The Ride Delegate

Memoir of a Walt Disney World VIP Tour Guide

by Annie Salisbury | Release Date: August 30, 2014 | Availability: Print, Kindle

Disney World for the 1%

The rich and famous experience Disney World differently from the rest of us: they're escorted by VIP Tour Guides, elite Cast Members who truly do hold the keys to the kingdom. Annie Salisbury was one of these Cast Members, in charge of making the very best magic for those who could afford it.

In The Ride Delegate, her memoir of life as a Disney World VIP tour guide, Annie shares some of her most memorable experiences:

  • The Middle Eastern royal family who needed a room at the Contemporary where all thirty-seven of them could pray, right now
  • The wealthy woman who used cancer as an excuse for why her family should be able to ride It's a Small World until they were ready to get off
  • The mysterious VIP (dubbed "Dr. No" by Annie) who arrived for his afternoon tour in a private plane at a private airport in the swamp
  • The famous football player who didn't understand why he couldn't ride Universal's Incredible Hulk Coaster at EPCOT
  • Plus, you'll learn about the perks and privileges of being a VIP Tour Guide, from corn dogs to illicit cash, and the lengths to which Disney will go to keep its VIP guests happy

Come get a taste of what Disney World is like for those with deep pockets—and personalities to match—and meet the eccentric, outrageous guests who turned Annie's dream job into a reality show.

Table of Contents

Glossary of Terms


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34


Eleven minutes. That’s how long I have before my guests would get off of Jungle Cruise. I ushered them towards the waiting boat ahead of me, making sure that all of them stepped down into the vessel leaving me behind on the dock. That’s a little trick I had learned over time—make sure all of the guests get on first. That way, if you decide at the last moment to slip away there is literally nothing they can to do stop you, because they are fastened under their restraints and you’re standing at the loading dock waving goodbye.

“You’re not riding?” a skipper asks me.

I smiled as wide as I could, and through gritted teeth told him, “Not today!” I looked at my watch. Eleven minutes.

I didn’t have time to watch my guests disappear around the corner on the boat. They were seated inside of the ride vehicle and I was free for eleven minutes. They had already forgotten about me, because they were about to ride a ride! I darted between the skippers standing on the dock and made my way past the queue towards the unloading area. There was a rope net tucked off to the side that separated the onstage world from the backstage world, and I ducked behind it. I looked at my watch. Freedom for ten more minutes.

Picking up my pace, I hurried down the pathway, past Cast Members smoking, past the Jungle Cruise makeshift break area (which was really just a hut with lockers, a sad excuse for a fan, and a water cooler), and into the Jungle Cruise maintenance area. A bottomless hippo laughed at me as I raced up the incline that would take me to Main Street, behind the Emporium, behind the fire station, behind City Hall. Someone yelled hello to me as I walked past, and I threw my hand up over my head to signal that I had heard them, but I honestly didn’t have time for them right now. I had ten minutes and I had to pee.

I pushed open the backstage door to City Hall and then pushed through another door into the women’s restroom, where I unloaded my belongings and took my phones out of my pockets and threw my black purse onto the counter. I should have a water bottle with me, but I had lost that somewhere earlier in the day and I just hadn’t gotten around to buying a new one. I needed a new one; that’s why I had to pee, anyway. It was hot as blazes in the park today and I knew how much fun it was to become dehydrated on a tour, and I couldn’t deal with that strife again. Whenever I had a free second, I bought and chugged as much water as possible. I wish I could say that my water consumption was helping with my skin complexion, but I was wearing so much sunscreen and foundation with sunscreen and oil-controlling powder it was a miracle that my entire face wasn’t encased in zits. The hot summer sun was not helping anything regarding my face.

As I washed my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror. Even I knew I looked tired, and I had gotten a solid seven hours of sleep last night. Was it the sun? Was the sun eating away at my face, making it look like I had been up for days? Was it the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything substantial today, aside from two pretzels in the shape of Mickey Mouse? Was it because I hadn’t had a day off in thirteen days, and still wouldn’t have one off for four more? Was I just perpetually tired all of the time now?

Eight minutes. I didn’t have time to think about this stuff now.

