Grad lands internship on Mars…kind of

Morgan Griffin works hard everyday to help astronauts dodge meteors, slingshot around the moon, and land on Mars. Griffin doesn’t work at NASA, but at the next best thing, The Mission Space Attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot.

The 23 year old from Danville, Iowa is currently interning at Walt Disney World for six months through their Disney College Program.

“I’ve had the idea of working at Disney in the back of my mind since I was 6 years old,” Griffin said. “I’ve done a bunch of research over the years on positions for students and internships.”

Griffin graduated from St. Ambrose University in 2012 with a degree in fine arts and theatre and a minor in art history and was very eager to apply for a position with Disney. The process involved an online questionnaire to determine if her personality and work ethic would work well at Disney. Then she received a phone interview where she was asked questions about her strengths and weaknesses and questions involving different scenarios and situations that would occur at the theme parks. After a few days she received a letter of acceptance.

Mission Space is an attraction that allows guests to experience authentic NASA-style training and a space launch on a shuttle simulator. This thrill ride is as close as it gets to a real space launch as guests experience the feeling of zero gravity. Guests have the mission of landing their spaceship successfully on Mars followed by a safe return to Earth.

Griffin fills in various positions at Mission Space, including operating the ride and assisting the guests in line. Her utmost duty is the safety of the guests. Griffin makes sure that each guest is securely inside the ride and safe once they’re off and exiting. Often she has had guests become ill or faint after experiencing the intense version, which includes 2.5 g-forces, and 35 mph spinning. In that case, if she is in charge of the bay they’re in, she must take action in rectifying the situation and following protocol.

Griffin wears a space jumpsuit as her daily uniform and says that she gets a lot of compliments from children who want to wear one as well.

Morgan Griffin poses for a picture in her space jumpsuit. The Buzz/Submitted.
Morgan Griffin poses for a picture in her space jumpsuit. The Buzz/Submitted.

“The best part is working with the children,” Griffin said.

Griffin says many kids are scared of the ride and their parents don’t even know how to calm them down because they haven’t ridden the attraction before. Griffin told one girl that Mickey Mouse loves this ride and the next time she saw him she should tell him that she rode it too. After giving her a sticker for her bravery, the girl’s parents were very thankful.

People from all over the world vacation at Walt Disney World and while working Griffin has encountered patrons speaking Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish, German, Russian, French, Italian, Norwegian, Chinese, and Mandarin. She encountered a situation with a language barrier when a small boy who only spoke Chinese lost his family. Griffin was able to locate his family but she said it was a very scary experience.

“I usually pray that everything will go smoothly with the different languages thrown at me every day,” Griffin said.
Griffin says that being a part of a big, nationally known company has its challenges. She tries to not dwell on what happened at work the day before and to focus on the new day ahead of her. She looks forwards to the people she has the opportunity to meet and the connections she is able to make.

“Everyone has to be on the same page, from the people on break to the coordinators,” Griffin said. “Everyone has a purpose and must support their coworkers.”

Griffin has put in a lot of hard work but says that is has been worth it because she has met a lot of amazing friends. Griffin’s favorite part is getting into all the Walt Disney World theme parks for free on her days off. In the future Griffin is considering extending her contract with the Disney College Program or applying for an internship with Disney in their animation department.

“I’m working in a place where every child dreams of going,” Griffin said. “I have an important job to do.”


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