Discovering the magic: Christian Craddock on earning his ears at Walt Disney World

Christian Craddock has always had a deep-rooted love for Disney. Like most, he grew up watching Disney movies and shows while his grandfather, a Disney enthusiast, told stories of Disney theme parks filled with magic and wonder. Now, the senior data analytics major is living his dream of discovering the magic behind the happiest place on Earth: Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Having spent most of his childhood visiting Disney theme parks such as Downtown Disney and Disney Quest, Craddock described himself as having always been a “Disney kid.” His passion and curiosity for Walt Disney World grew even more after he visited the Florida theme park just last year.

“It was just amazing to see how detailed everything was and now as an adult, I understand a little bit more in depth about business and how hard it is, especially on the hospitality side,” he said. “Seeing everything in full play here was amazing to say the least –– it made you think ‘what type of things are happening behind the scenes’ because you don't see anything in the grid. Everything's kept in house, everything's clean and they do a wonderful job at entertainment. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to work there because I needed to know what goes on behind the scenes.”

The Houston native would soon get his chance when he learned from the LU Center for Career and Professional Development that the Fortune 100 company was accepting applications for the Walt Disney College Program last fall. The Walt Disney College Program is a full-time paid internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, open to all college students from around the world. Participants can earn academic credit through a combination of on-the-job experience, job shadowing and seminars at Disney theme parks. christian-craddock-earning-his-ears

“This is a platform for young adults to learn what it’s like to work for a major corporation whether it’s a blue-collar job or white-collar job.” Craddock said. “They also have opportunities for career advancement and also give you a chance to really see what it's like working for one of the world's major entertainment distributors. I’ve already been able to connect and network with so many different people.”

Most DCP interns work as cast members inside of the parks. Craddock is a part of the Disney merchandising team setting product vision for multiple categories of business based on creative and financial input, market research and travel. He also works with a multi-disciplined team of experts to balance the overall product assortment: product details, demographic, diversity and the best assortment strategy. 

“Undergoing leadership training at Disney teaches you that we’re all storytellers. We do this through utilizing and developing cutting-edge technology and pushing the envelope to bring stories to life through our movies, products, interactive games, parks and resorts, and media networks.”

Craddock’s program will run from April 2022 to September 2022 and, now being fully immersed into the Disney culture as an intern, he has earned a unique title among his program team that hits home –– the Genie.

“In one of my applications for the program I had to give a brief description over what Disney character I most relate to and why –– I picked Genie from the Disney movie Aladdin. The reason I picked Genie from Aladdin is because we share somewhat of the same physique and characteristics,” he said jokingly. “Also, because when going the extra mile is your minimum, everything you do can seem daunting to other people which makes what you do magic in their eyes. As a result, they seek you out to perform whatever task or assignment they need completed, which would therefore be granting their wish. That's one thing that I said that stuck with everybody and so they all said, ‘that's who you relate to from now on, that's who you are.’”

Ironically enough, Disney also has a newly developed analytical app called Genie Plus that surveys guest needs for their trip to Disney theme parks and suggests services in real time to elevate the guest experience while at the parks. Craddock said once his internship is complete, he hopes to land a job with Disney working on the Genie Plus app as a data analyst.  

“This is a household name that's recognizable by three circles –– that's all it takes for you to understand what the image is. Since I've had to get ingrained in how Disney runs and operates, I've had to sit down and watch the business side of it take place. This means so much to me because I’ve learned how to give parallel creative service to audiences from around the world and if Disney opens up a position like I want it to, then I will be happy to say yes and stay and work.”