Anyone who has worked in our parks and resorts, especially our merchandise cast members, know that souvenirs and keepsakes aren’t just items we take home with us but tangible memories that serve as reminders of special times and bring to life stories of magical moments.
With this in mind, early last year the Disney Alumni Association reached out to Disney Programs alumni with a special request. They knew that over the years alumni have collected items that represented their time with the company, so they asked if any were willing to part with these keepsakes in order to contribute to a special moment in Disney Programs history.
The response was overwhelming! From an end-of-program review in 1985 to a Patterson Court opening-year toaster, a 1992 College Program sweatshirt to so many opening-day attraction buttons, the history of our programs came alive through these collectibles.
Today, we are happy to reveal that many of these pieces have been organized and displayed as an alumni wall at Flamingo Crossings Village! Now, all current Disney Program participants will see how far we’ve come as they enter into Apprentice Hall at our new housing community. As they reflect on the past, we hope they are energized and excited about the future.
What’s even better? Alumni who still make magic at The Walt Disney Company helped choose these special items, and an alum even helped create the wall!
A group of alumni and cast members who have brought Disney Programs to life throughout the years, including several Program Champions from our parks and resorts, were invited to Flamingo Crossings Village to look through and select pieces that stood out to them. For many, it was also a walk down memory lane and a chance to reflect on what the program meant to them.
“Looking at all these treasures of past program participants, I’m reminded that from their experience came my experience, and from my experience will come future program experiences,” said Courtland, a leader of food and beverage at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and a Program Champion. “I’m in awe – I love how it developed over the years. I knew some of the history of the program, but all these treasures are breathtaking.”
As we mentioned, an alum of the program was also responsible for collecting the items and creating a beautiful display. Jonathan (kneeling in photo), now a merchandise presentation specialist with Disney’s Global Product Merchandise Presentation team, worked alongside his fellow cast member Dave, a learning coordinator at Disney University, to bring to life the history of the Disney College Program.
As we celebrate 40 years of Disney Programs, we are glad to have this wall of memories to remind us of all the magic that has been made and excite us about the possibilities the future holds. Thank you to all our alumni, from 1981 to 2021, for making our programs what they are today. Here’s to 40 years of magic and many more!