Friday morning, Disney World employee Alan Skaggs spoke to students about working with transportation at Disney World sharing his academic and career experience.
Skaggs has four degrees which include a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and an M.B.A. from the University of Central Florida. Scaggs is currently working as the Walt Disney World Transportation Forecasting and Analytics Manager.
“I’ve been interested in [Disney World] as well, so I just figured we’d come out here and take a look at it and see what all is going on,” said Tyler Smith, junior in civil engineering.
A majority of the attendees of the event came to the lecture in hopes of learning more about internship opportunities at Disney World.
“I’ve always been interested in Walt Disney World, [it's] kind of what got me interested in civil engineering,” said Destin Taylor, junior in civil engineering.
Skaggs started working at Disney World as a professional intern soon after finishing his graduate studies. Skaggs said prior to his job he did not know much about transportation planning as his background was in mechanical engineering.
Skaggs said he spent his first few years helping design animatronics and other props for entertainment projects. Skaggs worked as a sustaining engineer at Hollywood Studios and had the responsibility of keeping rides running in that park.
“[If the] Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has an issue, we have to close it down in the middle of an operating day, that’s not good,” Skaggs said, “There’s a lot of people who have come a long way to ride this ride, so it felt a little bit like being a firefighter or an ER doctor,” Skaggs said.
After serving this role for a few years, Skaggs decided he wanted to work with Disney World’s transportation system.
“I wanted to move into a role that I still wanted to leverage the kind of technical and analytical skills that I had developed and problem-solving that I really enjoyed,” Skaggs said. “I wanted to be a little closer to the guest experience.",
Skaggs said the technical and analytical side is what makes working at Walt Disney World unique.
"There’s a lot of great companies out there that are employing a lot of really smart engineers, but not many of them are vacation destinations," Skaggs said. "You are shaping and influencing people’s vacations...they might save their whole lives and come here just once, so I wanted to make their experience fantastic.”
Skaggs job as the Transportation Forecasting and Analytics Manager is to predict transportation demand for each day at Disney World. Skaggs showed dozens of graphs that show how park hours and different event times constantly change the flow of the people coming and going.
Skaggs said transportation is a vital part of the customer experience. “You have an awesome day at the parks, but then [if] we don’t handle this well, that can really influence everything that just happened, because the last thing in your day, eventually the last thing in your visit, may have been a less than excellent experience,” Skaggs said.