Styling the Happiest Place on Earth
After starting off in Pennsylvania and then spending 43 years in Florida, Al and Amy Freeman moved back to a home on MMC’s Founders Campus in October 2021, just in time to re-experience a Pennsylvania winter. Ironically, it was a Pennsylvania winter storm that motivated them to move to Florida in the first place, but the story in between the two storms is truly “magical.”
Once upon a time, Al was on duty as a police officer with the Dallastown force in York Township, PA. During a blustery snow storm, wreaking havoc with an unexpected intensity, a call came in regarding an automobile accident. Since Al’s specialty was accident investigation, he responded to the scene. However, the high winds and drifting snow created a barricade that prevented Al from exiting his car. When he finally got home that evening, he announced they were moving to Florida!
Fully intending to join the Sherriff’s Office in Orange County, Florida, a 90-day hiring freeze derailed his plans. Looking for something temporary, Al accepted a job in a factory manufacturing furniture for the Orlando Disney World theme park. Little did he know, that temporary position would turn into a 24-year career spanning from this manufacturing plant to overseeing the Interiors Division for the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot Center. Al’s responsibilities included interiors and lighting for Disney’s show properties, outdoor properties, restaurants, pre-show areas, post-show areas and, of course, Christmas decorations, all of which help style Disney as the Happiest Place on Earth.
During his tenure, Al had an opportunity to attend Disney University, where he was instructed on the “Disney Way of Leadership.” Creating what’s known as the Happiest Place on Earth is a fine balance of values, along with a lot of hard work. Everyone participated in training, not just the ride operators or those who have direct contact with guests. Al explained that upon graduation, managers are asked to participate in the “Zoo Crew,” which entailed donning one of the famous Disney character costumes for a half-hour shift in the theme park. “I had the honor of being Goofy, but it wasn’t as easy as you might think. My glasses didn’t fit under the head and there was no talking! When a parent pulled on my tail to ask for a picture, I swung around to oblige and accidentally bumped her head with my big Goofy nose!”
While life takes us down unexpected paths, in Al’s case, what began as a temporary position turned into a very interesting and fulfilling career. In addition to accepting challenges and maintaining a commitment to quality and efficiency, Al had an equal concern for maintaining and caring for the property, the things, and the people. He was the “behind the scenes guy” in charge of capturing the Disney “magic” in the hearts and minds of families everywhere! We’re thankful Al and Amy have made Moravian Manor Communities their home.