321 GO!

runDisney Entertainment Director Mark Ferrara: A Look Behind the Most Enchanting Running Events on Earth

October 25, 2023 Carissa Galloway and John Pelkey Season 1 Episode 18
321 GO!
runDisney Entertainment Director Mark Ferrara: A Look Behind the Most Enchanting Running Events on Earth
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us on a thrilling journey as we sit with the incredible Mark Ferrara, the Entertainment Director for runDisney.  From performer to director, Mark opens up about his interesting career path, providing fascinating behind-the-scenes insights and sharing his expertise on weaving together the multiple threads that make a successful race at Disney.

For our Healthier U moment, we have a deep conversation on cravings and emotional eating, something we've all struggled with at some point. We pull back the curtain on our personal battles with food, sharing practical strategies to manage stress and emotions without resorting to unhealthy eating habits. With techniques such as healthier food substitutions, awareness of cravings, and non-food coping mechanisms, this discussion aims to encourage and empower you.

Get ready for a laughter-filled trip down memory lane as we reminisce about a past expedition that left us utterly confused. Mark humorously discusses the upcoming Wine and Dine race weekend and the possibility of our co-host John being "contractually obligated" to identify every Figment costume at the finish line. Plus, we champion the importance of supporting local theater and arts, underscoring the magic and transformation it brings into our lives. This episode promises incredible insights, laughter, and much more. So grab a seat, and let's get started!

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...

Speaker 1:

Welcome to 321 Go the Podcast. I'm John Pelkey.

Speaker 2:

And I'm Carissa Galloway and we're bringing you stories from start to finish to keep the everyday athlete motivated to keep moving towards the next finish.

Speaker 1:

Today we have a very special guest run Disney Entertainment Director Mark Ferrara, our close personal friend maybe my best friend, though we'll have to ask him about that and a lot of other great stuff, carissa.

Speaker 2:

That's right, we'll see. Maybe Mark's gonna spill the beans about any. You know behind the scene run Disney info. You'll have to stay tuned to find out. We're also gonna talk about managing cravings and emotional eating with healthier you. Open the mail bag to ask John a quote noteworthy question. Huge shout out to Katie McBride at TravelMation, our great sponsor. Go follow her on Instagram at TravelMation. She plans Disney vacations. She also plans vacations all over the world, so check her out. Thanks for listening. Thanks for sharing. When you're listening on Instagram, keep listening and let's do this.

Speaker 1:

Well, good afternoon morning. As we're recording this, had to check the clock there. But Carissa, more importantly, because your your clock may not be where everyone else's is. Welcome back to the mainland. Am I allowed to say aloha when you're returning from Hawaii and the Iron man World Championships?

Speaker 2:

I think aloha means hello and goodbye. It is currently 11 44 on East Coast time, meaning it's 544 Hawaii time. I would like to take a nap, very confused on the travel and the red eye, but a long time in Hawaii, but a very rewarding time in Hawaii.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, now, okay, fill us in on this, because I'm saying your Iron man World Championships out there in, I believe, kona though never been to Hawaii just throwing that out there, and any money people listening to the podcast who might want to show Johnny Hawaii. Take us through what that's like, because you were incredibly busy the entire time and you were there for, as you said, quite a long time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, nine nights there, nine nights in one hotel, that's kind of strange. So, yes, the Iron man World Championships is one really big day of racing, but it's quite a production because on our side there's kids races that happened the week before. There's press conferences, there's special sort of breakouts and breakfast that we do, where we're facilitating interviews with some of the Iron man legends. There's three large stage shows, and I mean a stage bigger, johnny, than our run Disney stage in terms of size. We do about a two and a half hour. It's called E-Comol Mai, which is the welcome ceremony. There's videos. It's very much like a start line show for us, with throwing the videos, bringing up sponsors, doing some interviews, and then there's the Awards Banquet, which is another about three hour show, and then there's a Volunteer Banquet, which is very fun opportunity to give out prizes and celebrate the volunteers. So there's a lot to do. And then, oh yeah, the World Championship race which there's a race indeed. There's a race. There's a 20 hour race, which actually my work day, for that was easier than I'm going to Iron man California tomorrow. Easier than that work day because there were five of us to sort of carry the load of everything like that and I'm sort of if you will, I'm actually an announcer three there. Wow, all right, you've arrived In terms of the pecking order there. But this is the first time. So the Iron man finish line has always been carried by Mike Riley, the voice of Iron man, who retired last year. So there's a lot of figuring out. What does that finish line look like without him? So this was a women's only race, so obviously we wanted to have women's voices. So either myself or an Irish woman named Joanne Murphy, who was a kind of shared lead announcer with a South African gentleman, paul K, we split time on the finish line. So last year when I was there, I never went to the finish line. That's, as you like to say, has a little prestige to it. So this was my first time I got to go to the finish line. You get a special pass. You can't even get up there. You're up in a tower without a pass. So I got to across the World Championship. Call people an Iron man. So that was really cool, especially because it was women and the women celebrate more. There is more emotion to it. So it's some really cool moments. But man, that was. It says a lot of work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was going to say, and it differs a lot from what we do at a Run Disney race, I would assume, because again we have some elite runners. There are people there who put up amazing times and everything, but really it's a little. It's more of a party. Everybody who runs Run Disney knows that. It's more of a celebration of people. We have a lot of people running for the very first time. I doubt you had anyone at the World Championships who was doing their very first Iron man and if they were, my goodness what a story that would be.

Speaker 2:

There was actually probably a handful of them. We had our youngest athlete, she was 18. She was one of three and they were the first known athletes with autism to finish the Iron man World Championships as women. That's great. So sometimes Iron man will bring in sort of special stories like that. Yeah, let that be their debut Iron man. But, john, the real difference of Iron man and Run Disney, aside from the hours, aside from that, it's a different sport. There are a lot of parties. There's VIP parties, there's sponsor parties, there's the Thank God I'm Not Racing party, and they all have open bars and all kinds of things. So even at the finish line, even on race day, there's a party 100 feet away with an open bar. So your body is taxed differently.

