Every year, Disney cast members and employees celebrating milestone anniversaries of 10 years or more are treated to a special event that celebrates the magic that they make each and every day. Walt Disney World recently held this special event for its cast members at the Magic Kingdom and it was nothing short of spectacular.
The Service Celebration is a longstanding tradition that goes back to Walt Disney, who held a special celebration for Disneyland Cast Members that had been with the park since the start as part of the Tencennial celebration. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, an East Coast celebration was initiated to honor those that came over from Disneyland and were celebrating a milestone year. While the celebration has evolved over the years, the cast events team is always trying to find new ways to “plus” the event for the growing number of cast members that attend.
For those attending, it quickly becomes clear that this will not be your typical evening at the park. As soon as the special guests approached the train station they were welcomed with special decor that reminded them that the evening was designed to celebrate them. A red carpet was rolled down Main Street U.S.A. where the invited guests’ peers and executives would cheer them on.
But that was just the start of the party. Cast members were treated to complimentary food and drink throughout the park. This included the normal guest offerings such as Casey’s corn dog nuggets, but also special items including the famous jumbo shrimp which was featured at various stations, each adorned with a special ice sculpture.
Special entertainment and character meet-and-greets were located at every corner. WALL-E, the crew from the Adventures Club, and the Hitchhiking Ghosts were some of the rarer sights. while bands at various stages kept the energy high. In addition, the park played music from times gone by which amplified the inherent nostalgic tone of the evening.
The centerpiece of the night was the fireworks show which featured highlights of fireworks shows of other eras including Fantasy in the Sky, Wishes, and Enchantment before transitioning to a full run of Happily Ever After. In addition, projection mapping was used to recreate previous castle looks including the iconic castle cake from the park’s 25th anniversary.
But the true highlight of the evening was not the characters, the fireworks, or the jumbo shrimp. Seeing these cast members have what is essentially a class reunion was where the most joy came from. Everywhere you turned there were cast members hugging former peers that they have not seen for some time. They all congratulated each other on their milestone while sharing what they have been up to. It is possible that more hugs occurred at the Magic Kingdom this evening than any other day in its history.
It brought home why this event is so special and important. These cast members, including the team that produced the event, do not view their roles as just a job. They are all bound together as a community that cares about keeping Walt’s dream alive and making the most magical place on earth even more magical. While it is easy for long-term observers of Disney to become cynical and jaded, those thoughts get washed away when you see the community of cast members celebrating each other and the roles they play. We all know the best parts of any Disney experience are the special moments that you make with family and friends. Cast members have more Disney memories than anyone else, and seeing them relive those fond memories of the past with their cast family, will be something that I will never forget.
On behalf of all of us at Laughing Place, congratulations to the cast members celebrating their milestone anniversaries. We appreciate all you do to bring the magic to life.