When it comes to making magic at Walt Disney World Resort, every role Disney Cast Members play is a starring role. But there’s one that stands out among the rest, represents more than 74,000 Cast Members and shares the inspiration of Disney throughout the resort and community – the role of Walt Disney World Ambassador.
This month, Ken Facey and Brandon Peters learned they were selected for this highly esteemed position, as the pair were named the 2017-2018 Walt Disney World Ambassador team. Prior to the announcement, Ken served as a leader at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, supporting the housekeeping and custodial team, while Brandon was in entertainment as a performer and part of the 2016 Disney University Traditions team.
“Today we selected two Cast Members who will continue the tradition of bringing to life the values that make Disney special, such as innovation, optimism and exceptional service,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “As they represent more than 74,000 Cast Members who call Central Florida home, Ken and Brandon will share our heritage and legacy with our guests, Cast Members and community.”
In a special ceremony, the 2017-2018 Disney Ambassador team was surprised with news of their new roles by Kalogridis and an executive selection panel. Current Walt Disney World Ambassadors Caitlin Busscher and Nathaniel Palma, as well as several Walt Disney World Ambassador alumni, joined the close-knit group of well-wishers congratulating the new team.
A South Florida native, Brandon Peters grew up with the Walt Disney World Resort in his backyard. Knowing from a young age that he wanted to be a performer, Brandon got the coveted role of part-time Walt Disney World performer as he worked toward a fine arts degree at the University of Central Florida. After years of dancing down Main Street U.S.A. and waltzing on the Cinderella Castle stage, Brandon moved to Louisville, Ky. to be an apprentice at the prestigious Actors Theatre of Louisville. He returned to Walt Disney World Resort as an equity performer for Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial.
Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., Ken dreamed of working at Walt Disney World Resort. His dream came true when he joined the Disney College Program as an attractions host in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park. Since then, Ken has continued to share the magic of Disney with roles in operations, guest relations, lodging and custodial guest services. Along the way, he served the Disney University Traditions program, helping to welcome and inspire thousands of new Disney Cast Members. Ken also spent time as a guest correspondent, responding to letters from guests about special moments created by Disney Cast Members.
Today’s ceremony was the culmination of an intensive, two-month search for candidates who demonstrate enthusiasm for community service, passion for Disney guest service, knowledge of Disney heritage and business, professionalism, integrity, compassion and character. Every two years, thousands of Cast Members are invited to participate in the ambassador selection process, which includes several rounds of interviews.
Following a three-month training in Florida and California, the team will begin their busy two-year term, which lasts from Jan. 1, 2017–Dec. 31, 2018. With thousands of events to attend throughout the year, the Ambassadors are responsible for duties such as championing the Disney VoluntEARS program, supporting company programs and business initiatives, serving as master of ceremonies at park events and recognizing Cast Members’ milestones and achievements.
The Disney Ambassador tradition began during the 10th anniversary of Disneyland when Walt was overwhelmed with requests for appearances and media interviews. Since he chose the first Disney Ambassador to serve in 1965, the program has evolved to represent the company, its Cast Members and ideals throughout 50 years of Disney milestones.