Fun Corporate Work Event Ideas in the Disney Years Chapter Twelve Part One


Fun corporate event ideas is the backbone to a successful company. When fun is introduced into work events, you would have greater opportunities to reap better rewards compared to a routine boring 9 to 5 cycle. Let’s start with chapter twelve.

Things were moving along at breakneck speed as we hosted our first meeting at the Contemporary Hotel, which was for Oscar Myer. I remember this meeting particularly well because the Ballroom of the Americas was still in some respects incomplete and under construction. We had the tables as well as the chairs, but I don’t think we had any linen to speak of. How could the most magical place in the world not have linens? Well, it happens. Sometimes when you’re so focused on the big picture you lose track of all those little things that aren’t so important. Or at least, they aren’t so important until you realize you need them. Early on, while we were making preparations of Oscar Myer, there was a creeping feeling that we were going to come up short and leave the attendees with a poor impression of what Disney events were about. But Disney’s Banquet Department came up with what I thought at the time was a brilliant idea, and one that perfectly illustrates what it means to truly think outside of the box.

The stage was totally operational with lighting and sound systems, which at the time had to be portable because the in house systems were still being installed. The first meeting was to be a luncheon for about five-hundred or so guests. I don’t remember what the issues were that precluded the ability for Disney to provide a plated event itself or, for that matter, buffet, but the client knew in advance that there was going to be a problem and thus it wouldn’t be an issue. So Disney came up with its first themed event to be held in the ballroom: they mounted a Construction Party. It consisted of custom Oscar Myer hard hats and lunch boxes, which the Disney Banquet put together themselves. The client presenters were all in construction worker uniforms and the room was filled with as much construction debris as was reasonably possible (while still keeping it a safe environment, of course). There were even some forklifts, trussing, and other beverage stations to round out the feeling of the room. The client loved it, and because they knew what to expect, they were able to customize their presentations to comply with the construction theme. To my knowledge, the Construction Party theme was never to be repeated, which is understandable. But still, you’ve got to admire the creativity that came through at the eleventh hour on that one.

When you’re planning fun corporate event ideas, the theme itself is obviously important. But what is perhaps more important, and the reason why I think the Construction Party was such a hit, is synchronicity. Everything needs to match the theme; you can’t just put up some posters and lights and call it a day. Was it silly, perhaps even absurd, to park a forklift in the room? Sure. But it absolutely worked because it was part of such a strongly built atmosphere. It’s a simple matter of feeling like you’re part of something different, something that totally envelops you. It can be argued that it had absolutely nothing to do with Oscar Myer or their products (and no one would rebut that), but themes need not reflect those you are hosting to be effective. I think if more people in the industry understood this they’d have an easier time of things.

The second group to hold a meeting in the Contemporary, as I remember, was Tupperware. It sticks in my mind as the Ballroom of the Americas had virtually no way to get anything into the room. The Ballroom was designed for banquets and initially not for the conference market. As I believe I mentioned before, it had no elevator leading up to the ballroom, and the entrance doors we had, other than those of the main entrance, were not wide or tall enough to bring in anything larger than 7′ high by 4’in width. Tupperware had built a stage set that had to be carried by hand up the back external stairs to the 4th floor if we were to get it in there at all. Our team at Technical Services provided the team to make the installation. We also worked closely with Tupperware to make sure that all flame retardant certificates complied with Reedy Creek Fire & Safety Department guidelines and specifications which, at the time, were some of the most stringent in the country (and still are, for that matter). In something of an ironic twist, meeting safety requirements was actually the easy part of this event. The real struggle was actually staging it given the Ballroom’s unique build. For whatever reason, the designers lacked the foresight to see that we’d be hosting corporate events and might want to utilize as many of the buildings as possible for that purpose. Still, we managed despite all of the headaches it caused.

Probably the most spectacular convention I and my department worked on was the 75th Anniversary of the Pepsi Cola Company. This convention was to host Pepsi Cola’s top distributors from around the world. Every event we hosted was an opportunity to show ourselves off to attendees, but because these distributors were coming from all around the world, we felt more pressure than usual. Our job was to assist in and provide all the logistics for the events and activities of the meeting while on property. By this time we had one of the most sophisticated lighting and sound reinforcement systems in the country, plus we had one of the largest freight elevators allowing us to bring almost anything into the room, from automobiles to extensive trussing and staging elements. The elevator allowed us to drive anything into the elevator from what was called the “Fiesta Fun Center” on the bottom floor.

We also had substantially upgraded our electrical grid so that we could more readily comply with an ever increasing demand for production-grade electrical requirements. In short, we would be able to provide just about any production requirement asked of us at the time, allowing us to support a wider variety of shows and spectacles. Back then, the Ballroom of the Americas was the largest ballroom in Orlando, measuring at a whopping 10,000 square feet, at least until Marriott came along and started providing mega square-foot ballrooms. For several years Disney and Marriott engaged in a rivalry by building ever bigger ballrooms to try and top each other. I don’t know for certain who won, but it would be interesting to see how much money each party spent for the sake of showmanship.

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