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Jolie Hales & René Torrico are named as Disneyland Resort Ambassadors for 2011 - 2012

Jolie Hales & René Torrico are named as Disneyland Resort Ambassadors for 2011 - 2012

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They initially started out with 72 candidates. 72 Cast Members who wanted to be the face of the Disneyland Resort for 2011 - 2012. Who personally wanted to take part in those community outreach programs like when the Disney characters visit local hospitals. Or MC cast recognition events, grand openings, special promotions and the like.

And then those 72 candidates went through five weeks of classes & intense preparation. Where they learned about the history & the heritage of the Disneyland Ambassador program.  Not to mention the role that they'd then been expected to play should they be selected from this prestigious position.

The stage is set for yesterday's ceremony. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

From there, there were hours of mock interviews and sessions with media consultants. As each of these candidates was taught how to do an on-camera interview. The dos & don'ts of business etiquette & business communications skills.

Along the way, those initial 72 candidates were then winnowed down to 13 Cast Members who seemed to have what it takes. The charm, the poise, the stamina. The ability to think on their feet and stay focused & positive. Even though - in this role - you sometimes have to work for seven days straight doing cast member events and/or supporting whatever initiatives the Disneyland Resort may have out there.

Quinn Shurian and Danielle DuBois welcome the crowd to yesterday's
Disneyland Ambassador announcement ceremony. Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

From there, further interviews allowed DLR officials to cut those 13 semi-finalists down to 5 actual finalists. And then - this past Monday -- Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis personally met with each of the finalist. As he tried to get a sense of who these people really were. Whether they were actually the individuals that he wanted to see representing the Disneyland Resort from 2011 through 2012.

And then it all came down to the Disneyland Ambassador announcement ceremony. Which was held yesterday morning in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park.

The crowd stands to honor Cicely Rigdon, Jennifer Gray and Diane
Killeen. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Since this year marks the 45th anniversary of the Disneyland Ambassador program, the 2009 - 2010 emissaries of good will -- Quinn Shurian and Danielle DuBois - went out of their way to acknowledge all those who had come before them. Not to mention paying tribute to the three women who made the Disneyland Ambassador program what it is today - Disney Legend Cicely Rigdon, longtime program coordinator Jennifer Gray as well as Diane Killeen, the current manager of the Disneyland Ambassador Program. Who then got a standing O from the crowd that was seated there in front of the Castle.

And then George Kalogridis came onstage and thanked Quinn & Danielle for the outstanding job that they'd done as Disneyland's current Ambassador team. And then it was time to introduce the five finalists: Jolie Hales from Guest Talent Program & Characters, Allie Kawamoto from Disney's Grand California Resort & Spa and Guest Services,  Allison Montanile from Westside Attractions, René Torrico from Partners Federal Credit Union and Kristin Williams from Entertainment.

The five finalists join Kalogridis, Shurian, DuBois and the Disney
Characters onstage. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Given the huge cheer that went up as each of these Cast Members came up onstage, it was clear that each of these finalists had plenty of friends & family there with them in the Park to support them. Not to mention dozens of Cast Members from their particular division of the Disneyland Resort there to provide additional moral support.

But in spite of how qualified & accomplished these five individuals were, there still could only be two Cast Members selected to be the Disneyland Ambassadors for 2011 - 2012. And after Kalogridis praised all five for the exceptional job that they'd done in reaching this stage of the competition, he then revealed that Jolie Hales & René Torrico had been selected to be the Resort's next Ambassador team.

(L to R) Danielle DuBois, René Torrico, George Kalogridis, Jolie Hales
and Quinn Shurian in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Now where this gets interesting is ... Well, I wasn't seated in the press section for yesterday's ceremony. I was in among the Cast Members. And once George made his announcement, you should have seen all of the people who immediately whipped their cell phones out and/or turned on their walkie-talkies. As they eagerly got the news out about who had been selected to be the 2011 - 2012 Disneyland Ambassadors.

More to the point, you should have seen the dozens of Cast Members who stood in doorways and/or peered through windows along Main Street, U.S.A. Each of them eager to get a glimpse of Jolie & René as they rode in that Disneyland fire trunk down to the inevitable press conference. Which was held in Town Square in front of the train station.

René Torrico, Mickey Mouse and Jolie Hales on their
way to yesterday's Disneyland Ambassador press
event. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Once there, Hales & Torrico talked about how surprised & proud they were to have been selected to represent the 20,000 people who work at the Disneyland Resort. René -- in particular - talked about how he hoped now to be the face for all those non-park Cast Members. Those folks who may work out of the public eye but still have a huge part to play when it comes to making the magic happen.

And as for Jolie, she holds a master's degree in film production from Chapman University. In fact, one of the movies that Hales directed, "Latter-Day Fakes," won the President's Award at the 2009 Burbank International Film Festival.

Copyright 2010 Everlight Films.
All rights reserved

In short, the Disneyland Ambassador program has come an awfully long way from 1965. Which is when Walt - realizing that there was just no way he could personally handle all of the interview requests & personal appearances that he'd be expected to make during Disneyland's 10th anniversary year -  selected Julie Reihm to be the Park's spokesperson / representative.

Here's hoping that Jolie & René are up to the challenges of the coming year. Especially given all of the media attention that's sure to be focused on the Disneyland Resort in 2011 & 2012, as DCA's first new attraction of size (i.e. "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure") comes on line in May of 2011. Followed closely by Cars Land in 2012.

Confetti rains down as yesterday's Disneyland Ambassador announcement ceremony
draws to a close. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But given how confident & collected Torrico & Hales seemed yesterday when they spoke with the press, I have no doubt that these two will be able to live to the legacy that Reihm started, Rigdon, Gray and Killeen maintained and Shurian and Danielle DuBois honored with their past year of service.

So congrats to Jolie & René. Here's hoping that you both enjoy your reign as Disneyland Ambassadors.

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  • Great post and very informative!!  What a great day it was, and how exciting for them both!!!

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