Speaker 1:

I think now, outside of the competing in the Iron man, the rest of this whole partying thing, I think I'm completely, completely prepared for any of that. The Thank God I'm Not Running party, by the way, I should be hosting that, there is absolutely no doubt. So, put in a good word, Sounds like a race at Le Mans or something where you know there's just champagne breakfasts going on and all this stuff around it.

Speaker 2:

That is so cool, so balancing that different.

Speaker 1:

I want to ask this question, though my assumption is your wake-up time was not quite as disturbing as ours for Run Disney.

Speaker 2:

I don't even want to say it out loud, only because I did not have to go to the start of the race. So I did the hot corner and Joanne and Paul did the race start. So the race started at 6.20. They were probably there at like 4.30. I didn't wake up till 6. Wow, and it was amazing.

Speaker 1:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I just opened the door. I stood open the door because I could hear them starting the race, and then I just got ready and I had to be up at the hot corner, which is a place where runners go by about five different times, and then he's not listening but shout out to our timer, Emilio, who is fantastic. Because the runners go by so many different places, we need to see their names, especially for the pro athletes. They want to specifically call them up. So we have our timing screen on the finish line that you're familiar with, which is horizontal lines with the names that we don't use a lot for Disney because it's just too many people at once, Right? So we had four different vertical columns for the four different areas. You can see the person's name, their flag, if it's their birthday on it. And then we had to put tape Like this is the down road, this is the up road, this is the right turn. So you're very but like he kept it all organized and, yeah, large font, you would have been okay.

Speaker 1:

I'm having flashbacks to an expedition, everest we did many years ago, where there was one place where you announced and some of the people were coming towards the if I remember correct the finish, and the rest of them were going on further, and we were so horribly confused throughout all of that and I think it was, it was entertaining, just as confused, us being as confused as we were. But see this, this seems I'm, I'm, I'm an old guy and you know I'm. This seems like a lot of work, a lot of work. I'm weighing the yeah, you don't have to be up at 1am, but you got done till 1am.

Speaker 2:

You know, like talk about expedition Everest, that just makes me laugh, because do you remember anybody that's an OG or remember this? There was the scavenger hunt, so it was roughly a three mile race with obstacles and at one point there was a scavenger hunt and do you remember we couldn't understand still don't even working for them, like, well, do they have to have the questions right to finish? And this was in the early years. Eventually they changed it, but, like the first couple years, we were like, well, their question was wrong, they have to go back. You and I made a mess of that.

Speaker 1:

Oh, today's interview, Mark Ferrara, and we won't get into this anything but he spent hours trying to explain to me how it worked and to this day I don't understand any of it. It's all algebra to me.

Speaker 2:

No, we'd be like turn around, go back. Where's your clues? Just not confusing.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the halfway point. Not you, that one, that one there. Raise your hand if you're finishing. Raise your hand if you're still in this scavenger hunt. Yeah, anyway, so all right. So let's uh. Congratulations, first of all. I'm glad it went well for you. I know you're jetting off again tomorrow.

Speaker 2:

I have one more Iron man for 2023. And then we get to see I will do the entire Run Disney season before I have another Iron man. Cool, they're like opposite seasons and I'm not thrilled about it, but I'm thrilled to come back to Run Disney. It's like home.

Speaker 1:

Well, and the way your schedule's been the last you're like a rock star on tour, you're home for like 45 minutes and then you leave again. We even have an obligation tonight that we have to go and do.

Speaker 2:

We sure do. I don't know if we're supposed to talk about that Soon. Wink, wink. You can't see me winking, yes.

Speaker 1:

It'll be near water and relaxing, promoting something.

Speaker 2:

Racing All right, fair enough.

Speaker 1:

So relax, let's talk about Wine and Dime. We are very, very close. These Run Disney seasons sneak up on you, quite frankly, because I'm going out of town this weekend, this coming weekend or, excuse me, next weekend, and then I'm back for the race. So it, you know, it seems like, oh well, we don't run Disney seasons a ways off. And now here we are, you know, just a little over a week away, or so. What are you most looking forward to?

Speaker 2:

This one wine and dine is always, like you know, that first day back at school, kind of seeing everybody. So you haven't seen Riley since springtime, right?

Speaker 1:

Right right.

Speaker 2:

How excited are you to see your good buddy Riles? You're just nodding it doesn't seem very excited. Like ah, it's great.

Speaker 1:

No, no, it's great to see Riley and we're gonna try to strong arm him in to stick around for an extra day and do in the pod. We'll see. You know he can be, you know he can be set in his ways. So we'll see, and I would say that to him. So no offense there.

Speaker 2:

We know he's a huge podcast listener. He could not. He loves it. I'm sure I'm unsure. He may not know how to find the podcast.

Speaker 1:

He may not, and when he does find it, I would get like emails with just notes and notes and notes about what I'm doing improperly.

Speaker 3:

Welcome to that.

Speaker 1:

Perhaps it's best. Perhaps it's best. Yeah, no, I would agree with you. It's just again. We haven't done it since what? April, I guess. And while we've done it so often now, particularly you and I, it feels familiar when you jump back in. But it really is the first day of school. It's always interesting to see if there are any changes, what some of the new entertainment might be, and wink, wink, nudge, nudge Maybe Mark Ferrero will be talking about that a little bit later, possibly. Yeah, I don't wanna give away too much, but just excited to get back into it. But once it starts, boy, I tell you it's over in a hot minute.

Speaker 2:

Next thing you know I know we gotta really kind of appreciate it. Next thing we'll know will be in the Heart of Marathon in Dopey, which is so early this year, I believe, like really early in January.