I raced back to Jungle Cruise, now walking so fast I might have been running. My feet hurt with every step because I had worn through another pair of shoes, yet again, and the soles on these no longer functioned as anything other than a thin piece of fabric keeping me off of the hot black sidewalk. I needed new shoes, but I honestly didn’t have the money to go and buy them. Maybe if these guests thanked me well enough today, I could take $20 and go to Wal-Mart and buy another cheap pair to get me through the rest of the month. I just needed a pair to last me a few more weeks. Then I would have time to research and purchase brand-new, comfortable shoes that wouldn’t destroy my feet.

I pushed back the rope net and appeared onstage at the exit of Jungle Cruise. I looked at my watch. Seven minutes. I was making pretty good time today. I looked towards the unload area, where the boats would come into dock, and I could see that two boats away was the wheelchair boat. That would buy me at least another three minutes; I knew the Cast Members had to unload one wheelchair before they could load another. I was so hungry. I had already peed, could I really push my luck and get something to eat, too?

The Jungle Cruise area is crowded, because of course it’s always crowded. I don’t know why someone thought it would be a good idea to place so many things on top of one another in Adventureland, but I wasn’t invited to that meeting way back when. Jungle Cruise sat at the bottom of a hill, and I knew at the top of the hill there was a tiny little food cart that had the best eggrolls, and the only eggrolls, in the park. The eggrolls were delicious. They were like hung-over greasy food and that’s all I could think about right now. I ran up the hill, darting between strollers and wheelchairs and guests mulling about like they didn’t have anything better to do with their time besides stand right in the middle of a walkway in Adventureland.

There was a line for the eggrolls, because of course there was. It was just after 2pm in the afternoon so everyone in the Magic Kingdom was suddenly like, “we should totally get eggrolls in Adventureland.” It was about four guests deep, but I was so hungry. I looked at my watch. Five minutes. Plus the time of the wheelchair boat to unload, and then reload. So maybe eight minutes, tops. That’s all I could allow myself.

I placed myself at the end of the eggroll line. There was a kid and his mother standing in front of me, and the kid tugged on his mom’s sleeve and looked at me, confused, like I might yell at him for something he had done earlier somewhere in the park. The mother turned around to look at me. “Do you need to get by?” she asked, confused, since guests were always confused to see Cast Members freely roaming the park like I did so often.

“No, I’m hungry just like you!” I laughed, through gritted teeth, and prayed that this wouldn’t take long.

After what felt like forever, I reached the front of the eggroll line. I just wanted an eggroll. I looked into the eggroll case, and saw that there were no eggrolls left, only corn dogs. Whatever. I needed something to eat. “One corn dog, please,” I said to the Cast Member behind the counter, handing him my company-issued ID.

The Cast Member took my ID and looked at it. “No Cast Member discount,” he said.

“I know,” I replied, “One corn dog, please.”

The Cast Member looked at my ID picture, and then he looked at me. I knew that he had no idea what was going on. This Cast Member could not figure out why I, a Guest Relations Cast Member, was standing in front of him, clad in full costume, asking for a corn dog.

“I can’t take your dining discount here,” he said again.

“Do you know how to work a dining card?” I knew that my tone was harsh, and I didn’t mean for it to be. It was just bothersome that many Cast Members in the park looked at me like I must be crazy. I was not, in fact, crazy, I was just hungry, and tired, and hot, and cranky, and my guests were getting off of Jungle Cruise in less than three minutes and I needed to eat something.

The Cast Member shook his head. He didn’t know how to work a dining card.

“I can walk you through the whole thing. One corn dog, please. And a bottle of water. Then, hit total. In the bottom left hand corner of your screen you’ll see a button that says, ‘VIP TOUR DISCOUNT’. Hit that button. You’ll be prompted to swipe my ID. And just like magic, you’ll get two receipts and I’ll sign yours!” I had given that spiel so many time I was honestly surprised every time I met someone in Food and Beverage that didn’t know how to work a dining card. Like, are you new, kid?

Something clicked in the Cast Member’s mind, and like a bolt of lighting he had figured out who I was, and what role I was performing, and what I was doing, and just how hungry I was. Oh, a VIP dining card! But instead this guy said, “Oh, the system’s actually down. Cash only.”

I grunted, out loud, like I sometimes do when something really irks me. I was so hungry. I was thirsty. I had two minutes now to eat something and get back to Jungle Cruise before my guests got off of the attraction, if they weren’t off already. Sometimes that was the most embarrassing thing, to have guests disembark from the ride and not be standing there waiting for them. In this business, time is money.

