"The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world."
The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Disney, was founded by two brothers: Roy Oliver Disney and his younger brother Walt Disney. The brothers had an idea conceived out of a desire for a place where parents and children could both have fun at the same time. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland was previewed with a live television broadcast hosted by Art Linkletter and Ronald Reagan.
The Walt Disney Company is divided into five major divisions: Parks and Resorts, Media Networks, The Walt Disney Studio, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Interactive.
I had the opportunity to go and see the Walt Disney World Resort, the much talked about of Disney parks.
The resort opened on October 7, 1971 and, according to Forbes, is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an attendance of 52.5 million annually. Disney World houses 18 themed resort hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, one camping resort, one residential area and additional recreational and entertainment venues. Magic Kingdom was the first and original theme park to open in the complex followed by Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Most of the attractions at Magic Kingdom are more suitable for kids and teenagers who don’t want to leave their kid’s experience behind them. I enjoyed my visit to 20,000 League under the Sea, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Rail-road, The Hunted Mountain, It’s a Small World, Carousel of Progress, Grand Prix Raceway, Mission to Mars and Space Mountain. Space Mountain was a big thrill. Teenagers who plan going into fashion as a career should take the trip to “It’s a Small World” to see all the lovely costumes on the numerous international dolls.
Disney-MGM Studios give you a real theater experience. You ride through classic movie scenes and watch movies and T-V shows being filmed on actual soundstages.
EPCOT is my kind of place! You’ll enjoy every bit of your journey through the various adventures. But first, go to the Worldkey in Earth Station at the base of Spaceship Earth to make your table service restaurant reservation at any of the eight international restaurants. If your pocket will not allow you to spend more than ten dollars on a dinner, keep in mind there is a place called Farmers Market in the Land. Here you can get barbecue, vegetable salad, sandwiches, soup, seafood, fruit salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and shakes.
Start the EPCOT adventure at Spaceship Earth with a ride through the dramatic history of human communications, from the earliest time to satellite technology. Continue to Horizons to enjoy a journey through the lifestyles of the 21st century. After that you could choose to test your sea knowledge and have fun at the same time at The Living Seas. Take a cruise through agriculture farm lands and produce at The Land. It’s a fascinating experience.
If you’re a little tired by now, head into Journey Into Imagination and take a comfortable seat and watch a 3-D Musical Motion Picture Space Adventure. During my visit, I reserved World Showcase for the last. Here Disney takes you through the cultures and people of eleven countries (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, France, Canada, Morocco and United Kingdom). The motion pictures of France, China, and Canada in Circle-Vision 360 are very impressive. The cinematographer who shot the scenes of Canada’s great land, deserves commendation.
The Walt Disney Company is an equity investor in EuroDisney with 49% ownership interest. The cost of the project is estimated at $4 billion. The park is situated in Marne La Vallee, 20 miles east of Paris. One can get to the park by an express subway from the center of Paris. The trip takes about 30 minutes. There is also a new highway from Paris, if your parents want to drive.
The theme park has a 10-acre manmade lake, a swimming pool, discotheques, a campground, Pinocchio, Star Tour rides, Swiss Family Robinson Tree house, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, It’s a Small World. A Dinner Theater where you can see Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and of course Sleeping Beauty Castle (La Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant).
You don’t need to speak or understand French to enjoy your visit. Signs are in both English and French, with the exception of “Blanche – Niege et les Sept Nains” (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs).
Unlike Disney World where you need 3 to 4 days to cover all the attractions, you can do EuroDisney in one day or at most, two days. If you would like to stay on the Disney grounds, there are six themed hotels and a Davy Crockett Camp.
Working for Disney
They come from foreign lands to embark on Frontier Land. They come from down the street to cruise Main Street. With excitement in the air they easily forget the outside world. They’ve come to play at Disneyland, right? Wrong!
Since it was opened, the Kingdom of Dreams has been the source of millions of smiles, tons of laughter and worlds of fun for kids of all ages world-wide. Without a doubt, the Walt Disney Company is the global leader in family entertainment.
