My (35 year) Service Celebration

In an earlier post, I mentioned my Disney career journey and referenced a future post about the actual celebration held in the Park.  I finally got around to it and here it is.

The evening starts at check-in, picking up your credentials (lanyard) denoting the years of service.


After a short ride on the monorail, you arrive at the front of the Magic Kingdom.  Banners, photographers and balloons greet you to begin the festivities.  It’s a little hard to see in the photo but the balloons say ‘Celebrate You’, which is the theme of the evening.


We got our photo taken in front of Floral Mickey.  I’ve never been a big fan of the Disney Photo Pass program, until tonight.  Afterwards when I downloaded my photos, there were some cool banners & graphics that could be added, like the one below with 35.

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Walking under the train station, I ran into my leader, Kartika.  Got to tell you, that’s pretty amazing.  All of the Disney executives are in attendance, greeting the honorees and there’s just so many of them……spread out near the entrance and along Main Street.  We both know many of the executives in attendance, but to find your own – magical.


Also ran into my Park Vice-President, Melissa, who was able to attend my anniversary date in July.


When the celebrations were at the Studios, something (hokey, but well-themed) was started and it continues today…………’walking the red carpet’, since we are the ‘stars’ of the show.  At the end of Main Street USA, the red carpet starts and there are ‘screaming fans’ to greet us.  Cast members get paid to be ‘screaming fans’ – crazy.

red carpet

There are photo opportunities all along the route and although we kept running into friends, we got one photo near the Christmas tree.


At the end of the red carpet lies the Magic Kingdom Castle, all lit up in its glory.

castle 2

While Service Celebrations are being held for numerous milestone anniversaries (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45) and the park is huge, arrivals are strategically spread out during the event.  35 and above come at least an hour earlier than most.

First on the agenda is food.  This event is famous for the large shrimp.


Excuse me, they are called ‘Legendary Large Cocktail Shrimp’.  While very good, I’ve been spoiled by having shrimp fresh off the shrimp boat, that were swimming the day before – now that’s fresh.  But still, these were good and everyone loves them at their Service Celebration.

A special celebration drink was created and numerous tables hold all manner of edible treats.

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Bands are staged through the Park, catering to a variety of music tastes:  pop, country and Latino.

Something special you can only get at Disney are our characters.  For this event, they are everywhere!  In the beginning I was ambivalent about their photos, but by the time the event was over, I had been converted.

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My all-time favorite Disney movie is The Lion King.  We had to come back twice before we were able to get our photo with Timon and Rafiki.  Alas, no other Lion King meet & greets exist.

Working here so long, you definitely take things for granted, it becomes the norm.  This really is a pretty cool place to work.  I can step outside of my office and see one of our Park icons mere feet away from where I’m standing. I can meet people from all across the world as I walk through the park to a meeting.  I can give advice, directions and tips for those that just walked in so they can get the most out of their time in the Park.

I can’t say for sure that I will be here another five years for my 40th anniversary.  Not that I’m ready to quit, but there is more to life than Disney, believe it or not.  Traveling the world is high on our list.  But since that takes money, work allows that to happen.

Who would have thought 35 years ago, a girl from the rural Midwest, fresh out of college would stay in Florida and have this amazing career which included the chance to live and work in China – certainly not me.  🙂

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