Text Review #2

Cast Member Confidential by Chris Mitchell follows his return to working at Walt Disney World after a personal crisis causes him to move back to Florida. He works as a PhotoPass photographer at the different parks mainly working with the characters.

Throughout this book Michell does a very good job of recreating scenes. I believe this is the best part of his storytelling. He has very detailed conversations that he recounts in the books. There are two stories that really stuck with me. They are both used to back up the idea that no one has ever died on Disney property.

The first story opens the book. He recounts his time while working as a roaming photographer that a parade performer working as Tarzan jumped off the parade float and saved a boy who was drowning in the lake in the park.

The second story is the end of the book. Mitchell witnesses a character attendant having a heart attack during his shift. He runs across the park in order to perform CPR and ends up getting berated by his superiors. He learns later that the man was not declared dead until the ambulance left what would be considered Disney property. This story was the reason he quit his job at Disney.

Mitchell describes a number of interesting people and situations he encounters during his time at Disney. He talks about the divide between the regular employees and the employees that play the characters. He also talks about the hierarchy within the character performer field, the top of that heap being the face characters.

As a photographer, Mitchell was able to infiltrate the character performer circle since he was always with them. He was also able to take banned photos, such as Goofy smoking, and develop them before his boss found out. This gained him the trust of the character performers and he was able to learn of the shady things they did, including selling drugs out of the fur suits.

This book seems a little hard to believe to me. I can absolutely believe that the performers are the trouble makers of the park but the amount of stories he has makes me question the legitimacy of the book. Also since Mitchell was a professional skateboarder and photographer before writing the book he doesn’t have the legitimacy of being an established journalist beforehand.

Since I have been to Disney eighteen times and am currently planning another trip I find this book very interesting. It also helps that I want to be a performer and I know that theme park work could be a logical career move at some point I enjoy hearing all the backstage stuff. If someone is a Disney-buff I think they will also enjoy this book.

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