Speaker 1:

Is it? I haven't looked forward. Yeah, I think like third, fourth something like that yeah. I don't know. I need to look forward.

Speaker 2:

I was just looking at that. But no, I'm excited to get back. I'm excited for figment. I know you're excited for figment too, because you've always say I'm contractually obligated to call out everyone in a figment costume. Well, john, you might have put your money where your mouth. Just you're gonna be figment, figment, figment, figment, figment, figment.

Speaker 1:

You know like, maybe you need like a call. Like a match, a figment. I need to get a button on the finish line DJs thing with the recorded figment, and so I'm gonna just keep hitting the button.

Speaker 3:

Figment, figment, figment, figment, figment.

Speaker 1:

Something like that Because I have a feeling to your point gonna be a lot of figments.

Speaker 2:

It's good to see that, and maybe even you'll be a figment. I don't know, I do oh maybe you'll be the old guy in the thing with the hat. The dream maker, you know the in the old figment wasn't there a guy with a hat?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, it's like I think he was called the dream maker.

Speaker 2:

Or dream warriors, which I believe is a docking song for a Nightmare on Elm Street movie.

Speaker 1:

So it's probably not dream warrior but dream maker or something like that. The dream, all the disnoids are just gonna be all over us for not knowing.

Speaker 2:

And clearly we don't talk about this with Mark. So, but that would be fun. Yeah, that would be fun, and Riley could be a giant figment. That would be terrifying.

Speaker 1:

Now see, riley has more the stature of the dream, the not dream warrior. I'm gonna have to listen to Dawkins dream warriors when this is over. But yeah, he has more of that. I think I would be more on the figment side, but I doubt that. Is there a character in Journey to Imagination that you see right at the beginning and then never see again? Cause that would be me. So I may actually be dressed as an attraction attendant at Journey to Imagination, so I just like, please enjoy the show and then you never see me again.

Speaker 2:

Well, there is that. Then the new one has the guy where it's like experiments that go awry and he's a little bit crotch. I don't really like his attitude sometimes towards figment. He keeps telling us not to use the imagination, so maybe you could be that guy.

Speaker 1:

All right, I'm gonna have to check it out. I have not. I haven't been back there and seen the new Journey to Imagination.

Speaker 2:

It's not even new anymore. We can't use the word new anymore, john. It's just that's what it is.

Speaker 1:

New to me.

Speaker 2:

Okay, we will try. You know that post-race after party, john, maybe we'll try to get you into that. Johnny's not invited.

Speaker 1:

No chance, johnny. Johnny's not invited. In fact, that's what the ticket says Congratulations. You have purchased your ticket to the after party parenthetically. Johnny's not invited. Johnny's not invited.

Speaker 2:

I would love to share. Maybe I can take Jeff Galloway's ticket again and go this year. All right, John, before we jump in to today's Wine and Dine focused interview, what's going on in your pop culture, your viewing world?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, people listening to the pod may realize I have a lot of free time at this point. That's about to end, though. My busy season's coming up as well, so we've wrapped up another series. My wife and I jumped into Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan on Amazon.

Speaker 2:

Oh, the last one.

Speaker 1:

What's that?

Speaker 2:

Are there three seasons or four? Seasons, four seasons and the fourth season, I believe, is only six episodes.

Speaker 1:

It's a shorter season and I think the third season's only eight episodes. But if you want a good, just roller coaster ride, if you don't mind a little violence, because it's, you know, cia behind the line, sort of stuff, john Krasinski is just terrific at it. It's a fun ride, something different, a little bit of an action thing for you, highly recommend that. We've wrapped that one up and we've moved on to. One of my favorite favorite comedy movies of all time is a movie called what we Do in the Shadows and it is a movie about vampires, a comic movie about vampires. And there was also a television series and yesterday my lovely wife and I jumped into the television series. I think it's five seasons. It was on FX. I don't know if it's just streaming now I'm, you know, getting them old, I don't know how this works, but it's really really really funny, silly and smart. So I can highly recommend that. And then the final pop culture thing. The thing I'm most excited about is that tomorrow, the first Rolling Stones album in I believe 18 years might be 15, should probably look that up beforehand that Hackney Diamonds is coming out, the new Stones album. They've released two songs off. It Sounds fabulous Couple of good guest artists on it Stevie Wonder, lady Gaga, paul McCartney, bill Wyman, the Stones original bass player. It comes in and plays on a number and he's been gone since the Steel Wheels tour, which is like early 2000,. No late 90s, I guess, to early 2000,. Been gone a long time. So very excited about that as a noted Rolling Stones fan, along with my friend Mark Ferrara. You're gonna be hearing from him in a minute. That's one of the things we bonded on early. So new Stones album coming out tomorrow. Hackney Diamonds trying to decide, carissa, whether I should just listen to it on one of the streaming services or if I owe it to myself to go out and get the vinyl tomorrow.

Speaker 2:

So I could decide. I think that, as you alluded to earlier, you and I have a work obligation. As we're taping this, which is October 19th, you and I have a work obligation. So I think that on the car ride, on the way home, if you have the ability to listen to it, I don't think you're gonna be able to, not? Yes?

Speaker 1:

it's gonna be hard, it's gonna be gonna be difficult. So, probably gonna have an headache, so I'm probably gonna do both.

Speaker 2:

You could do both. I will listen and then get up the next day and go.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, cause tomorrow I'm getting a haircut Woo. Thankfully for, yeah, I know I'm doing our little thing tonight with the longer hair and then tomorrow it's gonna get a little shorter, not a lot shorter, just trim it up a little bit Just now.

Speaker 2:

people will be confused.

Speaker 1:

People are often confused. People are always confused.

Speaker 2:

I know I have one more thing to say before we move on. You made me think about it, talking about movies and this gentleman I think we're gonna tape a podcast with him next week, cause he'll be at my house Jeff Galloway is in a movie that came out recently on Comedy Central. It's called Office Race. Is that right, babe? Jeff Galloway makes a cameo in this movie.

