How many Disney theme parks operations cast members get the chance to travel halfway around the world to give their attraction spiel? Such was the case for two Disney jungle cruise skippers, Beth Schafer and Alex Williams, who represented the Walt Disney World resort at Tokyo Disney resort, as part of a special gathering of jungle cruise skippers from Disney theme parks around the world.
Their trip was part of the 25th anniversary celebration for Tokyo Disney Resort, during which the resort is making 25 dreams come true for its cast members. One unusual dream request came from an operations supervisor at Tokyo Disneyland park who wanted to bring together the top Disney jungle cruise skippers from around the world to share best practices.
Kenichi Ito wrote: “I want jungle cruise skippers worldwide to gather at Tokyo Disneyland, and I’d like to experience all the Disney jungle cruises that are located around the world. I also want to create an occasion where we can meet and get to know the skippers from around the world.”
Kenichi’s wish was chosen for being one of the most unique suggestions submitted, and the search was on for two Disney jungle cruise skippers to represent each park with a jungle cruise attraction – Disneyland Resort, the Walt Disney World Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland.
To be selected for this trip, cast members at each site interviewed with Leaders and then auditioned before a panel of judges, performing their best Disney jungle cruise spiel.
“I was very excited. I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that may never come around again,” Beth said. The chosen Disney jungle cruise skippers were announced at a ceremony on the attraction’s dock in February.
“When they called my name I was completely shocked. It took a couple of seconds to sink in and I burst into tears,” Beth said. “When I was chosen, it was a roller-coaster of emotions – I was happy, I was screaming, I was crying, I ran around Adventureland, it was completely overwhelming,” Alex said.
Alex and Beth’s visit included a two-day tour of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, a meet-and-greet with Tokyo skippers, and a chance to reenact their own Disney jungle cruise spiel alongside their Disney jungle cruise video.
According to Alex, one trip highlight was getting to know Disney jungle cruise skippers from other cultures. “The best part was the interactions I got to have with cast members from around the world who share a passion and love for something that I do, the Disney jungle cruise, something so unique, and how we were all brought together by such an amazing situation,” he said.
Another highlight of the trip was an open forum question-and-answer session that was open to Tokyo Disney resort cast members. Alex and Beth were surprised at how many Tokyo Disney resort cast members showed up to ask questions about the Walt Disney World resort. Among the topics they discussed were differences in the attractions and guest service best practices.
“I was completely shocked at the amount of cast members who adore the attraction and were so excited to meet people from other countries who do that job,” Beth said. “I’ll forever be grateful to Kenichi for making a dream of mine come true that I didn’t even know I had. It was an absolutely dream-come-true experience. It has made me feel so fortunate to be a part of an attraction that is loved globally.”