Corn Party Speakers
We are excited to announce our keynote speaker at this year’s Corn Party will be Dan Cockerell, a seasoned Disney executive who spent 26 years working in a variety of positions before retiring last year as the vice president of the Magic Kingdom.
Dan’s first experience working for Disney was as a participant in the Walt Disney World College Program in Orlando in the summer of 1989, when he worked as a front desk host at the Contemporary Resort.
Upon graduation from Boston University in 1991, Dan moved to Florida and participated in the Disneyland Paris Management Trainee Program. In January of 1992, three months before the opening of Disneyland Paris, he was transferred to France, where he remained for five years in various management roles.
He and his wife Valerie, who was also with Disneyland Paris, were married in France and spent five years there before moving back to Orlando in 1997. Since that time they have raised three children – Jullian, Margot and Tristan.
Dan has held various management and executive operations roles at the Walt Disney World Resort, both in the theme parks and resort hotels, and was the sixth executive to hold the position of Vice President, Magic Kingdom since the park opened in 1971. He earned his MBA in 2001 at the Crummer School of Business at Rollins College.
Dan puts great value on spending time in the operation and frequently spent time in the park, assisting cast members and interacting with guests. He believes that building relationships is critical for leadership success, and his approachability in the workplace is a testament to his people-first philosophy. In addition to his operational responsibilities, Dan has been a keynote speaker for the world-renowned Disney Institute for 18 years.
Dan provides customized, authentic presentations, focusing on leadership and management practices, drawing upon his extensive Disney career with relevant examples and inspiring storytelling.
Returning to share his food expertise, this year Mike will be presenting his own session on food trends, while also moderating our panel of amusement experts. Mike is president of Profitable Food Facilities and has more than 27 years experience in the industry. In recent years he has begun to work with farms in our MAiZE family and we look forward to welcoming him back as a speaker.
Jim is a managing partner with WDD - We Do Digital, a world leader in digital marketing for the Family Entertainment and Amusement & Attractions industry. With more than 20 years experience helping haunted houses and attractions of all shapes and sizes, WDD specializes in Website Design, Online & Mobile Advertising, SEO & Paid Search, Social Media, Email & Text Marketing, and Business Reviews & Listings.
Like most years, the majority of our speakers will be members of our MAiZE family who've been there and done that! Denver Downs Farm and Irons Mill Farmstead will present spotlights this year, and many other will participate in breakouts. Topics will include special events, cash management, merchandising, building attractions and more.
Orlando is home to some of the world's leading family entertainment destinations and we are excited to tap into some of their knowledge that applies to all of us, big or small. Panel members will include Siobhan Wright, Dir. of Culinary Operations for SeaWorld; Krista Marie, Event Coordinator for Golden Oak at Walt Disney World; and Lee Pitts, COO of Andretti's Indoor Carting.
Bring your questions to our first-ever Intensive Learning session where we'll spend 3+ hours digging deep into the business behind agribusiness and the TOP THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW from our expert panel of legal, accounting and HR experts who also have extensive knowledge of agritourism, including Terry Lyman of PayPros, attorney Timothy Riley, and CPA Greg LeFils.
Our long-time friend who we all came to know and love during his many years at the Rock Ranch is returning to guide a discussion on Farm Wisdom & Life Lessons that make all the difference! Though he's no longer with the Rock Ranch, he'll always be part of the MAiZE family and we welcome him back!