Disney is already well-known for hosting the jolliest of holiday parties, and thanks to three Walt Disney World cast members, Disney Jollywood Nights will be full of extra magia when the new party makes its festive debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on November 11. With roots from across Latin America, cast members Ana, Nick and Marilyn infused their cultures into the first new holiday event at Walt Disney World Resort in over 20 years. This Hispanic and Latin American Heritage Month, we’re introducing you to these three cast members as they prepare to make Disney’s Hollywood Studios a little merrier this holiday season.
Nick, Ana, and Marilyn are all passionate members of their community and leaders in helping establish this brand-new nighttime party. From conceptualization to putting merry plans in motion, these cast members play integral roles behind the scenes bringing the event to fruition. And, growing up with Latino roots and rich holiday traditions, their personal experiences helped shape the festive Tinseltown atmosphere of Disney Jollywood Nights.
The team approached this project with the goal to host a holiday celebration with something for everyone. “I think it’s really interesting how we took on the challenge of creating a holiday event that feels modern and acknowledges that people celebrate the holidays in lots of ways,” shared Nick.
Having grown up in Miami, Nick’s Cuban American family visited Walt Disney World any chance they could, and some of his most cherished childhood holiday memories involved attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park. Today, Nick is the marketing strategy manager that helped define the personality behind Disney Jollywood Nights’ glitzy festivities, putting focus on creating something unlike other holiday offerings at the resort. “The event amplifies that classic Disney’s Hollywood Studios vibe! Being able to feel part of the old-timey Hollywood vintage era and experience a past that you were never a part of is so magical and something only Disney can do.”
As the planning evolved, Nick, Ana and Marilyn found that their Hispanic and Latin American backgrounds integrated throughout the event naturally.
Ana, the product strategy manager responsible for developing the strategy and creation of Disney Jollywood Nights, embraced a custom for many Hispanic households to dress up on Nochebuena (or “The Good Night” celebrated on December 24). Although dapper outfits aren’t required to enjoy this event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, attendees may be inspired to plan a look that combines holiday spirit with Hollywood red carpets of yesteryear! Ana knows that detail of Disney Jollywood Nights was subconsciously influenced by her fond childhood memories.
Born in Brazil, Ana moved to Orlando when she was 21 and built a “found family” from her new community. “As we grow up, we realize that family becomes whoever we choose, and I think that’s what’s so special about Disney Jollywood Nights; when our parents and relatives are not close to us and traditional holidays may not feel the same, we can create new traditions with a new família, who we also chose to share our moments and lives with,” commented Ana about how Disney Jollywood Nights feels like so much more than just a family unit event.
This entertainment offering, directly borrowing from Latino culture, will be ABC Commissary Lane’s transformation to Holiday Fiesta en la Calle. Rooted in cultural holiday traditions, the street fair party will feature a live band with Latin beats and modern takes on food and beverage inspired by Hollywood classics. Marilyn looks forward to sharing a little piece of her heritage with partygoers, explaining, “dancing is such a large part of our expression and culture, so while designing the space, I made sure there would be plenty room for dancing!”
Marilyn, producer for Disney Live Entertainment, shared that while growing up in a Dominican and Puerto Rican home, cooking with her mom over the holidays was cherished bonding time. Passionate about nurturing strong relationships, Marilyn likens organizing an event like Disney Jollywood Nights to a recipe that requires the perfect blend of creativity and collaboration. Her team is determined to deliver truly unique shows, while nodding to entertainment reminiscent of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ early years.
Marilyn started her Disney journey as a technician at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In the more than 30 years she’s been a cast member, Marilyn has worked on entertainment projects not just at Walt Disney World—but internationally including Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Panama as well. “Having been with Disney for over thirty years, the connections I’ve made with my colleagues extend beyond being teammates.” She attributes the diverse array of entertainment offerings not only to the team’s collective efforts, but a shared love for what they do.
All the shows and experiences at Disney Jollywood Nights explore the question, “what do the holidays mean to you?” As Nick, Ana and Marilyn turned to their own cultures and memorias to answer this question, they hope that the message of celebrating your own way resonates with attendees. Whether reminiscing about Nochebuena celebrations and dancing the night away at Holiday Fiesta en la Calle or dressing to the nines to be serenaded by Kermit and Miss Piggy, rest assured there’s no one way to get into the spirit of the season!
Stay tuned to Disney Parks Blog for the latest on everything Disney Jollywood Nights!