More Behind the Scenes Stories

Journey Through Cast Member Mike Larson’s 50 Years at Disneyland Resort

Kevin Rafferty, Jr.

by , Communications, WDI

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.”


  • Great story! Hopefully we will get to see and meet Mike on our trip to Disneyland next year! Will be looking for him!

  • Mike really epitomizes the spirit of the Disneyland Resort Cast Member. Guests come first – keeping the Park clean is one of the most central ideals of Walt’s vision of the place. To be able to maintain that vision after so many years, so many changes, so many administrations, so many people, he truly is a unique individual. And to keep his positive attitude throughout all of it, he’s a hero who should be commended. Looks to me like we have an every-man Disney Legend in the making.

  • My favorite quote from Walt while giving Bob Thomas a tour of Disneyland while still under construction:

    Walt: “Don’t forget, the biggest attraction isn’t here yet.”

    Thomas: “What’s that?”

    Walt: “People. You fill this place with people, and you’ll really have a show.”

  • Congratulations to Mike on 50 years! It’s nice to read a special feature like this.

  • Congratulations on 50+ years Mike! It people like you that make Disneyland special.

  • This is a wonderful story. In one of the responses Mike stated he tips his hat every day to Walt. I speak for myself as I am sure others when I say this, but Mike, I tip my hat to you.

  • Congratulations Mike!! Sounds like a great employee and great man.

  • Lovely story! The cast members make the Disney parks what they are!

  • I really liked this story and only wish it could have been longer since I think Mike probably has many interesting stories from his long career.

    I have dreamed about being a cast member for a long time and Mike’s story makes me want to work harder to make that dream come true.

  • Loving this story — especially the part about “no plans to retire.” Wonderful! Mike must write his book about work and life at Disney for 50 years plus. Think about it — where is Mike’s story even possible in today’s world for young people when your new career role is more like a “free agent” rather than like Mike’s for life. I would love to read Mike’s book.

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