Disney’s Chief Magic Official

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I’m a sucker for a good Disney contest. And when the search for Disney’s first-ever Chief Magic Official was announced, I was all over it. Until I read the rules, and saw that I would have to submit video. No thanks – I prefer the click-and-enter type of competition. So I shifted gears, and waited eagerly to see who would be picked.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Disney is looking for a Chief Magic Official (CMO). During Disney’s “Year of a Million Dreams,” the CMO will travel to Disneyland and Walt Disney World and help create magical experiences for guests, participate in special events, and work his wizardry behind the scenes with the Walt Disney Imagineers. The CMO search this spring generated more than 1,300 video entries. Reps from Disney andCareerBuilder.com winnowed the entries down to ten semi-finalists, and opened up the contest to online voting at www.DreamCMO.com. Nearly 500,000 votes were cast.

Last week, Disney announced the three CMO finalists: David Hawley of Roseville, CA; Justin Vance Muchoney from Seven Fields, PA; and Tripp West from Powder Springs, GA. Yay for them! David, Justin, and Tripp then had a mere ten days to mentally and physically prepare for a two-day “job interview” at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The events began Thursday, April 17, and end Friday, April 18. But just what did Disney have in store for them?

Here are the five tests designed to reveal their abilities as potential CMOs, as described in a Disney press release:

Stroller Derby – Donald Duck has sabotaged the orderly strollers in Magic Kingdom and left a mess for the finalists to fix. The candidate who can put five strollers back in order, with the right bags and accessories in the shortest amount of time, leads this challenge.

Throw in the Towel – Each finalist will receive training from the towel-folding experts at Disney resort hotels. In the final round, contestants must recreate a randomly assigned towel animal within the specified time frame. Will someone “throw in the towel?”

Loudest Crowd – Stationed along Main Street U.S.A., finalists will select some of Disney’s professional noise-making equipment. Using enthusiasm and creativity with the tools given, it’s up to the finalists to generate the loudest crowd.

Know the Show – In the fourth challenge, contestants are stationed at the Tip Board at Epcot and will be tested on how well they greet guests, whether they offer helpful service, good tips, and accurate information. At some point, certain guests will try to complicate the process – will the finalists crack under pressure?

Making Faces – For the final competition, finalists will be shuttled over to Animal Kingdom where they will receive a crash course in face-painting. They will have to create a design on one of their family members or friends.

Then what? Starting April 17, in-park competition videos highlighting each of the three finalists participating in the events were posted on wdwevent.com, to give voters more information before their final round of on-line voting. The ballots will remain open through April 21 (11:59 p.m. ET), and the top vote-getter will be named the Disney Parks Chief Magic Official. The winner will be crowned CMO on Tuesday, April 22, in front of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom.

David, Justin, and Tripp have each launched CMO campaigns, complete with press releases and signature characters. Let’s look at who they are, and how they answered questions posed to them by Disney, so that we can make informed choices when Disney, once again, has us cast our votes.

David Hawley and his “Two Left Feet” Campaign
If you watched the videos of the top-ten semifinalists, you’ll remember David as the candidate who rode a zip-line wearing Tinker Bell wings (video here ). David is going with a Goofy approach in his “Two Left Feet” campaign. He describes himself as outgoing, fun, whacky, true, and real. He’s an old hand at making videos, as he volunteers creating videos for the Make-A-Wish foundation. In his press release, David shares, “My dream is to continue taking my creativity and use it to positively affect each person I meet.” If chosen, David, a television production manager, will continue his job as manager, as his CMO duties should not interfere with his current career.

What do you stand for as CMO? What is your platform?
My mission is to enhance the Disney experience for guests and make every person feel like the park is open just for them. I’ll mix a handful of creativity… a truckload of passion…a Tigger-barrel of fun… and a dash of Disney magic. My goal is to grant dreams people didn’t even know they had.

How are you preparing for the next phase of the competition? What do you think you will have to do?
Let’s just say spelling “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” rolls off my tongue easily. I also think one of our tasks might be creating a new Disney attraction.

If you become CMO, what is the first attraction that you would visit at Walt Disney World? Or at Disneyland?
Honestly… the first attraction I would visit is the statue of Walt and Mickey. There, I would pay tribute to the man who created a place where grown-ups can be kids and dreams come true. And then…off to Pirates!

