Each morning the air on Main Street, U.S.A. fills with the irresistible scent of freshly popped popcorn, a sense of anticipation, and the sound of a heartfelt “Good morning!” from cast member Diana Shephard-Martin. As a coordinator on the Magic Kingdom park arrival team for nearly 16 years, Diana has helped start countless guests’ unique journeys through the Magic Kingdom in the most impactful ways. She is one of the first faces guests see when they enter Magic Kingdom, and Diana uses her radiant smile, welcoming personality, and enthusiastic wave hello to transform Main Street’s bustling sidewalks into gateways that feel like home.
Today, those busy sidewalks were filled with cheers of excitement and delight as the iconic Grand Marshal vehicle rolled through Magic Kingdom – this time creating magic for Diana and her family as they were honored ahead of the Disney “Festival of Fantasy” Parade.
“When we heard Diana was going to be in the parade today, we just had to see her,” shared Vicki, a longtime Magic Kingdom guest in attendance. “I’ve been coming to Magic Kingdom with my daughter every year for the last 15 years, and every trip we stop and talk to her. It’s cast members like Diana that make a Disney day special.”
“Today was a dream come true that I never could have imagined,” gushed Diana. “I was so happy that I couldn’t even cry.”
This priceless experience was weeks in the making, with dozens of cast members – and even Diana’s family – coming together earlier this month to surprise Diana live on “Good Morning America” with the news she would be recognized as the future Grand Marshal at the park. As part of the program’s series spotlighting main streets around the nation, Diana was honored for how she embodies the heart and spirit of Main Street, U.S.A. each day. Or, as Diana describes it, “making sure everyone has the most magical day in their entire life.”
“Diana does so much for Magic Kingdom. Nobody deserves this surprise more than her,” explained Chris, Diana’s husband. “This entire thing has truly been a wild ride and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
As the Dapper Dans and “Good Morning America” Anchor Ginger Zee welcomed Diana to the front of the crowd on the morning of July 7, Diana – who typically has all the words to describe the happenings on Main Street, U.S.A. – could only muster an innocent “…why?”
“I was in shock. At the end of the day, I’m simply a cast member who loves what I do,” she explained. “I’ve always known that I’m loved here, but this proves it.”
Phrases like, “ginormous heart,” and “fantastical,” shared by Alicia, a fellow cast member, perfectly capture Diana’s personality. Through her enthusiasm and charm, Diana embodies the magic and warmth of Main Street, U.S.A.
“Working with Diana makes you love life,” Alicia shared. “What she does is simple to describe, but the feelings it creates are indescribable. To put it simply, Diana is magic.”
Watch the coverage from “Good Morning America” below to hear about Diana first-hand from the cast members who know her best.