The Who, Where, When, What, and Why?
An introduction to Utilidork and me
Who am I?
My name is Justin. I am a former Walt Disney World cast member, and lifelong fan of the Disney Parks beginning with my exposure to a VHS recording my family had of Disneyland’s 30th Anniversary Celebration, and multiple trips to Walt Disney World in Florida.
Where and When?
Currently, I live in Upstate New York — so don’t expect a lot of up-to-date firsthand experience — but I used to live in Orlando, only a mile away from Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney gate. My first job was on the College Program, working various outdoor food carts and occasional quick service locations in the Disney-MGM Studios park in the fall of 2001. Four years later, I returned for a second College Program, this time as a custodian at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, a job I held full-time until spring of 2008, when I moved back to my childhood home. I continued working seasonally for three years until I could no longer return with the frequency they required. I have taken two vacations to Disney World since then, and I’m planning another one soon with my family.
What is a Utilidork?
“Utilidork” is a word I made up to describe a cast member, former cast member, wannabe cast member, or anyone with a knowledge and passion for the ins and outs of the Disney Parks. It is a portmanteau of “Utilidors” (which itself is a portmanteau of “utility corridors”), the system of cast member tunnels under the Magic Kingdom; and “dork”, a word synonymous with “geek” or “nerd”, meaning a person who is knowledgeable, passionate, and maybe a wee bit obsessed regarding a certain subject.
This site is devoted to that knowledge and passion, and to those people. I will have blogs about Disney World news and history, as well as opinion pieces based on my own knowledge and passion. (I promise that will be the last time I say “knowledge and passion” — okay, that was the last time.) I will share pictures I’ve taken over the past 16 years of visiting (maybe more, if I can find and scan my pre-digital photographs) and working at the Walt Disney World Resort, including some in stereoscopic 3D! I will also share Disney Parks audio and video from my ever-expanding collection (giving credit to its source whenever possible). Eventually, I will also be adding podcasts and vlogs.
In 2005, I took an Introduction to Web Design class as an elective for my liberal arts degree. A few months later, I moved to Orlando and began working at Disney World again. After a year or so, I started think about all the things I could do with my newly-acquired knowledge of rudimentary HTML coding. I grabbed my iBook and started punching out the framework for The Disney Point: Your Unofficial Guide to the Magic of the Walt Disney World Resort through charts, pictures, and blogs. I bought a URL for the site and hosted it from my AOL Members page. In 2008, I canceled the credit card with which I paid for the domain name, and forgot to change the billing information. My ownership lapsed, and sometime later, someone else bought TheDisneyPoint.com and started their own blog. It’s still active today.
Flash forward to a month or so ago, as I was writing my blog about Pirates of the Caribbean (originally posted on on my Disney Point blog that I still own), discussing and debating with people on Twitter, and watching Disney-related vlogs on YouTube, I was inspired to start again. After years of lamenting the loss of my platform, I finally decided to start a new one, bigger and better than ever. A night of brainstorming and a bolt of inspiration gave me Disney Utilidork, which eventually evolved into:
The Disney Park Bench
Your Unofficial Source for Walt Disney World Blogs, Vlogs, Tunes, Tweets, Pictures, and Podcasts
I hope this will be as exciting a journey for you as it is for me.