August 8, 2008

Dear Friends,

When you think about Walt Disney World, you probably have at least one magical memory. In fact, you can nearly mark historical events by Disney landmark achievements. World War II veterans may recall the 1937 release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first animated feature film; Baby Boomers probably remember Treasure Island, which was the studio’s first live action film in 1950; Generation X’ers have the opening of EPCOT in 1982; and, on it goes. For me, my recent memories are of taking my grandson, Zach, to the theme parks.

In my role as Secretary of the Department, I’ve come to know Walt Disney World in a different light – as a licensee, served by the Division of Hotels & Restaurants, the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, and the Division of Mobile Homes, Condominiums and Timeshares.

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is meeting with the licensees we serve and learning about the internal methods they use to protect their customers while ensuring compliance with state regulation. Two weeks ago, I was able to learn more about Walt Disney World’s Food Safety and Health program. The Department and our licensees work together toward the same end goal: to protect Floridians and our visitors. I met with some “cast members” from the Walt Disney World team, where I learned a great deal about the “magic” of their food safety and health program.

In the lobby of the BoardWalk Resort in EPCOT, Disney cast members, Manager of Food Safety and Health Natalie Dyenson, Director of Government Relations Derek Bruce, Vice President of the Legal Department David Ontko, and Vice President of Risk Management Services Jeanette Minor, met Department staff, me, and Division of Hotels and Restaurants Bureau Chief of Sanitation and Safety Inspections Kendall Burkett. As their guests, we began the tour.

We began by meeting with the Catering Chef, Ken, who explained how the kitchen operates on a daily basis and showed us the quality control systems they have in place to keep their guests safe. From the double-doored walk-in freezers to the moveable storage racks, the kitchen was top-notch – it was both clean and efficient. The most impressive part was learning about their handheld device, which records food temperatures throughout the various stages of preparation all the way through when it’s served to a guest. Ken gave great advice sharing that the keys to catering are organization and time management. It was clear that they had both.

Next, we met with Food and Beverage Manager Tom, who showed us behind-the-scenes of some BoardWalk restaurants – the ESPN Club and the Flying Fish Cafe. Again, the methods they had in place to ensure guests a safe and satisfying dining experience were impeccable. We ended the tour at the BoardWalk Villas, which are vacation rentals and timeshares. I was interested to learn about the Disney Vacation Club, which is uniquely flexible in that it allows timeshare owners to choose when and where they want to vacation.

While the magic at Disney seems effortless, it was clear from this tour that there was a lot of thought and work put into making sure that guests have the safest and most enjoyable experiences while at Disney World. I truly appreciated the opportunity to learn more about one of our licensees – one that has such a remarkable place in my memories.


Chuck Drago's Signature

Charles W. Drago

Department of Business and
Professional Regulation
1940 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
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