Cast Members. 65,000 of them in Disney World alone. And every single one of them has touched this doorknob.
These are the doorknobs on the Casting Center building across from Downtown Disney. They provide a small chuckle and a glimmer of relief for nervous employee hopefuls. Recognize them from Alice and Wonderland?
Another fun Casting Center fact is that a painting on the wall depicting Walt Disney shows Walt’s argyle socks are painted in the same pattern as the exterior of the building!
On my first trip to Disney World last summer, a woman beside me in line for Space Mountain commented, “I would absolutely hate to work here.” I think she expected me to agree, but I was surprised. Who wouldn’t want to work here? The most organized, well-run company in the world with spot-on guest service? Sure, it’d be busy and require hard work, but who would want to miss out on the chance to be a part of that magic?
It did get me thinking, though. What on earth made me want to work for Disney in the first place? When did that become such a huge goal? It seems for as long as I can remember it’s been my dream, but it had to have started somewhere.
And it did. In 2009.
I had spent the day with my four closest girlfriends. The Princess and the Frog had just been released into theaters, and, Disney geek that I am, I insisted we see it. What intrigued me about the film was the gumbo! It was just as much of a character as Naveen and Louis and Tiana. I went home and asked my parents if we could go out to dinner so I could get a taste of this dish.
Now, my father isn’t cheap, exactly. He just likes to save money. So he said no and sent me to the store to buy my own ingredients to make it myself, thinking it would give my mom the night off and save a few dollars in the process.
He now jokes it was the most expensive bowl of gumbo he’s ever paid for!
That was the moment I discovered not only could I cook, I loved it. Making something amazing out of a few ingredients was an art! And there were schools–colleges!–where I could go and learn to master that art.
Of course, I also had a desperate curiosity for the Disney parks and how they operated. Looking into culinary schools, I found many of them had externships at Disney parks, resorts and cruise ships. Disney and culinary not only overlapped, they were woven tightly together! I knew right at that moment, that was something I had to be a part of.
And, miraculously, here I am now! Living the dream!
As Walt said himself, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
I get to be one of those people that makes Walt’s dream a reality! Next week I’ll receive the rest of my paperwork, and by the end of the month I’ll be in the Disney Traditions class, a class that educates new hires on the history and tradition of the parks. It’s basically orientation, Disney-style.
Plus I get a nametag. A Disney nametag. Is that magical or what!?
I’m genuinely hoping that this is the beginning of something wonderful. I have no doubt it will be, I’ve been blessed beyond measure to get this far.
I just can’t wait to get started!