LSU alumna Melissa Valiquette is bringing the LSU spirit to “the happiest place on Earth” as the Vice President of Epcot in Walt Disney World.
While Valiquette was a student at the University, she majored in family, child and consumer sciences with a concentration in human services management. After completing several internships, she had the goal of running nursing homes and retirement centers.
After graduating from the University, Valiquette moved to Orlando with her husband, who was working at Disney World. When she experienced setbacks while working in her intended field, Valiquette decided to apply for a summer position at Disney World and was hired as a guest relations host and tour guide at Magic Kingdom. Valiquette immediately enjoyed the exciting atmosphere of working at the park.
“There was no denying it — it was a really fun and rewarding place to be,” Valiquette said. “I knew on that first day that I’d found something worth keeping.”
Valiquette was selected as a Walt Disney World Ambassador and represented Disney as an official spokesperson in 1997. She then spent 10 years working in Disney’s costuming organization before becoming an executive focused on entertainment and park operations at Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
Valiquette has been the Vice President of Epcot since 2015. She leads a team of 8,000 Cast Members at Epcot and works to create an enjoyable environment for them in the park. She also works with partners in Walt Disney Imagineering and is responsible for planning the future of Epcot.
Many of Valiquette’s memorable experiences in her Disney career involve her fellow Disney executives. She worked alongside Marty Sklar, the Disney Imagineer who was instrumental in the creation of Epcot, and Carl Barks, a Disney animator who created many well-loved Disney characters, like Scrooge McDuck.
But Valiquette’s favorite part of her job is working alongside the Disney Cast Members.
“They are the most inspiring people you could ever meet,” Valiquette said. “They are people who have devoted their careers to creating happiness for others — something that’s important in our world.”
During her time at the University, Valiquette was involved in Greek Life through her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, and served as the chapter president during her senior year. Valiquette feels her involvement and dedication to the LSU community prepared her for her Disney career.
“LSU is a place where passion is on full display, and Disney is similar in that way,” Valiquette said. “As Disney Cast Members, we are passionate about what we do.”
Valiquette advises University students who are unsure about their future to focus on finding their passions and study what they love to do. She said a career will follow as long as students demonstrate their ability to work hard — even if that career isn’t exactly what they imagined they would be doing after graduation.
Valiquette is not the only LSU alumna in Disney World. LSU College of Agriculture alumna Caroline Coplen creates costumes for Dinsey Parks. Additionally, the University was selected as a distinguished Disney College Program institution because of a high number of applicants in November 2017