Being a Disney Representative (Rep) is one of those unique “only at Disney” opportunities where cast members have the opportunity to host media during press events, including broadcast, radio, social, print and online. From Walt Disney World Resort to Disneyland Resort, this group of cast members steps away from their day-to-day roles for a short time and goes behind-the-scenes to host media and spread a little pixie dust. From opening attractions, launching new campaigns and debuting new ships, these cast members help the media gather content for their stories.
A passion for what they do unites both John Stephenson and Manny Contreras, Disney Reps on opposite sides of the country. Recently, each had the opportunity to share their unique journeys with the program.
For John Stephenson, being a Disney Rep at Walt Disney World Resort is an incredibly rewarding experience. John, a recent Legacy recipient, is currently in his 18th year with The Walt Disney Company, and supplementing his role as an Associate Manager with Professional Recruitment with media events allows him to make magic a little differently.
From his first media event in 2007 — the premiere of “High School Musical 2” at Disneyland Resort — John says he has never looked back. “Immediately after that experience, my first step was ‘When is the next event?’” he shared. And from the launch of the Disney Wish for the Disney Cruise Line to the premiere of “Toy Story 3,” he’s had plenty of opportunities to be a part of the magic.
Being a Disney Rep is similar to the role of a Doom Buggy on the Haunted Mansion, John explains. “By design, the Doom Buggies point the guests in the right direction to get the best experience… As a Disney Rep, we’re tasked with pointing our media in the right direction, so they get the best experience at Walt Disney World.” As a result, he’s able to build fulfilling relationships not only with media but with cast members who work for The Walt Disney Company in all capacities. “I feel very connected to the company,” he says. “Our role is to be of service to others…It is truly a chance to make a difference.”
One of his favorite memories, he shares, was exploring New Fantasyland and the Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid attraction with a media rep who loved “The Little Mermaid” since she was a child. As John shares, he was able to introduce her to Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel, and he “will never forget the look of sheer joy on her face when that happened.” It’s one of many instances of a unique brand of magic John can bring to his guests in his role.
Manny Contreras started as a Disney Rep at Disneyland Resort in 2012, but his journey has looked a little different since then. He’s gone from his first media event, a movie premiere at Disney California Adventure park, to becoming an event coordinator for Disney Reps. These coordinators, Manny explains, are “more behind-the-scenes” than Disney Reps. He partners with schedulers and managers to create staffing plans for events, pairs Reps with media and serves as a point of contact throughout the event.
So how did Manny become a Disney Rep event coordinator? “It kind of found me,” he explains. A former manager remembered him from past events and approached him about the opportunity. “It’s crazy because when I was a Disney Rep, I never thought of events as being a thing I would enjoy,” Manny says. “It wasn’t until I started with the coordinator position that I realized…It’s definitely something I love.”
Although he’s been a cast member for 13 years, Manny has now been in the Disney Rep event coordinator role for two years. His first event as a coordinator was one of the most memorable: the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams’ celebratory trip to Disneyland park. He looks back fondly on media events such as the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the recent Disney100 celebration at Disneyland Resort. As a huge Star Wars fan, being positioned in the room with the Stormtroopers inside Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance during the land’s opening was especially exciting. “Seeing all the different groups as they come through…seeing their reaction, that was pretty cool,” he says. That opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world — both media and cast alike — is his favorite part about the job.
For more Disney Cast Life stories and stories on our Disney Reps, be sure to stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog.