11 magical Disney jobs for Florida retirees

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Retirement isn’t exactly what it used to be. Sure, most retirees who move still move to Florida. But according to a survey by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, a full 40% of boomers are keeping their resumes ready and their skills sharp to continue working after the age of 65.

If you’re among the two of five who plan to work in your retirement, and you’re also one of the tens of thousands who move to the Sunshine State each year, you should know that the Happiest Place on Earth has a wide array of jobs waiting for you.

Disney World employs 74,000 people—called Cast Members, of course. On top of being a fun place to work, Disney offers employees a suite of incredible benefits, including complimentary park tickets and deep discounts on food, merchandise, hotels, and more. Plus there are perks, like behind-the-scenes tours, cast member parties, a cast members-only retreat. Here are 11 Walt Disney World Resort jobs that are perfect for retirees.

1. Park greeter

Park greeters are among Disney World’s most beloved cast members. Art Lark, a longtime greeter at Disney Beach Club Resort known by all as Art the Greeter, maintains a modest social media following more than a decade after his retirement. If you’re interested in meeting people from the world over, and you have some experience in hospitality or customer care, this is a great option for you.

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2. Character attendant

A character attendant is basically a character performer’s liaison to the guests. You’ll relay info about performances times, help characters with costumes, and assist with special guest accommodations. An attendant has a front-row seat to all the action of a character performer, but without the hassle of spending all day in character. If you love watching kids meet their favorite princesses or being generally helpful, this could be a good role for you.

3. Boat crew member

If you’ve retired to Florida, chances are you’re planning to spend many of your waking hours on a boat anyway. Three of Disney’s major parks are accessible by water, so The Mouse keeps an armada of ferries, cruisers, water taxis, and riverboats fully staffed and running from port to port. If you have boating experience and would love to tell the grandkids you spend your weekdays making magic on the Friendship I, this is the right job for you.

4. First-aid station attendant

A park filled with excited children is bound to see its share of minor scrapes and bruises. This role is particularly attractive because most park injuries require little more than bandages and Tylenol, but medical experience is a huge bonus. Additionally, the first aid stations are air-conditioned and there is little walking or outdoor work required. 

5. Front desk clerk

Disney front desk attendants are in the enviable position of giving every Disney visitor all the info, keys, passes, and packets they need to enjoy their vacations. Just like the greeters, this role is best performed by those with hospitality and service industry experience. 

6. Tram driver 

Disney World guests all know the walk from parking to the Transportation and Ticket Center is no small feat. That’s why tram drivers are so important to the park and to the guests’ first impressions of their Disney experience. This is a great job for anyone who might also be considering Uber or Lyft, as the hours are routine and the guests are (probably) sober.

7. Bartender

Sure, Disney World is mostly for children, but adults have to bring those children. And now more than ever, childless adults are visiting Disney World solo. That means there are drinks to be had, and The Mouse needs people on staff who can whip up a gimlet from memory. This is a great job for any retiree with restaurant or bar experience, or just great people skills and a capable hand with the cocktail shakers.

8. Attraction attendant

If you happen to love everything about Walt Disney World Resort already, you’re probably also going to be great as an attraction attendant. This job is for the enthusiastic and knowledgeable, because you’ll be answering questions, taking tickets, and helping guests make some magic—right where the action is. 

9. Entrance operator

If you’d love to see the smiling faces of all Disney’s guests, but don’t feel like you’d be up for a greeter role, this is the gig for you. Entrance operators scan magic bands, check bags, and generally ensure that anyone in the park has tickets. It’s the best of all worlds for personable types with a tendency to be helpful, but don’t necessarily want to be on their feet all day. 

10. Ticket seller

Like the attraction attendants, the ticket sales staff are indoors, air-conditioned, and generally see guests at their most excited and eager. This is a great job for any retiree, but if you’ve ever worked in sales or customer service, you’ll be especially effective here. 

11. Monorail or train conductor

This is the type of job children dream of doing when they grow up. Incidentally, it’s also an excellent job for those who have been grown-ups for a while. The train and monorail conductors need an active Florida drivers license, and experience in travel service is preferred, but not mandatory. You’ll be in charge of taking Disney World guests from stop to stop in a safe, enjoyable route, and you’ll do it all from the comfort of Disney’s most popular mode of transportation. Who wouldn’t love that?

This article originally appeared on Considerable.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Easy ways to budget for your Disney vacation

The magic of Disney is calling and you’re hoping to answer with a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation. But between park tickets, food, airfare, and hotels — you know you’re in for some big expenses.

Fortunately, you may be able to pay for your dream trip debt-free, or at least cut down on a lot of the costs. With helpful budget hacks and different ways you can save, such as budgeting apps and side hustles, your focus can stay on having fun with your family instead of how much you’re spending.

Find out how to start budgeting and saving for your Disney World trip.

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The first step in any Disney World budget is getting a grasp of how much everything will cost. This can help you set specific and realistic goals for how much you need to save for your trip.

Keep in mind that having some extra wiggle room beyond what you think you need can help in case of unforeseen expenses. Also note that pricing for your vacation can widely vary depending on how big your family is, how long you’re staying, where you want to stay, where you’re coming from, and much more.

Here are a few costs to consider for your Disney World budget.

Currently (as of June 2, 2021), a standard theme park ticket to Disney World, which includes admission to one of the four major Disney parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) for one day, costs $109. The more days you add to your ticket, the cheaper your overall cost becomes. For example, a ticket for five days might cost $88 per day and a ticket for 10 days could cost $52 per day.