Speaker 1:

What? Why did I not know this?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I was and I have both at a terrible job of letting social media know about this. I saw I was actually watching real TV and I saw a clip from it, or reminded me. So Office Race on Comedy Central. I don't know how you watch it. If you had to like, look for it on the DVR version or whatever that is, but Jeff Galloway's in it and he I think he's funny.

Speaker 1:

Wow, and I'm looking at the cast.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, he's with Reggie Bush commentating on a race. That's fun, I'm looking at the cast With Reggie Bush, joel McHale, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Jack Bennett from Saturday Night Live, kelsey Grammer, jb Smoove, allison Hannigan I love her.

Speaker 2:

And the supporting players. Just try to see if I know anybody in this? We will talk with Jeff and then before the end of the year we will get that podcast out to you. Maybe that's a great episode. I just made that all up. We'll do an episode on Office Race and Jeff's feature not feature film, tv film debut.

Speaker 1:

Is it a TV again? I was on.

Speaker 2:

It's on Comedy Central it is on Comedy Central.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes, yes, oh. Apparently it's also available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Speaker 2:

There you go.

Speaker 1:

You want me to read the elevator pitch for it, I'm gonna read the elevator pitch for it.

Speaker 2:

Here it is.

Speaker 1:

An unmotivated office drone refuses to go the extra mile at work but is willing to go 26.2 miles to one up is insufferable. Excuse me, boss, I'm thinking Kelsey Grammer. Insufferable, boss, because I mean Kelsey Grammer. The Kelsey Grammer character for most things is largely insufferable, so it's gotta be.

Speaker 2:

We'll see, All right very good for Jeff. And then we should. I wouldn't even Jeff's watched the whole thing, so maybe we can do a little movie viewing here. And then we're gonna have Jeff on to talk about his background, talk a little about the 72 Olympics, steve Pre-Fontaine so some good stuff in the works. But let's get chatting with Mark right, as Sarge is gonna come in and cut us off and tell us to shut up and move on to the interview, right?

Speaker 1:

Let's do it.

Speaker 3:

Okay, civilians, it's time for the goods. Let's get on to the interview.

Speaker 1:

All right, here we go Our Run. Disney Entertainment Director, Mark Ferrara. Welcome to 321. Go the Podcast.

Speaker 3:

Well, thank you very much for having me, carissa and John. This is a pleasure, this is an honor. All the things I'm supposed to say right now.

Speaker 2:

That you don't mean, Can't not laugh. I can't tell if we're doing a skit or like this is an actual professional podcast.

Speaker 3:

Oh no, we go immediately into bits like no bump up of any authenticity. Immediately into bits.

Speaker 1:

Honestly, folks, this is. If you're looking for inspiring ways to get through your run, check out a different episode. This is gonna be about a little bit of nuts and bolts from Run Disney, a lot of Mark and I working out all of our family business because, as mentioned, he's my brother from a different mother, whose mother, by the way, carissa, blames me for things that Mark did when he was a child, long before I was even born. His mother will blame me for it, so we'll get into that later, but this is gonna be a very run Disney centric and very Mark and John working out family business centric.

Speaker 2:

We're all here for that. So, mark, we're gonna start at the beginning. We'd like to know your background as a human, an entertainer and director.

Speaker 3:

All right, I'll start with human born in San Francisco. You know mid century, maybe you'll just say that mid century.

Speaker 1:

The last century let's point that out Mid mid century, of course.

Speaker 3:

Mid last century, san Francisco, california, and you know, born in San Francisco, raised in San Jose, went to California, went to Southern California for high school and college and then made my way to make my name as an actor in New York City back during the first term of the Reagan administration, and then from there did a lot of different work, came down to Orlando, had a family and started sort of a Disney themed career, if you will, and got very, very fortunate to land the ESPN club as a sports host, where I met the esteemed John Pelkey and started working as a performer, as a host there, as well as the sports complex where I met the lovely and talented Carissa. And so from there they, you know, they thought it might be a decent idea to have me the right some stuff or direct some stuff, and so I got into all that sort of sports entertainment directing.

Speaker 1:

Okay, first of all, who are they and what are they doing now that they're no longer working in the entertainment business? Obviously, for you know the reasons. You can imagine.

Speaker 3:

They are retired. It's the inimitable John feeling really.

Speaker 2:

Our former director, who's been mentioned before. He hasn't.

Speaker 3:

He's a legend among sort of any group you talk to. He's a legend and he was able to. He sort of plucked me from the host duties to start some directing things back in 08, I believe it was, and so the run Disney thing was a part of it. I was his second show director for many, many years for that Also did some stuff on the cruise line and some other areas, and then he retired and then I fervently applied for the open.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to tell the real story of this.

Speaker 3:

Tell the rest, I was very, very close and was not selected because man who's making his own legend as we speak, among anyone you talk to, matthew Hamill, got the gig. Covid happened and they brought everyone back and at that point they reassigned Matthew, you know, a few months later to another position and I got this gig. So I've been doing it for a long time as sort of the second show director and doing it now for about maybe eight to 10 races as the primary show director. So it's not a blast and I go back with these two hosts that you've been listening to for a long time now radio and podcast listeners. Radio, listen to me.

Speaker 1:

All right, so here, okay. Well, here's the thing. You've already answered my next question. So your attempt to submarine and end my career continues as you.

Speaker 2:

I think you can rework the question so all right.

Speaker 1:

Well, the question was what was your first year at Run Disney and what were your responsibilities? So I'm going to change that question to what's wrong with you. No, no, no, I won't do that. The question what? So? When you took over, or when you started helping John out, those, those first couple of years, let's talk about that before you took over the whole?

Speaker 2:

entertainment. I don't like that question.

