Training Before Day One: Pre-boarding as a Retention and Engagement Strategy

January 8, 2019

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(January 8, 2019) — Every day dreams come true for guests at Disney Parks around the world. Now, with the new Disney Aspire education program, Disney is helping make some extra magic for cast members, too.

As part of this 100 percent tuition-paid education program, U.S.-based hourly full-time and part-time cast members can now pursue their dreams — and the program has already helped hundreds of cast members take the next step toward their college or professional dreams!

Today, we’re proud to kick off our new “Dreams Within Reach” series by introducing you to the first Disney Aspire graduate, Anthony Payne, a Custodial Cast Member at the Walt Disney World Resort. At Epcot, Anthony works through the night to make sure the park is looking great and ready for guests each morning. With support from Disney, Anthony has now completed his HVAC Technician course work at Penn Foster as part of his dream to work on the Disney Cruise Line. A surprise visit from Mickey Mouse helped commemorate his achievement, which Anthony says was inspired by his wife and three children. “They have always been my biggest motivation,” he says. “I’ve wanted to go back to school for about 15 years now, and I haven’t heard of too many companies offering something as generous as this.”

“I really feel like Disney is investing in our futures, and they’re helping us to grow and follow our dreams. I can’t wait to use my skills, and advance as far as I can here.”

Disney Aspire launched this year to help more than 85,000 hourly cast members reach their goals by equipping them with education programs, coaching and job skills so that they may learn and grow. The $150 million program gives cast members the opportunity to enroll in online courses across a network of schools, with the cost of tuition and books covered by Disney. From pursuing professional skills like Anthony, to a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts like J’Amy Pacheco, a Guest Relations Hostess at the Disneyland Resort, Disney Aspire allows cast members to truly take steps towards their future, no matter the subject.

From application to graduation, and every step along the way, Disney Aspire continues The Walt Disney Company’s commitment to supporting the long-term goals of cast members and helps put those dreams within reach. Learn more about the program and apply by visiting

Stay tuned for more inspiring stories of how cast members are achieving their goals and making dreams come true with Disney Aspire, as we continue our #DreamsWithinReach series over the coming months.

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