Celebrating Women Creating Magic Through Innovation at Disney Parks
From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Disney Parks Blog
Happy International Women’s Day! Today, we’re celebrating by shining a spotlight on five incredible women innovating to create magic at Disney Parks. Our global theme parks would not be what they are today without the hard work and creativity of thousands of women all around the world.
At Disney, our live shows use technology and innovation to immerse guests into experiences that make them feel part of our stories. As Disneyland Paris continues to celebrate its 30th anniversary, two limited-time live shows, “Avengers: Power the Night” and “Disney D-Light,” bring the magic to life through innovative drone light choreography to celebrate fan-favorite characters.
Live Entertainment Production Coordinator Adeline Bardy has worked to support the production of these two shows as well as “The Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands.” Adeline partners closely with the creative, artistic, technical and operational teams to bring new shows to life. “Our role is to make people forget about the technology that goes into these shows,” Adeline stated. “Instead, it feels like they are witnessing magic.” Adeline recalled how special it was to work on the new “Disney D-Light” show. “I love watching ‘Disney D-Light’ and seeing how happy it makes the guests. There’s a quick second of silence when the drones appear, which is followed by cheers and applause.”
Another great example of innovation at work in our parks, the live show “Momentous” at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is a breathtaking nighttime spectacular that premiered in 2022. The show uses large scale projection mapping technology that highlights and transforms the Castle of Magical Dreams as the narrative unfolds. Fiona Yu, a production director at Hong Kong Disneyland who’s been with the company for over 17 years, shared that launching “Momentous” was one of the greatest achievements of her career. As production director, she worked closely with the creative and technical teams throughout the show’s development.
“The most exciting thing about the show is that it can resonate with anyone,” Fiona said. “The first chapter, ‘TIME BEGINS,’ reminds me of watching my own children grow up. And the third chapter, ‘TIME TO CHANGE,’ reminds me of my strength in facing difficulties.”
Fiona is passionate about helping her team members meet their full potential. This International Women’s Day, Fiona is grateful for the opportunity to uplift women who are just getting started in the field and invest in their growth.
Tokyo Disney Resort also uses projection mapping technology in addition to impressive gliding barges in “Believe! Sea of Dreams.” This immersive entertainment experience on the Mediterranean Harbor made its debut in November 2022. For Aimee Berkeley, Director of Entertainment and Costuming, Walt Disney Attractions Japan, having the chance to champion the show through opening has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her career so far.
Aimee believes that “in the live entertainment business, technology and innovation are at the forefront of all that we do. It is the innovative work performed by those in technical roles within entertainment that provide us with awe-inspiring moments in our shows.”
As one of the most spectacular shows in Tokyo Disney Resort history, Aimee worked with a number of women who played key roles in bringing the show to life and ushering in new technology. She often thinks about how any new technology applied in a show starts off with a crazy idea. Or what seems to be a crazy idea, until it is successfully executed!
Expert lighting design is crucial to our shows at Disney Parks. From its iconic nighttime spectacular “ILLUMINATE! A Nighttime Celebration” to the wide range of seasonal celebrations, live entertainment offerings at Shanghai Disney Resort bring together impressive lighting elements and projection mapping technology to tell visually immersive stories.
Michelle Wang is an entertainment lighting designer who supports the lighting design for a variety of beloved shows at Shanghai Disney Resort. As part of the lighting team for “ILLUMINATE! A Nighttime Celebration,” Michelle learned about elements like which types of light fixtures to use, fixture positions, special effects, light intensity, color palettes and more. She continues to apply this knowledge and skill set to many other live entertainment experiences at the resort, with the goal of perfecting the shows while also ensuring the safety of performers.
“I got to stand among our guests during the opening night of ‘ILLUMINATE! A Nighttime Celebration’,” Michelle shared. “In that moment, when I heard the cheering and applause, and saw the absolute joy in the crowd, I felt extremely proud to be part of the team and I knew all of our hard work was worth it.”
Innovation at Disney Parks takes place across the board, always focused on the goal of providing the best guest experience. Digital products like the My Disney Experience app, the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app and the “Hey Disney!” digital voice assistant were all created with this goal. Stephanie Duffy, who has over 13 years of experience at Disney, has directly supported the creation of these technology-forward tools in her role as lead digital product operations manager at Walt Disney World Resort.
“Earlier in my career, there weren’t very many women in roles like mine. Even then, I always made the effort to find women leaders to mentor me. Now, I see more women in the digital technology space at Disney, and it is encouraging to know we have more mentors than ever before as it remains something I’m passionate about.”
“When women support women, the sky is the limit,” Stephanie shared when asked what her advice is for young women looking to grow in their careers. “Disney is an amazing place to work, and there are so many opportunities to learn and grow as a professional if you know where to look.”
Food might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of innovation, but we can guarantee our food and beverage teams across Disney Parks are always creating and brainstorming new ways to develop menu items. If you’ve enjoyed the new plant-based offerings at Disneyland Resort’s Paradise Garden Grill, you have Alison Moore to thank for that. Through her role as food & beverage operations manager at Disney California Adventure park, Alison takes her passion for food and innovates within the space to bring new offerings and menu items to guests. Most recently, she led the creation of Disneyland Resort’s first-ever fully plant-based menu, which launched March 3, 2023 at Paradise Garden Grill.
“Innovation is a huge part of everything that we do on a daily basis within the F&B team,” Allison said. “Our various leaders and chefs have to regularly stay on top of trends within the industry and find unique ways to keep the resort at the forefront of what is happening with our offerings. This focus on plant-based menu items is just one example of the work that we’re doing on a regular basis to innovate our F&B offerings at Disneyland Resort.”
Happy International Women’s Day from Disney Parks, Experiences and Products!