As Earth Month comes to a close, here are the top five ways the Disneyland Resort connected children in Orange County, Calif., to nature and inspired them to be champions of the environment this Earth Month!
- Disney VoluntEARS, kids and families collected more than 100 bags of trash at Huntington State Beach, an event organized by Inside the Outdoors Foundation (ITO). The Disneyland Resort sponsored ITO with a $20,000 donation to support ongoing environmental field trips for students and activities like the beach cleanup.
- The Disneyland Resort sponsored Anaheim Community Foundation’s Spring Fun and Eco-Fair at Anaheim’s Oak Canyon Nature Center, where kids and families learned ways to reuse, reduce and recycle. The $20,000 donation helped make possible a mobile eco-fair that visited 10 Anaheim parks, schools and neighborhoods.
- Disney VoluntEARS supported environmental awareness events including the country’s largest Children’s Water Education Festival that the Disneyland Resort helped present at the University of California, Irvine, and MUZEO’s TrashARTist Challenge featuring student art made mostly of recycled materials.
- Students from Costa Mesa High School’s Environmental & Marine Academy took an environmental tour of Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park.
- The Disneyland Resort invited 140 children from eight Boys and Girls Clubs in Orange County to screen DisneyNature’s “Monkey Kingdom” at AMC Theatres at the Downtown Disney District.
Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the Disneyland Resort with a 2014 Food Recovery Challenge Award for having the nation’s highest percentage increase of food recovery in the theme park category. Participants of the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, from businesses to universities, have greatly reduced wasted food in America, the most common material put into landfills.
The EPA’s recognition includes the following creative ways in which Disneyland Resort cast members preserve the environment. I am always encouraged to see how our cast members invest themselves in taking our environmental efforts to the next level!
- More than 7 million pounds of food scraps diverted from landfill for processing into feed nutrients for animals.
- More than 100,000 pounds of packaged food donated to local food banks last year.
- Nearly 60,000 gallons of used cooking oil processed annually into biodiesel used to power the Disneyland Railroad and Mark Twain Riverboat.
The Disneyland Resort also was honored with California’s highest environmental honor earlier this year, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, for waste reduction efforts.
Over the last 10 years, the Disneyland Resort has doubled the amount of waste diverted from landfills with the long-term goal of achieving Zero Waste, a designation already awarded to Circle D Corral by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, and the location where the Disneyland Resort accepted its Food Recovery Challenge Award!
Disney Ambassador Jessica Bernard, joined by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, recently traveled to Japan for the first international Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration announcement, held at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
Surprise guest U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy also attended the event to share her love for the Disneyland Resort. Caroline recalled childhood Disney memories, including watching the “Wonderful World of Disney” and reenacting “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” with family members.
The Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration kicks off with a 24-hour celebration on May 22, 2015.
As a casting recruiter, Steven Warkentin brings magic to our guests through hiring our future magic-makers. In fact, he’s held a number of the positions for which he hires including roles in attractions, entertainment and custodial guest services.
Steven says, “I get to offer jobs to candidates who are going to help carry on Walt Disney’s legacy in this special place where the magic started. Who knows? I could be hiring our next Disney Ambassador. I think that’s pretty amazing!”
Steven shares more about his role and tips for applying at the Disneyland Resort in this “Every Role a Starring Role!”
Julie Ernst, a teacher at John Marshall Elementary School in Anaheim, Calif., purchased two piano keyboards seven years ago with a grant from the Disneyland Resort to start a music education program. Today, the elementary school has a complete lab of 34 keyboards and a full-time music teacher, and this year received a visit from members of the National Association of Music Merchants.
Disneyland Resort CREATE (Creative Resources Enabling Arts through Education) grants have provided Orange County teachers with classroom materials that support visual and performing arts projects for more than 20 years. In the 2014-15 school year, CREATE grants funded 131 schools with 249 arts and music projects, benefiting more than 42,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students in Orange County.
“Music can make a difference in the lives of our students in Anaheim,” said Ernst. “Attendance rates are up, student success is increasing in all curricular areas, staff is proud, discipline issues have dropped, and I am one happy teacher!”
