Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park Opening Day Cast Member Recognized for Military Service

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During National Military Appreciation Month, Disney remembers and honors the countless heroes who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces including many cast members like Peter Olivo. He is an opening day cast member of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Veteran cast member with award

Peter served during the Vietnam War as a U.S. Army infantry Soldier and received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during this conflict. He later helped open Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in 1998 and worked as an attraction host for more than 25 years.

Award presentation

Peter was honored and recognized for his service to this country and this company on the eve before his retirement with a sunrise ceremony at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. During the moment, he was presented with a special American flag flown over the theme park, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Peter was joined by his wife, Virginia, also a Disney cast member, Walt Disney World Resort Ambassador Ali Manion, Disney’s Animal Kingdom vice president, Sarah Riles, Disney SALUTE Veteran affinity group co-chair Cappy Surette, and friends and fellow cast members. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, the group officially welcomed Peter home from this conflict during an emotional part of the event.

Cast member group celebrates award

The Walt Disney Company has a strong affinity for the armed forces, military families, and veterans since the founding of the company 100 years ago, starting with its founders, Walt and Roy O. Disney contributions during the First World War.

The Walt Disney Company salutes cast members and military veterans like Peter, who support this company and our country. Last year, Disney celebrated the 10th anniversary of our Heroes Work Here program, which has seen the company hire more than 12,500 veterans since it launched it in 2012. 

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