Since 2010, our camera crews have covered the Disneyland Resort far and wide to introduce you to our hard working cast members and give you a behind-the-scenes look at the roles they play to bring magic to our guests.
“Every Role a Starring Role” – a video series spotlighting various roles at the Disneyland Resort – celebrates 50 episodes this month, and we’ve taken a walk down memory lane that I’d like to share with all of you. As Orange County’s largest employer with 26,000 cast members, it’s no surprise that the Disneyland Resort offers such a wide variety of jobs. (Though, I am surprised by many unique ones!)
We look forward to introducing you to more of our cast members who make Walt Disney’s dream, as he put it, a reality. Here’s another look at those you’ve met so far!
Creating guest memories is a family affair for many Disneyland Resort cast members, and among these are inspirational dads who lead their families at home and work. With Father’s Day around the corner, now is a great time to introduce you to the Hernandez family!
When Shaleena Hernandez, a server at ESPN Zone, needs someone to talk to, she turns to her father, and doesn’t have to go far. Richard Hernandez also works at the Downtown Disney District restaurant — as do his other two children, Jessica and Briana. And would you believe Shaleena’s and Jessica’s fiancées also both work at ESPN Zone? They do!
Richard values the time he spends with his daughters and future sons-in-law on and off the clock. “Being together is great,” said Richard. “I have always enjoyed working at the Disneyland Resort because of my supportive co-workers, and now it’s extra special because I get to also work with my daughters.”
Shaleena, Jessica and Briana attribute their work ethic to their dad. “Working with my dad allows me to spend time with him and see his hard work,” Jessica said. “I love my dad, and we hope he enjoys his day off on Father’s Day.”
At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, our cast members and Imagineers are always looking for new ways to create special places and great experiences within our theme parks and resorts where kids and adults can spend meaningful time together. We are committed to nurturing, inspiring, and empowering kids and families to join us in making lasting and positive change in the world and based on research shared in January, during our two-day “Discover Together” symposium, we feel that one of the best ways to do that is to help strengthen bonds between kids and adults in communities across the country.
In March, we encouraged families across America to enter the KaBOOM! America’s Most Playful Family contest, made possible with support from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The contest encourages families to incorporate play into their everyday lives and inspires families to create a playful environment. KaBOOM!, along with a panel of celebrity judges has selected the Most Playful Family contest winners!
The grand prize winning family, The Thomas family from Laguna Pueblo, N.M., spans three generations, and uses play as a way to teach valuable life lessons on health, partnership, relationship-building, culture and tradition. The Thomas family will choose from a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.
For more information on the contest and to see how all ten of the winning families spend meaningful time together in their own unique ways, visit http://kaboom.org/playfulfamily.
This month, we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Disneyland Monorail, which opened in 1959 as part of the first major expansion of Disneyland park that included the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Submarine Voyage.
Walt Disney was personally intrigued by various forms of transportation and included a “highway in the sky” in his early plans for Disneyland park. Today, the Disneyland Resort is the only place in the world to experience the Disneyland Monorail Mark VII.
Mike Gibson has piloted the Disneyland Monorail for 20 years and was the first cast member to operate the orange Mark VII train. Mike explains his duties in this “Every Role a Starring Role!”
Learn about the history of the Monorail here:
For 50 years, Mike Larson has worked in Disneyland Resort Custodial Guest Services – with no plans to retire. Mike’s gentle, friendly approach to guest service is anchored by his enthusiastic admiration for Walt Disney. I recently met up with Mike to journey down memory lane.
What was it like to work at Disneyland while Walt Disney was alive?
“He was on television every week, but he also was the CEO of the company and my boss. It was like working for the first rock star. I take a lot of pride in working here, and I still tip my hat to Walt every day.”
Did you ever see Walt Disney at work?
“I saw him three or four times while he was walking down Main Street, U.S.A. He was always on Main Street because he would park his car behind City Hall and walk into Disneyland from his apartment. When I think about all of his awards and accomplishments, it’s remarkable to know that I saw him in person, and it was so exciting because all the cast members would know when Walt was in the park.”
Can you share a special experience you’ve had as a cast member?
