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Spreading the kingdom’s magic

Published on Thursday, 01 Sep 2011
Hong Kong Disneyland’s Fion Lai welcomes visitors to the 'happiest place on earth'.
Photo: Jonathan Wong

Fion Lai has had a passion for the performing arts since secondary school when she took courses in drama and dance. After she graduated from college, she put her talents to use, working as a dancer at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. During her six years with Disneyland, she has won various accolades from colleagues and management. Early this year, she was appointed the resort’s ambassador which has been the highlight of her career, she says. Not bad for someone diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was little. Now fully recovered , Lai is excited to spread the joyful spirit of the Magic Kingdom.

Why did you join Disney?
I love dancing. I wanted to study at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts but I was worried that my body would not be able to hold up so I took up business instead. After graduating from Lingnan University in 2005, my father said to me: “You are an energetic girl. You will be very happy if you perform at Disney.” Those words of encouragement inspired me to fulfil my childhood ambition to be a dancer. To kickstart my career, I joined Disneyland as a performer in the Golden Mickeys show.

How did you become Disneyland’s ambassador?
I had to go through several interviews and perform various tasks. It was a long and harsh selection process that lasted for more than three months. The interviews were unpredictable. Among other things, I was asked to demonstrate my presentation and leadership skills. It has been a great honour to be a Disney ambassador. I would not have minded if I had been turned down because I learned so much during the process.

What have you gained from the experience?
The exposure that I have gained has been unbelievable. As the representative of the resort, I am in charge of looking after VIPs, such as government officials, when they visit the resort. I am assigned to work with different departments. The cast members are keen to tell me about their jobs and I learn a lot from them. The tenure for the ambassador is two years but I plan to continue working for Disney.

What is your mission?
I have huge responsibility as ambassador. Cast members look up to me as a role model. I want to bring happiness to society. To cheer them up, I visited some residents of an elderly home who suffer from mental illnesses. I have also chaperoned seriously ill children to the [Disney] park. Seeing their happy faces makes me feel that all the hard work is worth it.

What inspires you to work harder than necessary?
The feedback of colleagues and guests inspires me. On one occasion, I sang Happy Birthday to a guest and he was deeply touched by it, calling it the best experience he had ever had at Disneyland. A simple action made someone very happy. I know that when I serve from my heart, I can achieve many things. The positive feedback from the team and the co-operation among cast members inspire me to work hard.

What is happiness and how do you keep yourself cheerful?
For me, happiness is to treasure what I have and to serve from the heart. There are many challenges in life but if you are passionate, any problem can be overcome.

What is the greatest thing about Disney culture?
In Disneyland, success is built upon support we offer each other. I care for my staff. I take their requests seriously and do my best to help. A good team player should contribute in any way possible.

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