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.”
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.”
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!
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.
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!
In the early years, Disneyland park had costumed balloon vendors who sold 25¢ balloons in three areas of the park: Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and near the main entrance. Of course, guests can still purchase the time-honored souvenir from balloon vendors like Nick Lanham in Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park. In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” Nick talks about his tricks of the trade and memories as a balloon vendor at the Disneyland Resort!
A few months ago, I shared with you original artwork by our cast members that was featured in the Disneyland Resort Line, our publication for cast. This time, the Disneyland Resort Line asked cast members to send in a photograph of their ‘happy place’ — an image telling the story about their favorite spot at the Disneyland Resort. Nearly 50 photos were received and eight were selected for a resort wide cast vote to determine which photo would be featured as the cover of the Disneyland Resort Line.
The results are in! Cast member Andy Neitzert’s striking photo of his 4-year-old daughter, Lilly Belle, in Frontierland (yes, she’s named for the Disneyland Railroad train car Lilly Belle, which Walt Disney named after his wife) is the cover of the current issue. When asked about the image, Andy said, “Originally, my ‘happy place’ described a location that made me happy every time I was there. For many years, Disneyland itself was one enormous happy place for me. On Jan. 15, 2010, that all changed. My daughter Lilly was born and she changed everything. Lilly Belle is now my happy place.” See the below collage of the other featured entries!
The magic and beauty of the Disneyland Resort is always sure to create romance for our guests, and those who work here are just as susceptible to its power. Indeed, many of our Disneyland Resort cast members have found “the one” working right here alongside them. Today, as we count down the hours to Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share one of these sweetheart stories with you!
Disneyland Resort Ambassador Sachiko White met her Prince Charming – Imagineer Danny Handke – during her Global Ambassador Training in 2012. On a tour of Walt Disney Imagineering, Danny led the group in a presentation on Mystic Point at Hong Kong Disneyland. Some time later, the two met for lunch to discuss Danny’s involvement as a guest presenter for The Ambassador Program Presents – a special event series for Disneyland Resort cast members.
“We got along like peas and carrots,” Sachiko told me, “and a few days later had an epic, 12-hour date here at Disneyland; we’ve been together ever since.”
Danny knew that he wanted to propose to Sachiko here at the Disneyland Resort – not only because they are both cast members and it was where they had their first date – but also because Danny is a huge Disney fan and always wanted to get engaged at Disneyland. So he planned a surprise for Sachiko, enlisting her fellow Disneyland Resort Ambassador Megan Navarette. They convinced Sachiko to attend what she thought was a work-related event in Fantasy Faire. Dressed as a king, he presented a dozen roses to Sachiko when she arrived, asking, “Are you the princess I’ve been looking for?”
The two plan to be married next month – March 21, the first day of spring. “To us, the new season means new beginnings, new growth and the beginning of a new chapter in our lives,” Sachiko said.