Justin Vance Muchoney and his “Hakuna Matata” Campaign
Justin’s video featured many made-up words (adventurosity, possivisionouraging, etc) and too-small helmet. For Justin, it’s a “Hakuna Matata”-themed campaign, with Simba as his mascot. He says he’s exuberant, optimistic, visionary, passionate, and innovative. Justin is a director of music and fine arts. In his press release, Justin, says “Each day I strive to understand that everyone I encounter may be in need of a warm smile, a friendly handshake, or an ear to listen. Even people I have never met before and may never see again deserve to be treated with the same warmth and respect as my closest friends.”

What do you stand for as CMO? What is your platform?
“Rediscover your inner dreamer and then pass the magical feeling along!” I believe there is an optimistic, starry-eyed dreamer inside each and every person. As CMO, I’d help everyone I meet remember what it feels like to believe in a dream come true. From there, the next step is to inspire them all to help others capture that same feeling. Imagine what a magical place our world will be when we all desire to see others’ dreams come alive!

How are you preparing for the next phase of the competition (the in-park)? What do you think you will have to do?
From what I’ve read, the in-park phase will be a whirlwind of challenges centered on creativity, enthusiasm, and Disney knowledge. I don’t have any specifics, but I’m ready for anything! As for preparations, I’ve found time to re-read some of my favorite Disney books, visit some great Disney websites for the most up-to-date information, and revisit my park maps to reminisce and study. The most important preparation for me, however, has been connecting, and sharing dreams, with other Disney fans!

If you become CMO, what is the first attraction that you would visit at Walt Disney World? Or at Disneyland?
Well, since the final phase of the contest takes place in Walt Disney World, I’ll choose there (no offense, Disneyland!). As the new CMO, it would be my responsibility to seek out a guest, child, or family in need and spread some magic for them. Most likely, I will close my eyes, pinch myself to make sure it’s all real; and then when I open my eyes, take the first guests I see to whatever attraction they choose!

Ronald “Tripp” West and his “Best Pal” Campaign
Tripp’s video featured his adorable daughters, singing a song from High School Musical 2. Tripp is going straight to the top, with Mickey Mouse as his signature character, in his “Best Pal”-themed online campaign. He’s a mid-day radio host for an Atlanta radio station, and describes himself as fun, outgoing, passionate, loving, and friendly. Tripp’s a long-time volunteer with Distinguished Clown Corp, which participates in The Festival of Trees Christmas Parade, a benefit for Children’s Health Care of Atlanta.

What do you stand for as CMO? What is your platform?
I stand for FF, LL, MM! (No! NOT French Fries, Long Lines, Mayonnaise, and Mustard) I’m talking about Fun-Filled, Life-Long, Magical Memories. As your CMO, that is what I would strive to create for each and every person I meet. As a life-long fan of Disney myself, I would love the opportunity to continue to spread my love of Disney, but in a different and much bigger capacity. In my trips to Disney World throughout the years, I have witnessed first-hand the excitement in a child’s face when they meet their favorite character. I have heard the excitement in the voices of an entire family as they board a bus for the Magic Kingdom for the very first time. I know how it good it made me and my family feel when the Dream Squad granted us a Dream just the other day. It’s this energy, created from pure excitement, that I want to bring with me as CMO!

How are you preparing for the next phase of the competition (the in-park)? what do think you will have to do?
Total immersion into the Disney philosophy and culture, by way of the Disney World parks. Even though I had planned this trip last year long before I entered the Disney and CareerBuilder Dream CMO contest, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been using this trip to: get great advice from current Disney CMs; observe human behavior at the parks and resorts; do a little personal campaigning; and relax a little, of course. As far as what we will have to do in the next phase of the competition, I read something but I am not sure if it was a valid claim. I guess I will just have to be ready for anything, and I am mentally preparing myself for a Survivor-Meets-Amazing Race-type showdown Disney-style.

If you become CMO, what is the first attraction that you would visit at Walt Disney World? Or at Disneyland?
That’s an easy one! I would go straight to Aerosmith’s Rock ‘N Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and blast off into all the twists, turns, and loops that symbolize the range of emotions I have felt during this competition. This has been an incredibly fun competition thus far, but there can only be one CMO. Because of this, emotions definitely run high.

Don’t Forget to Vote!
Remember that the in-park competition videos, with highlights of each of the three finalists’ participation in the events, are posted on DreamCMO.com for a final round of online voting. You’ll have until one minute before midnight, eastern time, on April 21 to cast your votes. And may the best candidate win!


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