Disney Cast Member Befriends Guest for 17 Years

Disney Cast Member
Credit: Disney

In 2006, a six-year old girl named Ashley boarded the Jungle Cruise ride with her family.

A Skipper In the Making


Credit: Disney Tips

Dressed as Tinker Bell from head to toe, she was selected by the Jungle Cruise Skipper named Heather to be her Jr. Skipper.

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Occasionally, Walt Disney World Cast Members bestow the honorary title of Jr. Skipper upon young Guests, enlisting their assistance in steering the boat on a remarkable “10,000-mile journey down the Mekong River.”

This experience fueled Ashley’s aspiration to become a real-life skipper and lead her own boat adventure someday. The sense of inclusion and achievement she felt at Walt Disney World as a Jr. Skipper became a cherished memory.


Credit: Disney

“I try to be inspirational every day to everyone I meet. You never know how you can affect someone’s day or touch someone’s life,” said the Cast Member Heather.

Years Later

As time went by, Ashley’s family kept in contact with Heather, often meeting her during their visits to the Magic Kingdom. This connection cultivated a friendship that spanned nearly two decades, as Heather transitioned from being a Walt Disney World Cast Member to becoming a trusted friend. As Ashley grew older, Heather introduced her to the Disney College Program, presenting her with an opportunity to join the Walt Disney World family and work on the iconic Jungle Cruise ride.

Cast Member Meet

Credit: Disney

Heather orchestrated a heartfelt surprise to share the news, and at that moment, Ashley knew her childhood dream had truly come to life.

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Cast Member Magic

“Looking at that little girl years ago, I would be in awe of myself,” said Ashley. “I would have never known with every Disney trip, it would strengthen the impact that Heather has had on me and inspire me to desire creating that same magic for others.”

Cast Members

Credit: Disney

Cast Members like Heather embody the very spirit of Walt Disney World, consistently going above and beyond to transform ordinary days into extraordinary ones. Its the same spirit that makes millions of people flock to the Disney Parks year after year. As a Disney Guest you never know when your magical moment may hit, but it usually does. And it can be life changing.

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About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)