Haley Cobb and Hunter Haag were the kind of kids who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they grew up. Family vacations to Walt Disney World had left such a strong impression that they wanted to create magical moments for others, just like those they had experienced.
“Going to Disney molded me as a person,” said Hunter, who grew up in Charlotte, N.C., and now lives in Orlando and works in Disney's entertainment department. “I've always had a whimsical side to my personality and think it's important to go above and beyond in the way you treat people.”
Her friend Haley, originally from the Charlotte area, also moved to Orlando after college for a job in the same Disney department. Her family's many trips to the Magic Kingdom were a major influence on her career decision.
“I decided to get a degree in travel and tourism with the hope of working at Disney,” she said.
Hunter's mother, Felicia, wasn't surprised that early vacations played a strong role in her daughter's life.
“I've been all over Europe, the four corners of the United States and a lot of other places, but Disney is always the top of the list of favorite places. Their customer service is impeccable and they really know how to make magical moments.”
Both the Cobb and Haag family vacations couldn't have been as successful without AAA Travel Agent, Henry Dennis of the Charlotte (Montford Drive) office.
“Henry does a fabulous job,” said Felicia. “He can give you tips about when you should go to each park and when to avoid which park and where to stay on property. He knows the Disney system like the back of his hand. He has never led us astray.”
It's no wonder that Dennis is a Disney expert. A 20-year travel agent with AAA Travel, he worked in reservations for Disney for a little over a year before joining AAA. Dennis said he's not surprised that the two young women decided to pursue a career with Disney, as he did as a young man.“It's the result of that special Disney experience,” he said.
In planning Magic Kingdom vacations, Dennis suggests starting with accommodations.
“It's not always about what is the least expensive hotel. It's about what a family wants from a hotel room. Sometimes, they may realize they aren't going to spend much time in their rooms but sometimes they may need extra square footage and want to splurge for a bigger room.”
He recommends a stay at a Disney on site property because “location is very important,” especially with young children who may get fidgety with long transportation rides to and from the parks.
Hunter recalls one of those early Disney vacations that had a lasting influence on her life.
“There was a great moment with a custodian in Tomorrowland. I was 9 or 10 and he went out of his way to ask about my experience and give me stickers. We bonded over our love for Disney. It's that kind of attention to details that makes the magic.”
(May/June 2017 issue of Traveler)