But what about all the people working behind the scenes so the rest of us can experience “The Happiest Place on Earth?” What is corporate Disney like and what’s it like to work there? Funny thing is, the way Disney employees describe it, they’re having as much fun as the guests are! From custodian to top management, Disney employees enthusiastically agree that not only is Disney a great place to play, but an even better place to work.
“Where else can you work that’s fun, positive, diverse, up-beat and maintain such camaraderie?” comments Dave Omel, Operations Manager and Disney employee for over 20 years. “We work hard, but have fun.”
Sherri Bannister, Disney entertainer for more than a decade gives her view, “I’ve always wanted to work for Disney! I like the spirit of the atmosphere. Since it’s such a happy place for people to go, it’s fun to give that happiness to them.” She adds, “Not only do they treat me well, morally, but Disney is highly respected. It’s a place that want to bring joy and happiness to families and children.”
Disneyland Park employees certainly do everything they can to ensure that the guests have a good time. With friendly attitudes and ever-present smiles, these all-American stewards continually field ongoing questions like, “What time is the 2:00 parade?”, “Are you open until you close?”, and “Where can I see the fireworks?”
The Disney employees’ priorities are clear. “Our goal is to ensure that every guest has a wonderful experience, and we all work together to achieve that goal,” explains Dave Omel. Teamwork is a common element among Disney employees. Lee Lowman, supervisor for General Employment explains, “It’s a cooperative effort. It requires a lot of support and that we all work together. From the highest level of management on down, there is good communication. The only competition we have is outside of work.” And compete they do! They participate in canoe races around Tom Sawyer’s island, Autopia races and “Parking Lot Olympics” complete with awards. They have organized softball teams, volleyball teams and well-mixed social activities.
Every employee I interviewed mentioned that they make life-long friends among fellow employees. In fact, inter-Disney marriages are not uncommon. The Magic Kingdom seems to be a source of more than one type of magic! Richard and Sherri Bannister, married for seven years, met briefly while working in the “Fantasy on Parade” in 2005. They have since worked in several shows together and somewhere between Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and It’s a Small Word, they fell in love. They married in 2007 with a crystal Mickey and Minnie on top of their wedding cake. “Disney marriages are common,” adds Dave Omel who also met his wife while working in “Tomorrow Land’s Adventures Through Inner Space.” The only thing is, when a Disney couple gets married, the entire department wants the day off to go to their wedding!”
Although a Disney marriage is definitely a fringe benefit, other benefits of working for Disneyland are vast.
Not only do employees get into the park free (and can occasionally sign friends in also) but they get a 20% discount off of everything they buy. They have solid health and dental benefits, spacious break areas with a variety of food – and always a positive environment. Disney offers flexible working hours, part-time, full-time and seasonal jobs which work around high school and college students’ schedules. Job security is also high. Most likely, if you have a positive working experience during a particular season, you’re virtually guaranteed that job next season – sometimes with a promotion. Lee Lowman comments, “Students don’t feel compromised with school schedules, and often, working at Disney is a complement to the pressures kids have to face. And, with the continued company expansion, there’s always room for potential growth.”
Perhaps, however, the richest of Disney rewards come in non-monetary forms. “Right after Star Tours opened, my area Supervisor and I were standing at the exit to see how people liked it,” comments Dave Omel. People actually stood in line to shake our hands to thank us for the ride, like we designed the whole thing ourselves! Other times when I’m just walking around the park, kids will come up and hug me and just say thanks.” He adds, “It’s also rewarding to have people who you’ve trained in your department come back years later in life and see the growth and success they’ve experienced as a result of the focus and direction they received from working at Disneyland.”
Virtually all Disney employees report continual positive working experiences. Elizabeth Gault, 18, working as a Disney hostess explains. “I’ve never had a bad experience here! Working at Disneyland is such a positive atmosphere. I don’t take work home with me and I’m happy when I leave. People are just happy here.” Matt Huffaker, 19, Lead Custodial Busser agrees. “I’ve never had a bad moment here. I expected this to be just like a job. But it’s different – it’s like a big theater production which makes it more interesting. I meet people from all around the world. I find out about them and what they like. Talking with them is an experience of its own. I once met a man who worked for Lucas Films. He made the C3POs for Star Tours. He told me that he started his career by sweeping up debris in Special Effects and now designs the C3Pos.”