The corn dog was staring me right in the face. I needed to eat it. Without thinking twice I reached into my purse and pulled out my wallet. I knew I had cash, I just didn’t really want to break the cash I had on me, which happened to be the “stickers” (tips) from the guests I had hosted the day before. “Can you break a $50?” I asked him, though it was really more of a command than an inquiry.

I shoved the change back into my bag, and with my corn dog and water in hand, I raced down to the exit of Jungle Cruise. I didn’t see my guests waiting there, so I probably had about thirty seconds to wolf down the entire corn dog, give or take. And boy, did I go to town on that corn dog, barely even registering that it was piping hot still, and it was a thousand degrees outside, and I was completely burning the roof of my mouth as I chewed furiously on it, but I was hungry and that’s all that mattered. I wonder how many guests looked over at me as I ate that corn dog at the exit of Jungle Cruise. I wonder what any of them thought. Did they think, look at that poised and proper VIP Tour Guide delicately eat that hot dog deep-fried on a stick? Or did they think, that Cast Member needs to be put out of her misery in a backstage location? Did they turn to their son or daughter and say, sweetie, you should aspire to be a Tour Guide so you can eat corn dogs at the exit of Jungle Cruise, too. Or did they just pity me. Pity the tour guide who was so hungry she made the bold decision to eat something on a stick in clear guest view because why not.

I know what I thought. I thought, my god, what life decisions have I made thus far to boil down to the fact that I am eating a corn dog, in full costume, on the clock, at the exit of Jungle Cruise?

Annie Salisbury

Annie Salisbury spent 1,164 days at The Walt Disney World Resort and probably ate about 7,000+ corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner in The Magic Kingdom. In contrast, she has never eaten a Turkey Leg. Her favorite attraction always has been, and always will be, The Haunted Mansion. She still remembers what it was like before the invention of FastPass, and thinks of that time as the good old days.

She has a fancy degree in Film & Television and looks forward to using it one day. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her family, where she is enjoying her newly earned non-Disney Look freedom. Annie would like to thank her fishy, her buddy, her princess, and Scotty.

A Chat with Annie Salisbury

If you have a question for Annie Salisbury that you would like to see answered, please ask it here.

You address this in the book, but in a nutshell, what is a Disney World VIP Tour Guide, and what does it take for a Cast Member to become one?

A Disney World VIP Tour Guide is a Cast Member who knows the parks (and resort area) inside and out and has the ability, and the means, to maneuver guests wherever they need to go. A tour guide could host a visiting family, a celebrity, a Disney CEO, anyone, basically. Sometimes I'd just do airport runs all day, back and forth half a dozen times to MCO. Back in my day, to become a tour guide I needed to be in Guest Relations for at least three months. But to get into Guest Relations, I needed to be a Disney World Cast Member for at least six months. Usually, they like you to have worked at the parks for at least a year before you try to move into GR, and spend a year in GR before you move into being a guide. Currently, I know that they sometimes pull from all lines of business for seasonal temporary assignments—like for the holidays. I know a few Entertainment Cast Members who had never worked in GR before, but became guides for a few months.

As a VIP Tour Guide, you have to know much more about Disney than do regular Cast Members. How are you taught? Courses? Books? Or does Disney expect you to have much of that knowledge as a prerequisite for the job?

To become a guide, I needed to pass a written test for my interview portion, and then a final test at the end of training. Training spanned two weeks straight, and I think I stepped foot on every inch of property over that time. They really are looking for Cast Members who already have a lot of Disney knowledge, because some things just can't be taught. You can't teach someone how to easily maneuver around a parade. And you go into the job knowing that guests might ask insane questions, and you have to be ready to answer them, no matter what. We're prepared as much as can be, but there were always surprises. We were encouraged to ask questions as much as possible and explore things on our own.

Is there a difference in the way "normal" VIPs (families who pony up the bucks for the tour) and celebrity VIPs are handled?

For this question, I'm probably supposed to say, "No, of course not!" but the answer is yes. Regular families and true "VIPs" are treated differently, but it's all based on security. While it's easy to walk the Smith family through a queue line, you cannot walk Tom Cruise. The differences in treatment simply comes down to the safety and security of visiting guests. The last thing anyone wants is a swarm of guests anywhere. Everyone receives the same treatment, we just might do things a little bit differently for each guest.

Can you give some examples of well-known people or celebrities who have taken VIP tours of Disney World (not necessarily with you as the tour guide, but in general)?

