A cast member shares the veteran grandfather’s connection to Disneyland’s heritage

Cast member Jennifer Kingsbury’s connection to Disneyland Park goes back far beyond her 15 years with the Walt Disney Travel Company. When his grandfather, a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps, had 1st Lieutenant Robert “Bud” Kingsbury, who returned from World War II as a hero after an atrocious rescue, worked as a pipe fitter during the construction of Disneyland Park in the 1950s.

Walt Disney allowed all of these people who helped build Disneyland on July 16 to do a “test,” Jennifer shares stories she heard about the day before the park’s official opening, July 17, 1955. “My grandfather, my grandmother, my father at 7 and my aunt, went to the park and went on the boat with Walt and Fess Parker and did all these amazing things … So, for me , this is our Disney birthday … July 16th. ”

Today, her late “Grandpa Bud” inspires Jennifer in her work as a booking agent and member of the Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) of the WIN complex, where she advocates for women, and HEALTH, in which he helps to defend. for veterans and active duty members of the U.S. armed services. Jennifer also pays tribute to her grandfather’s remarkable military legacy through an Orange County nonprofit organization called the Bud’s Odyssey Foundation, which helps veterans and first responders with PTSD. During the war, Bud’s B-17 bomber was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea in 1943. After swimming for 30 hours, he reached the shore, almost unconscious, and was rescued by three Italian girls. Some time later, he was captured and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp. His story was told in the 2018 documentary, “Bud’s Odyssey,” by Mark Kirkland, director of “The Simpsons.”

Bud Kingsbury has a picture of himself as a young soldier in the Army Air Corps. Photographer: Mark Kirkland

“If I ever have a bad day, I think of Grandpa Bud in the ocean with sharks chasing him and I say, ‘Okay, I can do this,’ because I realize the true courage of conviction I had.” Jennifer. dit. “He kept swimming because my grandmother and daughter were waiting for him at home. I knew I had to live. “

As we celebrate Veterans Day this week, Jennifer said she is proud of the role Disney has played in the lives of many veterans both during and after her service.

“There are so many military people returning from their service and having their own battle wounds, whether internal or external, and I know Disney has given them such a good home,” Jennifer said. “They’re so good at what they do, and putting it as a cast member is very powerful, so I love being part of a company that offers that to our service people.”

In her own role of helping guests make vacation plans, Jennifer also leverages her family connection to the park’s heritage.

“There are a lot of people on the East Coast who want to go to Disneyland, so for me, it’s always like, ‘You have to go on the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour and really see where the magic started,'” Jennifer said. This is where Walt walked, and I can’t help but think, “This is where my grandfather walked.” I mean, this is where my Disney story began. “

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