How a Disney Recreation Leader Brings Fun to Resorts

Emily Le

by , Communications Specialist, Walt Disney World Resort

Every day, our recreation cast members bring a bit of extra fun to Walt Disney World Resort! At Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – which celebrates its 25th anniversary today! – Guest Experience Manager Shelby Soltero helps bring recreation activities to life, assisting cast members in making a splash with their guests.

Shelby has been part of the Walt Disney World recreation team for almost 10 years. She started her journey as a Disney College Program Lifeguard, and she’s worked each and every day to make sure guests have a great time when they visit her resorts.

Shelby said that when she first started out in her career, she was constantly inspired by her leaders and their encouragement for professional development. So, following their example, she decided to apply to become a leader herself, earning a position at Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts.

Shelby Disney College Program

Throughout her time as a leader in recreation, Shelby has brought incredible offerings to life. She served on the team that helped dream up recreation offerings for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and was part of the opening team for Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs. Shelby said the highlight of her Disney journey, though, was meeting her husband, David, who also works in recreation!

One of her favorite things about her role is being able to bring new experiences to guests. Two of those new offerings include wellness classes at Coronado Springs: yoga and aqua Zumba. These complimentary experiences, offered in partnership with AdventHealth through Labor Day weekend, are a great way to help Coronado Springs guests keep up with their fitness routines during their stays, Shelby said. Shelby and her team add a touch of pixie dust to these experiences, adding Disney songs to playlists and character fun to instructions. Next time you do a “downward facing dog” during yoga, think of doing it just like Mickey Mouse’s best pal, Pluto!

“When guests come to exercise and feel fit, they are getting that unique Disney experience,” Shelby shared.

Shelby now leads recreation cast members at many resorts, including Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s All-Star Resorts, and, of course, Coronado Springs. She said Guest Experience Managers have many responsibilities, from getting to know all of their cast members, to leading them by answering questions, pitching in to help and ensuring that all guests have a great experience when they visit. They play a large part in creating a seamless experience for guests, making sure their stays at the resorts help elevate the vacation experience when they come back from visits to the theme parks.

“There is something special about looking at a fresh-cleaned pool deck and seeing the sunshine on the water and the excited guests waiting to come in,” Shelby said. “And when you finally are able to open the gates, it feels like you’ve just opened Magic Kingdom. It’s exciting to see the joy that can bring them.”