I’ve discussed here and there my memories working as a Cast Member in 1995 at the Magic Kingdom. Despite all those magical moments I experienced behind the name tag, some of my warmest memories are of those as a guest. Standing out among those is Art, the Greeter at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. After 16 years as a Walt Disney World Cast Member, Art is retiring from his position – a bittersweet moment for all of us.
For so many reasons, Disney’s Beach Club Resort has always felt like home to us, and Art has played a big part in that. If you were checking in with your luggage, Art would welcome you with a big smile, genuinely excited to see you walk through those doors. I always remember him acknowledging each member of our family, “And the gentleman and the lady, good to see you, welcome!” When we’d come back after lots of shopping with bags in hand, Art would make note of that, again, making us feel as if we just walked inside his house and he was excited for our return. I’ve never gotten in to pin trading, but I’d often see Art bending down to trade with a young guest, somehow I’m sure he had a story behind each pin he traded!
After we’d moved on from our roles as Cast Members, my husband got into the IT field, and happened to take on a contracting job working on the resort computer networks. He was in charge of several resorts at a time, but his office for a while was right on the second floor of the Beach Club. He got to see Art and talk with him daily and I know he loved those moments too. As our lives moved on we still visited Beach Club regularly, whether to stay or stop in for breakfast or dinner at Cape May’s delicious buffets, or dessert at Beaches and Cream. We were always happy to see Art on each of those visits.
Our wedding reception was held at the WDW Dolphin Resort, so we were able to bring our whole wedding party around Epcot and the places we loved the most, Beach Club included. Our first son was born in 1999 and we strolled him past Art many a time before his sister joined us in 2000. We came and went throughout the years that followed, whether we were living in Florida or New England, but Art was still there, making thousands of guests memories just a little fuller. Our last child was born almost a year ago, and has also seen Art’s wonderful smile as we pass through the doors. Without realizing it, Art has witnessed the birth and expansion of our one little family…just imagine the countless other families he has affected!
The other day we were enjoying another visit to Germany’s Biergarten, a favorite among our family. As we watched the show going on before us, the performers invited guests to come dance to the music. I saw grandmother’s dancing with grandchildren, sisters and brothers spinning each other about, laughing…and I thought to myself – THIS is where magic lives. This is why Disney is so powerful for so many. It’s in the memories Disney makes you a part of, not just witness to. You can ride a ride countless times, you can check into a hotel and the experience is pretty much the same everywhere else. At Disney, you are drawn in, welcomed to take part – the magic is waiting for you to walk through those doors – and Art was most definitely that magic.
We visited Art on his last day, October 17th, before heading over to Epcot. My mom had arrived before us and was able to sit and watch as so many came up to Art and took pictures with him, spoke to him and wished him well. We were no exception. I hugged him and congratulated him on his retirement, trying to briefly explain how much Art meant to our family and much we appreciated what he did. With his smile getting bigger, in his gentle, soft-spoken voice, Art said, “I want to thank you all…I am so blessed because of all of you. I can’t even tell you how much you all mean to me.” We took some pictures and I hugged him again, thanking him once more. He tried to put his feelings into words, but began to tear up, as did I. My mom came over and hugged him too, tears welling up in her eyes. So many memories. So much gratitude for the magic we were lucky enough to be a part of.
Thank you, Art. Thank you for being the person you are and for sharing that person with so, so many over the last 16 years. You made the magic a little bit brighter and will be terribly missed. We wish you the best in the coming years!
If you’d like to read and see more about Art, you can visit the official Disney Blog, watch Disney author and fan Lou Mongello’s video interview through iTunes, and become a fan on his fan-run Facebook page. Good bye and good luck, Art, from your many grateful fans.