BAY LAKE, Fla. – Walt Disney World cast members arrived at the Magic Kingdom bright and early Tuesday for International Yoga Day.
The rare opportunity allows cast members to strike poses, stretch and meditate. Unlike your typical yoga studio, this event allowed cast members to practice their tree pose in front of the iconic Cinderella Castle.
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Some cast members arrived as early as 4 a.m. to get a good spot for their yoga mats. The roughly 45-minute session began with a warm welcome from Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle, Disney ambassador Ali Manion and even a wave from Mickey Mouse on the Cinderella Castle stage.
This year, as part of the World’s Most Magical Celebration, yogis were provided with a bottle of water and a special yoga block with the 50th anniversary logo on the front.
Since the event first began in 2016 at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World, cast member attendance at the sunrise sessions has nearly doubled, the company said. This year, Disney said an estimated 1,750 cast members were in attendance at Walt Disney World.
Because of the event’s popularity at Walt Disney World, many other Disney theme park locations including Disneyland Park, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney Aulani Resort & Spa, have joined in on the celebration, marking it as a truly global event.
“It’s a really great feeling. We have this event all across the world, so it’s not just joining yoga with these cast members - but all across the world. It’s bringing us all together to just enjoy the morning,” cast member Julie Holt explained.
Across the world, the company said nearly 3,500 cast members, Imagineers and employees will participate.
“It’s very relaxing. There is a bunch of peace and tranquility in yoga, and it really just makes you appreciate where you are,” cast member Alex Bartholomew said. “Not everyone can say they have done yoga in the Magic Kingdom in front of Cinderella’s Castle. We’re truly fortunate. Being in the park instills that magic in me and I feel like you get a great dose of pixie-dust being here every year.”
The sunrise yoga session is just one of several events part of Disney’s Be Well cast member program. The exclusive benefit for Disney cast members provides them with the tools and resources necessary to get active, eat healthy and find balance in their lives.
“It was magical for me as a cast member. I think so often our cast gives so much to our guests here in the parks, as they should, and they don’t get to experience that magic for themselves. Being on the Be Well team is a great experience because I’m here for the cast members,” Caitlin Bongrazio, cast member and Be Well organizer said. “They’re my guests. Getting to watch them come to Magic Kingdom and experience it just for themselves and to turn it off for a bit, recharge and reset and take in everything that Disney has to offer is just magical.”
This fall, cast members will get to take part in a family fun run 5K event.
Disney said cast members who were unable to attend the in-person yoga event, they will get the opportunity to participate in a virtual yoga session on June 28, live from the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure Park at Disneyland Resort.
The session at Walt Disney World wrapped up with a short meditation moment and the traditional saying namaste.
Of course, no trip to the Magic Kingdom would be complete without a castle selfie.
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