By Jacob Passy
Mark Ashman/Disney Parks via Getty Images
More than 10,000 people submitted applications to work for Disney — for free.
Every year, Disney /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +0.47% solicits applications for people to join its Disney Parks Moms Panel , a group of people who dispense vacation-planning advice for those looking to visit the company’s theme parks, timeshares and cruises.
The panelists come from all walks of life. Some are stay-at-home moms, but others work in fields such as medicine and wealth management. Three of the new panelists are men and two aren’t parents — despite it being a “Moms” panel.
‘My kids are going to be so jealous.’
—Aena Drone, one of the new members of the Disney Parks Moms Panel
For the next year, all of the panelists will answer around 15 questions each week in their free time. One of the panelists told the New York Times /zigman2/quotes/202090840/composite NYT +1.58% she plans to answer questions after getting off work. Another said that he plans to keep his evenings open throughout the year to answer questions.
The panelists are considered Disney contractors, but are not paid. Instead, panelists are gifted a rewards trip to a Disney destination (which includes the resorts and cruises) for themselves and up to three family members or theme park tickets.
In addition to the 14 new panelists, 28 people from previous years will be returning to answer questions. The panel was first launched back in 2008 to provide advice specific to Walt Disney World and has added new members every year since.
To become part of the panel, each of this year’s group had to go through an extensive application process, which includes essay questions, a video submission and an interview by phone. Many people try for years to join the panel – one of this year’s new members told the Times she has applied every year since the panel was launched before being selected this year.
At all steps of the process, applicants have to share their passion and knowledge for everything Disney. “The Disney Parks Moms Panelists live and breathe Disney details,” Leanne O’Regan, director of public relations for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, told the paper.
That comes in handy given how detailed the questions can be. Questions run the gamut from details about what amenities are at resorts to where you can order cocktails at the theme parks. People can ask questions in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese — some panelists answer questions in multiple languages.
One recent question : “Do you have to remain in HS once you have received your boarding pass for RotR or can you Park Hop if you have fast passes at another park?” HS stands for Hollywood Studios, while RotR refers to Rise of the Resistance, the new Star Wars-themed ride that debuted at the Orlando theme park in December. As for “Park Hop,” that’s a reference to going from one theme park to another with certain tickets.
Shares of Disney are up 12.4% over the last three months, while the Dow Jones Industrial /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.07% and the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.48% are only up 9.1% and 11.4% respectively over that same time.