As a little kid I, like so many others, grew up with Disney in our home. I’m part of the generation that grew up with classics Aladdin, the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc. but Mickey Mouse was still the favorite. This is also probably why to this day I still enjoy Disney music and movies, especially the classics.
2022 will make 30 years since my first visit to a Disney Park – Disneyland. So why do I still believe in Disney magic? Disney Chairman Bob Iger put it best – “It doesn’t matter how old you are. When you’re here, you feel like a kid again.” The other difference though is now my view when I visit Disney Parks and Resorts. As a kid I appreciated all the wows and wonders of Disney magic with the movies and parks, but now thanks to all my learning from Disney Institute and Cast Members past and present, I truly appreciate observing the magic that Cast Members make for guests.
2021 is a significant milestone for Walt Disney World… the most magical celebration on earth… the 50th anniversary on October 1! I was very fortunate to be there on that day for the celebration. Such a magical day for a wonderful place. I appreciated all the people I met and events I got to enjoy that day, but also thought about the change in cast members due to the pandemic, which made the celebrations more subtle than they originally planned. Experiencing all the celebrations with people who were original opening day Cast Members 50 years ago to meeting the current ambassadors was the true highlight of my trip.
I also had a chance to once again visit Walt Disney World this month and appreciated all the holiday decor and celebrations. Those that know me know how I enjoy Christmas decorations, holiday treats and all the lights. I also enjoyed the surprise I made to visit a friend and mentor Paula. She was my Disney Institute leader to support my Disney efforts in Hawaii, and although the pandemic changed things, it was nice to hear a familiar voice I used to speak to often and catch up where we left off.
Sitting here reflecting on the last 2 trips, it really wasn’t about the parks or rides, it was about just celebrating the people, Walt Disney’s dream and the happiness and magic moments created for many for the last 50 years at Walt Disney World. It also was a great reminder about enjoying life, importance of always sharing your story, how every role in an organization is an important role and also the pure joy of creating happiness and magic moments for others.
As you take time to enjoy this holiday season, enjoy the magical moments that surround you, and celebrate the people who make magic in your organization. The next time you visit a Disney Park or Resort, take a second to thank a Cast Member. You’d be surprised how much it means to them, especially now, and enjoy the Disney stories and magic!
As my own saying goes – “Work Hard, Play Magically” – Jensen