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Lessons from Disney: How to Build a Workforce that Delivers Magical Experiences

The mouse. The memories. The magic. Yes, we’re talking about every child’s dream destinations. The Disney parks.

If you’re having flashbacks of walking around DisneyWorld or Disneyland while collecting character autographs and wearing your Mickey ears, you should know that the Disney vacation experiences have expanded to encompass much more than those two locations.

Worldwide, Disney has 12 theme parks, 52 resorts, a collection of Disney Signature experiences, the Disney Cruise Line (which has 4 ships and plans to add 3 more by 2023), Adventures by Disney, the Disney Vacation Club as well as Aulani resort in Ko Olina, Hawaii.

But Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is also one of the most highly rated companies for culture on Indeed. We wanted to understand a little bit more about the magic and learn about what’s behind these dream destinations. So when we spoke with Tami Garcia, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Diversity and Inclusion at Disney Parks and Resorts, we were (ahem) all ears.

The happiest place on earth

Let’s address the (flying) elephant in the room. The Disney magic is real, says Garcia, and it’s part of what drew her to work for the company. She’s been at Disney for nearly 28 years and came to the company from Lockheed.

“I have my dream job and I absolutely love it,” she says. “The brand, and the ability to just be part of the magic, and deliver those magical experiences was something that I was very interested in.”

Those same defining Disney characteristics are part of what attracts new talent to the company.

“The thing that sets us apart is the ability to create lasting memories for children and their families,” she says, adding that “[employees] can be part of creating those memories and delivering that magic.”

Garcia acknowledges that there’s a difference between experiencing this magic as a child and being an employee who delivers that experience to guests nearly everyday. So how does the company set up employees for success in their roles?

“The foundation is what they have experienced in being a guest, because they know what that good service is all about. So we really look for people that can deliver on that.

“But we have an amazing, very thorough training program to make sure our cast members are prepared from an operational preparation standpoint and [that they] learn about our Disney traditions and the heritage that is so important to delivering that experience,” she adds.

Behind the scenes

So who are the people behind the Disney experience? The company has three categories of employee: cast members, crew members and “Imagineers”.

“The vast majority of our employees are the cast members. That’s anybody working in the parks and resorts,” says Garcia.

But employees who work on the cruise ships have their own designation, and are known as “crew members.”

And then there are the Imagineers. These employees are behind all of the Disney parks and experiences. The title combines the terms “imagination” and “engineering”, and Imagineers can take on a wide variety of roles, from research and…

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