We are now at week 11 of our Meet Your Moms Panel series here on ZannaLand and get to meet another dad – this time our first new dad from the 2010 panel, Chris G. These informal interviews are meant to be a jumping off point from the bios that appear on the DisneyWorldMoms.com site where you can learn about every panelist’s background and experience with Walt Disney World, and see their personal videos as well. Once you check them out there, you can get to know the panelists a little better here!

Walt Disney World Moms Panel
The Walt Disney World Moms Panel {image ©Disney}

If the 2010 Moms Panel training trip were to have an official mascot of sorts, it would be Chris. I don’t mean that in a ‘he’d look great in a chicken-suit’ kind of way. Rather, he is someone I’d nominate for class president if we had such a thing. He was actually the first person I met at our reception when we were all nervous and excited to meet one another. He came right over and introduced himself (and to my surprise knew who I was) and was just such a wonderful, positive, exuberant  presence in the room. This presence continued throughout training. He had not a bad word to say about a single person and was such a great storyteller we were all captivated by his words. His love of Disney AND his family was ever-present throughout training. It was easy to see why he was chosen to help others in a Disney capacity, since he is a teacher by profession and helps guide children on a daily basis. I was left with the knowledge that his students are very lucky indeed, as am I to know him! Please meet Chris —

How did you first get interested in the Disney parks?

I remember my first trip to Walt Disney World way back in the early ‘70s. At the time, it was only the Magic Kingdom, River Country, the Contemporary and the Polynesian. Man, how things have changed! I wasn’t even on Main Street USA before I had my first character encounter (Pluto), so the “magic” struck early. Back then, it was more or less a free-for-all to get pictures with characters. You may have 4 different kids standing beside a character facing one of 4 different directions and there would the parents clicking away. It was more exciting and unpredictable doing it the old way, but I think I enjoy the organization that exists now even more. In addition, I remember watching the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights wishing that I could live in Cinderella’s Castle, so when I finally saw it in real life, I was awestruck! I still morph back into that little, wide-eyed seven year-old EVERY time I enter the parks, particularly the Magic Kingdom!


Besides Disney, what are you most passionate about?

My wife and girls!! I have two daughters (11 and 6) who are my pride and joy. They are “my beauties”, and they make life so much richer. They were blessed with their Mom’s brains, my athletic ability, and each has an incredibly kind heart. They make me so proud to be their “Dad”… and my wife, the “leveler” as I call her, keeps me balanced. She has a great perspective on life and gives great advice. Plus, she melts every time she meets Pooh, which is quite adorable! 🙂

Chris G Prop Shop
Chris with some new friends inside the Hollywood Studios "Prop Shop"

Tell us about your family – are they Disney fans too? What are some of your most memorable family experiences?

My wife and daughters may not be as fanatical about Disney as I am, but they are close. We have a blast whether we are at “the World” or “the Land”. My wife and I have been married for almost 17 years and I consider myself one lucky guy to have landed someone with looks, brains, a sense of humor, and that child-like sense of fun. One of my favorite Disney memories was when my oldest was 4. We were outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean and spotted Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. I prodded her to go over but she thought Captain Hook was too tall, so I motioned to him to maybe crouch down a bit. Instead he got on his knees and welcomed her in for a big hug. As my daughter walked away, she turned to him and said quite sternly, “now you be good to Wendy”, to which Captain Hook folded his arms across his chest with a defiant “NO” nod. My Emily paused, looked at me, looked back at Captain Hook, and instructed him to, “Well, just think about it, Mister!”

What is your dream job (you can answer at Disney, not Disney, both or neither!)

My “dream job” in descending order would be to be the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, President of Walt Disney World (I actually got to meet Meg Crofton and she is awesome) OR Disneyland, and finally, General Manager of the Magic Kingdom. After these, anything that involves being a part of the magic becomes a statistical tie. So, while I am waiting for one of those positions to become available, I am currently immersed in my dream job of creating leaders of the future (aka teaching fifth grade)

What is your favorite Disney restaurant and why?

I LOVE everything from a great steak at The Yachtsman to a hot dog at Casey’s Corner, but I must admit that my favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World is Chef Mickey’s (breakfast over dinner). The food is good, but the atmosphere and character mix are what make it great.

Chris with princess tiana
Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen meet another prince among men: Chris!

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at Disney visit? What is your MUST DO during each visit?

Every trip starts (and ends) with the Magic Kingdom. Even before the bus rounds the bend by the Contemporary, I crane my neck to catch my first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle. That’s when the feeling really hits. I would say it takes my family and me at least 30 minutes to even get past Main Street USA. We always stop for the obligatory photo in front of the floral Mickey below the Main Street train station, and then we savor the view of both Main Street and the castle before we hit the attractions. So, clearly, Magic Kingdom is a MUST do, as is at least one character breakfast (lunch or dinner cuts into park time). Space Mountain, Tower of Terror and Aerosmith Rockin’ Rollercoaster are must-dos for the Mrs. While my oldest needs to ride all of “the mountains” and for my youngest, it’s “spending time with my family and riding ‘it’s a small world.’” Another must-do for me is as many viewings of Spectromagic and Wishes as possible during the trip.


What do you wish there were more of at Disney? Less?

I wish there were more showings of Fantasmic!, Wishes and Spectromagic. I wish there were more seats at Cosmic Ray’s :). As for less, less lines would be nice, but as Alison V. remarked several weeks ago, less lines means less need for more magic in the form of park hours and new park attractions, so I guess lines are OK (insert Grumpy face here).

What type of music are you into?

I like everything from New Age (Enigma, Enya, Yanni), to Motley Crue to ‘80s music to, of course, any music from Disney movies, parades, or theme park shows.


What’s the last book you read that you really enjoyed?

Lee Iacocca’s Where Have All the Leaders Gone? A real no holds barred look at what’s wrong with the direction we’re heading AND the direction we’re getting.

Describe YOUR perfect Disney vacation (could be solo, with family, friends anything, no limitations).

First and foremost, it would have to be with my family. As for accommodations, a Castle view from the top floor of the Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower would be a must (unless Cinderella’s Dream Suite is available). Wait, this is MY perfect Disney vacation, so the “Dream Suite” IS available, so we’ll stay there. Each day would start with a character breakfast and then a one hour head start in each park (our own personal “Extra Magic Hour”). Not to avoid lines, but rather, to experience walking the parks in the quiet hours of the morning like Walt did. And it would be great to be able to go to any restaurant at any time to eat…no ADRs. Finally, I think it would be fun if my girls could ride with their favorite princess during Spectromagic and join Mickey on the Disney Railroad platform for the “Good Night Kiss”. I guess after that, perfection would come in the form of just being at Walt Disney World.

Chris Joel Amanda W Jonas and Zanna
Joel, Chris, Amanda W, me (you can see how short I am and how tall Chris is!) and Jonas on our *sob* last day of training. We were trying to look tough...did it work? 😉 Love you all!

Feel free to share your little “interesting tid-bit” from training or some other surprising fact about you. (that you don’t mind the internet knowing!)

I am not sure how interesting any of my “tidbits” might be to the rest of the world, but here goes…

I played Division 1 college football (Boston College); I have portrayed Santa Claus, Barney the Dinosaur, and Davey Crockett’s angel (twice!!); I have been a bodyguard for rich and famous people; I have been in a television commercial for a grocery store; I am afraid of heights; I am a good speller; I make a mean spaghetti sauce, Mickey Mouse pancake, and am a whiz at the grill; I own a pink shirt; I was Class President in high school; I hate to lose at anything; I cry each time I watch “Terms of Endearment”; I love Halloween; I am strict but not mean; I hate the heat and crowds, but LOVE being at Walt Disney World (my wife still doesn’t understand this one); I love sitting on a bench overlooking any ocean; I love strawberry shortcake; I don’t have a favorite car; I give great hugs; I was voted “Most Popular Boy” in 8th grade, and “Most Outgoing” and “Most Creative” in 12th grade; I am loyal to the end; I can do laundry; I love life!!!!! {I think that’s a LOT of interesting tid-bits!! ~Z}

Chris, thank you so much for giving us some insight into your family and life. I’m so happy our paths crossed and consider you an inspiration to all who want to enjoy life to its fullest. Remember to look for Chris at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, where you can ask all of your Disney World vacation planning questions. However, I think we need to get Chris onto twitter, what do you think?? Until then, maybe you’ll see Chris next time you visit Walt Disney World, (or next time the Hoop Dee Doo Revue needs a strapping volunteer angel) too!