By this point, it's easier to list people who haven't taken a VIP tour before. Lots and lots of Disney and ABC stars come down to the parks and usually they'll do a photo shoot with a character, too. Those images are always popping up on the Disney Blog.

Have you ever had issues with park guests mobbing celebrities during VIP tours, or being so persistent in seeking autographs and photos that it disrupts the tour, and how does Disney handle this form of "crowd control"?

Thankfully, I never had a really severe issue with park guests figuring out that I had a celebrity in tow. Guests are so focused on getting their next FastPass that they don't realize who's standing with them in line. I did have one issue where I walked an actress from a teen TV show into a group of cheerleaders, and it took about 0.5 seconds before they all started screaming and we made a quick B-line for backstage. But really, guests aren't on the lookout for celebrities. I saw way more princesses get mobbed than celebrities.

What are some of the more outlandish requests you've gotten from VIPs?

On one of my first tours I had guests ask for VIP Viewing for the Osbourne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. For anyone familiar with that, there isn't any VIP Viewing; it's just a bunch of Christmas lights. But my guests insisted that I arrange viewing for them, so I walked them to a corner on Streets of America and yelled "TAH-DAH!" It worked. I had lots of families on health-crazed diets, like ones that used to send dinner rolls away from the table and then the next second they were eating a turkey leg. Guests were also always eager for me to drive them around backstage, but that's the least exciting part of the park.

And seriously, everyone always wanted to feed a giraffe. Like, from the moving Safari vehicle. I was asked that question at least once a week.

How "VIP" are the VIP Tour Guides? Does Disney offer them special perks? Better pay? Are you part of the same coordinator/manager structure as other Cast Members?

How VIP are the VIP Tour Guides? Oy. Our VIP perk was that we got to eat for free out on tour, and I ate everything in sight. It was my dining plan, and I made sure to always order an entree, side, drink, and dessert. One month I managed to only charge $100 to my credit card simply because I wasn't grocery shopping. But there was no special pay perk, even though guests thought we were making a commission off of the tour. They assumed a gratuity was included in the hourly price, and it was such an awkward conversation explaining that I was not benefiting from the outlandish hourly rate.

We were just regular Cast Members who had passed all the tests to become guides. I had no special power/pull over anyone else in the park or at the resort. Especially at a resort, I really was at the front desk's mercy. I still had coordinators and managers above me making important decisions.

In the book, you tell the story about the famous football player who thought Epcot was Universal, and wanted to ride the Hulk. Any other examples of "I can't believe they're so rich but so dumb"?

I had a lot of guests mistake things in Universal for things they could do at Disney. Everyone wanted to go visit Harry Potter and usually got mad when I explained that I couldn't take them there. I once had a mother yell at me for an entire tour about how "Billy" back at the office had messed up their dining reservations, but we didn't have anyone named "Billy" working at the time. Usually it was just little things that happened, like calling something by the wrong name or asking where the Minion meet & greet was located.

What advice do you have for all the celebrities reading this interview about how to conduct themselves and get the most out of their tour?

Be nice. Always be nice to the tour guide, and other Cast Members, and even other guests in the park. That's my advice for anyone visiting Disney, regardless of whether you're on a tour or not. Tour guides were always willing to re-host a nice regular family, but dreaded mean A-listers. We talked about everything. Word got around as to who had been a total jerk during the tour.

Which three celebrities (or anyone, it doesn't have to be a celebrity) would you most liked to have taken on a VIP tour of Disney World?

If I had hosted my dream celebrity, things probably would have gotten awkward because I would have been so star-struck the entire time. I wish I had hosted more Disney animators, from both the studio and Pixar, because they were always wonderful. They appreciated the tours and everything about Disney, making it a magical time for everyone. Plus, they were full of as much Disney trivia as I was! It was like I had my own personal tour, too.

In this excerpt, Annie Salisbury sets forth ground rules for VIP tours.

Lets start with the basics. A VIP Tour. That’s a tour when guests hire a personal tour guide to lead them all over Disney World, and sometimes beyond. A VIP tour consists of one tour guide, and up to ten guests. As soon as the group hits eleven guests, a second VIP tour guide is required, and the guests will be paying full price for both guides. The tour guide is hired by the hour, with a six-hour minimum. The tour can start at whatever time of day, and can be however long, or short, the guests wants it to be. If the tour is less than six hours, the guests will still be charged for six hours. My shortest tour was just about two hours; my longest was seventeen.

