While this isn’t a typical blog post from one of our trips, it has been a journey nevertheless – 35 years in the making. In the summer of 1982, after college graduation, I landed a position in this new park being built in Florida called Epcot Center. Of course I had been to the Magic Kingdom during our Florida vacations, but had never heard of this new park under construction, however, my mom did.
Turns out, a Purdue professor had left the academic world to become part of this project. So I had a name to start with. Quite frankly, I don’t remember the details now but I managed to set up an interview during my family’s Florida vacation in May 1982. Myself and a friend drove over from New Smyrna Beach the morning of my interview and got hopelessly lost. The secretary’s directions for my first of several interviews that day were fairly vague. When I showed up at the Casting Center- behind Disney University, in the middle of nowhere – I was probably 2 hours late. All interviews were being conducted through the Maintenance Department hiring system and Bob (my interviewer) was not warm and fluffy. His words were “What are you doing here, you’re not on my calendar.” I still remember to this day, his coffee mug on his desk. It had a decal from one of the service branches. Yep, this was a tough guy.
Okay, so I spent 15-ish minutes with him, first explaining why I was there and who set this up before driving over to the construction site for the next two interviews in the Horticulture office. Eventually, I was brought to the actual greenhouses and walked through the sandy construction site, in a dress and heels with the (former) Purdue professor. The last stop for the day was back to meet with Bob in the afternoon for his interview. Done. He was a bit more cordial.
Got a phone call June 7 from Bob. Why do I remember the date……….it was my birthday. I was kind of ‘excited, giddy, over-whelmed, chatty, nervous’ and distinctly remember accepting the position and also telling Bob it was my birthday. I was getting my first dose of pixie dust. I met him again late June to sign my paperwork and never saw him again. Everyone and I do mean everyone that was hired in Maintenance and Horticulture for years and years and years knew Bob W. because that was the pathway to get hired. I still wonder to this day if the phone call was planned for that specific day or just a coincidence. It just doesn’t sound like something a Maintenance hiring manager would do, the magic was starting.
Fast forward to 2017. By this time I have worked at the Land for 8 years, moved to Resorts for 8 years (see a pattern?) and settled into the Merchandise division. I’ve worked at Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Disney Springs and Sports & Recreation (water parks). Can’t forget one of my top highlights………opening up Disney’s Shanghai Resort!
But this post is about the day we celebrated my 35th Anniversary. My leader’s admin needed a contact from my team to (secretly ?!?) set everything up, ensure I was gone while everyone gathered and ‘surprise’ me as I walked in the door. The name I gave her was perfect for this task. She worked with Eric to get me out the door for lunch while invitees came to our office. Eric started getting texts to ‘stall, we’re ready, oops-stall again, ready now, come’. He finally let me read the texts as he was driving and I texted back (as Eric) we were minutes away.
Walking into the office, I was still surprised at the people gathered.
There were cast and friends from various parts of my journey. My current leader, Kartika had prepared some highlights to share with the group.
While my husband is in the background of the above photo, there is another individual that is part of select service celebrations, one of the Disney Ambassadors. He speaks on the behalf of the company and presents a special pin, only available from this select group.
My husband had another surprise up his sleeve……………….a vase of my favorite flowers, peonies. They don’t grow in Florida but can be ordered through select floral wholesalers.
There was a cake, chocolate with a berry filling between the layers.
A photo with my Vice President of Epcot, whom I truly respect and admire.
My team created a unique memory token signing a clay flower pot, knowing that growing things are a pastime of mine.
Reaching this milestone comes with a few select items including my 35th Anniversary Statue and my pin, which was the first photo seen at the top of this posting. A little bit of trivia…………this statue is the only one that has any color, a red apple.
This was undoubtedly my best service anniversary celebration of the seven that I have personally experienced. Stay tuned for a near-future posting of the property-wide celebration held recently at the Magic Kingdom.
4 thoughts on “A different journey in the making.”
Congratulations! I hadn’t realized you were hired as Epcot opened. Pretty cool!
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Thanks, yes, it is an easy way to remember how long I have worked here. Unfortunately, it also ages me…………….ha! My service ‘class’ is one of the larger ones since 1982 was a big hiring year. When I celebrated my 10 year anniversary, the event was held in a convention center over multiple nights to get everyone included. Since I have worked in a variety of business entities, multiple Resorts and Parks we are always running into someone from my previous work ‘lives’ at these events. Our paths only cross at the celebrations – but that’s okay. Take care! Ginny
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Hi Ginny, it’s Lucy from Plum Lyon in France. Congratulations on reaching this milestone. How wonderful to get a cake and everything. What an interesting story too! I kind of thought they were going to wheel Bob into the room at the last minute. Kind regards, Lucy
Thanks so much Lucy! Well, I did hear that Bob retired about 5 years ago, so I didn’t expect it to really happen. 🙂 I still can’t believe that 35 years have gone past. Some of those years were good and some were better. This truly was the best celebration/recognition party that had occurred in all of my years. We’re all busy at work and there’s not always time to step away for moments like these, but I was very happy with those who could make it. We celebrate 5 year milestones and while all have been nice in the past, this seemed more personal and meaningful, if that makes sense. Take care. Ginny
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