Why (and how) Katie Duynhoven danced her way to Disney

by frank-stuart
27FEB

Around the world, people fall in love with the magic of Disney but only a few become part of it. For ACPE graduate Katie Duynhoven it was her dream to dance at Disney. Here’s how she brought it to life.

“My parents took me to Disneyland and Walt Disney World when I was 10 years old. I remember it being huge and I loved every second of it,” Katie said. “When I was 13, I went back as part of a dance studio tour. I was so excited and I just wanted to be part of creating that Disney magic.”

Katie was studying a Bachelor of Dance Education at ACPE when she discovered the Disney Australia and New Zealand Cultural Exchange Program. “This was my chance but I didn’t want to put my studies on hold. I had such a great cohort, I was learning so much and I didn’t want to break the momentum.”

You can apply within a year of finishing your degree, which Katie did. After the online application, she did an interview at The Rocks in Sydney and was thrilled to be accepted.

“My ultimate dream was to work at Disney and I’m glad I finished my degree first. It meant I had greater opportunities over there. At ACPE, I strengthened my technical skills and my performance quality and I was encouraged to excel. You need all these things to succeed at Disney,” Katie said.

Based at the Magic Kingdom for 10 months, Katie performed as Disney characters in different park locations and walked through the resorts meeting and greeting guests. “I spent part of my time dancing in character on a beach as part of the Frozen Summer Games,” she said. “My highlight was being the only international dancer in the 2017 Halloween Parade.”

“Disney goes to exceptional lengths to make things special for their guests. They also take very good care of their employees,” Katie said. “They look after everything – accommodation, transfers and activities. I had never lived overseas before, but I always felt safe.”

Katie made new friends from all around the world and went sightseeing with them and her family who visited from Australia. “Leaving Disney was bittersweet but my visa was expiring and I had exciting times ahead at home.”

Now Katie shares her Disney experience with the students she teaches. “It’s hard not to be an ambassador for Disney when you’ve had such a wonderful time there.”

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