Amid the hustle and bustle of Main Street in Disney's Magic Kingdom, a window displays an old-fashioned style script that reads: "Main Street Music Co., Ron Logan, Conductor, 'Leading the Band into a New Century.'"
The UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management has a connection with Walt Disney World and other Orlando entertainment, said Ron Logan, associate professor at Rosen and former executive vice president of Walt Disney Entertainment Worldwide.
Logan, a 41-year Disney veteran, began his venture with Disney in 1960 as a consultant for Disneyland Entertainment. He later became vice president of Creative Show Development and eventually vice president of Disney Entertainment before his retirement in 2001. Logan was responsible for creating, casting and producing all live entertainment products for The Walt Disney Company, including the Disneyland and Disney World resorts, Disney Tokyo and Paris resorts, Disney Cruise Line and Walt Disney Entertainment Worldwide.
"I know all these kinds of people who I've met in my career," Logan said. "I consider myself the connection between the businesses."
Among his accomplishments as the founder and first president of Disney Theatrical Productions is his production of Beauty and the Beast: A New Musical on Broadway and later, around the world. He was also instrumental in the productions of Fantasmic!, The Festival of the Lion King, The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and more.
The UCF Rosen campus is located fewer than 10 miles from Walt Disney World parks and resorts, as well as Universal Studios and other Orlando entertainment industries.
"This is where hospitality is," said Ashlee Atkari, a sophomore studying hospitality management. "We're in the best part of the world, quite frankly, for my industry."
Atkari is a student in Logan's entertainment arts and events class.
"It's just crazy to think that this person who literally influenced my childhood so much is now teaching me," she said. "It's just an honor to learn from him."
Atkari said that she loves that Rosen professors are still actively involved in the entertainment industry.
Duncan Dickson, associate professor at Rosen, spent 20 years with Disney entertainment. He was a part of the opening of Epcot, 10 Disney hotels and involved in Disney overseas in Paris and Tokyo.
Dickson said he's now preparing students to be the next generation of leaders in the entertainment field.
"You always have those students who you know are destined to do great things," Dickson said. "You work with them to move their career along the best you can."
Rosen takes a proactive approach to being the middleman for its students and entertainment fields, such as Disney, through utilizing industry partners and advisory boards, bringing in guest speakers from the field and keeping students actively connected in the industry, Dickson said.
Logan's classes involve him telling anecdotes of his time with Disney as part of his lessons.
"Everything I teach about I can show to you in real-life works," he said.
Logan wrote Walt Disney Entertainment - A Retrospective Look, a book that documents the evolution of Walt Disney Entertainment from 1955 to 2000.
UCF published his book through the bookstore, and Logan uses it as learning material for his classes, which are theme park attraction management and entertainment arts and events.
Although Logan retired from Disney in 2001, he continues to be involved in the entertainment field through music and theater operations around the world.
"Students blow me away," Logan said. "They're so creative, it's unbelievable."
Dickson said that teaching and working in Disney are two completely different worlds. While he misses his friends in the entertainment field, he finds teaching to be very rewarding.
"That, right now, is more important than what I was doing with Disney," Dickson said.
Paige Wilson is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @paigeshortstack or email her at PaigeW@CentralFloridaFuture.com.