The rewards of working at Disneyland don’t stop there. Mr. Omel relates a highlight of his job, “Part of my job is announcing great news to people. For instance, for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary celebration, Disneyland gave a brand new car to every 30,000th guest who entered the park. One time a 16-year-old boy won the car and was ecstatic. Since he was under 18, he needed one of his parents to come down and sign a release so we could give him the car. He called his mom and she wouldn’t believe him.
Even after I talked to her, she was convinced that her son had paid us to play this practical joke on her. After exhaustive efforts to convince her otherwise, we finally escorted her into the park, free of charge and as soon as she saw me in my official coat, tie and name tag walking down Main Street, she knew it was real and she started jumping up and down with excitement.”
Disney and the Community
Disney’s extra efforts do not go unnoticed. By and large, guest will make comments like, “It’s so clean here.” “The grounds are beautiful!” “Great atmosphere!” “There’s always something exciting, different and fun here.”
“I come to forget about my problems.” “People are so friendly here.” “Employees are good to the guests.”
Not only do Disney’s image and high standards influence the park, they make a noticeable difference in the entire community. Disney has countless programs, special events, scholarships and fund raisers to help the community. “VoluntEARS” are Disney employees who help motivate youth in the community to achieve their potential. They talk with junior high and high school students about the importance of education and staying in school. They share personal experiences and job search strategies. They encourage the students to develop good study habits which will ultimately influence how they will perform on the job.
Disney also support teachers who show creativity in the classroom. One example is the American Teacher Awards which are broadcast on the Disney Channel. Awards of $1,000 are regularly given to outstanding teachers for innovative teaching techniques. Disney also offers educator seminars that use the company’s training techniques to enhance teachers’ communication skills.
Disney also offers an excellent paid training program. Each employee attends an in-depth orientation about the history and culture of Disney, its policies and procedures and how it operates. Then they attend specific training for their particular job.
In the management area, Disney hires and promotes 75% internally. They incorporate college recruitment program as well as work/study programs and internships. Climbing the Disney corporate ladder requires hard-work, patience and perseverance.
What is it like to work for Disney Company in another culture? Sherri Bannister recounts her experience of working in Tokyo as one of the “Kids of the Kingdom” performing groups. “The work ethic in Japan is very strong, so it’s a real benefit to Disney. The Japanese treat their jobs with respect. They consider it a privilege to work and would never miss a day if they can possibly prevent it. High standards are taken seriously and they go the extra mile. I think it’s a privilege to have the Japanese culture represent Disney. They treat Americans like gold and they’re crazy about Disney. They go nuts!
The Walt Disney Company is evidence that little things turn into big things if you do them well. From the conception of a tiny mouse who became bigger than life to the expansion of Walt Disney World, EuroDisney, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Shanghai Disney Resort (under construction), Disney Cruise Line. Disney continues to show that the bigger it gets, it’s still “A Small World After All.” After bringing people together from all over the world for nearly sixty years, “The Happiest Place on Earth” has truly made the earth a happier and fun place – for both work and play.
Head of Walt Disney Company: Mr. Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO
Products: Theme Parks, Cable TV, Broadcasting, Radio, Films, Publishing, Music
DISNEY ATTENDANCE STATISTICS
2018 Total Attendance
2018 Average Visitors per month
2018 Average Visitors per week
2018 Average Visitors per day
2017 Total Attendance
2016 Total Attendance
2015 Total Attendance
Walt Disney Company
(2014 – 2018)
$ 8.9 billion
$ 9.4 billion
$ 8.4 billion
$ 7.5 billion
Number of Employees: 166,000
2019 Summer One World Ticket
(June 4, 2019 – August 28, 2019)
4 Theme Parks and 2 Water Parks – for a total of 6 admissions
Adult Ticket (ages 10 and up): $74 plus tax per admission
($444 plus tax)
Child Ticket (ages 3 to 9): $69 plus tax per admission
($414 plus tax)