Surprise Your Guests with Something Extra

Lessons learned during 25 days spent onsite over the past year talking with dozens of Cast Members (current and former) at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Walt Disney World.

Don’t you love the surprise of getting something extra when you least expect it?

Disney’s Custodial Cast Members are some of my most favorite Cast Members to observe as they go about their role. It’s a very important role, far more than you might think. The Custodial Cast Member is much more than a “janitor” or a “street sweeper.” They are independent for the most part – meaning they have the freedom to move around in different sections of the parks because of their white costumes don’t clash with any theming. They receive extra training because of their visibility and accessibility. Their official title is Custodial Guest Services Cast Member for a reason – their very visible presence in all the parks allows them to answer guest questions, make personal connections, and create artwork…

Wait a minute – create artwork?

That’s what I said! In addition to upholding Walt Disney’s vision for keeping the parks clean for guests, members of the custodial team can also become water artists.


Custodial Cast Members can sign up for a class where they learn to draw various Disney characters with their pan, broom, and a little water.

Not to be outdone, on a recent trip to the Magic Kingdom I even saw a few regular Cast Members practicing a little art magic with masking tape.

Lee Cockerell, former executive vice president of operations at Walt Disney World Resorts, talks about this in his book The Customer Rules:

With a little bit of imagination, you too can delight customers by giving them a little extra when they least expect it. They’ll surprise you in turn by coming back early and often and by singing your praises to others.

Lee Cockerell, The Customer Rules

That’s right – some of the best comments and thanks from Guests go to the Custodial teams. That speaks so powerfully to the culture at Disney.

Now for a tough question – think of the “least desirable role” in your organization. Do those team members have the same passion and culture exhibited by the Custodial Cast Members at Disney?

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