Caitlin Busscher was the 2015-2016 Disney Ambassador for Walt Disney World. She started her Disney career as a Research Specialist and has been an individual contributor and leader in departments such as the new hire training team, entertainment, Guest Talent, Costuming and most recently in Signature Services. She also worked at Shanghai Disney Resort, and chronicled her experiences living in China on her blog.
By Victoria Lim
Can you share with me when you first came to WDW?
Back in 2010, I moved to Florida with nothing but a suitcase and a dream. I never imagined working at Walt Disney World, but as soon as someone suggested it to me, I knew I had to make it happen.
How do you put into words what it was like to be a Disney Ambassador, and why did you pursue the opportunity?
It’s hard to believe there was a time in my life I had the honor of representing the Disney brand and the incredible dedication of thousands of cast members. To this day, my counterpart, Nathaniel Palma, and I still pinch ourselves because it was such a unique role.
It might sound simple, but I wanted to pursue the role because I love the company and I love the people. Even before my time as ambassador, my favorite part about coming to work was making friends with fellow cast members. I used to joke that they had to be my friend because while they were at their turnstile/Photopass/etc. position, they couldn’t escape talking to me. And I also loved making a good impression on behalf of the company, hence my excitement to pass that pixie dust to new hires through Traditions and spread joy to guests during my work breaks. Since I have a background in communications, the ambassador role seemed like a natural fit, since it provided the platform to do the things I was already doing, but on a larger scale.
What extraordinary experiences have you had with Disney?
Too many to list! Because of working for Disney and living abroad in China, I fulfilled a goal that I never actually thought I would complete – visiting every Disney property around the world!
Of course, the ambassador role offered many incredible opportunities – during my time I was on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Good Morning America,” and even did a spot with Vanna White and Pat Sajak for “Wheel of Fortune!”
But probably one of the most extraordinary experiences was kicking off the 45th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort on the Cinderella Castle stage with my co-ambassador and dear friend, Nathaniel. We had received our scripts for the show, but believed we would have teleprompters and would be stationary. But during the rehearsal in the early morning hours, we instead learned staging cues and had to memorize our lines last minute. By that time in our ambassadorship, we had done a number of stage moments, but right before the ceremony, I remember feeling so nervous standing behind the partition and waiting for our names to be called. When we rounded the corner, seeing the thousands of guests packing Main Street all the way to the train station was breathtaking! Definitely a career highlight.
For many cast members, working for Disney was like a dream. Was it for you? If so, in what way?
Working for Disney has been an absolute dream come true. Pixie dust is woven into the fabric of my life – I grew up coming to Walt Disney World, I’ve met some of my best friends through work, I’ve created memories with my husband and son at the parks, resorts, and cruises … this company has provided me the opportunity to grow professionally, to travel, and to collect some pretty fantastic people as my Disney family.
What is the insatiable draw for cast members to ‘make magic’ for guests?
I think it’s because we’ve all been on the receiving end of that magic at some point and we know the power it has to turn your day around or even change your life. We’ve all heard the stories of how a small kindness has made a huge impact on someone – and those moments happen at Disney every day. There is also a sense of pride when you put on your name tag – we feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. While I’m not naive, of course Disney is a business that needs to make money, it wouldn’t be successful without the thousands of people who genuinely love what they do and want to spread kindness. And I think that is something we can certainly use right now.
You left Disney for a brief time and then returned. What made you take that break, and what made you return?
My philosophy is that if you are too comfortable, you aren’t growing. I reached a point where I didn’t feel challenged professionally, so when an opportunity presented itself to move to China, well, I mean you can’t get much more out of your comfort zone than that! Of course, eventually I missed Disney too much. I moved across the country to work here, and like I mentioned, Disney is part of my DNA. It’s hard to deny that. So I worked really hard to find my way back.
What’s next for you?
Another adventure! I’m not sure what my next steps will look like. But my mom told me I always land on my feet. Since I have taken so many personal and professional risks in my life, it has provided a sense of confidence that I can always figure things out. Right now, I am enjoying the gift of time with my newborn son and my husband. I am staying open-minded to new opportunities, but I don’t feel pressured to rush into the first one that presents itself. I want to find the right fit job that will challenge me and where I can utilize my communications skills. And while I’m not going to spend my time waiting around, there is a part of me that feels like my time with Disney isn’t finished. Maybe one day, the dream will continue.