A Magical Beginning – My First Two Months at Walt Disney World

For the last two months, I’ve been living and working in Orlando, Florida at the most magical place on earth – Walt Disney World. Now that I’ve completed all my training and have had a bit of time to settle into my role, I’ve had a chance to reflect on my experience so far.

Cinderella’s Castle looking very empty just before my first Tornado warning!

Every new cast member at Disney has a class called Traditions (taken At Disney University – how cool is that?) in their first week. This class is an introduction to the way Disney as a company functions and the part we play in making the magic happen. The majority of Traditions focus on Disney’s guest service framework, called The Four Keys. In order, the Four Keys are: Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. They define every interaction we have both on and off stage (on stage being anywhere in the parks guests can access, off stage is any area that is for cast only). Safety is Disney’s very first priority and this is reflected in all aspects of the company’s operation. Everything else after that comes in order of importance. Any time a cast member isn’t sure how to handle a situation, we simply remember the order of the Four Keys and use this as a framework to guide our decisions.

Disney University

For the next week, cast members go through a number of other classes, getting gradually more specific to their line of business and role. For me, this meant a class welcoming myself and my peers to the operations team, a class welcoming us to the Magic Kingdom (my home park!) and a class welcoming us to Tomorrowland (my area within the Magic Kingdom) before I even arrived at my attraction. Luckily, Disney doesn’t do anything by halves (or make anything boring), so a lot of these classes were outside in the parks and even involved experiencing some of the attractions!

Tomorrowland Speedway – my new home!

From here I finally began training at my attraction – Tomorrowland Speedway! Put simply, Speedway allows guests to drive their very own race car around a track. It’s primarily a kids’ ride, though guests of all ages come to race and laugh at their (sometimes terrible) driving abilities. I had a full three days of training, followed by an assessment day. While it was fairly daunting to learn an entirely new role, I had a wonderful trainer who made the whole experience really fun and shared with us her passion for the role.

Some of my Speedway family

Since training, I’ve been thinking about how what I’ve learned (and am still learning at Disney!) relates to what I learned during my time at QUT.

Despite Disney being an entertainment company, the most relevant units have been the ones I took through the Business School. Services marketing plays a big part in my role – as cast members, we are on the front line for guest services and how well we perform our roles has a huge impact on the perception guests have on Disney World as a whole.

However, I feel that a lot of what I’m learning isn’t necessarily straight out of any unit I took at QUT but rather supplements my learnings. I get to see first hand how a global company communicates both to their employees and audiences, how they operate on a day-to-day basis, how they solve problems efficiently and ensure the entire park operation runs smoothly.

My very own Disney name tag!

It’s a really cool link between entertainment production and frontline services marketing. Ensuring every detail of every day is carefully planned and that cast are trained for any situation the day throws at them creates happiness here. No class will prepare you for just how much goes into creating happiness in the most magical place on earth!

This program is so valuable to anyone looking to go into any kind of events or marketing career as it really does show you first hand the finer details of such a huge operation. There’s a lot to learn from just working in an entry level, front line position like I have been.

I’m really excited to come home (eventually…) and apply what I’ve learned here about the way Disney is run to whatever project I’m lucky enough to sink my teeth into next. But first, I have many more months of creating magical moments, exploring the Disney World parks and of course a few more Mickey-shaped treats!

Even the food is ‘show ready’

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