Three Disneyland Resort cast members, Alexys McCoy, Joleen Piser and Ashley Parrish, have completed their six-month journey to become certificated culinarians with the American Culinary Federation. The trio earned the certification by participating in the Disneyland Resort Culinary Apprentice Program that provides 1,000 hours of diverse, hands-on training for cast members who are aspiring chefs.
Alexys, Joleen and Ashley rotated Disneyland Resort dining locations every two weeks, learning new culinary skills from preparing signature sauces at Carthay Circle Restaurant to baking bread at Boudin Bakery. The apprentices said the exposure to so many styles of food, equipment and cooking techniques in such a short period of time has been hugely beneficial.
Chef de Cuisine Bill Orton, who oversees culinary training, chef recruiting and special dietary programs at the Disneyland Resort, developed and leads the Culinary Apprentice Program, now in its second year.
“It is so rewarding to see our cast members learn and grow,” said Chef Bill. “Teaching is my favorite part of being a chef. There are only a few apprenticeship programs available in this county; I am honored to be leading ours.”
As my colleague Melanie shared last year, Disney VoluntEARS joined representatives from American Heart Association (AHA) and Walt Disney Elementary School teachers, students and parents to build the first AHA Teaching Garden in Anaheim, Calif., funded by the Disneyland Resort. Since the build and initial planting in November, the garden has continued to serve as a learning laboratory where students nurture growing plants, harvest produce and, in the process, learn the value of healthy eating. Today, I am excited to share that Disney VoluntEARS and more than 700 Walt Disney Elementary School students recently participated in the Teaching Garden’s first Heart Healthy Harvest Day!
Along with harvesting the garden boxes during the event, students tasted new fruits and vegetables and even learned about a unique form of composting that uses worms to recycle organic materials into soil. Each class also planted new vegetables for harvest later this spring.
“The Walt Disney Teaching Garden is a unique and natural learning environment that has given our students a first-hand experience of the seed-to-table process, while providing them with invaluable insight into the importance and appreciation of nutritious and healthy eating,” said Walt Disney Elementary School Principal Teali Fielder.
Looks like the students are really looking forward to their next crop!
A record 500 Disneyland Resort cast members volunteered more than 39,000 hours of rehearsal time to produce the 17th annual “Flashback,” held at the Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure park last week. The musical production, in which cast members produce and perform mini-musicals for family and friends, raised $25,000 for ACT Anaheim (Accelerate Change Together).
Performances were themed to various Disneyland Resort celebrations: “Blast to the Past,” “Circus Fantasy,” “Year of a Million Dreams” and “Show Your Disney Side.” Several participants also volunteered time to teach song and dance numbers to children at the West Anaheim Youth Center, one of ACT Anaheim’s grant recipients.
“Since Flashback’s launch, we have dedicated close to $300,000 to local charities within Orange County and Anaheim,” said Flashback co-creator Glynn Alsup, an attractions area manager. “ACT Anaheim is a great way to touch many of those charities at the same time. It truly is a valuable organization that goes to some great causes.”
Disneyland Resort cast member Freda Hardison is responsible for the inventory planning of toys, such as the popular “Build Your Own Lightsaber,” for merchandise locations at the Disneyland Resort.
She also volunteers time with our Diversity Resource Group (DRG) PULSE to provide cultural insight about the African American community. DRGs are composed of cast members from all lines of business who provide enrichment, awareness and education to support the diversity goals and objectives of the Disneyland Resort.
In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” Freda talks about the various steps to merchandise planning and how she also helped the Disneyland Resort celebrate Black History Month.
Cast members from the North American Tour of “Newsies” taught guests dance sequences inspired by the musical’s production number “Seize the Day” at the Downtown Disney District yesterday – all part of the “Get Up and Go” wellness program.
The program is part of the national tour of “Newsies,” in which cast members visit select schools and after-school programs to promote healthy lifestyles through dance, exercise and a well-balanced diet. The cast also share personal stories about how staying active helped them achieve their goals.
The Disneyland Resort invited community groups including the Anaheim Ballet, the Wooden Floor and several local high schools to participate. The national tour of “Newsies” will run at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles from March 24 – April 19.