Secure in Her World

Former Air Force officer Lyn Yucuis (’81 ) casts a new role at Walt Disney World

Yucuis_1Lyn Yucuis has had two main employers throughout her career: first the U.S. Air Force for 12 years, then Walt Disney World. At first glance these two organizations seem culturally at odds. Regimented order vs. Magic. Rank vs. ‘Role’ (employees at Disney ‘audition’ for ‘roles’ and once selected are part of a ‘cast’). Look again and you find commonality. Behind the scenes, both are deeply concerned with security. On the grounds, there are countless jobs that need to get done.

Yucuis (’81, Physics), Walt Disney World Security Operations Manager, is charged with “protecting the Magic” for the property – four theme parks, two water parks, Downtown Disney entertainment complex, and over 28,000 resort rooms in 27 themed resorts.

“I develop the security cast and provide guidance and leadership in response to the situations we encounter,” Yucuis says. She partners with multiple entities, from law enforcement and emergency services to resort and park operations, transportation, and media relations. “Probably the most demanding aspect of the job is dealing with guests that may not be having such a magical time.”Yucuis_2

Yucuis joined Walt Disney World in 1994. She and her husband, Bill, had just moved to Orlando after he retired and she stepped down from the Air Force. Once in Florida, Bill started a second career as a public school teacher. Lyn started in food and beverage at the Magic Kingdom park, a job that she says she expected to last no more than six months.

Her rise from food and beverage “cast member” to security operations manager has incorporated her physics education from CSU, her fondness for trains – her father worked the railroad, and a belief in duty to one’s country.

Yucuis was selected as first facilitator and trainer for Disney’s Youth Education Series program, “Physics in the Magic Kingdom.” In 1996 she was selected as the first Magic Kingdom Park Main Street operations training coordinator, a role that allowed her to become the first female steam engine train engineer on the Walt Disney World Railroad.

Yucuis_3“When I arrived on Main Street, I noticed engineers were all male,” she says. “When I asked about this I was told that engineers had to pass a strength test. I tried the test, passed, and convinced my bosses to let me train as an engineer. I was met with distrust, but after they saw me perform the job better than many of the men, I convinced them to change the rule.”

Developing and coordinating “cast member” training around Walt Disney World became one of Yucuis’ primary responsibilities. She began a graduate program in human resource development, worked in merchandise distribution management, and returned to the Magic Kingdom as a guest service manager. Then came 9/11.

“After the attacks I looked for ways to serve the country,” Yucuis says. She worked full-time for Homeland Security for two years while holding down a part-time management position at Walt Disney World. When she returned to Disney full time, she was offered a role as a Security Operations Manager for the Magic Kingdom. Five years later she moved into resort property security. This July she will retire after nearly 20 years.

After retirement, Yucuis and her husband plan to golf 300 days the first year of retirement. Until then, she’ll keep on protecting the magic.

by Carol Busch (M.A. ’02)