As Disney continues to showcase veterans inside our company, today we salute retired U.S. Navy Captain, Cappy Surette, senior manager of communications for Disney Experiences. Cappy is one of the forces behind Disney’s first-ever military-inspired merchandise collection. This special project was designed by the Disney Parks Merchandise team to honor and celebrate those who serve our country with a unique and bespoke Disney touch.
Cappy joined The Walt Disney Company in 2012 following the launch of the company’s Heroes Work Here hiring initiative. As a communications leader, he has been a part of unveiling so much new magic for our guests across Disney global theme parks, Disney Cruise line and more. From the debut New Fantasyland inside Magic Kingdom Park to the opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the creation of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, the launch of the Disney Wish cruise ship and more, Cappy has witnessed Disney bringing beloved stories to life in many ways for more than a decade. He also loves to see the magic of Disney extend outside of the parks, as many guests make sure to bring their favorite Disney merch home with them after every visit.
Before his time at Disney, Cappy spent 22 years in the U.S. Navy. After serving several years on the USS Leyte Gulf cruiser, he later transitioned into a public affairs role where he became the U.S. Navy liaison to Hollywood, working on several exciting TV and film projects. A fond memory and achievement Cappy is proud of is his work coordinating and hosting some of the largest entertainment events at sea in U.S. Navy history. The live, celebrity-filled events included a holiday show and football pregame shows filmed on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea.
“They were quite the events and took quite an amount of teamwork to pull them off. They made such a big impact and it felt great to be a part of it all, to make it all happen and be trusted by leadership,” Cappy shared.
Cappy’s experience as a Captain in the Navy shaped his personal life and the way he leads at Disney. “The biggest thing I think I’ve taken from being in the Navy is that you’ve got to take care of your team,” Cappy said. “I try to practice ‘the three T’s’ in all parts of my life. They are to train your team well, trust your team, and always be sure to thank your team for the work that they do.”
A Special Collection to Honor Veterans
Part of Cappy’s job as a senior manager of communications for Disney Experiences is planning events and sharing stories that celebrate Disney’s Veteran cast members and their families. “Disney has honored those who have served our country throughout the 100-year history of The Walt Disney Company. That began with our founders, Walt and Roy O. Disney, and their own contributions to our country during the First World War,” Cappy explained.
Disney has long been a leading proponent of hiring, training, and supporting military veterans and their families. One of the ways the company is recognizing the honor and courage of those who have worn the uniform and their families was the development of a new military-inspired collection that launched for National Veterans and Military Families Month. Cappy was part of the team that brought it to life.
As the current co-chair and a founding member of SALUTE, Disney’s veteran business employee resource group (BERG), the idea of having a line of military-inspired merchandise has been something the SALUTE team has discussed for some time. “It’s just a natural extension of Disney’s enduring admiration for those who serve in the U.S. military and their families. It’s another way for us to say thank you and recognize the honor and courage of those in the Armed Forces,” Cappy shared. Cappy and the SALUTE team worked with key merchandise leaders in the company to bring the idea to life and to store shelves, delivering some Disney magic to those connected to military service.
With such excitement building among cast and fans, the launch of the collection saw a line of guests at Walt Disney World Resort locations wanting to be one of the very first to sport the new line.
The collection consists of six items, including two T-shirts, a fleece sweatshirt, a bandana, a canteen, and a cap. All these items have elements of military camouflage. What’s special about the camouflage is that it is designed by Disney and includes hidden Mickey’s blended throughout for a unique and special Disney touch. The Disney-camouflage pattern reflects our company’s respect and admiration for U.S. military service members, veterans, and their families.
This new collection is timed to National Veterans and Military Families Month and is currently available at select locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. Locations include The Emporium at Magic Kingdom, Creations at EPCOT, Mickey’s of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, World of Disney at Disney Springs in Florida, The Emporium at Disneyland park, Elias & Co. at Disney California Adventure park and World of Disney at Downtown Disney in California. Theme Park admission and park reservation is required for park entry.
Sound Advice for Continuing the Mission
As Cappy reflects on his time at Disney, his pride in working with an incredible team on the new military-inspired collection, and the evolution and expansion of the SALUTE BERG, he highlights the company’s desire to provide a sense of community for those who have an affiliation with the military. Whether cast members have served in uniform, or they continue to serve in the military reserves while working at Disney, or whether they come from a military family, Disney has a continued commitment toward bettering the lives and experiences of military members. It is a significant part of the company’s founding values.
Cappy is proud to be a mentor inside and outside of the company to those who are transitioning out of the military service. He aims to help them afford the opportunities to have meaningful post-military careers and finds meaning in helping others be successful in the mission they are trying to pursue.
Cappy bestows the advice he often provides to veterans and military service members preparing for the next chapter of their life story. He shares “it’s important to start early to think about what’s over the horizon, what skills and abilities they have that would lend themselves to what’s next after serving in the military. Be intentional about what they may be interested in and develop the skills that would be required to pursue that.”