This Year in Disney History, Julie Reihm; Disneyland Ambassador to the World
Disney needed a representative who could travel the world, speaking for Walt when he could not be there in person. Although she initially turned down the offer to become Ambassador—taking a year off from her studies didn’t seem wise—she eventually changed her mind and was chosen as Disneyland’s first Ambassador in 1965.
In 1965, on the occasion of Disneyland’s “Tencennial,” the 10th anniversary of the Park opening, Julie Reihm was a key part of the festivities. She appeared on the Wonderful World of Color episode “The Disneyland Tenth Anniversary Show,” where Walt introduced her to Disney Legends such as John Hench and Marc Davis, while giving a preview of upcoming attractions such as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. “The highlight of my year was to see Walt smiling ear to ear about a new idea—a new project—and feeling his boyish excitement,” she later recalled.
Julie also attended several events related to the release of Mary Poppins. Her travels took her to most of the United States and several foreign nations, where she often accepted awards and honors on behalf of Walt. She logged more than 52,000 miles in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
After a year serving as Ambassador, Julie returned to her studies—despite attempts to convince her to stay with Disneyland. She would return on occasion to give tours to VIPs or attend special events, but eventually left California to raise a family in Virginia. She continues to hold fond memories of her time as Ambassador, and of her time spent with Walt. “He wasn’t just a great creative person, he was a good ‘common sense’ person, and he was a person who was tenacious about wanting to get something right, doing the right thing, being there at the right moment—it all meant so much to him. And that was something that we shared, and he realized it, and I realized it, so that was a quick bond for the two of us.”