Rachel Adams joined Walt Disney World in 2002 through the Disney College Program, then as a full-time cast member in 2003. She has had roles at the All-Star Music Resort, Disney Fairytale Weddings, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Park Event Operations, Media Operations and Catering Operations.
By Victoria Lim
Why did you first come to Disney?
I always joked it’s because I wanted to be NSYNC’s tour manger. This was the next best option! Honestly, statistically, 68% of graduates were moving back in with their parents in 2002 and I’m from a small town and there wasn’t the opportunity to do what I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure at the time. I did the College Program, had a great experience, and I put a lot of stock into it. I talked to a lot of people who started as intern in some capacity, I liked the town, and the people I came in contact with. I got to work in Disney Fairytale Weddings before they had internships there, and had a taste of the cool event world that I hadn’t thought about before. Once you’re in it, you’re able to see there’s so much more than I would ever have even thought about.
Why have you stayed?
Once the company is in you, there’s this loyalty to the company. You feel like, “this is a good life, and now I’ve established my home. I can go further and my time here isn’t done. I can still keep moving in the company because there’s so much opportunity for a variation of roles.”
I started when I was so young. I had had jobs before I was 22, but this was my first career and I had hit the jackpot with a company where the culture is very strong and there’s a lot of feelings and emotion that connect you to that culture. It resonates with how strong the brand is. There was pride in the work and excitement when talking about the company. I’m sure that factored into why I stayed over the years.
Can you share some extraordinary experiences you’ve had?
I was heavily involved in the annual Christmas filming. It went from something I remember seeing on TV to something I was heavily involved in the success of. I remember when I had done a film shoot with Boyz II Men when they were performing at the Eat to the Beat concert series, and Boyz II Men was my first concert at 14. I remember vividly going to the concert and now, to have a conversation with them was a full circle life moment.
What is it about the “making magic for guests”?
In the moment, how your job is impacting someone’s life, and, obviously not on the same scale as a medical discovery, but being happy and people enjoying vacations and their families. When you can be a part of that, I understand how that’s just a draw for people. You hear that so much from cast members. The immediacy of making someone happy as a human is something we all really enjoy, and the company is that for so many people. It exists on a grander scale than just going to grocery store or at another type of attraction.
Many cast members have said this was more than a job, it was a dream. Was it like living a dream for you? If so, in what way?
I don’t think I’m necessarily that “pixie dusty.” There were days and years when it was work, when it was a paycheck; it’s what you do to support your life. But when you do have a conversation with somebody who doesn’t work for the company or is here on vacation, and you see how much it means to someone, it helps when it’s just a job to you. I never had a dream to work here when I was kid. My family didn’t come here. I’m from a big family, and it wasn’t a financially viable option. I came here for the first time at 19 on my own with college friends. But once I was here, and when you establish a life around something too, it becomes just a part of your life. The dream wasn’t the same for me as it was for other people.
There were a lot of happy chances that led me to being where I got to be and that’s why I stayed. I had great opportunities. I opened Shanghai Disney Resort, and getting to be a part of something from the beginning was also really interesting because Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort were already established. This this was brand new and I didn’t know what it was like to have “brand new.” To be a part of that was a once in a lifetime thing.
What’s in your future?
I have absolutely no idea. But I also know that the pendulum will swing back, and I still only live six miles down the street. There’s a hope and a great feeling of return to go back to that, because although the journey ended in different way than I’ve foreseen, I think I will end up back there.
Remember, the people who worked here have a skill set that is so transferable. The media job for me was so perfect for me. I’m a logistics person, a process person, and I like to go through that. Now, where else could use those skills because that job doesn’t exist in places in the same way?