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Anaheim: Scenes from the city, Part II

While staying in Anaheim, CA, for a journalism convention, a handful of staff members explored Disneyland Resort, including its Downtown Disney District, for a couple of days.

In order to immerse themselves in the city and practice some new journalism techniques, they were tasked with striking up conversations with people they met, interviewing them and then sharing their Disneyland experience with others.

This article, the second of three in “Anaheim: Scenes from the city,” details the daily life of Emilee Williams, an intern for Disneyland Resort. Read the first part: First-time buyer becomes avid collector.

Intern shares behind-the-scenes experiences

The “Happiest Place on Earth,” the home of Mickey Mouse — it’s the “Wonderful World of Disney.” As an intern for Disneyland Resort, Emilee Williams, from Twin Falls, ID, spends a majority of her day in the famed Southern California destination.

After graduating from Twin Falls High School in 2009 and spending a year and a half at Utah State University, Williams applied for the internship program offered through the Disneyland and Disney World parks.

“I thought it would help me figure out what I want to do in life and also be a fun experience,” Williams said. “Also, my mom worked here [at Disneyland] for a few years, so it’s in my blood.”

While serving in the program, internees are paid to work eight hours a day, which amounts to a 40-hour week; employees are given three breaks a day, every two hours. During the internship, employees have the opportunity to receive benefits as well as nine units for a semester in college.

“I still get super excited to go to work every day,” Williams said. “The people I get to meet and work with are wonderful; I never get bored! Plus, what’s better than getting college credit for working at Disneyland? It’s awesome!”

During high school, Williams was involved in yearbook, newspaper, cross-country, soccer and track so that she could acquire a wide range of skills.

“I’ve always loved getting out there and trying new things. I want to experience as much in life as possible,” Williams said. “This was a big thing for me. It was really scary coming out here so far from home for so long by myself, but I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve made best friends and I am having the time of my life! It all pays off in the end!”

When she graduated in ’09, her high school was just beginning to consider going online with their newspaper, but decided to continue with hard copies. Williams now says that she hopes the school will move online to keep pace with technology.

“Newspaper writing is a ton of fun,” Williams said. “And I love the idea of online. So many more people are able to access it whenever they want, without having to track down an actual paper. It’s great.”

Though she is currently majoring in journalism at Utah State, Williams hopes to make a career from her internship by working her way up into an advertising position. In addition to gaining work experience, Williams has appreciated the chance to enjoy the Disneyland environment and encounter celebrities.

“I love it here because it’s just so much fun, and I really want to branch off into advertising,” Williams said. “While working here I’ve been able to meet really cool people and encounter celebrities such as the cast of ‘Glee.’ And what’s so cool about them is that they aren’t always recognized, so they can come here and have fun.”

As an employee of Disneyland, Williams gets to see an aspect of the park that may be unknown to guests.

“I’ve ridden in Tower of Terror with the sound off, and it is really different,” Williams said. “We’ve also toured Disney’s apartment and the dream suites, as well as attended movie premieres and cast-exclusive parties at the resort.”

According to Williams, there are approximately 20,000 employees who remain in the park to prepare for the next day and complete various jobs, such as restocking shelves and painting. Aside from these tasks, Disney Imagineers (engineers) survey park safety and make sure everything is in working order.

Even though there is an assortment of behind-the-scenes elements within the park, the highlight of the job for Williams is the interaction with park visitors, she says.

“Once, I told a little girl that there is fairy dust here, and then she turned to her mom and said, ‘Mommy, now we don’t have to wash our clothes anymore,'” Williams said. “It’s always great to have experiences like this because this place is magical and we have to keep the magic alive.”

For the first installment in the series, read the April 28 article, Anaheim: Scenes from the city, Part I.

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