Questions & Answers About Working for Disneyland Paris [Part 1]

NEW: I've written a book about my 16 months spent living and working at Disneyland Paris. Download it on Amazon.

I've had quite a few questions via email, blog post comments etc about working for Disneyland Paris. Here you can find the answers to them. This page was last updated in April 2014.

1. I was wondering what areas you would recommend, I can't decide between working on the rides or in the shops. Do you know what people seemed to enjoy more from people you met doing various jobs?

Personally, I have only worked on rides and only met one person who worked in a shop - the ToT shop. I think it really depends on your French. If it is not fluent or very close to fluent, they will not let you work on rides/attractions because of guest safety. There is no training in English either of course, all training is in French. I loved rides - even though you do a lot of saying the same thing "Bonjour. Vous etes combien?" and "Au revoir. Bonne journee!" and doing the same thing (opening restraint bars, opening and closing doors, pressing buttons) and you get breakdowns too which can be interesting, you can have loads of fun: talking to the kids, parents, joking about with them. It really is something where teamwork is 100% necessary so you'll really get to know the people you work with plus every 15-20 minutes you change roles within the attraction and when you're changing roles there's always time for a few seconds of chat. This really is one job where you get what you put into it.

On shops, I heard that it can be very quiet or very busy. You get the chance to talk to people probably more than on attractions but it is equally as repetitive - scanning and greeting people as well as arranging stock. It can be lonely if you get put on an outdoor merchandise cart but it can also be lonely inside on your own till - on the plus side you're always sure to have people from the shop with you on breaks and in less busy periods you get paid to simply talk to your co-workers next to you which will happen at certain times of day. Imagine shops far from Main Street practically empty for 30-45 minutes when the parade is on. Unless you're on a cart you're also guaranteed some shelter by being indoors plus comfortable temperatures which outdoor jobs do not offer.

Guest Flow seems like a very good job, although it is 10 hour days - you essentially have to keep guests behind the lines and get to watch the parade, help bring the characters out, take lots of photos of people, watch shows and control people doing shows and fireworks. If you LOVE talking to people this is the one for you as you'll get asked a million and one questions including "Where is the pink castle?" and "What time is the 5 o'clock parade?" and "Where are the rides?" but you will want to sit down at the end of the day after being on your feet for so long.

People in restaurants seem to have to hardest time, unless you get somewhere like the Wild West Show which seemed like loads of fun - but there is less of a level of French required for fast-food, servers/waiters need a good level of French and I assume previous experience too. Proprete (cleaning) do a lot of walking about but also always seem to be on their own breaks chatting away and you get a lot of interaction with guests, you end up being asked a million and one questions throughout the day. In properte it also seemed to me like management weren't so much on your back as with other roles. But for me personally picking up rubbish isn't the kind of experience I'd want to have at Disney, though I know people that has done this role that love it.

For me I'd choose something that you know you can't do anywhere else in the world: rides or Guest Flow.

2. What did you wear to the interview? Was it casual or smart? Or does it matter?
Everyone was very formally dressed to the interview, suits and all. I wore black shoes, sock and trousers with a blue checkered shirt with a tie and a red jumper on top. Now don't you all go copying me. For the ladies, it was either smart dresses or trousers, a blouse and blazer. Essentially if you've watched The Apprentice that is what the vast majority of the room looked like.
Don't make the mistake some people made of wearing jeans and a T-shirt, yes it's Disney... but it's a professional company where you will have to wear a uniform and appearance must be top notch for the Disney standards.

3. Is there such a thing as the Disney Look for Paris?
Well... yes and no. I read somewhere that it was eliminated in 1995 in Paris, but there is still a certain amount of expectation. Your costume must be 100% in order which is easy enough to do as it is cleaned for you, all you have to do is wear it correctly. Guys: shave every day, even though I did occasionally see some beards going on for a short period of time they are not officially allowed. Girls: little to no make-up. Hair colour doesn't really seem to matter, neither does hair styles as long as they aren't too extreme. As a guy, hair gel was fine and hair had to be short. Girls should have hair tied back so it does not obstruct your face.

4. Do you have to speak French to work there? Even characters?
Rides/Guest Flow = Strong French required (A-level 'B' or more)
Full Service Restaurants and Shops = Average French required (good grade at GCSE = 'A' or more)
Proprete = Some French required (GCSE pass grade)
Quick Service Restaurants = Minimal French required
Characters = Minimal French required

They do not ask for your grades, they will judge your French at the interview by asking you questions - these are just my observations and what grade I think you'd need on a UK scale. These are by no means official but my estimates.

Characters will be asked to learn some phrases in French for when meeting kids if face characters, fur characters obviously need no French - a huge proportion of the character entertainment cast are British.

