12 Disney Cast Member Perks & Benefits Beyond Pay That Set Working For Disney Parks Apart

For many people who decide to work at the Disney theme parks, they choose to do so because they want to create magical moments for guests from all around the world every day. These Disney Cast Member Perks and benefits help to set working for Disney apart.

Maybe they had a great experience with a Cast Member when they were younger that inspired them, or maybe they’ve never been to the parks at all but have always dreamed of working for Mickey Mouse. Whatever the reason is that people decide to work at the Disney parks, they receive some pretty awesome benefits in addition to the opportunities to help make memories for guests. Keep reading to find out 10 perks that Disney Cast Members get!

Free Theme Park Entry is Top Cast Member Perk

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By far the most substantial special perk that Disney Cast Members get is free entry into the theme parks. Whether they are working directly in one of the parks or they’re at one of the resort hotels or Disney-owned shops in Downtown Disney or Disney Springs, they receive a pass that will allow them to enter any of the Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks for free.

Cast Member park entry passes, called “Main Gates,” are subject to blackout dates just like certain levels of tickets or annual passes are. Depending on what the occasion is (a major holiday, a new attraction/park area opening, or a special event), Cast Members may be blocked from some or all the parks so that paying guests can enter instead.

Cast Members are able to connect their Main Gate passes with their My Disney Experience app, which makes it easier if they are planning a trip ahead of time. However, one of the best benefits of these passes are that if Cast Members find themselves with a few hours of free time and are not blocked out, they can quickly head over to a park and grab a snack, ride a few attractions, or even just sit on a bench and people watch.

Exclusive Giveaways

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Throughout the year, Cast Members are given the perk of submitting their names into giveaways that are offered for exclusive prizes and experiences. These contests change every couple of months, and they provide a wide variety of offerings that most people will never have the opportunity to enjoy. Depending on what the prize is, the giveaways can be won by one person or several people.

In the past, Cast Members have won complimentary stays in concierge-level rooms at deluxe resorts, backstage tours of attractions in the theme parks, early previews of brand-new Disney movies, and even a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite at Disney World. Sometimes, Cast Members are even able to bring along a guest or two of their choosing to participate in the experience with them, which makes this perk even sweeter!

Tuition Support For a Wide Range of Universities is Cast Member Benefit

While access to the Disney theme parks is a great perk, this next one is substantial and has changed the lives of thousands of Disney Cast Members. More than any other item on this list, this benefit is a powerful one for Cast Members to transform their situations.

Eligible full-time and hourly Disney Cast Members also get access to the “Disney Aspire” program which pays 100% of tuition upfront. This perk allows Cast Members to continue with their education dreams while working for Disney. The company supports tuition for Cast Members at a variety of university programs in person and online.

In fact, 1 in 4 applicants to Disney jobs now cite this university program as one of the key Disney perks that inspired them to apply for the Disney position. Over 2,800 Disney Aspire students and graduates have been promoted into leadership positions across The Walt Disney Company.

Theme Park Passes for Family and Friends

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Another perk that Disney Cast Members get is the ability to bring family and friends into the theme parks for free. These “Guest Passes” work differently than the Main Gate passes, because while Cast Members have an unlimited amount of entry opportunities to use for themselves, they are limited in the number of times they can bring a guest in for free.

The Cast Member Guest Passes can only be used if the Cast Member enters the park with their guests at the beginning of the day. The Cast Member remaining with their guests throughout the duration of their day is important, because if the guests act inappropriately or cause any trouble, it reflects directly back onto the Cast Member. This is also why most Cast Members will only allow people that they know and trust to use their Guest Passes.

Discounts at Restaurants is Favorite Disney Cast Member Perk

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In addition to free park entry, Cast Members are also given a lot of different discounts on various Disney experiences. One of the most lucrative is the restaurant discounts, since there are so many fantastic places to eat at the theme parks and resorts. There are some stipulations to this discount, since not every restaurant offers a discount all the time.

For some restaurants, the dining discount can only be used during a certain mealtime, like at breakfast or lunch. Some restaurants only offer a discount at slower times of the year to ensure they are bringing in as much revenue as possible during the busy seasons. Whether the discount can be used or not really depends on the price, popularity, and capacity of the restaurant at any given time.

Generally, Cast Members receive a discount at the Quick Service Restaurants all throughout the year. Some of the Table Service Restaurants that are not busy often, like those at the resorts, offer a discount all year round as well. And sometimes, even the specialty restaurants—like the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, for example—provide Cast Members with a large discount.

Sneak Previews of New Theme Park Experiences

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While it doesn’t happen all the time, one extra special perk Cast Members are given is the chance to try out new park areas, attractions, and restaurants before they are opened to the public. The primary reason for doing this is so Cast Members are able to answer questions about and advise guests on the new offerings available, but it’s a great experience for those who are able to participate.

