Cast culture is undeniably unique at Disneyland Resort, where those who dream of making magic come together to form a community with a unified goal: creating happiness. While the resort has grown and evolved over the last six decades, one tradition has remained the same: commemorating the thousands of Disneyland cast members who have contributed to the transformation of the resort through service celebrations.
The 2023 west coast service celebration was a private event held in Disney California Adventure park on Nov. 13, 2023. Over 2,000 honorees and their guest were able to enjoy the Festival of Holidays marketplaces among other food offerings, live entertainment, games and special photo opportunities. To cap the night, honorees were presented with a viewing of “Celebrate You!” a special nighttime spectacular. The service celebration invites cast members, crew members and Imagineers who are celebrating a milestone service anniversary with The Walt Disney Company. Milestone anniversaries are celebrated every five years beginning with the 10th year of service.
This year’s celebration was dedicated to recognizing cast culture and showing appreciation to those who have fostered diversity, inclusivity and endless opportunity. Among this year’s honorees were two cast members who have dedicated their careers to serving their fellow cast and building cast culture at Disneyland Resort: Mike Miranda and Matthew Olson.
Celebrating his 40th anniversary at Disneyland Resort, Mike began his career in 1981 in Fantasyland attractions where he hosted Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and The Mad Tea Party before entering the management training program five years later. Most of Mike’s career had been dedicated to resort operations until he made the move to human resources in 2019 to Disney University. Mike now leads Disney University as senior manager of learning operations and delivery, directly influencing cast culture through the creation and facilitation of “Traditions”, onboarding and leadership training programs. “Forty years is a long time to work for a company, but I’ve had so many roles, which really is my favorite part of working at Disneyland Resort. The diversity of roles and situations that arise really provide me with excitement and energy to continue working here,” shared Mike.
As a 40-year honoree, this was Mike’s first time enjoying a special dinner at Carthay Circle, which led up to a special toast from Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort. “All of us at the resort are so grateful for everything you have done during your decades of service to this company,” Ken began. “Walt said, ‘it takes people to make the dream a reality,’ and you all are truly the dream makers… our best days are still ahead of us and that’s because of all of you.”
Also referencing Walt Disney’s beloved quote, Mike agreed with Ken’s sentiment: “That is our foundation, but it’s a culture that needs to be nurtured,” Mike explained. “We all contribute to that single common goal of ‘creating happiness’, and I joined the Disney University because I wanted to give back to the resort… by creating the best first day experience we could possibly provide because our cast members are our greatest asset.”
Fellow honoree Matt Olson is celebrating 10 years with Disneyland Resort. After moving to California from Pennsylvania to pursue a career in dance, Matt achieved his dream and joined the resort as a performer in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade in 2013. Since his career began a decade ago, Matt has worked in scheduling and served as a parade performer lead until he was selected to be the parade operations specialist for the “Magic Happens” parade when it debuted in 2020. “My favorite part of working at the Disneyland Resort over the course of my career is realizing how many opportunities there are within the company. It truly is wonderful to be able to express where you want to grow and find those that will help you get there,” shared Matt.
Matt continues to pursue his passion by welcoming new cast members to the Disneyland Resort as a learning and development coordinator supporting Traditions at Disney University, where he works hand-in-hand with Mike to create and support cast culture from day one. “Cast culture at the Disneyland Resort means approaching everyone I meet with a sense of openness,” Matt shared. “The beautiful part of being a storytelling company is that everyone you meet here has a story. I feel like I contribute to our culture by helping cast find those connective threads that tie them together with their fellow cast members, leaders, and our guests so that everyone can have magical memories to take home.”
Taking time to consider what he looked forward to the most at his first-ever service celebration, Matt decided it was “taking the time to see our cast members in action having a great time, celebrating with each other and just recognizing how much work it takes to make this place run on the daily always gives me a sense of gratitude for what we do here.”
The diverse cast culture at Disneyland Resort shines through the stories and experiences of every single one of its cast members, which is why this year’s celebration was dedicated to shining light on diversity through the entertainment, music and food offerings available to honorees. It’s because of Disney’s cast culture and the unified passion of creating magic to embrace happiness that Disneyland Resort continues to be The Happiest Place on Earth. Join us in congratulating Mike, Matt and the thousands of cast members, crew members and Imagineers who have celebrated a service anniversary in 2023.