Happy massage clients may have told you that you have magic hands—but if you’re a massage therapist at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, making magic happen is an official part of every session.
For massage therapist Jessica Benoit, 29, that magic began when, as a high-school graduation gift, she received a facial at Senses, the spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. Benoit was so impressed with the treatment she received that she decided she wanted to work there.
“After receiving that magical level of customer service and being treated like a princess, I looked into it—and I became a cast member,” she said.
Benoit began her career with Disney as a reservations agent at the spa’s front desk. After finishing massage school and getting her license, she began working there as a therapist, and today she specializes in custom massage and body treatments at the spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.
Going Above and Beyond
For massage therapists in the Disney spa environment, customer service skills are just as important as massage skills and knowledge.
“It all begins with the very first training you receive,” said Benoit. “Disney goes above and beyond, explaining to you the heritage, the history, Walt Disney’s vision for providing amazing, magical moments, providing the best guest service—creating not only just a good experience, but a memorable one.”
Therapists in Disney’s spas are also empowered to go above and beyond to make extra-special memories for guests. This can include recognizing milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries; honoring first-time Disney visitors; and literally treating guests like royalty.
“We can make our guests a spa princess or spa prince for the day if we choose to,” said massage therapist Julie Midthun, 44, who works in the spa at the Grand Floridian. Honored Disney spa guests receive a jeweled crown and other surprises tailored to their visit.
“A lot of times we … find out a little bit more about their trip, how their stay has been, and we try to use that to customize the magic we deliver during the treatment,” Benoit said.
The Drive to Succeed
In addition to a solid commitment to superior customer service, Benoit said, a therapist needs drive to succeed in an environment like Walt Disney World Resort. Guests may visit once a year, every 10 years, or once in a lifetime—so the first impression the therapist makes on them has that much more impact.
For Midthun, part of creating magic for guests is inspiring them to want to return. She said she works with many repeat clients, as well as those from the Orlando area who frequent Disney’s eight spas. Many guests are experiencing massage or a spa for the first time, making it extra important to create a positive, memorable experience.
“The feedback we get from our guests is amazing,” said Benoit. “A lot of them are first-time guests; a lot of them are seasoned spa guests.”
Working at a Disney Spa
Are you ready to spend your workdays in the shadow of Cinderella Castle?
“Get spa experience,” said Midthun. You should be able to provide services three to five days a week, up to 23 massages total, she added. “If you can get that experience, then you’re more prepared for a resort spa.”
Benoit stressed the importance of continuing education. “Here at the spa at Walt Disney World, we offer a wide variety of modalities,” she said. “It’s very diverse, so the more continuing education [you] have under [your] belt … the more of an attractive candidate [you] will be.”
For massage therapists with honed customer service skills, the motivation to succeed and the skills to provide excellent massage in a fast-paced environment, a career with a Disney spa could be a rewarding move. Benoit said the company is “sustaining my need for growth”—and she and Midthun both love hearing from happy guests.
What’s most rewarding for her is “the level of appreciation from each guest,” said Midthun. “It’s just a great, great career—and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
About the Author
Allison Payne is associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and managing editor of futureLMT.com, MASSAGE’s publication for student and beginning massage therapists. She wrote “15 Tips from Chair Massage Pros” for massagemag.com.