Half a century working for the Happiest Place on Earth

Walt Disney World cast members remember their first day on the job in 1971

Disney 50 Cast Members talk about experiences

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – A big part of Walt Disney World’s five decades has been the cast members. Tony Zmorenski started at Fort Wilderness resort in 1971 as a recreation host.

“I would’ve never have thought way back when that 50 years I’d be sitting here in the Magic Kingdom talking to you,” Zmorenski said. “It took us about two weeks of training but we were trained to play volleyball, and all kinds of beach sports and to be able to interact with our guests on the beach at Fort Wilderness.

When Zmorenski applied for the job he was in college studying forensic science and law enforcement and looking for a job.

“There was a lot of you know, press and media going out that Disney was being built and it was under construction,” he recalled. “So, that was a little bit of a departure but you know you gotta pay the bills and college so I came out and was hired.”

[TRENDING: Florida minimum wage increases | Passenger jumps onto airplane wing at Florida airport | Aquarium approved for construction at Port Canaveral | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

Along his five-decade journey, Zmorenski has worked in ticket sales, bus operations, parking, attractions fire prevention and his latest role, principal safety professional.

“It’s never a bad day. I mean, everybody has good days and bad days, right? My days are really good. I have the opportunity to assist the team, to develop and make things safe and progressive and enhance the parks,” he said.

For Kathy Luck, her first job was in Magic Kingdom selling film and flashcubes.

“Nobody knows what that is anymore,” Luck said. “I remember walking onto Main Street and hearing the music and seeing the sounds and at the time we were actually making peanut brittle next door to where I would be working.”

Luck began after graduating college.

“My father was a missile engineer and he’s like, ‘ok now it’s time to get serious,’ and I said, ‘no dad, I wanna have fun.’ I said ‘I’ll work at Disney until it’s no longer fun’,” she said, adding that 50 years later, she’s still having fun.

Among the memories Luck remembers fondly, is the time a 12-year-old boy gave her an unexpected hug.

“The child was a non-verbal autistic, and mother looked at me and she went ‘you’re the only person he’s interacted with during his visit,’” she recalled. “I could still see it today as they were leaving the little boy looked over at me, and he went (waves hand) bye-bye. And that was the only interaction. I could still see it in my head, I could still feel it, and so that’s what keeps me coming back.”

A whirlwind of dreams come true and helping create sweet memories that Kathy and Tony will forever cherish.

“When everything’s all said and done, it is just a pleasure to look around at the guests and see those smiles,” Zmorenski said.

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.