Disney Executive sits in on panel of PhD students, joins sports executives on Industry Insights

November 17, 2017


To kick off the Friday before the holiday week, the Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sports Management hosted Gary Daniels, Vice President of Digital Experience at Disney Parks and Resorts, to speak with two sessions of students in the afternoon.

Daniels had an informal session with PhD students to start his visit. Joined by Dr. Dan Fesenmaier and his PhD students, the group discussed topics ranging from artificial intelligence and RFID technology, to how Disney works to stay on top by keeping the guest as their focus.

“One of the best things about working at Disney is we do keep guests at the center of our relations,” Daniels said. “That’s why I have stayed almost 20 years, because at the end of the day, I’m not making tires, I’m not making phones, I’m creating memories for families and that’s something people aspire to do.”

Later in the afternoon, Daniels joined a larger Industry Insight session to present to a larger group of students and faculty from the Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management. This Industry Insight Session also included a panel discussion between Chris Gargani, Vice President of Premium Seat Sales at Live Nation Entertainment, and Matt DiFebo, CEO of Havana Sun. After the Industry Insight session, there was a quick reception and networking opportunity for students.

Jeremy Panakos, a student in the Sport Management Master’s Program, was interested in the vast technology that Disney has to offer.

“The big thing [I got from] listening to Mr. Daniels was realizing that Disney is not only blowing other companies away in technology, but also their data collection,” Panakos said. “It’s amazing to see the capabilities they have by getting their customers to wear magic bands and with everything they do, they make it simple and I think that’s key.