However, remember you are in France and not everyone speaks English: and why should they? It's their own country. You will need French in the supermarket, when you want to find somewhere/something, at the doctors, dentist, opticians, pharmacy, clothes shop, the bank, if you're looking for long term accommodation and for when you want to interact with people day to day, especially at work. After all what good is it going to France if you are just going to speak to the English people? You will learn a lot very, very quickly. I thought my French was at a good level and I still learnt loads of new words and phrases!

5. Do you want to work their full time, or would the novelty where off?
I'd like to do it for longer than I did so I could meet more people and do everything at a slower pace - not forever though, I think maybe 3 months maximum and then I'd want to try something else maybe within the company, maybe not. [2014 Update: I've now done a summer program at Walt Disney World for 9 weeks and loved it. I am going to start a permanent job at Disneyland Paris this summer with the aim of moving up the company so we'll see how it goes].

6. Do people work at night?
Yes but how late depends on what you do. 
Characters = After about 8.30PM most characters are done for the night, except if you are at Café Mickey at the village where characters are on till late 11PM+ some nights in peak season. There are a lot of early starts as a character though.
Rides = The earliest start time is 6:45am for Extra Magic Hours at 8AM and latest finish is generally 11:45pm when the park closes at 11pm. You work 8 hours per day (including breaks) during peak season and 10 hours per day during non-peak season.
Shops and Restaurants = It really depends where you work. The earliest start time could be as early as 5:30am or 6am if you're working a breakfast shift. For the shops the earliest start time is about 7am for Extra Magic Hours on Main Street shops or shops in a land which is open early. The latest finish can be anywhere up to about midnight for food locations and about 2am for shops.
Proprete = The Cast Members work mainly during park operating hours so 7:30AM earliest to 11:30PM latest I imagine.

These are all high season times, the parks can close at 6/7/8PM on non-peak seasons which of course means the chances of working at night are much lower. During non-peak seasons there are also days where there are no Extra Magic Hours meaning that some cast will get a lie-in on those days.

7. I thought, It would take you like 20mins to walk to the staff area? Doesn't that eat into the CM's lunch time!? Or are there staff areas all around?
You get about 10 minutes to walk to your lunch destination usually, but there are eating locations all around the parks in areas right next to where the guests are (but of course you'd never know it as a guest). Also there are buses backstage taking you around so it's not really a big problem as these are pretty frequent too every 5 minutes or so and can take you round the park in about 5 minutes. Places to eat are plentiful! Don't worry.

8. Do People get on? From everywhere within the park?
Yeah, you'll meet people from several different roles. However, as I was only there for a very short time I only met some character performers, lots of people from Fantasyland (attractions, propreté) and people from guest flow who were in my Traditions class.
I also met a few people who worked in the shops and the Wild West Show and hotels from the accommodation I live in and you meet new people every day. Where you work doesn't determine who you'll meet!

9. Do the two parks connect easily? 
Yes, the two parks are connected back to back - take a look at Google Maps and see the aerial view for a cool look at this.

10. Do the Parade characters just do two parades a day, and then go home? They have to have their make-up done everyday? Is it far to walk from the make-up area to the parade starting point? 
I'm not too sure on this one but I remember reading somewhere online that characters do about 4 hours of actual work per day (usually you do a 30 minute 'set' and then have 30 minutes off or something similar) but these are still regular 6-8 hour days. Remember that there are parades, shows, and meet and greets with characters, as well as daily rehearsals for those in shows and parades. You do your own make up for those whose face is on show. Those lucky enough to be in the parade get a parade bus to the start of the parade where the floats are waiting for you.

11. Who controls the Music around the park??
I couldn't tell you to be honest but I'm sure there's quite a few places scattered around and the Background Music for the parks is generally on all the time from the moment someone walks in to work at 6:30am to someone else clocking out at 2am. The ride attendants get to switch their own attraction's music on and off. For the parades there is a system which automatically locates the parades and floats and plays music according to their location so if there were an unexpected hiccup in the parade it wouldn't affect the music as it would simply loop.

12. I applied for the same job last week and I was just wondering how long it took them to call you for the interview? 
I actually got contacted the day after but that was because there was an interview within just a week. They say they will definitely get back to you within 3 weeks, even if the answer is no. The first time I waited almost 6 months for a reply then realised I hadn't actually submitted my application, just filled in the profile info! D'oh!

