Many companies often give out long-service awards to their employees as a form of recognition for their contribution. But at Magic Kingdom—that place where dreams come true—things are done a little differently.
On Nov. 5, 2018, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, near Orlando, shut the doors to visitors at 4:30 p.m.
The early closure was actually to honor their veteran employees who had worked for at least 10 years at the theme park, an annual tradition that started in 1965.
“Closing the parks early is kind of amazing,” Dar Stewart, a Disney vice president in human resources, told Orlando Sentinel. “It’s really about celebrating our cast. They’re the heart of everything we do.”
For the event, 4,500 longtime employees were invited to spend the night at the park.
They were also allowed to bring one guest each.
When the employees arrived, they immediately felt like stars as they walked down 400 feet of red carpet while 150 Disney employees cheered them at the side.
“I feel like I am the guest,” 65-year-old Ervin Bracy, of Gotha in Orange County, said. “The role has changed.”
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The park holds many memories for the bellman, who had worked at the Polynesian Village Resort since 1973. This is the place where he had met many celebrities, and also his future wife.
Bracy saw his future wife, Roxanne, studying at the employee break room and became smitten.
“She had these beautiful brown eyes. She had these tortoise-shell glasses on,” Bracy recalled. “When she looked up and she smiled the world just glowed at the moment.”
This is what you call snow on the red carpet down Main Street USA at Disney's Magic Kingdom, in Florida!
Having worked at the park for so long, he has no intentions of retiring anytime soon.
“I hear more of it from my wife and daughter than anybody else,” Bracy said. “What am I going to do sitting around?”
After treating the resort’s guests like stars for so many years, it would definitely feel great to receive the royal treatment for oneself at long last.