Speaker 1:

No.

Speaker 2:

No, I think I want to know in 2008,. Were you directing or were you performing? Because the question begs to come out. You know, john, you and him were at the ESPN club together. Well, why did you get the nod and Mark didn't get the nod on the stage, on the big stage? You know, mark did other things.

Speaker 1:

Well, are you asking me or are you asking him?

Speaker 2:

That's a rhetorical question, but in 2008, mark, when you said you was your first run Disney, what did you do that year?

Speaker 1:

That was my question I was going to be. What did you do that year? Oh, so we're working out all family business, not just marketing.

Speaker 3:

I think that former show director prior to John feeling Carrie, Carrie Brandt, who is doing quite well these days, and I think he selected John to be a host way, way back when actually I love to be, I love to, I love to do this.

Speaker 1:

You're wrong. Actually, it was Alan Brune We've mentioned this on the show. Who the first year? Yeah, alan Brune for the first year, and then Carrie took over for Alan and I'd already gotten my foot in the door, but we we covered this on an early podcast. Clearly you're not listening that that basically, I was just. I was sitting next to Alan Brune at some event that I did and he just turned to me and went hey, you, you do sports, right, and that's how I ended up getting the gig. So can I just can. Can I get on to my question, or do you?

Speaker 2:

need me. Can I go 2008? That's, that's the only question I'm accepted.

Speaker 1:

First, the first. Well, that's what I, that's what I wanted to ask. What did you do in the beginning?

Speaker 3:

I was primarily responsible for the for the start line stuff, which is what the second show director is now sort of writing the script for for that, which is a laughable concept. Actually, if anyone has watched the shows, it primarily is a jumping off point for for Carissa, john, riley and and Tracy, although Riley and Tracy weren't a regular part of it back then. At any rate, I would do that, I would kind of curate all the materials that we would show at the start line, whether it's sponsor videos or, you know, charity videos or the synergy stuff we get back and forth. So it was primarily all the start line. Once everyone left, once, every once the start line was clear, I was done. And I would often, if we were on Epcot center drive, I'd parked my car right near the stage and I would I would you know kind of kind of weave my car through all of the workers cleaning up all of the trash and the debris left by the athletes, and I would make my way out to the, to the freeway, and I would be done. So I did that for years and years actually.

Speaker 1:

How do you wrap up the day? Just go home, take a couple of pops, maybe put some, you know, put some, put some TV on, just you know.

Speaker 3:

Basically all, all relax and am at the time, so I've got my whole day ahead of me and I've already put in a you know a full day's work. Quote, unquote so yeah, all those things, john, name it. Plus, plus, plus, plus.

Speaker 2:

And we're still. We're still out there, out there working, All right. Well, let's talk about now. You put on your director hat. That's a big deal. So what is it like planning a race, For example? We're right about to get to wine and dine. You know when did you start? How many people are involved? How does that even work?

Speaker 3:

Well, it's so involved, it's remarkably involved, and we barely touch the entertainment side, barely touches all the logistics stuff, all the road closures, all of the elements that run Disney, the actual track, shack folks and everyone that puts the race together. We ancillarily work with them so that we can deal with where they put medical tents, where they put water stops, where they put a variety of things along the course that we have to kind of weave around for our entertainment elements. But on the entertainment side, we work with business development and we work with marketing a lot. We work with merchandise. Everyone's trying to curate the best story, sell the most merchandise, sell the most tickets, obviously, and so our responsibility at that point in time is to find this theme, to create a story around this theme and then to populate the, the courses, with entertainment that fit that theme. And we work with synergy partners as well to get a lot of that material. We work with the charities, we work with the sponsorships and, within our even tighter net group of the production team, we work with costuming, with audio design. There's music throughout the entire course, there's a video throughout the entire course, our costuming team they're crack, they're amazing, they do such great work. We work with, obviously, our DCE, which is the Disney Character Event Department, to make sure that all of the characters we have on the course are staffed and have break space and everything else. That's why you see RVs and everywhere around. There's a lot to it and so the best thing to do is to try and get ahead of it as best we can, and so, right after springtime was done, I did the mile by mile, which is the document that sort of is the blue sky of what I want the courses to look like. We got that on in April so that people had a little bit of a runway to start working on all this, to make sure we had the characters available, staffing available and so forth and so on. So it's quite a bit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and people, when we say this often at the finish line, it's like for everybody. Oh, by the way, let's hear it for volunteers, everybody who works on this race. By the way, the people who work on this race will not take tomorrow off. They'll get up tomorrow and work on the next race, and that really is true.

Speaker 2:

I think what people don't realize and sometimes we try to bring into the start, is that, hey, you know this wine and dine race I'm going to use Seoul, for example, because I know that was one that was from a. What we could put on course with a little bit harder Like you really do try to like this race is soul themed. How can I take that through the whole course? And some people just show up and they're like I want to see Disney characters, but talk about that. Thought that you try to connect the theme with what you can actually see on course.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and that's what we call that executing to the, to the creative it's kind of a weird phrase, but that, that soul thing, that was done. Those were decided in 19, prior to COVID, and everyone thought we would have a character from that movie by this time. We thought we would have Raya then, which was part of that weekend as well. Luckily we are able to get her at the last second, but we never did get Joe. Joe doesn't exist in the park and so my thought is that, well, what's the theme of that movie? It's jazz. So let's have, you know, the race, focus on jazz, and I'm not sure it was that successful based on our responses from the guests, which we study pretty intently. But that's what you try and do. You try and create a theme and take it from that. The previous race, that springtime surprise, it was all about the tower of terror and we don't have any access to the Rod Serling stuff. So I couldn't use any of that and we couldn't even have goofy in the Tower bellhop costumes, because that's not allowed anymore. So what to do? That one I got a little bit luckier with and thought about well, that the time of that event is 1939, and then just drill that into everyone's head and that one worked a little bit better. But normally you want to try and say, yeah, we have these characters. If you're in those discussions about two years later, we do have these characters. For instance, this race it's Alice. For the 5k, we have a lot of Alice characters. The next one is Beauty and the Beast. We have a lot of those characters. And for incanto, we do have Mirabelle and we possibly have a couple of others that may or may not be there, which will be very exciting for folks and talk about. Yeah, no, I think we're going to have Bruno. Okay, so we can't talk about it. Clearly, can't talk about it. That's all I can say.