13. When I applied for the job I noticed the the job ad was posted in November 2011, do you think the positions have been filled and they forgot to take down the ad? 
They are constantly looking for people all the time so they just post an ad every once in a while and then wait. The list that follows is for operational roles and doesn't necessarily apply to performance roles. They ARE looking for people all the time:
January - End of Christmas Season.
February - Half term and French 2 weeks off for Ski season
March/April - Easter
May - Quiet month
JunE/July/August/September - Summer season
October - Halloween
November - Quiet month but Christmas Season starts
December - Christmas season, very busy from mid-December onwards.

14. I was just wondering, if the whole interview was in French and what sort of questions they asked you? I've got a skype interview so I'm guessing it will be slightly different to yours, but the questions will probably be similar! Thanks :)
I've got a post about that here.

15. I have an A in AS level french and A* at GCSE, it's been my dream to work at Disney but my parents don't want be doing it over going to university. Do they do summer contracts for just the months of July and August?
I wouldn't be able to tell you for definite as most summer contracts seem to be around 3 months long. However the only thing they do say is that for summer if you are going to be there in July and August you must be able to work every single day of those without holidays (obviously you get your usual 2 days off a week) - maybe an email to might help?

15. Can you talk a little bit of the rooms? They got only the bed? Or they got wc, kitchen,etc? And about the net? How can we do to get it, any information to help?
[2014 update to this question] There is one accommodation called Les Pleaides (La Boiserie has closed down - some say it's for refurbishment, others say it is permanent) for Cast Members with a CDD. Each room is an open-plan studio flat for 2 people with two beds, one bedside table each, a table and some chairs, and a kitchenette. There is also one bathroom per flat. Pots, pans, plates, etc are provided. The rooms are very basic and there is no locker to keep your stuff in so you have to trust the other person with your belongings, such as a laptop, etc. During peak periods like Summer and Christmas there is also the possibility of being allocated to stay in a hotel apartment in the local area.

16. Any information about what not to forget? 
Money, passport, clothes, your disney documents folder (with medical records) and a smile. Next time I'll be taking a pillow too as the pillows were too big and fluffy so they hurt my neck but no-one else complained of this so was probably just me. Be aware you'll bring back more than you took. So maybe an extra bag or suitcase might be good too.

17. How did you manage your money? Is it really hard to stay alive just with DLRP's salary (I want to go for July, August, maybe September) or is it enough/more than enough (I don't want to go there just for money, but some extra cash after come back will be really nice :D); what are the prices of food, etc, etc?
[Updated with 2014 figures] Disneyland Paris' Salary is just above minimum wage about 1450 euros a month. Minus 23% of reign tax = about 1115e .The accommodation will cost you about 300e for a month which leave you with about 815ish euros. Take away the navigo travel pass and you're left with about 800 euros a month (after reimbursement), or about 200e a week. Even if you spend 50euros a week on food (meals are about 3.5-4 euros for a full meal including dessert and a bottle of water at work), you'll have about 150 euros a week for whatever you want (FYI: you are paid monthly not weekly). With most short-term contracts you also can't take holidays so you'll be paid those at the end of your contract with your travel as well. So with contracts under a month you'll need to pay for everything out of your own pocket and then get a big lump sum at the end, with other contracts remember you will need to fund yourself until you get your first payment.

If you are there long-term then you also have to take into account income tax which will be about 14% off your monthly salary, as well as the fact that long-term accommodation may be more expensive - don't count on saving more than 400-600 euros long-term, but then of course pay does go up every so slightly with experience and when you are there for a long period of time.

18. How did you find the whole atmosphere there?
Everyone is very friendly, you meet a lot of new people and you will tons of fun...but if you are expecting people who are Disney fans then you might be disappointed to hear this but many, many people see it as "just a job."

19. The idea of eating out every day for 3 months of summer makes me worry about my health! are there any swimming pools or gyms nearby? 
You don't have to eat out every day you are very welcome to cook in your kitchen but instant, tasty, cheap food backstage was perfect for me. There are also non-fast-food options. I'm in quite good shape and lift weights and could definitely feel myself becoming unhealthy if I were there for too long but as I was only there for 2 weeks there was no point in investing in a gym.

There is a gym at Val d'Europe shopping centre which looks decent from the website. There is also an option called Club Dingo to cast members though the only info I can find for it is few and far between online - apparently it is 120 euros for 6 months or 180 euros for 12 months and it allows you to use the fitness suites in the Disney hotels. If you are planning on lifting weights I'm afraid there isn't much there for you to do but for cardio, there is a decent amount. Apparently, you sign up for it at the New York hotel and you may need a medical note to say you are in good shape. 

[2014 update] Finally, I've also found a place called Fitness Park which I think I'll be using when I start in Summer 2014 as it looks like it has really good facilities.

NEW: I've written a book about my 16 months spent living and working at Disneyland Paris. Download it on Amazon.

Read part 2 of the Questions and Answers here. Part 3 is here.

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