My heart was filled with joy and hope as it was announced on March 5, 2021, that Disneyland and all theme parks in California were granted permission to open starting April 30, per new state government guidelines.
It was the first time I had felt any happiness since Disneyland shut down on March 14, 2020. It is as if my life has purpose again. My whole life is Disney and not just because I live in California and go every year. I work there! Yes, I am a cast member who is responsible for making Disney magic for our guests every day.
I bet you’re wondering, “Wait a minute Sean. How is it you can work for Disneyland and go to the University of Arizona?”
Well, I am glad you asked! It is actually a very interesting story. So, take my hand and come along with me on a fairytale journey of how I ended up at The Walt Disney Company.
It was 2019, and I was unemployed. I had quit my second job in a year, and I was trying to find a place to work where I could be happy. I was looking for jobs daily, but nothing was catching my eye. Later that day, I went to spend time with my little cousins. The baby came up to me and showed me his brand-new Mickey Mouse stuffed animal. Then I thought, “That’s it. I want to work for Disney!”
I went home and immediately started looking at the Disney job listings. After looking through the listings, the only job that I somewhat fit the requirements for was a part-time busboy at Club 33. I had been there several times before, and I figured, why not?
Several months went by, and I had not heard anything. I figured that it had been too long, so I started looking for other jobs.
Then out of nowhere, I got a phone call from Disney saying they wanted to interview me. When the interview was over, I had gotten the job! Instead of Club 33, they offered me a position as a part-time parking cashier at the Disneyland Hotel.
I was so excited that I was going to be working for a company that meant so much to me as a child and as an adult.
My first day of work was a blast. I was taken to all the backstage, secret areas of both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park. Through a series of secret entrances and underground tunnels, I was taken on a magical journey through time. I was taught the history of the entire park, including Walt Disney himself. From that day on, I was in love.
That love continued through the company program Disney Aspire which allows cast members to go back to college online for free! When I was eligible to sign up, I wasn’t interested in the choices they had for schools. Plus, I had already earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts, so I didn’t really need to go back to school. Then a few days later, an announcement was made on our company portal, the Disney Hub, that a new school was going to be added to the program.
I wonder what school that was?
Yes, when I saw that the University of Arizona, a Pac-12 powerhouse of sports and academia, was added, I was not going to let the opportunity pass me by. At this point, I had been promoted to full-time and had gotten involved with the company volunteer organization Disney VoluntEARS. Everything was rolling and there were so many projects I was involved in. I thought 2020 was going to be the best year ever.
We all know what happened though.
Now you see why Disney is so important to me. I not only lost my job, friends and Disney family, but I almost lost my education at the University of Arizona. If I had been laid off, you would not be reading this right now because I would not be here. I would be lost in the fray of the pandemic, somewhere between another dead-end job or alone in my room crying.
After we were all furloughed in April 2020, every day was frightening. I felt it was inevitable that I would get a call telling me that I would be let go. That I would lose my job, my volunteering position and my education.
That fear lasted all the way until March 5, 2021. Soon, I will return to a land that is more magical than anyone who doesn’t truly know it will never understand. It is not just a company saying, it is a reality. It is my reality. For one year, the magic within me had all but faded away. Now, the magic is alive and well again. I hope you enjoyed our adventure together. I have so many more stories to tell. Consider this the beginning of a series of those stories. Until our next adventure my friends, I bid you farewell!
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Sean (he/him) is a business administration major from California. He enjoys playing video games and watching Disney+ in his free time.