Nothing can keep a Disney cast member down for long, including the gut-punch of furloughs and lay-offs during a global pandemic. Instead, they’re creating businesses of their own.
More than 15,500 Walt Disney World Resort cast members have been laid off or furloughed as the pandemic continues. As part of an exclusive Attractions Magazine series, we’ll shine the spotlight on two more former cast member businesses this week, this time with food and wine in mind.
Sipping Wine with Sly
Sylvester’s link to Disney goes back to his youth, watching Walt Disney talking about the parks on television, and through his cousin, who worked on the construction of Magic Kingdom. He first visited the park at the age of 12, and would go on to spend more than 27 years as a Walt Disney World cast member.
In the role of event services manager for Disney Catered Events, Sylvester held positions at Ariel’s, Flying Fish, Yachtsman’s Steakhouse, and Narcoosee’s, and during his time at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa he became a certified sommelier, a title he has proudly carried for 20 years.
For five years, he also participated in Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Party for the Senses, the event’s premier experience, featuring enticing dishes created by more than 20 chefs from around the country; premium wine, beer, and cocktails; and a slew of live entertainment.
When Sylvester’s furlough from the company was announced, he joined his family in TaylorGang Tastings, the private Facebook group wine tasting venture they had begun in March 2020, as a way for adults to “come together to escape from our crazy lives.” He began teaching a weekly gathering about wine, and in time he was receiving requests to do private or virtual wine tastings.
From that came a new business: Sipping Wine With Sly. Wine was Sylvester’s passion, it was something he had always loved to be involved in, and the response he got from the Ear For Each Other private Facebook group convinced him he could make a success of teaching about wine and offering virtual tastings while waiting for his call-back at Disney.
To schedule your own virtual wine tasting, contact Sylvester at [email protected]
Ali was a character performer at Walt Disney World for two-and-a-half years, making her life-long dream come true. Her time at Disney strengthened her guest communications and organizing skills, which paid off handsomely when her lay-off notice came due to the global pandemic.
Ali’s boyfriend chipped in his computer skills and her mom added design savvy to the mix, and with Ali’s creativity, Magical Charcuterie was born.
Holidays and other friends-and-family gatherings are the obvious times when a gorgeous charcuterie platter makes a real statement, but Ali also tailors snack boxes for Orlando visitors staying in a hotel or villa, for open houses, and even just for a movie night at home.
Each box contains a selection of cured meats, cheeses, seasonal fruit, crackers, honey, nuts, and sweet treats. Some include accompaniments such as gherkins, dip, or dried fruits. All are beautifully wrapped and arranged.
Missing those Mickey treats you enjoyed in the theme parks? Some of Ali’s assortments include Disney-themed cookies and rainbow lollipops, too.
For more intimate gatherings, choose from a small box serving 1-2, medium box for 3-4, or large box with enough for 5-6 (date night and impromptu picnic, we’re looking at you!). Larger groups are well served by the Gathering Party Tray for 10-12 people, Party Tray for 12-15, or Event Tray serving 15-20.
Clients can “plus” their order with the addition of a mini banana bread with nuts or chocolate chips, or custom reusable tumblers.
Delivery within the Orlando area is available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with pick-ups available at the East Orlando Farmers Market on Sundays.
“I wanted to create something that’s not typically offered,” Ali says. “I do Disney theme boxes perfect for gifts for clients or to enjoy at the Disney resorts. I have all different sizes and deliver all over Orlando, including to the resorts.”
With so much foodie deliciousness going on, it’s a given you’ll want to check out the superb Magical Charcuterie gallery on Instagram.
For more information or to place an order, visit MagicalCharcuterie.com.
Online groups such as Ear For Each Other have provided networks for Central Florida’s newest entrepreneurs to support and inspire each other, but anyone who has been touched by the magic that cast members are well known for making can support them as well. Attractions Magazine will feature cast members’ businesses weekly, so be sure to check back often and seek out these talented people!