Disney Cast Member Inspires Young Guest to Fulfill Her Jungle Cruise Dream


A chance encounter aboard the Jungle Cruise inspired a 6-year-old to become a cast member

2006 was a landmark year for young Ashley. Bristling with excitement, the 6-year-old eagerly enjoyed the various Magic Kingdom attractions with her family. It was the Disney vacation kids dream about. A bit of Disney Magic on the Jungle Cruise, would ultimately transform this dream vacation into a lifelong passion.

Related: Video: Josh Gad Becomes a Jungle Cruise Skipper for a Day in Disneyland

While riding The Jungle Cruise, young Ashley met Cast Member Heather, who was working as the boats Skipper. Heather bestowed the title of Junior Skipper on Ashley, a title that Cast Members occasionally award young guests. The title is far from a simple honorary title, as the guests are put to piloting the boat steering on the “10,000-mile journey down the Mekong River.”

The experience would truly prove to be transformational for Ashley, as she left that day with the dream of becoming a Jungle Cruise skipper one day. Ashley would remain in touch with Heather over the next 20 years, often connecting during family trips to Walt Disney World. Ashley noted, “I would have never known with every Disney trip, it would strengthen the impact that Heather has had on me and inspire me to desire creating that same magic for others.”

Related: Disney College Program Cast Members to Receive Pay Increase

Ultimately, Heather introduced Ashley to the Disney College Program, which provided her the opportunity to work on the Jungle Cruise. Ashley is now living her lifelong dream of piloting the Jungle Cruise, one inspired by the magic created by cast member Heather two decades ago.

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Chris is a Pennsylvania native who escaped the cold and relocated to the Orlando area. Our resident Universal expert, Chris has been visiting the Universal Orlando Resort since the 1990s. Chris is a Universal and Walt Disney World Passholder, and can often be found exploring the parks taking in the sites (and finding new things to write about!).
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