Former Disney Imagineer’s Son Continues Family Legacy 

For some cast members, working at Disneyland Resort was not always part of the plan. For others, becoming a cast member seemed destined, like Walt Disney Imagineering Communications Manager Kevin Rafferty Jr., who practically has Disney in his DNA.  

Kevin Rafferty Sr., Kevin’s father, started his Disney career as a dishwasher at the Plaza Inn and eventually progressed to become an Imagineer for more than 40 years. He helped dream up immersive experiences around the world like Cars Land, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania!, and more recently, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway before his retirement. He even contributed a special Mickey and Minnie-themed ear hat to the Disney Parks Designer Collection, a designer collection in which celebrities and Imagineers created unique ear headbands and ear hats.  

A family legacy within Disney 

“It’s interesting to think that without Disneyland, I may not even be alive since my parents met as cast members,” Kevin said. Kevin is living proof that Disneyland Resort brings families together. Kevin’s mother worked at Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and drove guest trams while his father worked at the Plaza Inn, and later, Club 33, at Disneyland Resort. “They would visit each other before and after shifts and hang out in the cast parking areas.”  

Kevin’s family is intertwined not just with Disney, but with the city of Anaheim, too. Both sets of grandparents moved to Anaheim to raise the next generations; and for his father’s parents, Disneyland Resort was a major reason for deciding to make the move during the early years of the resort. 

Kevin’s grandfather, Loren, loved Disneyland so much that he had a 1961 map of the park displayed in his garage. Years down the road, Kevin’s father befriended the map’s designer, Sam McKim.  

Furthermore, Kevin’s mother attended Walt Disney Elementary in Anaheim and even remembers seeing Walt himself, Kevin said. Her childhood house is on the other side of the school.  

Kevin’s family ties to Anaheim seemed to set the stage for him and his father to become cast members, and the seeds of Kevin’s connection were sown when his father started working for Disney. Through his father, Kevin had the privilege of growing up while knowing Disney legends such as Marty Sklar, Jimmy Macdonald and John Hench. “Going down various hallways with portraits of John Hench or attraction posters for experiences my dad created is all very special now,” Kevin said.  

Considering Kevin’s background and family history, it makes sense that he would end up working for The Walt Disney Company. “I grew up going to Disneyland and I have a journalism degree. What better fit than Disney Communications, which I am fortunate to be part of.”  

Kevin in front of the main entrance to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Starting out in a temporary capacity in 2010, Kevin became an external communications specialist at Disneyland Resort. He would later move into a management role, and in October of 2019, transitioned into his current role at Walt Disney Imagineering. Like his father, Kevin met his wife Cortney while working at Disneyland Resort. 

Kevin is no stranger to the work Disney does with the city of Anaheim through family history and personal experience. With Disney VoluntEARS, the company’s volunteer organization, Disney has also sponsored the building of playgrounds throughout Anaheim, such as at Imperial Park, near Kevin’s home, which he was involved hands-on in its assembly. “It made me proud that my employer was enhancing my own neighborhood,” Kevin said.  

Looking forward to a bright future with Disney

Kevin’s career with The Walt Disney Company began in 2010, and 14 years later, he remains with the company because of “a combination of constant learning, great people, love for the Disney Parks and opportunities that most jobs don’t include. I’ve traveled to cities I haven’t been to before and had the chance to do some amazing things.”  

Reflecting on his connection with Walt Disney Imagineering, Kevin said, “My dad was an Imagineer for more years than I’ve been alive, so Imagineering is part of me regardless of working here. Now it’s an even deeper connection. I’ve been so fortunate in my career thus far and – in true Disney fashion – will keep moving forward.”