BAY LAKE, Fla. – A new chapter in the legacy of Disney Ambassadors was unveiled at EPCOT on Friday morning.
In keeping with this spirit of continual growth and enchantment, the Walt Disney World Resort announced that Serena Arvizu and Shannon Smith-Conrad were selected to be the 2024-25 Disney Ambassadors.
Serena, who has been with the company for four years, comes from a background of supplier diversity. Meanwhile, Shannon has been with the company for eight years and has a background working in recruitment.
This team of two exceptional cast members will have the honor of donning the iconic Disney Ambassador gold pin for the next two years, representing 75,000 Cast Members and playing a key role in bringing the magic of Disney out into the Central Florida community and beyond.
“I think Shannon and I bring our own unique perspectives. The beautiful thing about the ambassador program is that it’s continuing to be ongoing,“ said Arvizu. “You can never have enough cast spotlights and we both have a perspective where we know the people that we can bring into that, that joy and celebration.“
“It’s a huge honor because our cast members are truly the magic here at our parks and resorts,” said Smith-Conrad. ”They are the ones who are out there being the magic makers and creating happiness for all of our guests. So to represent them — Disney Cruise Line, Vero Beach and Hilton Head Resort — is a true honor that we’re so glad to be a part of.”
Walt Disney World said 300 applications were received before being narrowed down to five different finalists. The new Walt Disney World Ambassadors are taking the reins from previous Ambassadors Ali Manion and Raevon Redding, who helped lead the resort through the 50th anniversary celebration, EPCOT’s 40th anniversary and the launch of the all-new Disney Wish.
”We have so many stories. We have met so many amazing cast members, cast members are magic personified, and I’m going to take that no matter where the next step takes me,” said Manion.
”I know wherever I go, the Disney magic is going to follow me regardless of what I do,“ explained Redding.
The role of Disney Ambassador is steeped in tradition and holds a special place in Disney Cast life. This cherished program was initiated in 1965 by none other than Walt Disney himself. With a vision of fostering closer connections with Disney fans and communities, Walt created the Ambassador program to serve as a bridge between the park and the world. The first Disney Ambassador was Julie Reihm, who helped Walt as Disneyland celebrated its 10th anniversary.
For nearly 60 years, the program has thrived and evolved, giving rise to a global team of Ambassadors who represent the thousands of Cast Members at Disney parks and resorts around the globe. They embody the spirit of Disney, bringing joy, warmth, and a touch of magic to all who encounter them.
The announcement Friday morning happened at the same time that Walt Disney World kicked off the Disney100 Celebration. The new Ambassador team will be the “Emissaries of Goodwill,” media representatives and serve as official hosts to resort guests throughout their term.
“There are always these moments in time that our ambassadors have been apart of to help celebrate cast members during these special times like the Disney 100th celebration,” said Steven Miller, former ambassador and senior manager for corporate social responsibility.
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