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 Corral 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 Corral 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 Corral 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 the Disneyland Hotel are part of the composting mix. Each of these help Circle D Corral 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.
Accelerate Change Together for Anaheim (ACT Anaheim) announced today that it is awarding $1.5 million in inaugural grants to 10 local nonprofit organizations. Disneyland Resort led an effort to develop ACT Anaheim by funding the 2012 Anaheim Youth Services Assessment that highlighted challenges facing youth in California’s 10th largest city.
Over the next three years, three of Anaheim’s largest businesses – Disneyland Resort, Angels Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks – committed $3 million to benefit underserved Anaheim youth, marking a more collaborative approach to help improve their lives in the community. The Orange County Community Foundation joined as managing partner of the program, helping increase the inaugural granting pool from $1 million to $1.5 million by bringing in additional funders.
The inaugural grants range from $100,000 to $200,000, and are expected to address gaps in services for more than 1,000 Anaheim youth, including mentoring and after-school programs. The inaugural grantees and grant amounts are:
- GOALS, $200,000
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Anaheim, $175,000
- Community Service Programs, $175,000
- Girls Incorporated of Orange County, $175,000
- Western Youth Services, $175,000
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, $150,000
- Tiger Woods Foundation, $125,000
- Anaheim Family YMCA, $125,000
- Orange County Congregation Community Organization, $100,000
- Taller San Jose, $100,000
Happy Earth Month! This green installment of “Every Role a Starring Role” spotlights cast member Helen Jaco, an Environmental Integration Representative at the Disneyland Resort. Helen helps reduce waste at the Disneyland Resort by working with various departments to increase environmental awareness and help them find creative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
From donating at least 50 pairs of shoes per day to Goodwill to recycling seven tons of food scraps per day into animal feed, the Disneyland Resort continues to minimize waste thanks in part to Helen, who tells us more about her role and the programs she supports in this video!