There’s nothing quite like being a Walt Disney World Resort cast member during the 50th Anniversary celebration. Between special previews of new attractions, service celebration events, yoga in front of Cinderella Castle and more, there are so many one-of-a-kind Disney Cast Life moments we get to experience together from sun-up to sun-down — and now, the fun is continuing with one of my favorite opportunities yet: cast member EARidescent Evenings!
In celebration of all the magic they create, cast members and their guests are enjoying after-hours access to three Walt Disney World theme parks over 15 magical nights this summer. It’s a series of after-hours parties unlike anything we’ve hosted before — and it’s just for cast members. For their chosen evening, the park is all theirs, and they get to create new memories alongside fellow magic-makers from different roles and locations.
Now, you may think all it takes is the shake of a wand and a sprinkling of pixie dust to bring cast member events like these to life, but the real magic happens behind the scenes with the cast members who begin planning months — and sometimes years — ahead of time.
“The planning process for cast member EARidescent Evenings was truly a group effort,” says Terri Somsky, Cast Activities Strategy & Program Manager. “The events touch many different departments, from Entertainment to Attractions to Operations, and bringing all the teams together for the common purpose of recognizing cast members was very rewarding.”
For the teams involved, designing cast member events and experiences is a labor of love, and cast member EARidescent Evenings are no exception. With cast members at the heart of the 50th Anniversary celebration, it was important for this first-of-its-kind series of events to make cast members feel like the VIPs they truly are.
“This is something only Disney can do for our cast members,” says Ashlyn Sommers, Project Manager, Park Optimization. “There’s such a different feeling when you’re in our parks at night and you have the entire space to yourself. The cast have put so much time and energy into creating magical experiences for our guests – and we want to show our appreciation by providing something truly unique to recognize them for all they do.”
Not only do attendees have exclusive access to favorite Walt Disney World attractions, they also get to experience their chosen park in an entirely new way with complimentary snacks, complimentary themed Disney PhotoPass downloads, unique Character sightings, music to dance along to, and more. The best part? They get to share it with someone.
“We recognize that cast members get a lot of love and support from their family and friends, so we wanted the cast to be able to share this experience with them, too,” says Ashlyn.
“I feel proud to be a part of the team that creates these events, and I’m so excited for the cast who attend to experience this together,” says Terri. “They work so hard every day and I love that we’ve been able to give them an opportunity to enjoy the park in a way that nobody else can. I hope they leave these events knowing how appreciated they are and feeling inspired to make more magic for years to come.”