member agreed to paint another character. But my favorite thing about this story? The fact that your son asked on behalf of his little brother! Too cute!!!

  • I typically don’t post comments but our experience with a cast member last summer was truly magical and something my husband and I will never forget. My daughter and son were 4 & 8 at the time and we were just passing by on our way to our next adventure when a cast member ringing a bell outside the Columbia Harbour House stopped us to say hello. We exchanged a few words about where we were from and the next thing you know this wonderful cast member knelt down and sang “When You Wish Upon a Star” to our daughter. It was a truly magical moment for our family. I am grateful for each and every trip we take to the Walt Disney World Resort and the joy it creates for our family. Looking so forward to our next trip in 65 days and the new set of memories it will create.

    • “When You Wish Upon a Star” will always be one of my favorite Disney songs, and after this experience, I’m guessing it ranks at the top of your family’s play list, too! Here’s to many more magical memories for you this summer!

  • My parents and I took a cruise in the Mediterranean after I finished my undergraduate studies and before I entered law school as a graduation. During one night at Lumière’s I had the Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert and I absolutely adored it. I joked that it would be great if I could have it for dessert on our last night as a farewell, since we would have dinner at Lumière’s on our last night. A little over a week later on out last night, our wonderful cast members brought out an entire tray of Grand Marnier soufflés! I couldn’t believe they had remembered what I had said over a week before! It was a truly magical final evening onboard the Disney Magic, and one of my favorite memories.

  • I know this is a little routine but all the cast members that have pin lanyards…. We just got back from Disneyland and I have 13 and 15 year old girls (I know they are too old but hey we went for my 40th and I was right there with them) that LOVE to trade pins everyone that we traded with was friendly and helpful and pointed us in the direction of the type of pins we wanted….. Thank you so much!!!!!

    • 13 and 15 … too old? No way, sounds like the perfect age for a Disney vacation – and pin trading – if you ask me! (Same goes for 40, but it sounds like you agree there — hope it was your most magical birthday yet!)

  • A few summers ago, my husband & I took our daughters (then ages 8 & 5) on their first WDW vacation. He & I both grew up in Florida and have visited WDW dozens of times, & we both agree that a trip to the Magic Kingdom isn’t complete without eating a Mouseketeer bar (that may not be what they’re called anymore). I regret not getting the name of the cast member who did this, but the young lady who sold us our ice cream offered to take a picture of the four of us holding our bars. I’m sure that, to her, it was a small gesture, but it’s one of my favorite pictures from the trip because all four of us are in it. 🙂

  • We met Scott, another water painter, in Magic Kingdom back in February. He even taught our family how to paint Mickey. Our pre-teens had a blast with that and told all their friends about their experience. These interactions are part of the magic that brings us back to WDW time after time!

    • On the day of our photo shoot, Hayes invited a few young guests to help him “paint” Mickey – it was adorable to watch! And you’re SO right … those Cast Member interactions make all the difference!!!

  • My family and I so enjoyed this last summer at Disneyland in new Orleans Square. Could sit and watch them draw for hours. It’s little touches like this that just make the Disney experience so magical.

  • Yes I have been dazzled by a cast member!
    Last year I took three of my kids and my wife to Disney. It was my wife’s third time, daughters 3rd, middle son’s 2nd and younger guy’s 1st. He wanted to go all decked out as Peter pan(his favorite)Well we got him the costume and he looked awesome.

    He was three at the time. While waiting in line at Peter Pan’s Flight, on a Fastpass line that was not so fast, The cast member working the line came over and totally played with Anthony…er..Peter. He asked him for an autograph, how the weather was in neverland, if he could have some pixie dust and of course if Peter had seen the dastardly captain Hook!

    Then he did something unexpected…He asked Peter(and us to follow him) and he walked us up to the front of the line. He then asked if he could pick Peter up, I said yes and he picked him up and introduced him to the crowd! Then he said “Can we make Peter Pan wait in line for his own ride?” and the crowd cheered “No Way!” The people in the front were high-fiving Peter as we boarded the Ships to fly away.

    It was incredible. It totally was the most amazing first time experience my little guy could have gotten. He still asks me “Did they really think I was Peter?” I always say “A dream is a wish your heart makes Anthony, and your wish came true that day!”

    • Imagine being 3 years old and having that as one of your first Walt Disney World memories! Thanks so much for sharing this story – I bet Peter Pan is still his favorite character, huh? (Can’t blame him!!!)

  • Captain Ron at the Downtown Disney boats is the best! Funny & knowledgeable!

  • I’ve also seen them do this at Epcot. So cute!

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