Is northeast Indiana even better than Disney World? This former cast member says 'yes'

Inside Cait McEntee’s office at Parkview Regional Medical Center, you’ll find magical artifacts from her past. As a former Walt Disney World cast member (what Disney calls its employees), she has a collection of memorabilia that would make any Disney fan gasp with admiration.

An old queue sign from “it’s a small world,” an award plaque with Walt’s photo, it all seems to be no big deal to Cait. 

Extremely humble, she tends to downplay her career history.

“I usually tell people I used to work in Florida,” she says with an innocent grin. Cait McEntee

For seven years, Cait’s office was in the Magic Kingdom, right above the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. She could smell waffle cones baking constantly, and always knew when it was 3 p.m. (That’s when the parade kicks off every day.)

During her 11 years with Disney, a company with renowned expectations, Cait worked in various roles for the human resources team, one of the most vital aspects of park operations. With more than 70,000 cast members, Walt Disney World is the largest single-site employer in the United States.

Cait started as an intern, but quickly moved to recruitment and eventually retention. During her seven years at the Magic Kingdom, she had the opportunity to create and lead a team focused on cast member recognition.

“Cast members make magic for guests onstage; we were creating magic for cast members backstage,” Cait explains. “It was incredible to see how engaged they became with our recognition programs.”

So how did she go from Main Street USA, to Fort Wayne, Indiana?

Shortly after Cait became pregnant, her husband and fellow cast member, Richie, who is from Fort Wayne, started planting seeds about moving back to his hometown. She says they visited his family often, so she was familiar with northeast Indiana.

After their son, Nick, was born, the idea of being closer to Richie’s family really started growing on her. During a visit to Fort Wayne in 2017, Cait vividly recalls watching Nick, then 18 months old, playing with his cousins and grandparents. Suddenly, she was ready.

“Knowing what we could provide for him here made it a no-brainer,” she says. “It was actually an easy decision.”

When she started looking for a job in Fort Wayne, Cait wanted to work somewhere that reminded her of Disney. “I knew I wanted to work for an organization of that caliber,” she says. Most importantly, she wanted to work somewhere that valued community involvement. “Most people don’t know how invested (Disney) is in the community,” she says–not only with donations, but also volunteering.

It didn’t take long for her to realize Parkview Health was the right fit for her in Fort Wayne.

In addition to Parkview’s community-focused mission, she was drawn to their focus on growth opportunities for co-workers.

“We talk about growth at Parkview,” she says. “It’s a measure of success, but we live it, too.”

Cait and her family enjoy Night of Lights in downtown Fort Wayne.

Cait was initially hired on to Parkview’s Organizational Development team, a division of human resources. As part of that team, she provided leadership development training and coaching, and also helped lead new hire orientation.

“I loved the opportunity to tell new co-workers, ‘I left Disney to be here. That’s how cool this place is,’” she says. Then she laughs. “Without fail, people always ask, ‘Why?’”

Her response: “Hands down, the people,” Cait says. “The Midwest hospitality and friendliness, it’s real. I get to raise my son in a place where he’s surrounded by people who are kind and genuinely warm. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Almost two years post-move, Cait can now personally testify to Parkview’s focus on growth, as she’s grown into a new role herself. As a Retention and Engagement Specialist, she’s doing a lot of the same things she used to do in the Magic Kingdom.

“My whole focus is making sure people like their jobs, love their jobs–and love it so much they don’t want to leave,” she says.

That’s pretty magical, too.

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