The tour guide is the walking park map, park historian, and designated Fun Captain! for the family. The tour guide takes care of everything so the family doesn’t have to; they can just sit back, enjoy their vacation, and watch the tour guide freak out over lost dining reservations at Mama Melrose’s. The tour guide has a car, and can pick you up at the hotel and take you right to the park. If the tour guide takes you right to the park, you don’t have to wait in long turnstile lines at the entrance! No, the tour guide knows the secret back ways into all of the parks, and will drive you right backstage to a designated gate, where you’ll unload and enter the park through there. No turnstiles necessary.

The tour guide is the walking FastPass for all designated FastPass attractions. Do you want to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad fifteen times in a row? No problem! You’ll breeze in and out through the FastPass line and you can ride to your heart’s content. There is no limit to how many attractions you can ride in a day, and the tour guide is the best person to plot a clear path through the park to maximize your fun.

Do you want to ride Pirates of the Caribbean? You can’t. See that really long line there? The 40-minute one? The tour guide can’t cut that line. That’s against the rules. Right now if you go to the Magic Kingdom you can in fact cut the line. But back in my day as a tour guide, I couldn’t. If the guests wanted to ride Pirates, we had to wait in line. There were a handful of rides across property that we as tour guides just couldn’t access. Pirates of the Caribbean, Small World, Tea Cups, Dumbo, Spaceship Earth. Those rides were off limits unless the guests wanted to wait in line. Those were attractions where there wasn’t a designated “alternate entrance”, so if we were to cut the entire line, all the other guests waiting in line would see us. I didn’t have the patience to try and cut these lines.

Oh, are we done with Magic Kingdom? Do you want to go to Studios? Lets go hop into my 15-passenger van and drive to Studios! That’s what we were allowed to do on a tour. We had complete free roam (within reason) of the Walt Disney World property because honestly no one outside of tours really knew what we could and couldn’t do. I had my DSA Blackberry phone on me, and that was it.

As a tour guide, I was in charge of everything. If the guests wanted to eat, I made a dining reservation. If the guests wanted to see a show, I arranged for seating. If they needed something changed at the hotel room, I had to awkwardly call up the hotel and beg the front desk staff to do something for me because if I didn’t do it, the guests were just going to go back to the hotel and yell at the front desk staff anyway. I was basically the messenger. Often times I got shot.

I wasn’t the only one in charge of the magic on a tour. I was in constant contact with the Office and the tour coordinators there who were the ones making things happen behind the scenes. If I needed to make dining reservations, they were the ones to do that for me. They booked parade viewing, fireworks viewing, transportation arrangements to and from the airport, and they took the credit card payments. The guides were like Tom Hanks in Apollo 13; the coordinators were Gary Sinese, now of Mission: SPACE fame. If something went wrong, I called the coordinator for my tour. If the guest’s credit card bounced, the coordinator called me and I had to awkwardly ask the guest for a working credit card that could have $3,000 put on it.

This is all just for a regular Joe tour. This is for the family from New York City with money to blow that would hire me for four days at a time to lead them all over the parks and entertain their children. This isn’t a “celebrity tour”. This wasn’t for a PEP tour.

No, those were worse.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I haven’t even told you about Wish Lists. As guides, we were allowed to make a list of up to four people that we’d love to host on tour if they ever came to Disney World. Four people and four people alone, and we had to spell their ACTUAL name correctly, or it got completely messed up in the system. I witnessed one guide throw a hissy fit because he had Pink on his Wish List, but someone else had Alecia Moore. Guess who got to host her?

Most of the time the Office forgot to check the Wish Lists before they assigned tours, leading to a lot of disgruntled tour guides. When I learned I wasn’t the guide for someone on my Wish List, I locked myself in a supply closet at Team Disney and cried for ten minutes.

The coordinators made the task of assigning guides to tours sound like they were akin to Walt synching sound to Steamboat Willie. Supposedly, there was some fine science to pairing the two parties together, but their methods escaped me. Usually, I felt that they paired tours by playing darts sans dartboard. One time my best friend, Claire, was assigned a tour that only spoke French. She spent the day trying to Google translate words on her phone, gave up, grabbed a park map in French, and told the guests to circle what they wanted to do. I was less than helpful, since I could only remember how to say the words “dinosaur” and “pancake” in French. Sometimes I’d end up with a tour that clearly wasn’t suited for me, and I’d wonder what I was being punished for.

