In Elite Daily’s I Have The Job You Want series, we tell the stories of people working in the most ridiculous, unbelievable, and totally envy-inducing fields you never thought possible. In this piece, we talked to the Disney superfan who gets paid to bring Disneyland to life on TikTok.
Raquel Farinas has been manifesting her job all of her life, even if she didn’t know it. One of her first childhood memories is watching a Disney World nighttime spectacular when she was about 6 years old — she remembers being on vacation with her family, staring in awe at all of the lights, fireworks, dancers, performers and *pure magic* that goes into a Disney celebration. “My mom has videos of me singing on a little carpet in front of the TV, pretending to be Jasmine from Aladdin,” Farinas says. “I just loved going to Disney, because it was where I made my best memories with my family.”
Fast forward more than a few years and Farinas, now 31, has gone from pretending to be Jasmine to interviewing her for the official Disney Parks TikTok. As one of the Disney Parks’ full-time social media coordinators, some of her work days consist of interacting with cast members, sampling everyone’s favorite rides, interviewing influencers and celebs, trying tons of yummy food and so, so much more. Although she primarily focuses on TikTok, she also pushes out content for the Instagram page as well.
“There are so many different things that we film every day: It might be a ride, a new food item that we have, a moment with a cast member. Every day looks different,” Farinas says. “That’s kind of the best part about this job, because there's never a boring day.”
Originally from Miami but now based in Anaheim, California, Farinas films content at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park (though on special occasions she also travels back to Florida to help out at Walt Disney World). She gathers content before the park is open, during peak hours and after the park has closed, depending on what’s on the docket for the day. Although most of the videos are planned via strategic pre-production meetings, there are also days when Farinas has free rein to capture whatever catches her eye.
“Everything, for the most part, is planned ahead, but on ‘inspiration days’, the team just goes out into the park and films anything that inspires us,” Farinas explains. “I'm glad that our leaders let us do that — it’s really nice.”
Although it may seem like all fun and games, Farinas has anything but a laid back job. Besides the rigorous traveling between parks and the filming that goes into on-site days, she also has days when she works from home and edits videos, hops into peer review sessions and meetings, researches TikTok and Instagram trends and coordinates shoots and interviews. In fact, she estimates that she’s at the actual parks only two or three times per week.
“I think everyone is quick to judge social media [jobs] until they actually try to do it,” Farinas says. “It is not lounging around at all, there's so much that goes into creating videos and content.”
She admits that initially, even her parents had reservations about her occupation. “My parents have always been a little skeptical because it’s a non-traditional role,” Farinas says. “My mom was like, ‘You want to do social media full-time?’ And I was like, ‘Yes mom, just trust me!’”
Now that her parents are able to see the success of the accounts for themselves (Disney Parks’ TikTok has 4.7 million followers, while the Instagram account has 2 million) they couldn’t be more proud and supportive. “They’ll send me videos from the [TikTok account] and they’re like, ‘Did you see this video?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes I saw the video; like I’m on the team, I saw it,’” she laughs.
When I finally made it, I was so happy. It was so worth all of those tries.
In 2013, Farinas graduated from the University of Florida, where she majored in Communications Management. “I think I always wanted to be somewhat involved with entertainment and social media,” she says, but it turned out to be another skill that helped her find her path: Farinas is also a professional dancer and choreographer. In 2013, she landed her first Disney role as a promotions assistant for Radio Disney’s Miami station, Radio Disney AM 990, before packing her bags and moving across the U.S. to join Radio Disney’s L.A. station, Radio Disney AM 1110, as a promotions assistant and choreographer. She worked there for a year — but it wasn’t long before Mickey was calling her name again.
In 2017, she auditioned eight separate times, enduring various rounds each time, before finally being selected to become a Parades performer for Disneyland. “It was a rigorous process, a crazy ride,” she says, “but when I finally made it, I was so happy. It was so worth all of those tries.” Over the next three years, she performed in many of the most famous parades, including Magic Happens, A Christmas Fantasy, Mickey's Soundsational Parade, Pixar Play Parade and The Main Street Electrical Parade.
Before and after her shifts, she would parade (pun intended) around the parks, snapping pics and vids of whatever caught her interest. She would also incorporate dance by filming choreographed dances to popular Disney songs, all of which she put on her personal Instagram account.
Over time, her following grew, grabbing the attention of Disney brands, who looked to partner with her. Her personal content creation resulted in partnerships with brands like Disney+, BoxLunch, ShopDisney, Disney Style and others. In 2019, she was even approached by Walt Disney Studios to take a dance class taught by Aladdin (2019) choreographer Jamal Sims to help promote the film.
When lockdowns hit in 2020, Farinas, like so many others, found herself out of work. The Disneyland Resort, as well as Disney’s other parks, were closed for the unforeseeable future, making Farinas’ uncertain about the security of her job as a Parades performer. Also like millions of others, she decided to sign up for TikTok. “I really wanted to find a way to make magic for our guests,” Farinas says. “Obviously I couldn't do that through dancing or performing, [so instead] I started [creating] online dance classes to Disney songs.”
Farinas quickly tapped into a community of Disney fans who missed their ability to experience the parks in person. She moved to songs from The Goofy Movie, Camp Rock, and more. In March 2020, she hit 453K views with a TikTok in which she danced the Aladdin choreography she learned with Sims. She now boasts 21.8K followers on the account.
“2020 was the time to be online, so I think it was a little bit easier to grow a following then,” Farinas says. “I also feel like the Disney community is big but small, and everyone just really came together during that time.”
It was a full circle moment where I was like, ‘this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.’
When Disneyland finally opened up again in April of 2021, Farinas wasted no time returning “home” for a personal visit. And when a friend told her about a job posting for the Disney Parks social media coordinator in Anaheim, she was even quicker to apply: It only took three months of interviewing, but after the grueling process, she gladly accepted the position of Disney Parks social media coordinator in June 2021.
“It still feels very surreal,” Farinas says. “There are so many ‘pinch me’-type moments. Just being a Disney fan, there are so many bucket list things that we get to do [in this job]. I feel so incredibly grateful to be able to connect with the community and our cast members.”
In the year since, there’s one moment that’s particularly close to her heart. During Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration, she was able to film a video of Pixar’s Coco star Anthony Gonzalez, who voices Miguel in the movie, at the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot.
“It was huge for me because the last movie [my family and I] got to see with my grandpa before he passed was Coco. He loved mariachi music, so we would always bring him to the Mexico Pavilion to hear the music playing,” Farinas says. “I got to do the video with Gonzalez and the mariachis, the same mariachis that my grandpa used to love. It was a full circle moment where I was like, ‘this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.’”
For Farinas, these are the true rewards of the job. For those looking to land a career similar to Farinas’, she recommends staying flexible.
“Social media is always evolving, and we never really know what the next step is going to be,” she says. “Stay on top of everything that’s happening in the world and be aware of trends and new platforms.” But most importantly, Farinas says, “if there's no path that's laid out for you, create the path yourself.”
And have faith in yourself. “There were so many times where my parents were like, ‘How do you make a career out of this?’ And I would say, ‘Trust me, you'll see,” she adds. “Don’t be afraid to try something different. You never know where it might lead you.”