LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Oct. 16, 2015 – Guests travel from near and far to experience magic at Walt Disney World Resort, but earlier this fall, a group of teenagers visiting from South Africa proved that sometimes magic can come from the guests themselves.
As part of Disney’s commitment to supporting education and the arts, Cast Members recently welcomed the College of Magic – a nonprofit from Cape Town, South Africa – for a fun-filled day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The College of Magic has spent more than three decades teaching the art of magic as a way to build life skills in an uplifting environment for children to learn, and the organization’s more than 170 students come from a variety of backgrounds. Together, they are taught that “through magic, anything is possible.”
Seven students from the College of Magic, all of whom were visiting Central Florida for a local magic convention, stopped by Walt Disney World Resort to discover more about how Cast Members use different types of magic on a daily basis.
“The College of Magic serves as a wonderful example of how young people, magicians and otherwise, can be positively impacted through the arts,” said Louise Murray, Vice President, Creative Entertainment. “We recognize the school’s passion to perform, and we were absolutely thrilled to have them visit. It was a unique opportunity to offer the students an educational, inspirational and creative experience.”
Upon arriving at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the group was greeted by Mayor Sonny Burbank from the Citizens of Hollywood improv acting troupe. Soon after, to the visible delight of the students, Mayor Burbank loudly declared that it was “Magic Day” at the park.
“I just think it was mind-blowing to be able to come to Walt Disney World and see the magic that goes on from the minute that you step into the doors,” College of Magic representative Craig Mitchell said. “This was an opportunity they just wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
In between a quick tour of the park, Mayor Burbank introduced the students to the other members of Citizens of Hollywood during one of its performances on Sunset Boulevard. This particular show included a few magic tricks from talent agent Jack Diamond, who showed off his skills with a deck of cards as the smiling teenagers watched intently. More activities occurred later in the afternoon backstage at the Prop Shop, where Streetmosphere actors Terry Ward, Garin Jones and Cameron Francis met up with the group for a magic workshop. After a discussion about career advice and show techniques, the students were challenged to create their own magic show on the spot to perform in front of a Disney show director and producers.
“Going to Walt Disney World – I have always seen it on TV, I have always collected Disney characters – but to go to the place itself is a dream come true, honestly,” College of Magic student Aaron Simon said. “To meet these people, it’s a special privilege. … I have always dreamt of doing this. It’s like I’m living in a dream right now.”
Mickey Mouse, dressed in his magician outfit, surprised the students when he made a special appearance near the conclusion of the workshop. Later that evening, following a dessert party, the students would see Mickey again in Fantasmic! – a fitting ending to a day that included many magical moments for everyone involved.