This weekend, thousands of Star Wars fans traveled from across the galaxy to London, England for Star Wars Celebration Europe. And for one Walt Disney World Resort cast member, this weekend’s been on the calendar since it was first announced:
“As soon Star Wars Celebration Europe was announced, my wife said, ‘we have to be there,’ so I’m super excited,” says Jay, a Custodial crew member and facilitator at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
“I grew up in a Star Wars family,” Jay reminisces about being introduced to the stories through action figures and posters his brother had on display. “I remember he would go to school, and I would go play with the toys—I was just so enthralled with the characters and the different aliens and species all around the galaxy.” Those early days of imagination were the beginning of Jay’s lifelong love for all things Star Wars, which includes collectibles, films, TV shows, the fan community and his role.
Six years ago, Jay and his wife relocated to Central Florida. It wasn’t long before Jay became a cast member, joining the Magic Kingdom Park Custodial team. When Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was announced, Jay was curious how he could bring his passion for the stories he loved to work. Over a year later, he’s doing exactly that every day.
“I couldn’t even dream of some of the things that have happened to me and the people I’ve met being here,” Jay smiles looking around a cabin aboard the Halcyon starcruiser. In his role, he roams around the Chandrila Star Line ship, so guests ask him questions about their travels. And sometimes, their travels bring them back for another journey.
“I started having connections with people who would return. I would remember them, and they would remember me because of the interactions, which felt very special,” says Jay. Many of these connections have turned into friendships outside of the Halcyon starcruiser. One of these chance encounters even led to Jay being given the nickname “The Crucial Crew Member” on social media, which he’s known as around the Star Wars fan community and even some creators.
Many of those fandom connections turned friendships were forged through virtual spaces, so Jay’s most excited to meet many face-to-face for the first time this weekend. “It’s so neat that it starts in many different corners—you meet people online and here [at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser] and at the conferences. It’s just so incredibly cool how we all connect together.”
In his past visits to Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Chicago and Anaheim, Jay’s favorite memories come from exploring the show floor, seeing the creativity of cosplayers and meeting fellow fans, including others enjoying their #DisneyCastLife at the event! Jay’s also hoping to see an Ahsoka trailer (which was just released!) and the Disney Parks: Where Star Wars Comes to Life panel.
We can’t wait to hear more about Jay’s adventures when “The Crucial Crew Member” returns. Until then, may the stars light his way and everyone attending Star Wars Celebration Europe!