Disney Ambassadors have been a staple of the Disney Parks experience for over 60 years. From Hawaii to Paris, these individuals who represent the ethos and magic of the Disney brand will be celebrated at this year’s D23 Expo 2022 in Anaheim, Southern California.
Ahead of the panel, which will take place on the Walt Disney Archives Stage, the first ever Disney Ambassador Julie Reihm Casaletto revealed her journey into launching this legacy as well as a story about the time one Guest fumed over Walt Disney’s free Cast Member-led tour.
Disneyland Resort is currently in its 67th year. Walt Disney’s theme park baby has been welcoming Guests for almost seven decades, and 2022 marks the House of Mouse’s centennial year. With so much history, The Walt Disney Company will celebrate parts of its past at the D23 Expo next week.
One such celebration is the Disney Ambassador-focused panel taking place at the Walt Disney Archives Stage on Sunday. Aptly titled, Disney Parks Through the Decades: A Disney Ambassador Perspective, the event will bring together Disney Ambassadors from across the world, including those from both Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort to discuss their time as the face of these Resorts.
It would be Julie Reihm Casaletto that began the Disney Ambassador legacy. After serving as a Disneyland Tour Guide for two years, working at the Disney Park on weekends while studying English and Mass Communications at Cal State Long Beach during the week, Casaletto was encouraged to apply for a new role — a role that would become the Disney Ambassador.
Prior to this, however, Casaletto recalls her first encounter with Walt Disney during one of her tours on Main Street, U.S.A., she tells Disney Parks Blog of the time a Guest became unhappy with the Mickey Mouse creator when he joined her tour and was unrecognized by the others:
Those weekend tours led her to her first interaction with Walt Disney. While touring guests along Main Street, U.S.A., Walt had tagged along with her tour. As Julie says, “one lady was unhappy that a man who had not paid was enjoying the details of the tour.” Walt was not recognized by the guest or anyone else in the party and would continue to follow until rounding the corner in Adventureland when Walt winked to Julie and walked away. “It was my first of many occasions to witness Walt’s impish and boyish delight when observing others being in awe of his ‘baby,’ as Walt called Disneyland.”
Disney Parks Blog continues:
After two years of leading tours, Julie was encouraged to apply for a new role. With Walt’s commitments continuing to increase and the upcoming “Tencennial” celebration of Disneyland, a new position was created to serve as a representative for Walt Disney and Disneyland to travel the world, speaking for Walt when he could not be there. While the opportunity was once-in-a-lifetime, Julie didn’t wish to lose a full semester of straight A’s in her junior year of college. But with a little convincing from Walt Disney himself, Julie accepted the job. “Walt was instrumental in convincing me the experience would prove to be educational too. He was right!”
Casaletto’s success as the first Disney Ambassador paved the way for more individuals to become representatives of their favorite Disney Parks, bringing to life the mission and ethos of Walt Disney’s company.
The D23 Expo takes place Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11 in Anaheim, Southern California. In addition to the Disney Parks Through the Decades: A Disney Ambassador Perspective, D23 Expo will also include the famous Disney Parks panel — A Boundless Future: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products — with Chairman, Josh D’Amaro, and rather excitingly, Walt’s Plane: Taking Flight Through Disney History — Presented by Amazon.
Are you heading to D23 Expo this year? Let us know in the comments down below!
Disneyland Resort is made up of two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, as well as the Downtown Disney District. Like Walt Disney World Resort, a valid theme park ticket and Park Pass reservation is needed to enter either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure with Park Hopper hours beginning at 1 p.m. daily.