Speaker 2:

So you talked about soul and that you thought it wasn't successful and I thought that it was and what. We know how hard you guys work and we see the big picture and sometimes when you're running you don't Can you talk about. Do a race that you've directed where you were, like we nailed that that one was good, people love that. I felt really good afterwards because I want I want a positive story.

Speaker 3:

Well, I think the 19, I think the springtime surprise was terrific. That was. We thought we put everyone through a portal, put all the athletes through a portal, with all kinds of haze and special effects lighting. We'd have Riley Claremont's voice, rod Serling, ask if you will say how you're, you're transforming into 1939. The first thing they see out of that is video screen with, you know, green Bay Packers, chicago Bears, 1939. Highlights and, and you know, glenn Miller on the screens and the DJs are playing to that and a lot of our overlays, which are the costumes, that the characters where we're looked more of that era, and I think the athletes loved it. Also, it was one of the first races in a while that ran all the way through the studios, including batu and including toy story, and so they were thrilled with that and it was overall a great, a great event and a great success. The next one that was that kind of high appreciation was the marathon last year, which was the 90s theme, which was sort of like taking candy from a baby, sort of. You know. Millennials are easy to please, but in that sense it's just so relatively easy to have a huge win on that one because there's so many fun, rare characters now from that era that so met so many folks who are pretty much right in the center of the demographic right now. For run, disney could appreciate it was nostalgic. We could curate the entire race with 90s music. It was. It was a blast. And all of the design elements, all of the look was very much of that era. All the characters, a lot of them from the Disney afternoon brand. We got goofy and the power line and Max. It was, you know, big hit. So that was a lot of fun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It really was and we got a lot of really good feedback from that as well and I think it's. You know it's interesting because you mentioned you get feedback from people and they don't like things and certain things. I mean, I would equate it to go into a concert and I mentioned the Rolling Stones because you and I kind of obsessed with the stones. It's like I don't ever need to hear them play satisfaction again, but it's your first time seeing the stones. So if you come to a Walt Disney World Race and you're expecting to see you know the heavy hitter characters and stuff and you don't that. You know it's going to be a little bit difficult, but you can't. You know you can't please everybody and I think you guys do an amazing job pleasing the largest amount of people. And I am so pained that I just gave you a compliment. Then I'm going to have to back off of that for a second. I know, I know and this is being recorded, so damn, it edited out Western.

Speaker 3:

I want to ask you my own recording happening right now, so I want to ask you this one touch on this, because you're rehearsing at 2am when you're just giving me a hard time.

Speaker 1:

Well, there's a question about that coming up as well, but the when you mentioned you working with the track, check people and everything, do you have any input on the layout of the course at all? I mean, I know it's, that is such a that is such a difficult thing to do and I want to. I want to encourage everybody who takes part in the races who may have complaints about that. The logistics of doing something like that deal particularly you're talking marathon and half marathons, we're dealing with multiple parks and everything is very, very difficult. But do you have any input on that at all?

Speaker 3:

Zero. Okay, that's, that's them working it out with.

Speaker 1:

So the fact that I gave everybody your phone number and your email address if they have any issues with it, probably not a great idea on my part.

Speaker 3:

Well, it wouldn't help. That's the. They would be frustrated and they that you know they could, they could have all kinds of keyboard courage and go after me, but wouldn't matter. But the thing is is that they do a really good job and they factor in a lot of different things and they, they, they have to factor in park hours, you know, because the parks it's interesting when, when all of this started back in the early nineties, the parks couldn't wait for us for this event because this was going to bring people in In January, this was for the full marathon and then at a traditionally very low time for park attendance. Now it, the parks are just doing so well that they're like, yeah, really, we have to. You know it, they have to now deal with us and it makes perfect sense because they don't necessarily need us anymore. But we have to work with them, we partner with them. The parks are great, they treat us great, but it's that that's a very kind of really good balance that they have to figure out into that they try to keep the races as much off the main roads as possible, but that's also hard to do, especially the longer the distances. But yeah, they, they basically tell us the course and and they're getting better and better and giving us the course earlier in the process so that we can take that document that has the mile by mile with all the entertainment elements on it, whether it's video screens or DJs or scenic or characters, and we can then place it properly In between medical tents, in between water stops and the like. So it's it's a tough gig for them to do that, but that's, that's all on them. So that's why, when we got all that love for springtime surprise, a lot of it was about the course and not the entertainment. But that's not how I viewed it.

Speaker 1:

I think the host got very, very high ratings and just like to say at least the host get huge ratings, by the way.

Speaker 3:

the host get huge ratings and that's why they keep you know, they keep bringing you back and they keep just throwing money at you.

Speaker 2:

It feels like a lot.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. He's memorizing some of the lines I told him that he had to say. And if he's gonna be on the show, alright, I want to see this the last week or so before the race. Because you know, you and I you know again, as you get, mark and I are very close friends and we've spent there were days where we spent more time together and then we did with our significant others because we did Radio Show together and we worked at the club and we did all these events and stuff together. But that last week before the race, I know, is just I mean it's it's, it's a, to quote the great leave on helm, it's an adult portion. For you guys who are putting the race on, what is that last week like and what octagon Occupies most of your time at that point?

