Students at Orange Center Elementary learned how Disney Imagineers and Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment use science and technology for innovative animal enrichment efforts at Walt Disney World Resort

From the African Savanna to the classroom, Walt Disney World is spreading more than magic. 

Disney Imagineers and Disney’s Animal, Science and Environment cast members recently visited the students at Orange Center Elementary in Orlando, Florida. Students gathered at the tables inside the school’s cafeteria to hear from Disney cast members and learn new techniques they’re using to stimulate the cheetahs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

Disney Imagineer Andy Milluzzi shared with students how Disney is using technology for innovative animal enrichment efforts at its theme parks and resorts.

Our cheetahs here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom love to run around and have fun during the day, but right now our keepers have to continuously toss balls into their habitat or put different [enrichment] out.

Andy Milluzzi, Disney Imagineer

“It’s a very manual process,” Milluzzi said.

Milluzzi said Disney is using science, new techniques and the expertise of the animal care team to stimulate the animals and their natural behaviors. The team created the ‘Cheetah Ball,’ which is a motorized ball that moves when the cheetahs least expect it to keep interest and encourage exercise. 

“The cheetahs love it,” Milluzzi said.

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‘The ‘Cheetah Ball’

It’s a hands-on lesson and a glimpse of what the students’ futures could hold as part of the Disney Future Storytellers program.

Disney Future Storytellers is a company initiative where we showcase what careers here at Disney could look like to help inspire students in our community.

Stefanie Steele, Walt Disney World’s Corporate Responsibility Team

Stefanie Steele with Walt Disney World’s Corporate Responsibility team said it is important to expose young children to careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

“Because we know students as young as elementary school are opting out of these types of careers just because they don’t see it in their everyday lives,” she said. “The main goal of this program is to provide access so students can really see themselves in these types of career fields and who knows, maybe one day they’ll be a future cast member.”

The initiative highlights the collaboration between the Orlando region’s business community and the education system, which helps fuel Orlando’s talent pipeline.

Orange Center Elementary principal Fredrick Brooks adds this is taking what students are learning in school and showing them real life opportunities.

“Presentations like this mean a lot for the students. It helps the curriculum become relevant for students,” Brooks said. “We appreciate the opportunity for putting STEAM professionals in front of our students so that they can make that connection and start to dream big and one day hopefully pursue that career.”

Milluzzi adds he hopes he can inspire students to pursue their dreams.

“I love sharing what I do with others,” Milluzzi said. “I want to be that inspiration for others. I want to give them that, ‘Oh yes, I can do that. I can try that. I can be successful at it.'”

The program is on a roll as Disney helps youth in Florida dream about their futures, build their talents and skills and become who they imagine they can be.

The future of this program is really exciting because we’ve got so many opportunities to expand this program across the state of Florida and focus on all sorts of different career paths.

Stefanie Steele, Walt Disney World’s Corporate Responsibility Team

“This is just one example of the many different ways that we’re helping students realize their dreams across the state of Florida,” Steele said.

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