Participant spotlight: Joyce, a Disney Culinary Program participant’s wish for a magical program experience

We’ve all done it: looked up at the clock and noticed it is 11:11 then said, “11:11 – make a wish!” But have you ever wondered how this came to be? Some believe the number 1111 to be a lucky one, as the number one is repeated four times, but also the number 11 doubled. In numerology, one signifies new beginnings while 11 is believed to be a number of manifestation and dreams to a reality. Altogether, the date and time of 1111 inspire dreams coming true and embracing new opportunities.

Today, on 11/11 of 2022, we are excited to share the special wish of one participant that has come true because of Disney Programs! Joyce, a Culinary Program participant whose wish to do something for herself became something greater than she could ever imagine.

After 30 years in corporate America, Joyce found herself in need of a new job. During her career transition, Joyce felt led to combine her passions for cooking and customer service by attending culinary school. While in school, Chef Pauli, a recruiter for the Disney Culinary Program, visited her school. “My head chef encouraged me to interview for the program with Chef Pauli, and I didn’t think I was ready for it. A few weeks later, my head chef asks me if I had checked my email. I told him I hadn’t, and he responded saying, ‘You’re going to Disney!’”

In 2019, the first of many wishes came true for Joyce when she arrived for her Disney Culinary Program. Joyce was thoughtfully placed at Chef Mickey’s after Chef Pauli carefully listed in her interview as she explained what she would serve on a kid’s menu. Being able to see her favorite characters every day, interact with guests, and expand her culinary skills brought great happiness to Joyce as she began her Disney journey. It was at Chef Mickey’s where Joyce met a leader and mentor, Chef Michael, that would inspire the rest of her Culinary Program and encourage her to continue challenging herself in the kitchen.

A new challenge came to Joyce in January of 2020 when her location changed to catering and conventions at Coronado Springs Resort. “This location was very different from cooking for a restaurant. But everyone around me from co-workers, head chefs, and even executive chefs were so welcoming and supportive in helping me learn this industry and business to master my craft,” Joyce said.

This new location and experience afforded Joyce new, exciting opportunities like supporting a Disney wedding and even an event where she did on-stage cooking. Unfortunately, this experience was cut short in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

After much anticipation and patience, Joyce started to receive emails, then eventually an offer to return to the Disney Culinary Program! Her next wish to continue on her Disney journey came true on July 11, 2022, when she arrived at Flamingo Crossings Village for her program. Joyce said, “Since July 11, I have not had a bad moment! Everything about the Programs experience has been elevated to a new level! My whole experience has been so fulfilling.”


Since returning, Joyce has enjoyed working in catering and conventions at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort. In this location, Joyce continues to have great support and mentorship from her leaders as she continues to expand her culinary skills.

Recently, Joyce experienced an exciting and personal magical moment when her team supported the Legacy Award dinner. For Joyce, to be part of supporting a legacy started by Walt Disney himself is an honor, but when you get to make magic for someone special to you, it becomes even more magical. Chef Michael, Joyce’s mentor and leader from her first program, was a recipient of the award this year. “This is a very exciting moment for these cast members, and I got to help prepare the dinner in celebration of them! Chef Michael is someone that I hold in high regard, and he was a big part my journey from the beginning. That made it even more special to me,” Joyce said. She even received a compliment from Chef Michael for the great dinner she helped prepare!

So, what’s the next wish for Joyce? To continue perfecting her craft and become a full-time culinary cast member at Walt Disney World® Resort! At this point in her life and career, Joyce never imagined she would be where she is now and having the very best time! Joyce said, “I’m learning from experienced culinary leaders – some have been with Disney for more than 40 years! I want to continue perfecting this craft, cooking and making magic for thousands of people each day! It truly makes me feel amazing to be a small part of making someone’s day when they visit Walt Disney World.”

Do you wish of being a Disney Program participant one day? That wish can come true very soon! Visit to learn more and explore available roles today!