Tokyo Disneyland Park, Haunted Mansion

Cast Members Submit Photos of Their ‘Happy Place’ at Disneyland Resort

posted on February 21st, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, 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.

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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!

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Cast Member Romance at the Disneyland Resort

posted on February 13th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


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!

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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.”

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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.

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Welcome to the Plaza Inn at Disneyland Park

posted on February 4th, 2014 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


When I think of the Plaza Inn on Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park, I can virtually smell the fried chicken … yum! However, there’s so much more to this iconic restaurant if you take the time to look around when you stop in. The video below features Steve Valkenburg, who has had the pleasure of working there for more than 30 years, along with historical footage of Walt Disney describing what would eventually become one of his favorite restaurants in Disneyland.

What’s your favorite feature at the Plaza Inn?

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Disney Cast Members Create An ‘Extreme Village Makeover’ for Give Kids the World

posted on January 24th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Earlier today, a group of our Walt Disney World Resort cast members were featured on “Good Morning America” helping to create an amazing magical moment for Give Kids the World, a local nonprofit that has provided vacation experiences for thousands of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Disney Cast Members Create An ‘Extreme Village Makeover’ for Give Kids the World

Shouting “Move that bus!” dozens of cast members helped unveil a Give Kids the World “Extreme Village Makeover” on live TV. For this one-of-a-kind project, Disney cast members dedicated countless hours to redesign and renovate the building. This beautifully re-imagined space features a registration area and lounge, as well as a floor-to-ceiling inspirational mural created with hundreds of photos of personal moments between volunteers and families.

The Walt Disney World Resort and its cast members have been involved with Give Kids the World for more than 25 years, with the resort donating theme park tickets or providing Disney character entertainment, and cast members volunteering their time through the Disney VoluntEARS program.

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Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Chef de Cuisine Bill Orton

posted on January 23rd, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Chef de Cuisine Bill Orton oversees culinary training, chef recruiting and special dietary programs at the Disneyland Resort, including a new Culinary Apprentice Program he helped develop!

As the first three cast members selected for the program, Chefs Albert Esparza, Joanna Aguayo and Sean Harper are about two months into their six-month journey to become certified culinarians with the American Culinary Federation, learning culinary skills at a different Disneyland Resort dining location every two weeks.

The three chefs will learn how to create everything from pasta with clams at Wine Country Trattoria to fried pickles at Carnation Café, and also will spend a week at an outdoor vending location. Chef Bill explains more about the program and his role in this “Every Role a Starring Role!

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Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Silhouette Artist

posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


In 1974, Harry Brice, a former artist at the Silhouette Studio in Disneyland park, said, “Anyone can cut a silhouette, but it takes practice to capture a good likeness of a particular subject – that’s what makes producing silhouettes an art.” At the time, it was estimated that Harry was “the fastest snip in the West.”

Today, cast member Bonnie Elliott, who worked with Harry, and a select few silhouette artists in Disneyland park carry on the rare trade and create one-of-a-kind keepsakes for our guests. In fact, Bonnie can cut up to nine profiles in a single portrait! Watch Bonnie in action in this “Every Role a Starring Role!

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Every Role a Starring Role – ‘World of Color’ Stage Manager at the Disneyland Resort

posted on November 27th, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort cast member Adeena Welle oversees the daily operation of “World of Color” at Disney California Adventure park as its stage manager. Part of the show’s original programming team, Adeena has one foot in the creation of the show and one foot in the operation – getting to run it and maintain it for our guests. In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” Adeena explains her responsibilities and gives us a peek into the wonderful world of stage management!

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Celebrating ‘Artists Among Us’ at the Disneyland Resort

posted on November 14th, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort cast members bring the magic of storytelling to life for our guests every day, but their creativity doesn’t end there. In fact, many cast members put their talent and energy into creating unique and extraordinary art! Recently, the Disneyland Resort Line, our publication for cast members, put out a call for original artwork that reflects what cast members love most about the Disneyland Resort.

Nearly 75 submissions were received, ranging from acrylic paintings and cartoon sketches to shadow boxes and hand-woven baskets. Here is how some of the “artists among us” expressed their visions of the Disneyland Resort!

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John Agnew, Attractions
John’s acrylic painting was selected for the cover of the Disneyland Resort Line. John explains that the couple riding King Arthur Carrousel is modeled after him and his wife. As they catch their reflection in the mirror, they are seen in their younger years. John says, “What I love about the park is that it is timeless … in your heart, you never change age.”