In this excerpt, Annie Salisbury embarks upon possibly the worst VIP tour in the history of Disney World.

After three months of being a tour guide, I started telling guests that I had been doing it for six months. That seemed reasonable. I wasn’t new anymore, but I was still very much figuring out my footing.

“We requested a seasoned guide,” Mrs. Grey said to me as I drove the 15-passenger van down World Drive towards Magic Kingdom. “I hardly think you’re qualified to be doing the tour.”

There aren’t enough superlatives in my vocabulary to fully capture how awful the Greys were to me. I was their fifth guide; they had already destroyed four other guides before me. When I first learned of the tour I was pulled aside by one of the coordinators and told in a hushed voice, “They’re pretty mean, so just don’t let anything get to you.”

When one of their former guides heard that I was hosting them, he asked, “Why are you being punished?” It was just one of those cases where I was the only guide available, and sometimes sacrifices need to be made. I was prepped on the fact that they were going to be rude, ungrateful, loud, obnoxious, and complain about literally everything.

I met them at the Waldorf valet promptly at 9am, but they would later claim I was a half hour late and thus impacted their day in the park. They were the motliest crew I had ever met. To put it nicely, Mrs. Grey was overweight and Mr. Grey looked like he was still a teenager. One of the other guides had told me that it was an arranged marriage for the two of them, and it made complete sense. They had one daughter, age four, who refused to acknowledge my presence. She spent most of the day crying to the nanny who wouldn’t buy her anything in the park. Along with the four of them were an uncle and an aunt and their two kids. There was also another adult male in the group, who I assumed was another uncle, but turned out to be Mr. Grey’s Lover. He informed me he was Mr. Grey’s “mister” and I didn’t really have anything to say back to that other than nodding my head like I completely understood when really I wondered why he felt the need to divulge that information to me.

I spent six hours with the Greys. These are the some of the things that went wrong:

We weren’t even in the park yet. We were standing in Park 1 when Mrs. Grey informed me that she didn’t feel our VIP tour service was that “VIP”. She went on to explain that she had been to other theme parks in the area, and found their tour services much more desirable. These other parks treated their guests like real royalty, and would literally cut every single line and jump right to the front to expedite all wait times. I tried to explain to Mrs. Grey why other parks can get away with doing that, but she cut me right off to inform me that, “We’re only using you for the transportation to and from the park.”

Oh. Okay.

Mrs. Grey then explained that she had one of our “assistant passes”, the now-retired GAC (Guest Assistant Card), for guests with disabilities, that would help her navigate the lines without me, anyway. Mrs. Grey then told me she had cancer. We still weren’t even in the park yet.

Knowing their daughter’s age, I decided that “small world” would be the first attraction. It didn’t have a FastPass, and if we were going to ride it, it needed to happen as early in the day as possible. We arrived at the park just after 9:30am, before there were too many other guests trying to fight their way onto “small world”.

It took us a half-hour to walk from where we had parked the car to ‘“small world”. It took us this long because we had three strollers for three different kids, and every kid wanted to go in a different direction and buy something else. They must have dropped over $100 before we even made it to Fantasyland. And by the time we reached ‘“small world”‘ there was already a fifteen-minuet wait. It didn’t look like it would be that long, and I didn’t even mention to the guests that it might take a few extra seconds. I ushered them into line. We managed to get through the queue in less than five minutes.

I rode ‘“small world”‘ with them because I always like to ride the first ride of the day with the guests, whatever that may be. That sets up for them that I’m a fun tour guide, and I don’t mind riding rides if I have to. I foolishly rode ‘“small world”‘ with the Greys.

By the time we got all the way around ‘“small world”, the queue line was a little bit backed up. I was sitting in the last row of the boat, behind the family, and Mrs. Grey from the front row turned to look at me.

“Can we ride again?” she asked.

“Yeah, we’ll just jump right out of the boat and get back into line…”

Mrs. Grey cut me off. “I’m not getting out of the boat.”

I was so taken aback by the comment I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. My mouth moved, but I formed no actual words. It took me a solid five seconds to formulate dialogue. “We can’t ride again without exiting. The line isn’t that long, we’ll just jump right out and get back…”

“You are going to make a woman dying of cancer get out of this boat and wait in line again?” Mrs. Grey roared. She was a large woman and her voice bellowed through the open atrium. We were close enough to the unload dock that the Cast Members loading the boats turned to look at us. The guests waiting in line to get into the next boat looked at us. The guests who had just exited the ride looked at us. The only thing that could have made this moment better was if the boat started sinking.