“I’ve had many, though the one that stands out is working at the 1995 premiere of “Pocahontas” at the Great Lawn in Central Park in New York. I joined a team of custodial cast members all hand-picked by our peers to keep the event clean. Working there felt like we brought Disneyland to Central Park, which was fascinating.”
What has kept you at Disneyland Resort for the past 50 years?
“What really keeps me going is a sense of laughter when interacting with guests and fellow cast members. I think you have to have a good sense of humor to work here, and the people here have kept me laughing. If I am having a bad day, a quick chat with a guest will turn it all around.”
Ten extraordinary high school seniors were each surprised at their Orange County, California schools with an in-class visit from Disney Ambassador Megan Navarette – and a $7,500 scholarship from Disneyland Resort! Along with demonstrating academic excellence and leadership skills, this year’s scholarship recipients were chosen for a combined 7,000 hours of community service.
Since 2005, the Disneyland Resort Scholarship Program has granted more than half a million dollars to graduating Orange County high school seniors, who are selected by a distinguished panel of community leaders for their passion for volunteerism, academic excellence and contributions to the community. Learn more about this year’s Disneyland Resort Scholarship recipients here!
Disneyland Resort Merchandise Presentation Manager Quincy Strattman enhances Disney storytelling by creating exciting shopping environments and displays at merchandise locations throughout Disney California Adventure park and the Downtown Disney District. In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” see how Quincy helps inspire guests to take home a souvenir of their visit!
This month, Disneyland Resort and its cast members have been out and about in the community celebrating Earth Month. At MUZEO’s TrashARTist Challenge and Expo that the Disneyland Resort sponsored in Anaheim, cast members demonstrated waste reduction techniques and helped choose a winner of the art contest that encouraged people to turn trash into art.
Disney VoluntEARS also helped restore a natural habitat at the Heritage Museum of Orange County by planting 50 native trees and plants. At the annual Children’s Water Education Festival that the Disneyland Resort sponsored at University of California, Irvine, more than 200 Disney VoluntEARS helped 7,000 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in Orange County learn about ways to help conserve the local water supply.
Boys & Girls Clubs from Orange County were hosted for a private screening of Disneynature’s “Bears” at the Downtown Disney District, and third-graders at Orange Grove Elementary in Anaheim were read environmental stories by the Disneyland Resort Diversity Resource Group, HOLA.
Aside from caring for our four-legged cast members at the Disneyland Resort, the team at Circle D Ranch also takes personal interest in caring for the environment, and what better occasion to spotlight this than Earth Day!
“Our cast members are passionate people who love to care for our animals and environment,” said Andrea Raney, a Circle D Ranch stable attendant who initiated their composting program. “We are always looking for new ways to reuse our equipment and reduce our waste.”
Now, more than 90 percent of waste collected at Circle D Ranch is composted or recycled. In fact, the entire facility collects only one 50-gallon trash can of waste every two days! Animal waste and bedding, coffee grounds and filters from food and beverage locations and laundry lint from Disneyland Resort hotels are part of the composting mix. Each of these help Circle D Ranch reach its goal of becoming a zero-waste facility.
Programs such as these have helped contribute to a 50 percent decrease in waste sent to landfills by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. For more information on this and other environmental accomplishments of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, check out the recently released 2013 Citizenship Performance Summary.
Guests coming to Disneyland Resort tomorrow, April 19, and on Earth Day, April 22, can celebrate Earth Month at the Downtown Disney District! Be sure to check out the Wyland Clean Water Mobile Learning Experience, where guests can participate in a Clean Water Challenge and solve disturbances to the nation’s water habitats via a 4D theater experience. DJ Wendy also will provide “atmosphere” music.
On April 19, learn about the environment with our friends from Inside the Outdoors Foundation, Bolsa Chica Conservancy, Orange County Water District, and more. On April 22, guests can interact with an exhibit hosted by the Disneyland Resort about reducing, reusing and recycling, clean commuting and connecting with nature, paint an environmental mural with the Wyland Foundation and participate in interactive demonstrations with the Southern California Edison Mobile Energy Unit. MUZEO also will display art made completely out of recycled materials.
All offerings take place near the main stage by ESPN Zone from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on April 19 and 2 – 6 p.m. on April 22.