US Army Colleagues

Army Soldier Joins Ranks at Disneyland Resort for a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

Disney’s support of military and veterans began long before the company’s founding 100 years ago with Walt and Roy’s service to country during the First World War. Today, we continue looking for new ways to build on their legacy. 

One example of this is Disney’s participation in the U.S. Army Training with Industry (TWI) program, which provides Soldiers the chance to work in the civilian world while remaining on active duty. 

Disneyland Resort has hosted a TWI fellow for the past nine years, offering service members from the U.S. Army School of Music to serve in a one-year assignment in the Live Entertainment division, soaking up best practices from our world-class entertainers.  

US Army colleagues
Sgt. 1st Class Nick Nofziger was surrounded by colleagues from the U.S. Army for his reenlistment and promotion ceremony at Disneyland park.

After hearing of this program from a fellow executive, Suzi Brown, vice president of communications at Disneyland Resort, saw an opportunity to expand support for the military while also expanding bandwidth on her own team. 

After a thorough vetting and interview process by Army and Disneyland Resort leaders, then-Staff Sgt. Nick Nofziger was selected to serve as the first TWI fellow in the communications department at Disneyland Resort. Nick knew that, as the first fellow in this position, his performance could impact continued participation in the program by the Army and Disneyland Resort.  

Working closely with Suzi, Nick created a progression plan to ensure adequate training and observation alongside each of the department’s teams—from public relations to cast communications–all the while reporting back to his Army leadership. 

“Suzi has been such a lifeline, as have my other leaders in the communications department,” Nick said. “From day one, I was welcomed with open arms, and they made sure I felt like a cast member, not an outsider looking in.” 

Sgt. 1st Class Nick Nofziger greets Mickey Mouse on Veterans Day in 2023 at Disneyland park.

Though he traded his camouflage for Mickey Mouse ears, Nick must also balance his military career needs. At the start of the year, he learned that he had been selected for promotion to Sgt. 1st Class, a milestone many soldiers do not reach. As a TWI fellow, Nick knew holding his promotion and reenlistment ceremonies at Disneyland park was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him and to show his Disneyland Resort teammates the other side of his life. 

“The Training with Industry Program is an excellent opportunity for our Army to learn and evolve with industry standards,” said Sgt. Maj. Stephanie Carl, Sergeant Major of Army Public Affairs and senior enlisted advisor to the Army Chief of Public Affairs. “It also helps the American public see a different side of our Army and connect with some of our service members on a more personal level.  As a former TWI fellow myself, I still value today the relationships I established nearly 15 years ago when I participated in the program. I also still get the opportunity to teach others in Army Public Affairs some of the valuable lessons I learned.” 

US Army colleagues congratulating each other
Maj. Roxy Thompson congratulates Sgt. 1st Class Nick Nofziger on his reenlistment in the U.S. Army.

On Feb. 19, Nick was able to celebrate these milestones at Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland park. Nick’s former co-worker and future supervisor Maj. Roxy Thompson, Carl, and his leaders at Disneyland Resort, were on hand to help him complete these rites of passage.  

“It is not lost on me how incredibly lucky I am to train with a company that has such respect for military service. To spend a year working at the Happiest Place on Earth doing a job that I love so much, and then to be selected for promotion to senior noncommissioned officer, and to have so many senior leaders whom I respect, admire and look to for mentorship all coming here to support me is incredibly humbling,” Nick said. “I’d encourage everyone eligible to apply for this assignment. It is certainly challenging to move across the country for just a year, but I would not trade this experience for anything in the world.” 

U.S. military service members have risked their lives to protect our freedom and we cannot be more honored to champion them in all lines of work here at The Walt Disney Company. Today, Disney remains a leading proponent of hiring, training and supporting military veterans with the Heroes Work Here initiative that has hired more than 15,000 veterans since 2012. Among the many ways Disney continues to salute those who serve in uniform include participating in the DoD Skillbridge program which connects transitioning service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences., contributing more than $20 million in funding and media support to veteran nonprofit organizations, hosting the 2024 Department of Defense Warriors at Walt Disney World Resort June 18-30 and more.