At 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday Sept.8, 2018, guests staying at Walt Disney World Resorts were able to enter Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom an hour early. Those who didn’t and arrived before the park opened to the public stood in the mile-long line waiting to enter. They grew restless in the humid Florida air.
Young children at the front of the line began crying loudly and some teenagers pulled out their phones or books and sat on the wet floor. Parents scolded their kids. Couples and groups without children began grumbling. The shade from the 20-foot trees blocked the harshness of the sun, but the 70% humidity began causing people to develop large sweat stains on their shirts and intensified the smell of moss and dead leaves.
While the impatience to enter the park grew, a female cast member, the words Disney uses to refer to its employees, walked to a fenced off enclosure next to the line. She swayed her body left to right and adjusted her uniform, which was inspired by Junior Wilderness Explorers in Pixar’s movie “Up.”
She stood there quietly until a young girl in a poufy, pink dress walked up to her alone and began looking into the pen. The employee smiled as she began explaining that behind the fence, lived a small, Asian deer called a Muntjac.
The cast member she pulled out a foot-long piece of antler from her back pocket . She showed it to the girl, then brought out one that was ¼ the size and looked like a horn. She explained how the smaller one belonged to a Muntjac. The cast member put the two side-by-side and allowed her to make a comparison. The girl smiled and shook her head while crossing her arms in front of her chest. She stepped back, looked up at the cast member’s face and ran away.