MEDFORD, Ore. – Even the most magical place on earth couldn’t stay open through the coronavirus pandemic. A retired Rogue Valley teacher is part of the quarantine in Southern California, where she now works at Disneyland.
“I’m living my dream!” Hope Harrison told NBC5 News. She says working for at the Happiest Place on Earth is something she’s thought about for a long time. “So I would joke when I was teaching before that when I grow up I want to work at Disney– so in addition to my bucket list of moving to southern California, I am a Disney employee. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to be able to walk behind those doors that say ‘Cast Member Only’.”
Just two months ago, the former Medford School District music teacher got a job at Disneyland. She works the Storybook ride in Fantasyland. Her son, a former Teen Musical Theater actor at the Craterian, has been a Disney cast member for the last 5 years. He has performed in several venues at the parks. Hope’s daughter is also on Disney property, working Downtown. You might say Disney runs in their blood.
“When Disney shutdown you know we were all devastated, but we’re not without a job!” explained Hope, “…we’re on hold, on pause.”
Paused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered Disney Parks worldwide. The spread of the virus in the United States is keeping the two U.S. properties closed for the time being.
While no one could have expected the Mouse needing a sick day, Hope is truly living up to her name and finding ‘hope’ in this time.
“The time is amazing. Being able to sleep is amazing. Being able to not set an alarm, is something I’ve never done in my life. So I feel like the hidden blessing is that we can rejuvenate and spend that time enhancing our families and ourselves,” she told us.
Ever the teacher, she is still inspiring others to take the weight of this situation and extra time to really decide what you want in life. Then seize the day.
“I feel like everyone in our nation is just mourning the loss of all these things,” said Hope, “… but when we resume everyone is going to be so happy!”
While Hope couldn’t talk about any business behind the curtain, the Disney company did announce publicly that they are paying park employees through mid-April. The company is sharing updates on their Disney Parks twitter account.
Jennifer Elliott anchors the primetime newscast FOX26 First News at Ten on NBC5’s partner station, KMVU/FOX26. She also reports for NBC5 News. Jennifer began her career at NBC5 News in 2011 as a production assistant. Raised in Southern Oregon, she studied voice and piano while attending South Medford High School. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she returned home and added organ playing to her musical repertoire. In addition to her musical talents, Jennifer is an award-winning artist. She has also co-hosted Southern Oregon’s Got Talent. Jennifer is married and the mother of three children who keep her busy and very happy.