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Mickey & Minnie Sleeping in front of Diamond Sleeping Beauty Castle (Day)

Childhood Dream Come True for This Walt Disney World Resort Cast Member

posted on January 31st, 2012 by David Brady, Senior Writer, Internal Communications

I’m fortunate to meet many different Walt Disney World Resort cast members while writing stories for our internal magazine, Eyes & Ears. Recently, I spent a lot of time at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, which will mark its 20th anniversary Feb. 2.

During my research, I learned that Kyle Raser, the resort’s current manager of Guest Service Operations, had stayed there years ago when it was known as Disney’s Dixie Landings Resort.

Kyle Raser Currently is Manager of Guest Service Operations at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside.

“When I was 14 years old, I lived in Pennsylvania,” Kyle told me. “We were actually supposed to stay at a different resort but because we got so much snow up north we had to change our vacation and the only place available at the time was Dixie Landings. So we came here and fell in love with the place.”

As he explained, “We always say, ‘By chance we stayed here but by choice we stayed here every other year after that.’ My mom and the rest of the family still call it home.”

Kyle First Visited the Resort in 1993, a Year After it Opened, When it Was Known as Disney’s Dixie Landings Resort.

Like many of our cast members who chased childhood dreams or pursued adult ambitions, Kyle joined the company in 1997 when he moved to Florida and went to work at The Disney Store. In 1999, he became a Walt Disney World Resort cast member. He joined the Port Orleans team in April 2010, making it a kind of homecoming.

“Each night when I walk out of the resort and look back at the entrance, I can’t help but fondly remember my first visit to this place and how lucky I am to have come ‘home’ again,” Kyle said.

Kyle Says His Family Fell in Love With the Resort After Their First Visit and Returned Often Over the Years.

Nearly two decades after that first visit, he offers wise advice to the cast members he now leads.

“I always say, ‘Treat every guest like it’s 14-year-old Kyle because you never know if they’re going to come back and work here someday,’” he said. “I like to think that there may be another guest out there who, like me, will be inspired to be part of the future generation of cast members.”

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Filed: Cast Member Profiles, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Histories of Disney’s Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts

posted on September 29th, 2011 by David Brady, Senior Writer, Internal Communications

Hello, Disney fans! I’m the senior writer for Eyes & Ears, an internal magazine for Walt Disney World Cast Members. I’m delighted to share some of those stories with you from time to time. Here’s one in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort.

In 1969, Disney announced five “theme resorts” for the project’s first phase. Two opened October 1, 1971 – we know them today as Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Early renderings for what became Disney’s Polynesian Resort included a 12-story tower.

An early concept for Disney’s Polynesian Resort featured a 12-story tower, a bold design that might have looked more at home among the luxury hotels on Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach.

By about 1970, the site plan had evolved to a more architecturally authentic “village” layout, much of which remains today. Incredibly, construction began in February 1971, less than eight months before the first guests were scheduled to arrive.

Construction of Disney’s Polynesian Resort began in February 1971.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort were designed by WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering), the California architectural firm of Welton Becket & Associates and United States Steel Corp. Each was built with a unique process called “unitized modular construction.”

Take a look at this early photo of Disney’s Contemporary Resort:

Disney’s Contemporary Resort was built using a new method of modular construction.

Once the central elevator shaft went up, crews assembled 13 steel-trussed A-frames around it, forming a 150-foot-high skeleton. A few miles away, assembly-line workers built rooms for both resorts at a rate of around 40 per week. When finished, each was a free-standing unit complete with air conditioning, bathroom fixtures, sliding-glass doors and groovy decor.

During construction of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, prebuilt rooms were slid into the building’s frame one by one.

After being trucked to the construction sites, the nearly nine-ton rooms were slid into the building frames by crane, like dresser drawers. Despite a widely believed legend, they were never meant to be removable for future refurbishments, though.

To help learn the hotel business, Disney leased the Hilton Inn South in Orlando, Fla., which opened in May 1970, and used the 140-room hotel as a kind of living laboratory, developing everything from training manuals to restaurant menus later used in its own resorts.

The remaining “Phase One” resorts, inspired by Asian, Venetian and Persian motifs, never made it off Imagineers’ drawing boards. Four decades later, they remain tantalizing examples of what might have been.

Who visited our first two resorts in the early years?

Construction of Disney’s Contemporary Resort Construction of Disney’s Contemporary Resort Construction of Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Contemporary Resort Disney leased the Hilton Inn South in Orlando, Fla., as a place to learn the hotel business.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort was known as the Polynesian Village Resort when it opened in 1971. Disney’s Polynesian Resort opened with 492 rooms in eight longhouses, and later expanded. In 2001, the Nanea Volcano Pool replaced the original swimming pool (seen here) at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. A never-built Asian-themed resort (seen here as a model) was planned for the<br />
five-year first phase of the Walt Disney World Resort.
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Filed: Disney History, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort