CUMBERLAND — After receiving a coveted internship, McDaniel College senior Whitney Walker of Cumberland is fulfilling a lifelong dream by spending her fall semester helping Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Cinderella and others entertain at Disney World.
“I’m a huge fan of Disney,” said Walker.
A 2010 graduate of Bishop Walsh School, Walker, 21, has been able to turn a fascination with the world of Disney into a real life experience.
Currently a character assistant at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Walker is an English major with a writing minor at McDaniel in Westminster.
“After I got to see ‘The Lion King,’ Mom said I watched it 100 times a day,” said Walker.
Walker said she fell in love with the many characters of Disney from the Princess and Cinderella to Hercules and Mickey Mouse.
“I like the personalities and animation Walt Disney brought to the world and I love the story lines,” said Walker.
Dressed in civilian attire, Walker helps kids and their parents visit with the characters in an orderly fashion and get photographs. She also makes sure the characters get refreshments and breaks and attends to any needs the performers may have.
“We help to make the magic happen,” said Walker.
Elizabeth van den Berg, associate professor and chair of McDaniel’s theater arts department, said the internship program at Disney is a great opportunity for Walker.
“We have had former students go and they work them really hard,” said van den Berg, “It gives them the sense of what it is like in the real world.”
The daughter of Dennis and Wendy Walker, Whitney performed in area stage productions growing up.
“We took her to Disney World when she was 4. She loved hanging out with Cinderella,” said Wendy Walker.
“My mom is an actress. I followed in her footsteps as a performer in the theater. When I went to McDaniel, I fell in love with the English department,” said Whitney.
Whitney said her interest in writing has begun to take priority over performing and acting.
While at McDaniel in 2012, Walker was allowed to go on a weeklong study at Disney World. It was during that visit that she discovered about the semester-long internship program at Disney.
Whitney applied for the internship during the spring.
“Around 7,000 applicants are chosen from tens of thousands of applications,” said Whitney.
“I was thrilled when she was selected. It’s a good thing when dreams come true,” said Wendy.
The internship, which includes arrangements for a two-person apartment just outside the parks, began in late August and will end Jan. 1.
Rent is taken out of her paycheck.
“I like it that way. It’s easier and you don’t miss it,” said Whitney.
“I just hope she is successful in whatever she wants to do in life,” said her father, Dennis.
As a character attendant, Whitney has worked with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale, Baloo, King Louie and more.
“It can be a shock for the students. Most of them have never had more than a part-time job. Disney is strict,” said van den Berg.
Van den Berg said they can tell you what to wear down to your earrings.
Walker said she has worked in all four parts of Disney World: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom.
“She is very dedicated with whatever she chooses to do,” said Dennis.
Wendy said Whitney doubled up on classes so she would be free this semester for the internship. Whitney is still on schedule to graduate in the spring.
Whitney hopes to get a full-time position in some portion of the Disney empire after graduation. She hopes to employ her writing skills in whatever she does.
“She is a very positive person and that will serve her well in whatever she does,” said van den Berg.
For Whitney, every day is magical.
“Being with Disney, every day is better than the one before,” said Whitney.
Greg Larry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org