When Dick Nunis joined Disneyland in 1955, the park employed 600 cast members. By the time he retired from his “summer job” 44 years later, Disneyland boasted 13,000 cast members and Walt Disney World employed another 50,000.
During those early years, Dick learned Walt Disney’s theme-park philosophy firsthand. And, as he guided the growth of Disney’s outdoor attractions from a single park into a worldwide resort, the premier theme-park executive always kept his focus on the people.
“Walt believed strongly that what would make Disneyland different was the people—he wanted them to feel that they were part of the organization,” Dick once said. “That’s why he established the first-name policy—he was Walt, I was Dick, and so on. From an overall operations point of view, the most important thing is to work together to make sure that when guests come, they have a wonderful experience.”
Bob Thomas: How did you get involved in Disneyland?
Dick Nunis: I was getting my master’s degree at the University of Southern California where I was playing football. I was injured and I needed a summer job. So I started out at a temporary job in the summer in Orientation Training. Walt was very involved with the training program and Roy was, too. So I got to know both of them. I just happened to be a young guy at the right place at the right time and that temporary job turned into rather a permanent position.
BT: It seems to have. What was Roy doing in those days?
DN: I think that Walt and Roy were a great combination. Walt was the creative person with a great business sense. Roy was the business person with a great appreciation for the creative process. That is what made them so successful. I can always remember them in meetings and Walt would always say, “My brother will find a way to find the money.”