Speaker 3:

Well, everyone else are working so hard that the entertainment team are putting together these stages, putting together these trusses, you know, doing all these overnight hanging lights, putting scenic out. Now, a lot of the scenic happens that the night of the race, obviously, because you can't, you know, do anything on the roads prior to that. Then, of course, all the volunteers and all those tents that are out there, those are all being put up, all the people working the expo there doing all that. So what we do is we have a lot of art at the expo, a lot of the big, huge window clings and a lot of the character meet and greets and a lot of those backdrops that we are installing early in the week at the expo. And then we are also having our paper text is what we call it in the biz where we go through step by step with, with the stage managers, every queue on on those start line stages and every through every throw to a to a lower third, for instance, every throw to a video, every play on audio, play on for all of the speakers that we have and the sports host. We look at camera shots. We, you know, we have to set up all that audio, set up all those antennas and we have to place our we. You know, we do a final drive of the entire course that week as well, where we stick real estate signs in the ground and I'm giving away the secret because there are. We have been, we have seen people follow us during that. They've seen, they've seen that that's what we're they're doing. We've had a close preview of what they're going to see on the course. Wow, put everything in there, whether it's an audio chain, whether it's a video wall, whether it's a character location. We demarcate where the RV is going to be, where the lines are going to go. And I think about all that stuff, because the whole idea out on the course is that you want athletes, as they're racing, to see the character, a clear shot of the character, as from the furthest distance as possible, and oftentimes we've had RVs block it or the lines block it, so those poor folks have to go and go all the way to the all the way to the character first before they decide to get back in the line. So now we've, now we've thought about, we have these paddles now that are at the end.

Speaker 2:

Those were very helpful to me because you let me run sometimes and I give you feedback. And I loved, loved the paddles.

Speaker 3:

Everyone loves the paddles. That was a an idea of our GM, rachel. That followed Ray, our GM there, and Rachel's now bigger and better jobs. But that's that's a great thing. So we do a lot of that stuff, john. And then of course we have our rehearsals with the sports host, we have our fittings with the sports hosts and and we go from there. We make sure we get scripts and cards, the cards. Getting the scripts and the cards, no one will ever know. No one will ever know the kind of work it takes to do all that. And luckily now these days we have very, very diligent production assistance that handle all that stuff.

Speaker 1:

But back in the day, man, I was I'm pointing printing out cards and the deforestation of the rainforest from the trees that died. When having to do that is it's still something I weep about at night when I'm, you know, wondering about how my life didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

I mean, I think we can really kind of take that as our next chapter of this particular interview. I think we should just get, I think we should unpack all that, johnny, we could go on for hours.

Speaker 2:

There's not, we don't yeah, we don't have, we don't have the time there. But I will say what you guys do in the text through building an entire stage and the screens overnight in the middle of a road and having it work when we try to fire it up at four am. That is absolutely miraculous. So on race day let's talk about a Sunday race day, because that's usually our marquee or longest day what is your timeline like on a Sunday race day?

Speaker 3:

Well it's. It's similar to y'alls. I'm probably there at about midnight, we get there, the techs get there about twelve, thirty or so and everything's already set up. We've already had a weekend full of races and we just get everything ready to go for all the sound checks, all the camera checks, and that's what happens at the start line. Actually, that Sunday is probably one of the easier days because we've already had two days of shows and we're in a groove Now. That's assuming we're in the same parking lot for years. For years we had to. After the 10 K, we'd have to just strike everything and then build a brand new stage on Epcot Center Drive. It was crazy. Never have time to rehearse, never have time to check cameras, because they barely got the stage up by the time the first athlete started coming in. You know, maybe there was a three hour gap there, Maybe. How about? All right?

Speaker 1:

Well, listen, I let's, let's just move on, because the I don't want you to have to give away too many secrets here. I'm bored by me at this point. Yeah, I mean, so this is like the merchant ivory of our podcast, merchant ivory film of our podcast. I mean, you know it looks good, I think certainly but, but. But in the end the pacing is, you know it's not the greatest, but we'll, we'll move on and see if we can rise above it there are other parts of the podcast. The interview is not the whole thing, Mark. Well, no, we'll make it work outside of that On me. No, we talk about other things.

Speaker 2:

There's, there's parts you won't see, mark, so we want you to be delighted.

Speaker 1:

There's part, yeah, when you hear the full, the full thing. All right, Mark, I set the bar pretty low on this. You managed to wiggle under it, as I expected you would, but thanks for taking some time. No, honestly, I know how busy you are because we're less than a you know, a month out as we're recording this or around a month out from from the race. So I leave you with this new Rolling Stone single drop today. It's absolutely perfect that we end on that. Go listen to that. Thanks so much, Mark Ferrara, our entertainment director, my brother from another mother. Tell Nana I said hi and we'll talk to you later.

Speaker 3:

Thank you very much, Great show y'all and we'll see you very, very soon. All right, athletes, here's the drill.

Speaker 2:

Time to shape up your diet, theresa. Give them the goods. All right, today we're going to talk about something that is universal. We've talked before about hybrid we have. Most of us have tried to lose weight, but then there's cravings that come along with it and there's emotional eating. So when we look at weight loss as a physical journey as a dietitian and a lot of our training in nutrition school centered on this that it's an emotional one, and one of the most formidable challenges is managing cravings and the tendency to turn to food for stress, for boredom, for emotional turmoil. Because I always have that glass of wine at night and that lets my body know, my brain know, that I get to sort of relax. So do you find yourself that you deal with these demons as well, john? Yeah, I think mainly for me, it's kind of a boredom thing.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes I eat for sport if I'm watching a game or something. You know you do that and I don't really drink a lot anymore. You just kind of save that up for a night out. But yeah, you know you grab a. If you grab a beer while you're watching a game, well, you're going to get some. You know some chips and salsa at least there's a at best, frankly, for me and then it could even move on to you know a little bit of a little bit of a little bit of, you know, chili dogs and all that sort of thing. So yeah, that's mainly for me it's kind of a boredom. And then you know, you just have that. That's your tendency of what you do and that's it. I'm watching a game, going to have a beer or soda and I'm going to have something to eat with it. When do I really need that? Generally I don't.