“Unfortunately, Mrs. Grey, we have to exit out of this boat to get into another boat…”

“I am not leaving this boat.”

“…they’ve already loaded this boat for the next ride and I don’t want to hinder other guests.”

“I don’t care about the other guests. If I want to ride ‘“small world”‘ again, I am going to ride it again.”

Our boat reached the loading dock. The unload Cast Member looked at me with such pity and sadness in her eyes I thought I might cry. I stood up to exit.

“Anne, sit down. We are riding again,” Mrs. Grey barked at me. I got out of the boat. Every single person in the ‘“small world”‘ vicinity was looking at me. I believe time stopped for a second in Fantasyland. I stood on the unload side of the dock and looked down at my guests. Mrs. Grey clenched her jaw.

“Unfortunately, we cannot experience the attraction again. We are all going to have to exit.” But no one in the boat moved. Maybe some of them wanted to move, but they were terrified of Mrs. Grey. I was scared that she was going to start yelling at me, and her words would not be ‘“small world”‘ appropriate. The load Cast Member on the other side of the dock sensed that this situation was not going to have a happy ending and launched the boat with the Grey Family still sitting inside. Off they went once again on the happiest cruise that ever sailed.

I, meanwhile, called the Office to explain that Mrs. Grey had literally commandeered a ‘“small world”‘ boat.

Mrs. Grey pulled this stunt two or three more times before she realized that I actually wasn’t going to stand for her behavior. And neither were some of the Cast Members at other attractions. At Winnie the Pooh they refused to send the honey pots around again, and made it clear to everyone waiting in line what the hold up was. I didn’t ride another ride with them again all day.

The Greys were just getting started. Read the rest, and the explosive conclusion, in the book.

About Theme Park Press

Theme Park Press is the world's leading independent publisher of books about the Disney company, its history, its films and animation, and its theme parks. We make the happiest books on earth!

Our catalog includes guidebooks, memoirs, fiction, popular history, scholarly works, family favorites, and many other titles written by Disney Legends, Disney animators and artists, Mouseketeers, Cast Members, historians, academics, executives, prominent bloggers, and talented first-time authors.

We love chatting about what we do: drop us a line, any time.

Theme Park Press Books

The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion The Ride Delegate 501 Ways to Make the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation The Cotton Candy Road Trip The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney Disney Destinies Disney Melodies The Happiest Workplace on Earth Storm over the Bay A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World: Volume 1 Mouse in Transition Mouseketeers Down Under Murder in the Magic Kingdom Walt Disney and the Promise of Progress City Service with Character Son of Faster Cheaper A Tale of Two Resorts I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand The Adventures of Young Walt Disney Death in the Tragic Kingdom Two Girls and a Mouse Tale Ears & Bubbles The Easy Guide 2015 Who's the Leader of the Club? Disney's Hollywood Studios Funny Animals Life in the Mouse House The Book of Mouse Disney's Grand Tour The Accidental Mouseketeer The Vault of Walt: Volume 1 The Vault of Walt: Volume 2 The Vault of Walt: Volume 3 Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? Amber Earns Her Ears Ema Earns Her Ears Sara Earns Her Ears Katie Earns Her Ears Brittany Earns Her Ears Walt's People: Volume 1 Walt's People: Volume 2 Walt's People: Volume 13 Walt's People: Volume 14 Walt's People: Volume 15

We're always in the market for new authors with great ideas. Or great authors with new ideas. Whichever type of author you are, we'd be happy to discuss your book. Before you contact us, however, please make sure you can answer "yes" to these threshold questions:

Is It Right for Us?

We specialize in books that have some connection to Disney or theme parks. Disney, of course, has become a broad topic, and encompasses not just theme parks and films but comic books, animation, and a big chunk of pop culture. Your book should fit into one (or more) of those broad categories.

Is It Going to Make Money?

There's never a guarantee that any book will make money, but certain types of books are less likely to do so than others. They include: hardcovers, books with color photos, and books that go on forever ("forever" as in 400+ pages). We won't automatically turn down these types of books, but you'll have to be a really good salesman to convince us.

Are You Great to Work With?

Writing books and publishing books should be fun. The last thing you want, and the last thing we want, is a contentious relationship. We work with authors who share our philosophy of no drama and zero attitude, and the desire for a respectful, realistic, mutually beneficial partnership.