Disney CEO Bob Iger Surprised Disneyland Cast Members Part of Education Program

Disney’s educational investment program, Disney Aspire, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this week, and Disney’s CEO Bob Iger surprised employees and Cast Members of the program at Disneyland after the commemoration.

The Disney Aspire program, which started in 2018, is dedicated to providing giving a 100% tuition paid education to Disney’s 90,000 hourly Cast Members and employees. Keep reading for more details about this incredible program and see the inspiring stories of Disney employees who have followed their dreams through the Disney Aspire Program!

Bob Iger Surprise!

During an event for Disney Aspire at Disneyland Park on Wednesday inside the Disneyland Opera House, Disney CEO Bob Iger surprised employees and Cast Members. The employees and Cast Members in attendance were members of the program Disney Aspire Program.

This must have been a really exciting opportunity for the Disney Aspire program participants to meet Bob Iger, who has been a long-time proponent of the program. Iger’s presence at the surprise meeting is a really touching way to reflect on and recognize the impact that this program has had for the thousands of Disney employees and Cast Members that have taken advantage of this Disney employee benefit since its inception.

Upon starting Disney Aspire in 2018, Iger emphasized that the program is vitally important and commented how education “opens doors and creates new possibilities” and is the “key to opportunity.”

Disney Aspire Program

The Disney Aspire Program aims to make education accessible for all by covering 100% of tuition upfront and reimbursing students for required books and fees. The program was launched with a commitment of $150 million in five years, and it exceeded that goal in half that time.

The program is designed for adults who are balancing a busy schedule of personal and work obligations, and a variety of options are available in several subjects and levels. There are several possibilities, from employees and Cast Members learning a trade or improving their English language skills to earning a high school or college diploma.

The Disney Aspire Program is dedicated to maintaining relevancy, and its program catalog is continually refreshed to align with predicted future of work trends, with programs selected that will provide career growth post-graduation and access to networking opportunities and professional development.

In addition, the Aspire Program offers guilt support for student success, including Guild specialists who can help students explore programs and provide 1:1 coaching. This program has been incredibly valuable for several individuals whose lives have been changed by it, and we will share some of their stories below.

Disney Aspire Stories

Maniala, a Housekeeping Guest Experience Manager at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness, has worked at the company for 20 years, and is a graduate in hospitality management through the Disney Aspire Program, working towards her master’s degree in Human Resources.

Maniala shares: “People might look at me and see one thing, a housekeeper, but through my accomplishments, they will understand how much I’m capable of–helping others, being a role model and bringing the magic every day.”

Maniala says that it’s important for her to mentor others and provide them with the support and encouragement to pursue their dreams. As she reflects on the impact of the Disney Aspire program, she says, “Follow your passion. That’s what Disney is all about.”

Another inspiring story belongs to Daniela, who works in Global HR at Disney and achieved a college education through Disney Aspire. Daniela shares: “Growing up in an immigrant family, I didn’t think attending college was possible. The financial burden was always subconsciously there. But when I came to work for Disney that was no longer an issue.” Daniela says that Disney Aspire has opened doors for her that changed her life.

The hard work and talent of these Cast Members is admirable, and their stories are inspiring. Current employees of the Walt Disney Company can explore this option, and new employees or Cast Members of the at the Walt Disney Company in eligible Part-Time and Full-Time hourly roles can apply for Disney Aspire after just 90 days of employment. The program provides an incredible opportunity for employees and Cast Members to pursue their dreams, with support and guidance every step of the way.

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About Emily Midgley

Emily Midgley is a writer and educator from San Diego, California. She graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She was introduced to Disneyland when she was two and has been hooked ever since! At Mickey Visit and Disney Dose, she will keep you updated on all things to do with Disneyland Park and California Adventure. Her favorite rides are Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, Space Mountain, and Rise of the Resistance. She loves Marvel (especially Guardians of the Galaxy) and lives and breathes anything to do with Star Wars.

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