Creating a Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival Cast Recipe for Success

Jake Wager

by , Internal Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

At the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, rather than merely assign a cast member to oversee a festival marketplace for the day, leaders encourage their cast to truly take charge of their marketplace operation by applying the mindset of a small business owner.

The mindset has made an impact on festival front of house leads like Teresita and Lisa Raquel. Like any small business owner, they’re focused on innovation, developing skills like effective communication, building strong relationships with cast, making strategic decisions and being adaptable in the face of change.

“It’s very empowering,” said Teresita, who has 19 years of experience on the Festivals and Outdoor Ventures team. “You’re going to have to make decisions on your own. You’re never 100% alone, but it helps you grow and helps you develop.”

The heightened autonomy and 360-degree approach to operating the festival’s 12 marketplaces have been an undeniable confidence boost for the front of house lead team. Teresita and Lisa Raquel expressed a palpable sense of passion and pride when speaking about leading the cast at the marketplaces, and both clearly possessed a deep knowledge of their operation and products. Demonstrating these qualities allows the festival front of house lead team to inspire and guide their cast to success, which ultimately translates to an exceptional guest experience.

In preparation for this year’s festival, Teresita and Lisa Raquel collaborated with their fellow front of house leads to design more efficient equipment layouts inside each marketplace. This small adjustment made for an easier work environment for their cast members.

“Treating these marketplaces as if they were a small business really allowed me to take ownership of my decisions and trust myself,” said Lisa Raquel, who has been with Disney for five years. “It’s empowering to have that chance to really control and maneuver an entire marketplace in itself so we can efficiently give our guests the best experience possible.”

The opportunity to develop leadership skills is not limited to the daily operation of the festival marketplaces. Teresita and Lisa Raquel also contribute as members of the Festivals Project Team, a select group of hourly leads and trainers representing a variety of roles within Food & Beverage who focus on the planning and strategy for each festival — a process that begins many months in advance of a guest’s first bite or sip.

To set a strong foundation for cast who are newcomers to festivals, the project team pioneered an all-new training experience last July. In just four months, the team successfully launched “Welcome to Festivals,” a new orientation that prepared dozens of cashiers, bussers and food service cast to deliver an unforgettable guest experience every week.

The final course of this year’s Food & Wine Festival will be served on April 25, but it won’t be long before Teresita, Lisa Raquel and the rest of the Festivals Project Team begin planning for the next exciting festival season at Disney California Adventure park.


  • Welcome to the blog Mr. Jake!

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