Recognizing the Women Who Make Magic for Disney Magic Makers

Maryanna Antoldi

by , Communications Specialist, Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World has been a place of joy and magic for the past 50 years, and that’s because our cast members are at the heart of it all. Throughout Disney Parks, Experiences & Products, we are celebrating Global Recognition Week, taking time to recognize and thank our cast members for all the magic they make year-round. So, to continue the festivities (and honor the start of Women’s History Month!), we’re introducing you to some of the women on the Cast Activities, Recognition & Experience Team (CARE for short) who do just that – they plan events and activities for our cast that reward and celebrate our magic makers each and every day. 

Christi Ligonis, manager of Cast Activities, Engagement and Integration, has spent eight of her 25 years at Walt Disney World overseeing all the programs and events that CARE offers our cast members – ranging from Magic Backstage sweepstakes opportunities to exclusive celebrations honoring years of service. A huge Disney fan herself, Christi is passionate about ensuring that every event makes our cast feel recognized and appreciated. 

“Our team is dedicated to showing cast members how special they are. We make magic for the magic makers, and we are so incredibly honored to get to do it every day,” she shared.

CARE’s uplifting mission has sprinkled pixie dust on generations of cast members. Michelle Stewart and Terri Somsky, project managers at CARE, work year-round brainstorming, planning and executing fan-favorite events during the year – such as canoe races around Tom Sawyer Island and the zany Goofy’s Mystery Tour. Both women fell in love with the CARE team by attending these events themselves, and now they work to make sure that each year’s celebrations are even better than the last.

“One of the coolest things about my role is that these events are historic,” Michelle noted. “Some of the projects I work on, like canoe racing, have been around for nearly 50 years. There are so many companies that try to recognize their employees, but we know what makes our cast members happy, and we execute these events with true love and care for them.” 

Terri agrees, as she shared, “I love the small moments – watching someone check in at an event with their children, knowing they have a special night in front of them, or hearing someone mention that they had attended an event with their kids and are now bringing their grandchildren. We are one, cast member family.”

CARE’s mission of recognizing and appreciating cast extends to their own team of over 25 talented cast members. Sarah Matthews, a graphic designer and newer member of CARE, feels incredible support from her peers every day. No matter the size or scope of the project, she knows the women of CARE have her back and will guide her to success, for example when she designed the team’s new, EARidescent Magic Backstage logo.

“The women on this team are so supportive and willing to be a part of your journey. They recognize my talent and push me to do my best,” she explained. “The appreciation for each other sets the tone because that’s how we want cast to feel!” 

During Global Recognition Week, there is no better time to express our gratitude to these incredible magic makers behind-the-scenes – for they are the ones that ensure our cast members are the heart of the magic each and every day. Stay tuned to the blog and @DisneyParks on social for more stories about our exceptional female cast members in honor of #WomensHistoryMonth.