If a new attraction is opening at one of the parks (like TRON Lightcycle/Run, for example), Cast Members are able to sign up for a specific date and time to test out the ride and are permitted to enter the park for that purpose, even if it’s a day that their Main Gate passes are blocked out. When a brand-new land is opening, like Pandora – The World of Avatar or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Cast Members are able to spend several hours in the area riding the new attractions, eating at the restaurants, and checking out the merchandise.

Merchandise Discounts

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For Cast Members who enjoy collecting Disney items, the merchandise discount is one of the best perks available. Just like the restaurant discounts, the amount of savings Cast Members receive depends on the time of year, the items they’re buying, and the store they’re purchasing them at. During the holiday season, Cast Members typically receive double the discount they’re offered the rest of the year, so that’s the time when most will stock up on theme park souvenirs they’ve had their eyes on.

Cast Members also have the unique benefit of shopping at Cast Connection, where excess merchandise that is being retired is stored. The price on these items is usually already lower than it was in the parks, and then Cast Members also get an additional discount added using their Disney ID card. There is an area of the store that houses items that are not sellable due to slight damage or wear, and those can be up to 75% off the original price. There are even sometimes retired Cast Member costumes and resort furniture pieces up for grabs!

Discounted Resort Stays

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Although Cast Members generally live close to the Disney theme parks, there are still times when it is beneficial to stay onsite, whether for a staycation, an early morning event, or spending time with out-of-towners. In these instances, having a resort discount to take advantage of is ideal, and Cast Members definitely make the most of this offer.

Like the restaurant discounts, this perk depends largely on the time of year and what is happening at the theme parks. While the offer is always available, it’s not always an option at every resort. It’s much more challenging for Cast Members to find a discounted room during spring break season and the winter holidays, and when large events are happening at ESPN Wide World of Sports, it’s almost impossible to book a room at any of the Disney World value resorts.

There are almost always discounted rooms available at the deluxe villa resorts and some of the larger, less popular options, like Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. The newer resorts don’t often have any openings, and if they do, it’s usually for the rooms that accommodate more people, like the family suites. Cast Members never know what they’re going to be able to find, but it’s still a great perk nevertheless.

Specialty Activity Discounts

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Outside of all the Disney theme park vacation basics like a resort room, food, and souvenirs, Cast Members also receive discounts on specialty offerings from time to time. These activities can range from Disney Cruise Line trips and Adventures by Disney excursions around the world to VIP tours and packages within the theme parks and resorts.

In the past, some of the tours that have been available to Cast Members at a lower cost included the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Behind the Seeds Tour in The Land Pavilion at Epcot, and the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom. The cruises and excursions that have been previously offered have traveled all over the world, from the tropical Caribbean Islands to snowy Scandinavia. All in all, Cast Members are able to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences at a much lower cost.

Did you know that Adventures by Disney has a once-in-a-lifetime experience that guests can participate in too? Check out the itinerary for a $115k private jet trip to every Disney Park around the world.

Exclusive Cast Member Events

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In addition to the contests and sneak peek opportunities that are offered, there are often other special activities that take place that any Cast Member can sign up to participate in. Sometimes these are larger experiences that can accommodate a lot of people, and others are only available to much smaller groups, so Cast Members need to keep an eye out for when these events are posted so they can get their name on the list.

These activities span a lot of different areas of the theme parks and resorts. In the past, events offered have included sunrise yoga in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, Cast Member 5k runs, scavenger hunts throughout the parks, and backstage tours of attractions and shows like Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Fantasmic! Plus, for the more competitive activities, Cast Members sometimes receive specialty prizes that cannot be purchased anywhere else.

Holiday Coupon Booklets

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During the winter holiday season, Cast Members receive the gift of a coupon booklet to celebrate the conclusion of another great year. These booklets contain a mixture of free and discounted experiences, and they can only be used for a limited amount of time, usually between November and February.

The booklet typically includes several coupons for free snacks like popcorn, churros, or Mickey pretzels. It also usually has a few major discount coupons that can be used at most of the Table Service Restaurants, a free pass for mini golf at Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland, and an extra complimentary ticket that Cast Members can use to bring a family member or friend into the theme parks.

Service Anniversary Celebrations

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The Cast Members who have dedicated 10 or more years of their lives to the Disney theme parks and resorts receive an extra perk: Service Anniversary Celebrations. These parties are offered once a year for Cast Members who are celebrating a milestone anniversary working for the Walt Disney Company. This begins at the 10-year mark and then every five years afterward they are invited again.

For these special events, one of the theme parks closes to the general public a few hours earlier than normal, and only those invited to the party and their plus ones are allowed to enter. There are delicious food and beverage options available, unique character meet and greets, and some of the most popular attractions remain open for the attendees to enjoy. This really is a wonderful way for Disney to recognize the hard work and dedication their Cast Members put in every day to make magical moments for guests!

If you're a Cast Member, what's your favorite perk of the role? And if you're not a Cast Member, which of these perks sounds most exciting? Tell us in the comments!

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