Disneyland may be the happiest place on Earth, but have you ever thought about working there? Over 20,000 people work for Disneyland in California alone and that number gets bigger every year. Walt Disney said himself, “Disneyland will never be complete. It’s always growing and expanding.”

Before I started working for Disney, I tried to do my research. But Disney is so secretive about what it’s like to work for them! I felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into. Even when you look up cast member experiences, every story is unique. But there are some things that are universal no matter where you’re working at Disney or what you’re doing.

Holidays aren’t days off—they’re the busiest times of the year

This is important because so many people will take a job at Disneyland right before a major holiday and expect to get it off. Unless you’ve been there for over a year, you aren’t getting holidays off. But that’s not as big a bummer as it sounds: You get time off to make up for the holidays, even if you spend the big ones in the park. My boyfriend and I, who both work at Disney, are planning on celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas on different days this year. If you plan ahead, it’s really not a big deal.

The more years you work there, the more perks you get

The longer you work there, the more perks you get and the more flexibility you have with your schedule. Once you transfer positions or locations, your seniority resets. At the beginning, this may seem inconvenient but after you’re there for a year or so, it’s smooth sailing.

You can’t take pictures backstage

Disney is really serious about keeping some information under wraps. So though it’s sometimes tempting to take that behind-the-scenes selfie, it’s not worth your job! Save the photos for your days off, when you can go to the park for free.

A positive attitude and excitement to be there is all you need

There’s no up-selling tactics, no sales goals, no awkward hawking products down. If you’ve worked in food or retail, you know the struggle. But at Disney, you just gotta do your thing, and look happy to be there. Being accommodating to customers can be hard if you’re having an off-day, but it’s easy if you remember how excited so many people are to be there just for a few days.

Every day is a performance, no matter what your role in the park is

You are a cast member, not an employee!

Disney members can be your family for life

Not saying you have to be there forever, but lots of people end up working for Disney for decades once they start at the park. It’s not your average summer job. It’s a life-changing experience and there’s no other workplace like it.

Oh, yeah:You get unlimited free park admission

And you get to bring your friends and family in the park for free too, up to 16 times a year as a part time employee. The only caveat is that certain times of years are blocked out—It’s usually no big deal though considering you’re probably going to be working the busy days.

There are so many opportunities to take advantage of

A lot of people don’t know this, but Disney offers AMAZING internships and an amazing college program for its employees. From entertainment to animation to writing to culinary arts, they have it all. Just ask!

They treat their cast members like the princes and princesses they are

From cute christmas gifts, free food for Walt’s birthday, certificates for good behavior, a party on your work-aversary, to great benefits and colleagues that take the time to understand you, I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive workplace.

The magic doesn’t go away

If you go into Disneyland indifferent, you may get sick of it. However, if you go into Disneyland head over heels, you will leave Disneyland the same way. Although I work stressful days and nights there, I can’t help but go back into the park on almost all of my days off. Disney keeps the magic alive for all of us and I’m so proud to call myself a cast member. Disneyland forever!

Maria Elena is a LA-based creative obsessed with video games, Peter Pan collars, autumn weather and hot Cheetos. Read more at her blog and Instagram @pinkchanelsuit.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]