As part of our on-going "5 Minutes With" series, every month we’ll introduce you to a new member of our Disney Meetings team at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California or Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. Whether they work in our Disney Convention Resorts, Theme Park Operations, Catering and Convention Services, Sales, Entertainment or dozens of other event-support areas, these Cast Members and their teams are responsible for creating magical experiences and unforgettable events for meeting and event industry professionals, and their important attendees and guests, every single day.
Let’s meet Paula Whitlock, Senior Catering and Convention Services Manager:
Hi Paula, tell us about your role.
My role as a Catering and Convention Services Manager is to help meeting and event planners who are hosting group events at Disneyland Resort. This includes everything from a one-day meeting, a large awards banquet, a multi-day convention or a Theme Park event. I serve as the liaison between different internal teams to make sure all the details and options are presented to the meeting planner. That way, I can help meeting planners host unique and engaging events for their attendees. My main goal is to make sure that all aspects of an event are detailed prior to the event day so that when the group is on-site, there is a seamless transition from planning to implementation.
Can you tell us about a typical day at work?
Every day is different; I never know what my day is going to be like. I work with a variety of meeting planners on different types of events; because each event is unique, my time is spent differently planning each function. Some days are spent in meetings with my partners at the Disneyland Park working out the logistics for an upcoming event; other days are spent at my desk answering emails and talking with planners. My time is also spent on site visits, planning sessions and in menu tastings. On event days, I am available to the group as well as the internal teams who are implementing the event to answer any additional questions. My main objective is making sure the event is running smoothly and according to the meeting or event planner’s vision. Every day is exciting and new and I’m never bored!
How do you and your team work with meeting and event planners?
It all starts with an in-depth conversation with the planner to identify the group’s goal and vision for the event. After the initial conversation has been completed, my partners at Disneyland Resort are engaged and we continue with planning and brainstorming sessions. During these sessions, each team captures information that will help them to create an immersive event that will meet the goals of the group. At the end of the day, each of our internal teams wants to design the event that the planner has envisioned. It’s truly a collaborative effort as it takes all of us to make these visions come to fruition.
How do you think food & beverage impacts the overall meeting or event experience?
The food and beverage selections play an integral part at any event! If an event has a theme, the food and beverage can match the theme to help tell the story. For example, if a group is focusing on healthy living, we can create a menu to help support those goals. Regardless of the type of event being held, you will never see standard “banquet food.” Our culinary teams are very talented and take a lot of pride in the food they serve. They want their food to complement the event and to make attendees happy and satisfied.
What is your favorite part of your role?
My favorite part of my role is the people I get to meet and work with every day. This includes not only the meeting planners, but also the Cast Members who make each event come to life. Our goal is to create unique, immersive events; we want those “WOW” moments that only Disney can create. Sometimes, those moments take a large, diverse team of people to come together. I can honestly say that I love coming to work each day knowing that we all share a common goal in making magic for our Guests.