Speaker 2:

But you've planned for that. So there's basically five different techniques you can use if you're someone who's in an area where you're like my nutrition goals are being hampered by this. So I have to find a way out. And sheer willpower does not work, and the reason why is it's a muscle. It's eventually going to give out, you know, and we do build up willpower, but awareness is a better avenue. So, being mindful by turning into your cues, where I'm actually hungry or is this an emotional trigger at play? So if it's a snack or between meals, just ask yourself that. Now it's okay. If you realize that it's an emotional trigger, you're still going to snack. But it's building up this awareness of yourself. And that can come from logging, that can come from just a 10 second pause. Five minutes, 15 minutes is usually enough to outweigh like a want, so kind of walking away Substitution. So if you're going to eat at a game you talked about adding in the crew to tape ladder, continuing to do things like that where you're kind of 50-50ing it, where you're adding in better substitutions. Also, think about non-food ways to cope with emotions. If it's I'm stressed and I just want to sit down and eat a bag of chips. What could we do first instead? Is it meditation? Is it journaling? Is it engaging in a different healthy hobby that you might enjoy and not give yourself time to do? And then do seek support If you find that my emotional eating is causing my health to decline or things like that. Connect with friends or family or a community group of people that you can turn to, that aren't going to judge you, that are going to allow you to work through that and then plan ahead. So I'm a big meal planner. I always have snacks in the car because impulsive choices can be driven by hangry and they can be driven by emotion. So weight loss is not a simple calories and calories out. There's so much more that goes into it. When it healthier you, we do try to create a positive relationship with you and your food journey and whatever your health journey is. So go to gallowaycoursecom, find out about it. It's a 12-week program. At the fall we're giving out a three-day meal plan. So you sign up, I'll get an email. I'll email you and say what do you want? Your meal plan? I'll send you a custom three-day meal plan to get you started and you can use the code podcast for $150 off.

Speaker 3:

Athletes listen up. It's mail call time. Announce a free present.

Speaker 1:

All right, sarge, let's open up the mailbag for a question. Is this true? Just for me, it's just for you.

Speaker 2:

I'm just going to sit here and smile.

Speaker 1:

Wow from Instagram, which I'm desperately trying to learn. Tony Eckersley says he heard John sing on the DVC cruise so sorry, I know you ponyed up a lot for that and he wants to know more about my musical theater experience. Thank you for saying or lack of musical theater experience, Tony. All right, here's the quick story. When I grew growing up, my dad worked at the White House and I grew up in the Washington DC area, did entertainment lighting for all the entertainment that came into the White House and part of what he would get from that is he would generally get. They had Broadway shows and or singers. This is the 60s, 70s, early 80s. He would get albums from them and as a kid, those were my earliest musical. The things that I listened to musically is I listened to a lot of cast albums for Camelot in 1776, which is the show that I love the most, and I did some theater as a kid and really not much musical wise, though I really always loved them, but I was scared to sing and didn't have any training for that. Jump forward to I'm 24 years old and I'm in college in Gainesville and the local theater, the local community theater, Gainesville Community Playhouse, was doing 1776, which is the musical. I have 1776 tattoo. It kind of changed my life once when I first heard it. And then this time I auditioned, got the role of John Adams, which is the lead, by the way. Thank you, I'll be here and that just started me doing more shows. In Gainesville I did company, I did some Gilbert and Sullivan and it's just always was the thing that I enjoyed doing on stage the most. I don't get to do it very often anymore. When I moved to Orlando, the only singing I really did on stage for any shows that I did is I used to do the Beetlejuice Graveyard Review as Beetlejuice and the show the Ghostbusters show I can't remember what the name of it was but on the steps of the New York Library there at Universal Studios. So I'd sing as Beetlejuice. But every now and then I get to pop. In Carissa saw the production of Ragtime that I was lucky enough to do here at the Garden Theater and that's really it. I mean I've had a little bit of musical training. A couple of my directors were also voice teachers and generally had to work to get me, to get me where I needed to be when I was Bobby and company and then a couple of other things that I did, so that's it. I mean, it's just and, Carissa, you know this the vast majority of people who started out their career as an actor which I did have done musical theater, because that's what's presented in community theaters and high schools, and I didn't really have a high school theater program. But you do musicals and it is my favorite thing to do, and I appreciate that. Tony asked the question, I hope. I think I held up well for my little Frollo song on the DVC crews. I doubt that I'll get to do much more of that, though. Mark Ferrera is actually my director for that as well, and it was his idea to have me sing on stage. So there you go. A far too long answer for a short question, but it's just. It's my favorite thing to do. I've gotten to do not enough of it in my lifetime and I hope to do some more.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think when you did you did ragtime, you know we talked about that like how much time you had to put in and you're just not paid that well. So everybody's doing it for love and you know, I know we had strikes going on with the actors and the writers and there's just there's not the money. So if you can, when you're out there, support your community theater, you know all live theater. Get out there and support your supporting people, people's dreams and you can be, you know, transported by it. So please continue to support the people in the arts so that people like Johnny all over the country can get to do things that they love. All right, you guys. Thank you so much. We can't wait to see you at Wine and Dine. We will have an awesome Wine and Dine recap episode after the race weekend, but for now, get out there, get moving and we'll see you next time.

Speaker 1:

Bye, bye everybody. Three two, one go. One two, three two, one go.

Ironman vs Run Disney
Wine and Dine and Other Adventures
New Rolling Stones Album and Movie Recommendations
Run Disney and Entertainment Director Discussions
Race at Disney
Planning and Execution of Race Course
Managing Cravings and Emotional Eating
Supporting Community Theater and the Arts