We’re excited to kick off Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month from now through Oct. 15 by celebrating the inspirational stories of our Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Imagineers and cast members. Today, we’re sharing the story of Liz Diaz, assistant construction manager at Walt Disney Imagineering, who was behind the magic of bringing Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure to Walt Disney World Resort.
Liz was born in Cuba and moved to Venezuela with her family at age 5 before immigrating to the U.S. at age 12. Growing up in the Caribbean and South America where Spanish was her first language, Disney had a big impact on her life. “I remember watching Disney movies with subtitles and learning the lyrics to the songs, which helped me learn English,” Liz recalls. “Growing up, my dream job would have been to be an animator for Disney or Pixar, but my drawing skills were certainly not up to par! Through that dream, I learned about Imagineering.”
During her last semester at Florida International University in Miami where she was pursuing a Master’s degree in Architecture, Liz applied to a few internships at Walt Disney Imagineering. While she didn’t land her dream internship right away, her persistence paid off in 2014 when she received an opportunity to join Disney’s Animal Kingdom expansion team as a Project Management Intern, just a couple months after graduation.
“The best part about growing my career at Disney has been all of the different opportunities within the company,” she said. “I started as a project manager, then moved to construction management, and I could even go back to being an architect, or try something completely different. The possibilities are endless!”
While Liz has many great memories of working on different projects with Walt Disney Imagineering including Satu’li Canteen at Pandora – The World of Avatar, her most recent opportunity as the assistant construction manager on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, opening to guests on Oct. 1 at EPCOT, has been her favorite memory so far.
“All projects are always great in the end, but it’s the people along the way that make them memorable, which is why Remy’s is my favorite,” explained Liz. “I have countless memories from all of the projects I’ve worked on, but there is always one recurring memory in every project that stands out — the moment you get to share it! Whether it’s having the first meal at a new restaurant with your family, friends, and project team, or riding a new attraction together for the first time, that’s why we do what we do.”
Another proud moment for Liz was when she recently had the opportunity to lead a tour of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure for Puerto Rican singer and songwriter, Luis Fonsi, best known for his worldwide hit song “Despacito,” and his family.
“Leading a tour for Luis Fonsi in Spanish was both nerve-wracking and incredibly exciting,” said Liz. “I was definitely a little star struck, but I was determined to present the new attraction on behalf of Walt Disney Imagineering in a way that would do the project justice, and get them to love it as much as we do.”
As we honor Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month, Liz shares the importance of representation and how her Cuban heritage plays a unique perspective in her role as a Disney Imagineer. “Our theme parks are part of a global industry. The only way to make a breathtaking product or experience that resonates with our international audiences is to understand what makes each culture unique and what their people love and enjoy. And, the only way to do that is to gather diverse teams.”
Liz also shared, “A lot of our work at Imagineering is based on close coordination and communication. Being able to communicate with some of our construction partners in my native Spanish language goes a long way in our relationship. It helps with understanding, but also to build mutual trust and respect through a commonality of language.”
Inclusion has always been essential to our Disney culture. With the introduction of the key of Inclusion earlier this year, the Construction Management team at Walt Disney Imagineering is making a conscious effort to connect with minority and women owned businesses when opportunities arise.
For anyone aspiring to become a Disney Imagineer, Liz shared that “You have to know yourself to be successful. Ask yourself, ‘what drives you?’ The rest will come. Also, don’t forget to be confident yet humble.”
Stay tuned for more inspiring stories like Liz’s as we bring you more stories highlighting the many contributions of our Hispanic and Latinx cast across Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Follow along on social @DisneyParks and check out @WaltDisneyImagineering on Instagram for the latest on all things Imagineering.