However, the cost of a ticket could vary depending on the type of ticket, time of year, and whether any special events are going on. Although $109 might be the standard price, if you want to upgrade to a Water Park and Sports add-on or Park Hopper tickets, your costs will increase. It’s not uncommon to see higher prices during busier times of the year as well.

Check the ticket calendar ahead of time to see what the ticket prices look like for the dates you’re planning to visit and then adjust accordingly. If you’re able to change your vacation dates to an off-peak time, it could help you save money on park tickets.

The cost of your flights largely depends on where you’re flying from and what kind of deal you can find on airfare to Florida. It’s often best to start looking at flights ahead of time so you can get an idea of how much they’ll cost out of your closest airports.

It’s not unheard of to get round-trip domestic flights between $150 to $300 per person, which isn’t a bad range to aim for. Keep in mind that you might have to pay more (or less!) than this depending on your departure airport and when you book.

“The most popular airport for Walt Disney World travelers, Orlando International Airport (MCO), isn’t always the most cost-effective option,” says Phil Gramlich, owner and founder of Ear To There Travel. “Vacationers might want to look into flying into Sanford or even Tampa to save a little bit of money.”

In addition, don’t forget about potential extra fees for baggage or seat selection. Budget airlines like Frontier and Spirit are known for tacking on additional expenses, so be sure to include these costs in your estimations. However, some airlines, such as Southwest, may offer free checked baggage, which can save you money on your flights.

Where you rest your head at night could make or break your budget. There’s no shortage of Disney hotels and off-site hotels available, but the price per night can vary a great deal.

The least expensive on-site Disney World hotels are more than $100 per night (often closer to $200 or more per night), with the Disney value hotels offering the best bang for your buck. For comparison’s sake, a standard hotel room at a moderate resort on Disney property can cost more than $300 per night, whereas a standard room at a deluxe resort like the Grand Floridian can easily cost over $500 per night.

But it could also make sense to stay at a hotel that’s close to the parks, but not a Disney World resort. You have loads of options to choose from around the Disney Springs area and other areas. These types of off-site hotels may present cheaper lodging options and still have some Disney perks, such as early access to Disney FastPass+ reservations.

Food and beverages are available throughout the Disney World parks, but the best budget option will be bringing your own. Disney allows you to bring food and drink into the parks, so it’s easy to pack some water and snacks to keep up your energy throughout the day.

It may be convenient to buy a Disney dining plan or use the various food or drink options scattered around the area, but the convenience comes at a price. Dining plans for ages 10 and up as recently as 2020 (dining plans are currently suspended as of June 2, 2021) cost between $55 to $119. For ages 3 to 9, the range was $26 to $47.50.

Considering each dining plan is typically for two meals and two snacks, that’s a lot more costly than buying bread and lunch meat for sandwiches and getting snacks from a grocery store.

Consider these Disney World budget hacks to help cut costs for your family vacation.

    Food and drinks are notoriously expensive inside amusement parks, and the dining plans at Disney World aren’t typically worth the price. The time you spend trying to get your money’s worth out of your meals could be better spent exploring the parks.

    “Disney allows guests to bring in food (just no alcohol or glass containers),” advises Heather Thomas, editor at WDW Prep School. “Bring in your own water or ask for free cups of ice water at Quick Service restaurants.”

    You can’t predict the weather, so come prepared for both rain or sunshine. This means extra ponchos, sunscreen, a hat, and maybe a light sweatshirt in case it gets cold. Buying these items in the park will cost you, so packing your own could help you save some money.

    “You can park for free at Disney Springs and take the bus into the parks,” suggests Faisal Sublaban, president and CEO of Bonotel Exclusive Travel. “It takes a bit of planning and a bit more time, but it saves money if you drive or rent a car.”

    These hotels may not be inside Walt Disney World, but the inconvenience can be your gain. “These are nice hotels, Hampton Inns and the like, at a fraction of the on-site hotel costs,” says Corey Determan, travel consultant with Bella Rose Travel.

    If staying on-site is one of your must-haves, consider the Disney value resorts. Disney separates its Disney Resort hotels into three categories, including value, moderate, and deluxe. The value resorts, such as Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Pop Century, or one of the All-Star resorts, are typically less expensive, but you’re still on-site and get the additional Disney benefits.

    It’s a family vacation, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely let loose with your wallet. Setting spending limits for your family can help you stay on budget while still having fun. Your kids can still get a few things they want as long as the prices stay within their limits.

    “The best hack for saving money at Disney World is to invest in purchasing discount Disney gift cards in the lead-up to your holiday,” says Jeremy Scott Foster, the founder and CEO of TravelFreak. “You can find the discounted gift cards in lots of online places, as well as in stores such as Target.”

    “One tip is to go shopping for souvenirs in the local Walmart or Target,” says Sublaban. “Buy your family t-shirts, stuffed animals, and/or souvenirs when you get to Orlando or before you leave.”

    Many credit cards offer rewards for purchases you make and some provide sign-up bonuses when you first open a card and meet the welcome offer requirements. These rewards can often be redeemed for travel, such as airfare and hotel stays, which can help offset your Disney World vacation costs.

    For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase you make. Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, and more. In addition, these travel redemptions are worth 25% more on the Sapphire Preferred.

    If you don’t want to redeem your points through Chase, you have the option to transfer them to many major airlines and hotel loyalty programs, such as JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and World of Hyatt.

    Similarly, The Platinum Card from American Express also earns rewards for every purchase, called Membership Rewards points. These points can also be redeemed for hotels or rental cars, though you may get better value redeeming them for airfare or transferring them to travel partners. A few of the transfer partners include Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and Marriott Bonvoy.

    To see which credit cards might be the best fit for you, check out our list of the best travel credit cards.

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