Over Spring Break, I attended a Disney Leadership Experience to Disney World in Orlando Florida. We attended two leadership classes, which would take us behind the scenes to learn about important leadership skills that will be useful later on. The first class in HollyWood Studios was basically about Leadership Strategies and the second class was in Magic Kingdom and was dealing with the culture of Disney. Each of the classes took up three hours and the rest of the trip, we were free to do what we want at Disney.
The first class, “Leadership Strategies”, was dealing with different kinds of leaders and how communication barriers can get in the way. I learned about four different kinds of leaders and I found that I am more like a visionary and opportunist leader because my dream job is to start a theatre for those living in poverty and below. Theatre is a place where you must be able to see the big picture along with the smaller details and at the same time, you must be willing to take risks. We talked about what can happen if you run into a communication barrier. One time we had to guess what our partner was doing, but the problem was she was not allowed to speak. The same thing happened where we had to design something for a dog company and we all picked one leader. But once again the leader was not told what product was to be made. Seeing that communication barriers can exist in leadership makes me realize that being a leader is harder than it seems and takes a take of experience. One part of this trip was spent walking in a costume section of Disney World, which made me love all the handwork put into the character costumes more and shows me that whenever they make a new costume, it has to be made just right because a kid knows when something is wrong with the costume.
The second class, “Cultural of Excellence”, taught us more about the culture of Disney. The initial question was “are you creating a culture at Gardner Webb?”. They wanted us to understand how their beliefs/values, standard of excellence, heritage/traditions, and storytelling reflected the culture of Disney. Out of all of these, storytelling is Disney’s strongest. They show storytelling everywhere including on the rides. Walking up to the castle, I had to find elements that represent storytelling with a partner. We both agreed that the castle was the strongest element. The different groups eventually discussed what they found relating to their aspects. Everyone agreed that storytelling is one of Disney’s biggest strengths. As part of the class, everyone was required to ride the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. We had to pay attention to how the ride uses storytelling to get the guests involved in the story. Throughout the ride, you saw the seven dwarves and the different jewels along with Snow White and the Queen. By the end of the class, we had to think about the things we learned in terms of our college. Based on the elements of culture at Disney World, we had to choose the area that Gardner Webb had to improve on the most and the majority said that beliefs and values needed the most work. They use a stop, add, and continue method. It means what will stop, what will replace it, and what will be continued. Everyone agreed about Dimensions and that it needs to be more accessible. We feel as if the topics are sometimes irrelevant.
Most of the trip happened outside of the two three hour Disney Leadership classes. That meant we could truly get a full Disney experience. The classes made me look at Disney differently. It added something to the experience because we got to understand the culture of Disney World. Because I am young at heart and am a fan of Disney, I felt like a five year old kid. We had breakfast with Lilo, Stich, Mickey, and Pluto and dinner with Pooh/ Eyore/Piglet/Tigger, dinner with Mickey/ Pluto/Chip/Dale, dinner with Prince Charming/Cinderella/ Step-Mom/Step-Sisters and dinner with Mulan/Belle/Ariel/ Snow White. Outside of meals, I met Chewy, Tinkerbell, Donald Duck, Anna, and Elsa. Out of all the characters, I loved meeting Anna and Elsa the most because they are my favorite Disney characters and really love Frozen. Thinking of Frozen, I got to attend a Frozen Sing-Along, two parades, and other exciting things. I got to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari, Festival of the Lion King, TeaCups, StarTours and other attractions. Riding on StarTours made up for Soaring being temporarily closed in Epcot. StarTours is basically like riding in one of the StarWars starships. The Festival of the Lion King is like an aerobatic show and the songs from the movie are being sung.I ended up getting a number of souvenirs which are a stuffed Sven, stuffed princess Minnie, stuffed socerer Mickey, blue “Let it Go” cap, Olaf mug, pink cheetah mouse ears, and a Walt Disney World T-Shirt.
Outside of the classes, I learned other valuable skills such as patience and navigation. Those were the only moments we were not with our chaperones. We are with at least one other student. Miranda and I had to figure out how to navigate the different parks and how to hop from park to park. Sometimes we had to speed race to get somewhere due to the time, but sometimes would get lost on the way. Outside of reading the map, we would also ask for directions. We had to figure out what we wanted to do outside of the fast passes.
Being at Disney shows how much of a Disney fan you are. Disney means a lot to me because I grew up with it. I understand the greatness of the old Disney musical movies and the new Disney musical movies. I still love “Beauty and the Beast”, “Lion King”, and the Pixar films such as “Finding Nemo”, “Lilo and Stich”, and “Monsters INC”, etc. It is hard to believe that the Disney musical movies are part of the origin of my love for musicals. All because of this trip, I realized that I want to see “Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast” again because I have seen them before, but have no memory of seeing them.