The casting call all Europe has been anticipating is finally going out loud and clear. Just months away from its grand opening, Euro Disney Resort is gearing up to cast the starring roles in its show.
As of June 15, 1991, there were 2,000 employees (“Cast Members,” in Disney lexicon) on staff—45% management personnel, the remainder primarily clerical and administration. By opening day, April 12, 1992, Euro Disney’s full complement will consist of 12,000 Cast Members in a variety of on-stage and backstage roles, including 1,600 management positions.
“We’re moving into high gear now,” says Thor Degelmann, the Disney counterpart Vice President of Human Resources for Euro Disney. “It’s tremendously exciting.”
Since 1985, Degelmann has been planning the hiring and training strategy for a project which, when he started, was not yet a project. Once the contract was signed, on March 24, 1987, the strategy went into effect, and within a year the first members of the Euro Disney management team had been recruited.
“The thing you have to remember,” says Degelmann, “is that of the 12,000 Cast Members we will eventually hire, the vast majority of them will have never experienced a Disney Theme Park. So it’s very important that these first people we hire, the ones we’ve sent—and will send—to the States for training, are the type of leaders capable of grasping the ‘Disney way’ and imparting that knowledge to others.”
In all, more than 300 Euro Disney trainees will report to Walt Disney World for training and familiarization programs ranging from two weeks to five months. They are all considered “trainees” and get the full treatment, participating in every aspect of Theme Park and Resort operation. This includes working on stage, in costume, at food locations, in merchandise shops, and on attractions — regardless of their eventual assignment.
The longer-stay trainees then concentrate on their specific area of concern. For example, the Adventureland Manager would be an attraction operator, then a Lead, then a Supervisor, and finally he would work side by side with his counterpart in the same job he will have in France.
Once these trainees return to France they become instrumental in the final coordination of operational procedures and systems at Euro Disney.