With a company as massive as the Walt Disney Company, it can be overwhelming to begin to even process how Disney’s many hundreds of thousands of cast members, employees, and contractors come together to form the complex and diverse network that is the house of the Mouse.
From animators, theme park ride operators, and Imagineers to veterinarians, helicopter pilots, and television anchors; it’s really insane how much the company actually does but the recently announced ONE DAY AT DISNEY explores just that… in depth! The end result is a new book and a new docu-series which will premiere on Disney+ streaming service.
Last week at the D23 Expo, President of Content & Marketing for Disney+, Ricky Strauss, was joined by Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts to announce the special ONE DAY AT DISNEY project. The book will be a stunning coffee-table-worthy 224-page tome and the documentary series will launch with a feature length piece and then 52 shorter (4-7 minute) episodes each week after that.
Each episode carefully highlights the talented men and women who bring life to some of Disney’s various realms; from Robin Roberts herself and beyond.
Below (in alphabetical order) are just a small sampling of the individuals who will be highlighted.
- Eric Baker: The Walt Disney Imagineer who has overseen the creation of many of the intricately detailed props and lifelike creatures that inhabit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the newest lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts
- Ashley Girdich: A talented Walt Disney Imagineer who, as a Research and Development Project Manager, drives plans and helps teams execute some of the innovative robotics technology projects being created for our Parks around the world
- Mark Gonzales: A Los Angeles native who works on the world-famous Disneyland Railroad
- Grace Lee: A senior illustration manager at Disney Worldwide Publishing who has worked on titles from Zootopia to Fancy Nancy
- Zamavus “Zama” Magudulela: The talented South African actor currently playing Rafiki in the Madrid production of phenomenally successful musical The Lion King
- Ryan Meinerding: Marvel Studio’s head of visual development who has worked on films including Avengers: Endgame and Guardians of the Galaxy
- Dr. Natalie Mylniczenko: The veterinarian who cares for creatures large and small at Walt Disney World Resort, including a number of endangered and threatened species.
- Jerome Ranft: The skilled Pixar artist who created detailed sculptures for animators to use as reference for such films as Finding Nemo, Toy Story 3, and Ratatouille
- Robin Roberts: The former ESPN sportscaster has been co-anchor of the Emmy® Award-winning, top-rated morning show, Good Morning America, since 2005
At a special D23 Expo panel, moderated by Director of Corporate Communications, Jeffrey Epstein, we got to hear a little more about the project and about some of the people who will be highlighted. We learned that the project was literally all done on a SINGLE day. It really was ONE DAY at Disney with 76 unique photo shoots that took place around the world. Woof!
So how do you even pick a single day to highlight? That indeed proved to be the first big hurdle. Pinpointing a day in the year when various arms of the Disney company would have interesting things going on to shoot was especially tricky. Holiday months were obviously tempting due to the visuals they could provide but were ultimately decided against in favor of a more timeless (and decidedly less seasonal) look inwards. Eventually, Epstein shared, they found out about a studio press junket for CAPTAIN MARVEL which proved to be a strong footing from which to begin coordinating with dozens of people around the Disney Company.
From there, the fun was then translated across the dozens of people that were ultimately selected to feature. As Epstein shared, they wanted to showcase as much of the company’s breadth as possible but also keep in mind the visual nature of a documentary series (and a coffee table book) which eliminated several realms of corporate life. Epstein included himself in that list of magic-makers with work spaces that are not exactly visually compelling enough for the medium. He mused that he also got some flack from members of accounting and finance teams who will also not be featured but are no less important a role in the company structure!
Below are a few more of the wonderful people featured in ONE DAY AT DISNEY that we got to hear about during the panel. You can also follow along with our Live Tweets from the panel to learn more about them!
- Candice Valdez is best known at Disney as being On-Air Talent for Radio Disney where she hosts nationally syndicated radio show for tweens, Afternoon Drive. Her adventures at work have led her to varied opportunities including corresponding from the Radio Disney Music Awards on the Disney Channel!
- Eric Goldberg is regarded as one of the top animation talents of his generation. He began his career at Disney Animation in 1990, as supervising animator of the Genie in Aladdin. Credits include co-director, Pocahontas, animator, Phil in Hercules, director/animator of “Carnival of the Animals” and “Rhapsody in Blue” inFantasia/2000, and head of animation for the Oscar®-nominated short “Get a Horse!” In 2011, Goldberg was awarded ASIFA’s Winsor McCay award for lifetime achievement in animation.
- Chris Cristi is a helicopter reporter at ABC7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles. Chris began his career with The Walt Disney Company as a monorail pilot at Walt Disney World in Orlando, while attending the University of Central Florida. Since then, his career in television has spanned two decades of reporting high above breaking news at local TV stations in Orlando, Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles. Chris and the team at KABC are proud recipients of two 2019 Regional Edward R. Murrow awards.
- Wendy Lefkon, editorial director of Disney Editions, has been with Disney for twenty-five years. She’s published hundreds of books about the company, about significant figures in the company’s history, and books celebrating all things Disney. Wendy also published the bestselling Peter and the Starcatchers series, which was turned into a Broadway show and won five Tony Awards; the bestselling Kingdom Keepers series; and Life, Animated, which was adapted into an Academy Award–nominated documentary.
- Kristina Dewberry is a construction manager at Walt Disney Imagineering, responsible for handling the logistics for all WDI construction projects at Disneyland Resort. Most recently she has overseen the team that authorizes everything for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. She also has oversight of all the major construction projects at Disneyland Resort from a jobsite logistics perspective, to help project teams be as efficient and safe as possible.
- Steve Sligh oversees day-to-day operations of Golden Oak Ranch located about 30 miles north of Burbank. The 890-acre Ranch was the filming location for many well-known Disney productions including the original The Parent Trap, Pete’s Dragon (1977), Pirates in the Caribbean: At World’s End, and Pearl Harbor. Prior to joining the Ranch, Steve spent 10 years as a deputy sheriff and also worked as a horse-drawn street car driver, on Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A.
- Este Meza is the Senior Manager of Events at Lucasfilm, where he oversees events and character appearances for the Star Wars franchise. Este oversees Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm’s beloved fan convention, as well as Star Wars activations at San Diego Comic Con, D23, and other major fan conventions across the world. Este and his team also operate droids such as R2-D2 and BB-8, as well travel the world with iconic characters like Chewbacca and Darth Vader to premiere events and engagements.
See it for Yourself
The ONE DAY AT DISNEY book (by author Bruce Steele) is available December 3, 2019. Then, the same day the book arrives in stores, Disney+ will debut it’s new, 52-episode short-form series One Day at Disney, launching with a feature-length documentary.