When Disneyland Resort becomes blanketed in snowflakes and garland for the holidays, it’s important to remember that teams of skilled cast members work overnight to make this magic happen. However, this year’s holiday team is particularly special as five female technicians take the male-dominated rigging world by storm.
In order to install seasonal overlays at “it’s a small world” Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday, technicians utilize Rope Access, mountaineering rope techniques that allow access to buildings and structures that are not accessible with conventional methods.
For the first time since the program was created 17 years ago, a group of five female technicians have become the first all-women Rope Access training cohort at Disneyland Resort.
These determined women learned the ins and outs of Rope Access protocols with multi-day instruction, hours of practical training and two exams. And who were their instructors? None other than two master female Rope Access trainers. The icing on the cake? A female Rope Access technician shadowed the evaluator on the exam day in hopes of becoming a certified Rope Access evaluator herself one day.
While rigging technicians who join the Disneyland Resort team work on a variety of projects, cast members voluntarily undergo the rigorous Rope Access training. The certification process allows them to develop the skills to safely hang from over 50 feet in the air, which is an important part of hanging holiday decor in detailed attractions.
The all-women Rope Access cohort “highlights and proves that there are so many … possibilities and opportunities for anybody,” shared Kimberly Oliveras, Entertainment Technical Services Operations manager. “This is a rigorous program that cast members have to want to be a part of, and these women are not shying away from it. It’s hard work. It’s physical.”
Training alongside other females also made it easier for participants to learn from one another. In fact, women have a leg up when it comes to maintaining balance on high ropes.
“Men are traditionally shaped with a higher center of gravity so when they sit in a harness, it’s more likely that they will lean really far back,” explained Rope Access instructor Megan Love. “We, as women, tend to have a lower center of gravity, which just tends to keep our bodies moving differently in harnesses and on rope.”
As Disneyland Resort continues to empower and uplift females in male-dominated spaces, this all-women Rope Access cohort will go down as a pivotal moment in resort history.
“We’re giving women an opportunity in a space where sometimes they’re not thought of,” explained Stage Technician and Rope Access instructor Chez Marlowe. “If this is what you want to do, don’t let anybody tell you ‘No.’”