Alumni Magazine

FAL-WIN 2018

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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32 PIERCE FALL / WINTER 2018 T H E G R E AT E S T J O B I N T H E WO R L D By the time the Paxton, Mass., native was a junior at Franklin Pierce, he knew he wanted to live in a warm-weather climate. While he loved Pierce's mountain setting and panoramic views, he was pretty much done with the cold and snow and slush. So, he set his sights south. In early January 1996, Bleakney loaded up his car and hit I-95. Destination: the Carolinas or Florida. He wasn't picky; as long as there was sunshine and he could use the skills he'd picked up as a business administration major, he was all in. He rolled into the Sunshine State and applied for work at Walt Disney World Resort. By Valentine's Day, he found himself working at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Tower of Terror attraction. He didn't think he'd stay that long. Twenty-two years later, Bleakney's still part of the Disney family — and he couldn't be happier. MANAGING THE MAGIC "I wouldn't say that I was ever a huge Disney fan before I started working there," said Bleakney. "However, once I started working here, I absolutely fell in love with the company and everything it stands for." Today, Bleakney is a duty park manager at Magic Kingdom, where he said he's "responsible for making sure our guests have the most magical time of their lives." at means everything from making operational decisions on a sometimes improvisational basis, interacting with park guests and his fellow cast members, and being the direct point of contact for any situation when guests need assistance. e core of his job is pretty simple: make sure the day runs smoothly and help create magic for families. Sounds like a snap, right? "Our scope is pretty grand in size," said Bleakney. "And we [he and fellow duty park managers] are responsible for things happening inside Magic Kingdom and the roadways all around it." At 142 acres, Magic Kingdom Park is practically a small world of its own, inside the larger Walt Disney World Resort. When it opened in 1971, it instantly became a top-tier family destination. Over the last 47 years, the resort has expanded across its lush Florida setting to include 36 separate hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment district. Walt Disney World has its own roads, transportation system, even its own water works and fire departments. It's a massive operation — and a wildly beloved place. Walt Disney was known for his exacting attention to details and his desire to ensure that everyone who visited his parks felt special. us, the standard for Walt Disney World customer service — and the promise cast members make — is excellence. "e most challenging thing [about my work] is delivering above and beyond on the promise we make to our guests every day when they visit the most magical place on Earth," said Bleakney. "But my fellow cast members and I take great pride in delivering [on it] every day." From the smiles of kids — and even adults — meeting their favorites like Cinderella, Tiana, Belle and Buzz Lightyear, to the shrieks as they careen through Big under Mountain Railroad or disappear into the dark of Space Mountain, to the unexpected joy of happening upon a Hidden Mickey, or the excitement of the nightly fireworks, Bleakney and his colleagues are doing a great job. FROM PIERCE TO FLORIDA It might seem odd now, since he works for one of the largest entertainment entities on the planet, but when Bleakney was looking at colleges, he wanted a small environment. His hometown is just outside of Worcester, Mass., the state's second-largest city, and Bleakney knew he needed someplace compact, with small class sizes. "When I saw the campus nestled in the mountains of New Hampshire, I knew that I made the right decision," he said. "To put it in perspective, at the time, my high school by population was bigger than the population at the Rindge campus." Pierce was a place where Bleakney thrived. He feels one of the school's strengths is its small size and that it's easy to develop relationships with professors, administrators and fellow classmates. "John Cunningham [the dean of student affairs] was easily the most influential person for me as a student," he said. "I oen look back and reflect Clockwise from top left: Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom; The Tree of Life Awakens at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Night; Bleakney with his family ; "It's a Small World," a gentle boat ride through whimsical scenes; Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios.

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