‘Celebrate HER Story’ Women Behind the Magic at Disney Springs

Kelsey Noland

by , Digital Integration Manager, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products

We hope you’ve had a chance to experience “Celebrate HER Story” at Disney Springs this month as we honor the contributions of women throughout our history and celebrate some of the women who are pioneering our future. In our last story, we put the spotlight on some of our masterful chefs, artists, and business-savvy entrepreneurs across Disney Springs. Today, I’m excited to give you a peak behind the curtain of the powerhouse women who contribute to many of the amazing experiences and brands you’ll discover across our destination in honor of Women’s History Month.

It is always an honor and a privilege for me to photograph and share all the amazing sweet treat creations developed by Chef Yoly and Chef Amanda. Having the opportunity to show off their incredible talent and creativity while seeing it get such positive engagement from our guests truly makes my day. I’ve seen Chef Yoly create culinary masterpieces with her iconic petit cakes that we all know and love, and Chef Amanda create mind-blowing chocolate creations that have gone viral (I’m talking about the amazing Olaf Hot Cocoa Surprise!) It’s truly an honor for me to work with these ladies who inspire me every day. 

Chef Yolanda (Yoly) Lazo Colón

Pastry Chef Yolanda Lazo Colón, Amorette’s Patisserie

Chef Yolanda (Yoly) Lazo Colón is a shining star and the creative mastermind behind your favorite petit cakes, pastries, sweets and more at Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs. Originally from Puerto Rico, Chef Yoly has been with Walt Disney World Resort for 28 years and started as a dishwasher at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort. She studied electronic technology in school but realized she had a passion for the culinary arts after she was given the opportunity to learn how to make pizza — from then on, she was dedicated to learning everything she could about becoming a chef. Before joining Disney Springs, Chef Yoly worked at EPCOT for several years developing delicious desserts for our festivals. Today, at Amorette’s Patisserie she manages everything from the creative execution of every dessert, to managing budgets, inventory management, and mentoring her talented team of pastry chefs. When asked what advice she would give young women wanting to get into the food industry, she said “Never give up. Always put passion in the desserts that you create. Learn from the constructive criticism and make time for yourself.”

Chef Amanda Lauder

Chef Chocolatier Amanda Lauder, The Ganachery

Chef Amanda Lauder is the first and only chef chocolatier at The Walt Disney Company and the chocolate genius behind the hand-crafted chocolate ganache squares at The Ganachery. Chef Amanda may look familiar to you and that’s because you’ve seen her on popular Disney+ shows including “One Day at Disney” and “Be Our Chef.”

Chef Amanda discovered her passion for the culinary arts in a vocational program in high school where she thoroughly enjoyed the creative process of taking different ingredients and techniques and making something exciting and delicious. Chef Amanda started at Walt Disney World in 2002 on the Disney College Program working at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Prior to joining Disney Springs, she was making culinary magic at EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Today, at The Ganachery, she manages all aspects of the business from recipe and product development, to discovering, hiring, and managing all of the chocolatiers which is a specialized role only found at The Ganachery. Chef Amanda encourages all women looking to get started in the culinary arts to “learn early on to have a life outside of the kitchen. It is the life lived outside the kitchen that will fuel your passions and evoke your curiosity to allow you to keep innovating.”

If you’ve ever found yourself grabbing a sweet treat from Erin McKenna’s Bakery or perhaps you’ve discovered the perfect find at Sugarboo & Co. or Rustic Cuff, I’m proud to say these locations and others are owned and founded by women. Read a little more of their stories and how they started their own brands and companies: 

Erin McKenna, Owner & Founder of Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna, Owner & Founder of Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna is the owner and founder of Erin McKenna’s Bakery – the tasty vegan and gluten-free bakery at Disney Springs. Originally known as BabyCakes when it first opened in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 2005, Erin McKenna’s Bakery has developed a loyal following over the years. The idea to open the bakery came to Erin when she discovered she had new sensitivities to gluten, dairy and eggs, with little-to-no options for delicious treats. She decided to pursue baking good-for-you desserts focusing on cupcakes and cookies. Today, she has grown the brand substantially into a guest-favorite of many allergy-friendly baked goods with many locations including Disney Springs, New York City, and two in Los Angeles. Erin is also a published author of three recipe books with a fourth in the making for kids. Today, she lives in Los Angeles with her three children, husband, and an extraordinary amount of gratitude.

Jill Donovan

Jill Donovan, Owner & Founder of Rustic Cuff

Jill Donovan is the owner and founder of the colorful and vibrant accessories boutique Rustic Cuff at Disney Springs. Originally a practicing attorney and adjunct law professor at Tulsa University, Jill decided to pursue a new passion for cuff bracelets and the need to refill her “gift closet.” The brand has evolved into multiple showroom locations, and a very strong, loving, social media fan base that feels a true connection with her. Her cuffs are regularly featured on national TV shows and can be seen on the wrists of many celebrities such as Miranda Lambert, Gayle King, and even her all-time favorite singer, Michael Bublé. Today, Jill also does motivational speaking and encourages people to pursue their passions, fulfill their purpose, and always pay it forward.

Silvana Vivoli

Silvana Vivoli, Owner of Vivoli il Gelato

Silvana Vivoli is the owner of the oldest gelateria in the world. Founded in 1930 by her grandfather, Raffaello Vivoli, in Florence Italy, Vivoli il Gelato has been world-famous for 85 years. Silvana, a savvy businesswoman, was crucial to expanding the brand to America by opening up the second brick-and-mortar location at Disney Springs in 2015. Silvana traveled to the U.S. to help open the shop and teach the team how her grandfather’s authentic gelato is made. If you’ve ever visited the Disney Springs shop, you’ll notice charming black and white photos framed on the store’s back wall — these are all photos of the Vivoli family at the original store location in Florence, evoking a rich sense of history and brand longevity. Today, Silvana resides in Italy still running her family’s original location where she shares, “In Italy, gelato is the greatest treat. It’s a daily ritual and we’re proud to be a part of that tradition.”

Rebecca Puig

Rebecca Puig, Artist and Owner of Sugarboo & Co.

Rebecca Puig is the artist and owner behind your favorite home décor boutique, Sugarboo & Co. at Disney Springs. Rebecca has always been an artist at heart with a passion for painting and creating. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Studio Art and has a knack for juxtaposing old and new, light and dark, serious subject matter with fluff and anything with a message. Rebecca believes in putting good into the world whenever possible and she hopes each piece from Sugarboo does just that. The name “Sugarboo” comes from the nicknames Rebecca has for her two children, Jake and Sophie, who are her main source of inspiration.

Jenn Clark

Jenn Clark, Co-Founder of Wondermade

Jenn Clark is the co-founder and chef behind Wodermade Gourmet Marshmallows. Wondermade is a local Central Florida brand specializing in hand-crafted marshmallows started by Jenn and her husband, Nathan. She cooked her first batch of marshmallows at home, while her kids were sleeping, and just knew she discovered something great. Now this award-winning confectioner and mother of six leads a team of wonder-makers who send Wondermade’s amazing flavored marshmallows all around the world. You can find the Wondermade kiosk just outside of Paddlefish at Disney Springs.

I hope sharing the stories of these incredible women inspire your own story no matter what your dreams and goals are. For more #WomenBehindTheMagic stories, read more about the incredible group of women who are creating the future of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Continue to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram via @DisneySprings as we continue to highlight more female talent and stories.