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A Texas woman’s internship at the most magical place on earth taught her how to make magic for others every day. Writer Elizabeth Trovall explains.
Text and photos by: Elizabeth Trovall
Country: USA

or generations, Disney movies have captivated and entertained people of all ages and cultural backgrounds. These beloved films, with hummable melodies, magical creatures, princes, princesses and villains, come alive at Disney’s many theme parks.

Disney fans all over the world flock to these parks to scream on their favorite rides, take pictures with their most cherished characters and watch the many live shows the parks produce. Most importantly, these parks make the magic of Disney movies become real.

With millions of guests visiting each year, Disney theme parks are the most visited theme parks in the world. There are playgrounds for families of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. And it’s not just the amazing rides, parades, characters and experiences that make the parks special—it’s the passion of the employees. And nobody understands the power of passion and magic better than Hayley Trittin, who got a crash course in making magic through a semester at Disney.

Disney runs in the family:

Hayley was a small child when she first experienced Disney’s magic, which is maybe why she is so passionate about making magic happen for others. In Hayley’s family, enthusiasm for Disney theme parks, characters and movies runs deep. Growing up she frequented Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida with her parents and older sister, where she would dress up and meet her favorite characters from Disney movies.

Her older sister even participated in Disneyland’s All-American College Band program. Later, on the recommendation of a friend, Hayley applied for the Disney College Program, where she would spend a semester working at Disney World. On the day of her phone interview, due to poor reception issues, Hayley had to answer the questions in her car. To her surprise, Hayley’s parents had left her a Mickey Mouse plush toy and a Mickey Mouse card addressed to Rapunzel, Hayley’s favorite princess. Hayley was accepted into the program not long after. She was about to have the most magical experience of her life.

Diverse digs:

Hayley had no idea that she would meet such a wonderful and diverse group of young people. When she arrived at the Disney College Program’s special dorm complex, Hayley quickly realized she was the only American in her apartment and one of four Americans on the entire floor.

“One thing that was really amazing was meeting people from everywhere in the world, which I’ve never really been able to do,” Hayley said. “I live in San Marcos, Texas, and it’s a pretty one-note town.” Hayley lived with four Chinese girls and one girl who is half French and half Laotian. Hayley also met people from places as far-flung as Korea, China, and Puerto Rico. The Latin Americans would even joke with her about the fact that she didn’t speak Spanish despite being from Texas. Through her experience at her Disney dorms, Hayley became more culturally competent.

Animal Kingdom:

Hayley spent most of her time at the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort, where she was assigned to work at the resort’s gift shop. She loved wearing the comfortable costume that resembled fancy pajamas: a blue, knee-length tunic with three-quarter sleeves, loose-fitting pants and yellow embroidery. Hayley worked alongside a group of students from the college program and some older employees who were retirees. Hayley was technically a cashier, but the position required so much more.

The Disney College Program at its heart is a hospitality internship. Positive guest interactions—especially with children—are key. Hayley was constantly looking for ways to create magical moments with kids. For instance, Hayley had Mickey stickers. She developed a routine where she would ask a child what they had done that day and then say something along the lines of, “Do you know who my boss is? My boss is Mickey Mouse, and he’s the coolest boss in the world. I’m going to tell you something: he told me there’s going to be a little boy just like you I would meet today and he told me to give you something special. Close your eyes and hold out your hands!” She would hand the kid a sticker and thus made Mickey real for little kids.

Making magic:

The bit with the stickers is just the beginning of how Hayley went above and beyond for her guests. “As a cast member we had a lot of freedom to help our customers, and everyone in the operation knew that, so they would help you out as much as they could so that you could make magic for other guests, which is not something you get to do at a regular job,” Hayley said.

Her dedication to making magic happen for guests made Hayley one of the exemplary members of the Disney College Program. And she loved doing it. By far, Hayley’s favorite memory during her semester at Disney World was when she helped a couple searching for a special Halloween MagicBand theme park bracelet, a collector’s item. The couple had been married on Halloween so the MagicBand had a special meaning to them. They had been searching around the park without any luck.

Hayley called around Disney World to see if she could track down the limited edition MagicBand. Finally she found one, along with a Disney villain pin. She wrapped the collector’s items up with a photo of Mickey and Minnie getting married along with a personalized letter, which she signed “with much love and pixie dust.” The couple was overjoyed to receive the gift. And Hayley couldn’t believe how much joy she felt making other people happy.

Recognizing the magic within her:

When Hayley’s family visited her in Orlando they could see the great job she was doing. Her managers and guests were applauding her spirit and dedication. Hayley saw value in herself that she had never recognized before. “Once I was there and realized not everyone can do that, it opened my eyes a little bit that being a people person is valuable in any job,” she said.

Disney in Numbers

● Mickey Mouse has 175 different outfits in his wardrobe.
● Minnie Mouse has 200 different outfits in her wardrobe.
● 2,600,000 chocolate covered Mickey Mouse ice-cream bars are purchased each year.
● 9 million pounds of French fries, 1.2 million pounds of watermelon, and 38,000 pounds of white icing glace are consumed each year at Walt Disney World.
● 58,000 employees work at Walt Disney World.
● 1.1 billion dollars are spent on payroll and 478 million dollars on benefits for employees each year.




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Learning How to Make Disney Magic


Disney movies continue to captivate and entertain people of all ages and backgrounds. These beloved films, with hummable melodies, magical creatures, princes, princesses and villains, come alive at Disney's many theme parks.

Disney fans from all over the world flock to these parks to scream on their favorite rides, take pictures with their most cherished characters and watch the many live shows the parks produce. Most importantly, these parks make the magic of Disney movies become real.

As a small child, Hayley Trittin fell in love with Disney. She used to go to Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida with her family. She loved to dress up as her favorite characters from Disney movies. Because she loved Disney so much, when she was older she applied for an internship there. Her dream came true and she went to work for Disney for a summer.

One of the great things about this internship was the diverse group of people she met from all over the world. And just as important was the valuable lesson that Hayley learned about herself. She made other people happy by helping them to experience the magic of Disney. For example, she always had Mickey stickers to hand out to little children to see them smile.

She found this experience of making others happy very rewarding and in the process learned that being a people person is a valuable trait that she can use in any job.


 

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Learning how to make Disney magic

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