As the front gates opened, the excitement was palpable through the welcoming cheers of cast members who gathered from all different areas of the resort to welcome guests for the day. The proof of magic in the air could be found in the smiles on guests of all ages who high-fived cast members on their journey towards the Partners statue of Walt Disney, paying tribute to the man who started it all.
Scanning the crowd, it wasn’t difficult to imagine what it must have felt like 68 years ago when the gates opened for the very first time. Whether it’s 1955 or 2023, for cast members, the magic of the moment is the very same, just 68 years apart.
Disneyland Resort has devoted July to celebrating generations of cast members as the true magic makers, with exclusive activations and offerings to show appreciation for their contributions to the resort’s evolution over nearly seven decades. The occasion also falls during the Disney100 Celebration at Disneyland Resort, truly making this a summer of commemoration.
“This is an incredibly special anniversary to be a part of because we would not be here today without the company’s past successes,” shared Guest Relations hostess Cherilyn E (above). “It’s surreal to look around the resort and see all the stories, attractions and characters that have come to life over the years and have brought us to where we are now. It is truly an honor to continue Walt’s legacy that he started over 100 years ago.”
Cast members were at the forefront of this special occasion, with exclusive celebrations including the annual Duck Races at “it’s a small world,” and the return of Canoe Races along the Rivers of America in Frontierland. At the heart of organizing these events is Cast Activities, Recognition & Events, a special team dedicated to making magic for cast members throughout the year.
“Growing up, I was very lucky to have family that worked for Disney. As a child I got to attend and experience many of the events the Cast Activities team put on,” said Ashley Oertle, now a Cast Activities program manager (pictured above). “Now that I myself am a part of the [team] … I have the pleasure of sharing this magic by leading, planning, and organizing the same events that I attended when I was younger. I feel like I’ve come full circle, which makes me appreciate making magic for every cast member even more.”
Cast were invited to ride select Disneyland attractions prior to park opening, plus enjoyed a complimentary meal and fun photo opportunities to share their #DisneyCastLife. “It is a lot of fun to be able to participate in cast-exclusive events!” shared Cherilyn. “I think that it helps build a sense of community within the resort. It is also a great way to recognize cast members for all the hard work they put in.”
Cybersecurity specialist Laura Iwasaki (above), who has volunteered for the cast Canoe Races every year since 1998, both participated in and helped planned this year’s event. “This is totally unique [to Disney],” said Laura, reflecting upon how special the last 25 years of volunteering has been as cast cheered on their favorite teams racing along the Rivers of America. “You really can’t do this at other companies, so [volunteering] is one of the ways I really want to give back.”
This year’s anniversary has truly shown just how much cast contribute to this resort and continue to make magic in meaningful ways, not just for our guests each and every day, but for each other. “The cast members are the heart of the resort and are crucial to the guests who bring their families to experience the most magical place on Earth,” said Ashley. “In return, we get the unique opportunity to give them that same magic.”
Join us in not only saying Happy Anniversary, Disneyland – but also, thank you Disneyland Resort cast members, for 68 years of creating happiness.