Hotel / Catering

Disney expansion draws new talent

by Nicolette Wong

Hong Kong Disneyland - Business Expansion
Andrew Chan, area manager
attraction and guest services, Hong Kong Disneyland
Photo: Raymond Yick

International theme park's new addition brings fresh opportunities for enthusiastic jobseekers

Since its opening in 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland has welcomed millions of local and international visitors. But apart from providing a fun day out, the park's management believes safety and staff training are vital aspects of creating a pleasant environment for guests.

Disneyland's brand-new Toy Story Land attraction strives to recreate some of the "joyrides" featured in the blockbuster animated-movie trilogy. The theme of the new area is "playtime", says Andrew Chan, area manager, attraction and guest services, Hong Kong Disneyland. "It's about having fun and losing yourself in laughter while you enjoy the rides with friends, family and the characters from the films."

Toy Story Land's attractions aim to appeal to different age groups, he says. Geared particularly at youngsters and thrill-seekers, RC Racer powers along a 27-metre U-shaped coaster at full speed. The Toy Soldier Parachute Drop offers another simulation of an adventure in one of the films, while Slinky Dog Spin provides a fun family ride.

To ensure that the park's employees are able to "deliver a complete Toy Story Land experience", they are familiarised with the film series so that they can encapsulate its spirit in their interaction with visitors, Mr Chan remarks.

Before the start of the workday, staff members are briefed on playful area-based activities. Themed greetings are another feature. "We address our guests at the Toy Soldier Parachute Drop as "soldiers" to help them immerse themselves fully into the adventure," says Mr Chan.

Team spirit

With its extensive workforce, Hong Kong Disneyland's people-management philosophy is "Happy me, happy guests". Staff training across different divisions often takes the shape of team gatherings or fun-filled briefings, and managers have regular one-on-one sessions with crew members to discuss work or general issues, Mr Chan notes. Strong professional bonds help to build team spirit and a positive working environment, he believes.

Small gestures can go a long way to make guests happy. "For instance, our staff always bend down to speak to children at eye level, because that makes our young guests feel more at ease. Visitors wearing birthday badges also get special attention," Mr Chan notes.

Safety is key to ensure a fun, problem-free experience and therefore forms an integral part of staff training. All new recruits in the attraction operations division receive at least 7 days' basic training, as well as further area-specific instruction. The company also conducts regular briefings and drills to enhance staff's awareness of safety measures and to keep them updated on the park's facilities. Sharing sessions give teams insight into daily operations at different areas.

Career prospects

Lateral transfers offer a good channel to maintain a fresh, energetic workforce, Mr Chan remarks. From hotel and catering staff to those working in operations, all employees are free to seek opportunities in other departments with appropriate training. Such transfers are productive for the company, since they add diverse expertise to teams and help maintain a balanced mix of experienced staff and newcomers.

An outgoing personality is a prerequisite for young jobseekers keen on joining the company, particularly for frontline staff that must take the initiative to interact with visitors, Mr Chan notes. Prospective staff should take customer service seriously and, importantly, share the theme park's mission of facilitating a happy experience for visitors. Their passion will be reflected in their work, he adds.

Both the human resources team and department managers are actively involved in recruitment and the interviewing process, in order to gain a broader view of applicants' character traits and skills. Apart from regular recruitment seminars and job advertisements, the organisation also encourages internal staff referrals, as current employees are seen as excellent Disneyland ambassadors.

Mr Chan stresses that a career at Hong Kong Disneyland offers good prospects for advancement, considering the wide range of job functions and roles across different departments. His own career is a case in point. Starting off on the frontline, he was sent to Disneyland in the US for six months' training before the opening of the Hong Kong operation. Soon after his return, he was promoted to supervisory and managerial levels, and has worked in operational-training and human-resources roles.

With the theme park continuing to expand, there will be ample opportunities at Toy Story Land for keen young jobseekers, Mr Chan says. "We offer newcomers ongoing learning and constant challenge. The knowledge they'll gain in the process will not only help them advance in their careers with us, but also provide them with job satisfaction and a happy working life," he concludes.

Joining the Disney ride

  • Park sees safety and training as vital to create a happy environment for guests
  • Focus on team spirit and positive working environment
  • Lateral transfers add diverse expertise to teams and maintain a balanced staff mix
  • Outgoing personality and service-oriented mindset are prerequisites for jobseekers
  • Expansion ensures ample, varied job opportunities at the park

Taken from Career Times 25 November 2011, B5

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