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Reuben Jackson, Food & Beverage
Reuben used a stylus and tablet to create this submission inspired by his father, who recently passed away. Reuben says, “May 29, 2013 was the last day I saw my father, and we spent the day here at Disneyland. My illustration depicts family, love and that priceless memory you get with loved ones when visiting ‘The Happiest Place on Earth.’”

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Kat Valencia, Food & Beverage
Kat draws inspiration from Disney artists Marc Davis and Mary Blair, as well as her two favorite attractions, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. Kat aspires to one day develop storyboards for Walt Disney Studios. She says, “I remember growing up watching Disney [animated] films and thinking ‘That’s so cool, I want to do that!’”

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Michael Laverty, Merchandise Planning
A self-taught artist, Mike has been perfecting his woodworking skills for 15 years, creating such items as desktop clocks shaped like watches – featuring Disney characters. He says he uses his art to relax, while also spreading joy to others. “I just hope they walk away with a smile,” he said.

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Bob Rhodes, Food & Beverage
Bob created this clock inspired by the evil queen’s magic mirror on the wall. He said, “Our family loves ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ the Arribas Bros. glass shop, and the old clock shop that used to be on Main Street, U.S.A. Coming to Disneyland with my family gave me the inspiration to be an artist.”

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Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Tour Guide

posted on October 17th, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Ever wonder how trick-or-treating originated or where the Jack O’ Lantern came from? Just ask Disneyland Resort tour guide Josh Salas, who stars in this Halloween Time installment of “Every Role a Starring Role” featuring the “Disney’s Happiest Haunts” Tour!



Check out these posts for more “Every Role a Starring Role”:

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Checking In With the 2013-2014 Walt Disney World Ambassador Team

posted on September 23rd, 2013 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Ty Arnold Assisting with the Animal Programs Team at Disney's Animal Kingdom

My fellow Disney Parks Blog author Erin Glover recently shared an interview with the Disney Parks Ambassadors from around the world. Being a former Walt Disney World Ambassador, I enjoyed reading about their experiences as it reminds of my time serving in one of the most amazing roles at Disney. I recently caught up with 2013-2014 Walt Disney World Ambassadors, Tye Arnold and Rich Tamayo, to hear about how their first year has progressed.

Rich Tamayo with 25 Year Cast Member, Berbino

What is one word that describes your experience as a Disney Ambassador so far this year?

Tye: I would say, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” I couldn’t think of just any ordinary word to sum up this role of a lifetime. We’ve met many interesting and talented people, and love sharing those interactions with others. Just recently, we saw a tiger at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park have a dental procedure done by the talented Animal Programs team. That was an amazing thing to see!

Rich: I choose ‘humbling.’ As Ambassadors, we celebrate our cast members’ various achievements. For our first service anniversary celebration earlier this year, I recall meeting Berbino who was celebrating his 25th year with Disney. Tye asked him about his career history, and we thought his response would include a long list of locations where he worked. Much to our surprise, Berbino had spent all 25 years as a steward at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. He was an instant celebrity to us.

The Walt Disney World Ambassador Team Worked with KABOOM! to Build a Playground

The Walt Disney Company celebrated 30 years of the Disney VoluntEARS program this past May. What has been your favorite volunteer experience this year?

Tye: One of my most memorable VoluntEAR moments was helping build a playground in a partnership with the KABOOM! organization. Along with cast members from all areas of the Resort, we built a playground in less than six hours for a local community! While it was a lot of work, the sense of pride after seeing the finished product will remain with me for a lifetime.

Rich: I loved visiting the Walt Disney World Boys and Girls Club in Pine Hills outside Orlando, Florida. During our visit, we learned how this club positively impacts the lives of the children it serves. We had a great time with the kids making crafts, helping them with homework and playing games.

Checking In With the 2013-2014 Walt Disney World Ambassador Team

What has been the most surprising part of your role as a Disney Ambassador?

Tye: The most surprising part of being a Disney Ambassador was the tremendous honor I felt from the moment I first wore the Ambassador pin. While Rich and I may serve in an official capacity, we know that each and every cast member represents the legacy of Walt Disney every day.

Rich: I was surprised by the number of cast members who have worked for Disney for 25 or more years. These special cast members paved the way for the rest of us, and are a big reason why guests enjoy visiting Walt Disney World Resort year after year.

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