On October 12, 2011, Disneyland held its annual ceremony to announce the 2011-2012 Disneyland Resort Ambassador Team. It was held in the Sleeping Beauty Castle Forecourt, and was hosted by 2009-2010 Ambassadors, Quinn Shurian and Danielle DuBois.
After an initial opening,in which this year’s Ambassadors related some of their duties of the last year, they commemorated the 45th Anniversary of the Ambassador program by introducing former Ambassadors representing each decade of the program. A musical character number then commenced, ending with the introduction of Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis. After asking each of the current Ambassadors to recount a memory of the last couple years, he introduced all of this year’s candidates and had them share a memory of the Disneyland Resort.
The candidates were:
Jolie Hales from Guest Talent Program & Characters
Allie Kawamoto from Disney’s Grand California Resort & Spa and Guest Services
Allison Montanile from Westside Attractions
RenÃ© Torrico from Partners Federal Credit Union
Kristin Williams from Entertainment
Finally, in a surprisingly not-drawn-out fashion, Kalogridis announced that the new Ambassador team would be Jolie Hales and RenÃ© Torrico. After numerous photo opportunities, the two were paraded down Main Street in the Fire Engine to the Train Station, where they were set up for interviews.
One of the most charming moments of the morning was when we had a chance to speak briefly with Connie Swanson, the second Ambassador appointed, and the last to work personally with Walt Disney. She spoke of how exciting it was to hear “Code W,” as the cast members passed along the news that Walt was in the park, and how even the memory of it gave her goosebumps today. When asked how the role of Ambassador has changed since she was in the program, she noted that the company is so much larger than it was, and so globally ubiquitous, that the Ambassador no longer has the burden of being the sole representative of the Company to the world. With the Company’s reputation so much more uniform than it used to be, the Ambassadors have more emphasis on community service and outreach than before.
She further shared a memory with us of Walt telling her of different plans he had for the park, one of which was of constructing a show where pictures were projected on water. Although it didn’t seem possible at the time, he was a fine spray would allow light to be projected on the mist…
Gracious, personable, and extremely enthusiastic about the company even today, Ms. Swanson is everything you would hope a Disneyland Ambassador would turn out to be. If our new Ambassadors find the same happiness and satisfaction in their new position as she did in hers, they will have done very well indeed.