A young boy sat in front of the TV, entranced as he watched a Disney animated feature playing on the screen.
This film was brought to life for the boy as he watched intently its incredible art design and synchronized music. He sat in wonder and awe as he began to make plans to have Disney be a part of his life forever.
The little boy, from Queens, New York, is Jonny Cuesta. Cuesta is now a BYU graduate working for Disney in California. His life has revolved around Disney. He said he lives, breathes and sleeps Disney because he is still in awe of the company, its films and the experience it gives to all who encounter it.
“When I was five years old, I just knew I wanted to own Disney one day. I wanted to make a difference,” Cuesta said. “I loved the animated features of Disney. It was such a wonder for me, and I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
His love continued to grow during his first visit to Disneyland, a few years after deciding he wanted to be the CEO of the company one day. Cuesta said he kept having this realization that this was what he wanted. He said he loved everything about family entertainment and Disney.
Cuesta, who studied media arts at BYU, lives in California with his wife and is working as an intern for Disney.
“I’m not very secretive about this, but I want to be the CEO of Disney and go up the ranks with my internship,” Cuesta said. That’s the big goal.”
Jonny met his wife, Ashleynicole, in the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom theme park while they were both doing the Disney College Program in 2013.
Ashleynicole, from Tri-Cities, Washington, said they started out as friends, but soon became closer. The two said they knew they were going to get married after about six months of dating.
Jonny decided to surprise Ashleynicole by proposing to her at Snow White’s wishing well in Walt Disney World just days before leaving to go home.
Jonny sang “One Song” from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” at the well, got down on one knee and proposed. Ashleynicole said yes.
“It was so magical,” Ashley said about her proposal.
Ally LaManna met both Ashleynicole and Jonny while also doing an internship in Disney World. She was Ashleynicole’s roommate during the internship.
“About a month into our time in Florida, Ashleynicole introduced me to Jonny,” LaManna said. “The first time I actually spent time with Jonny, he bought me a Mickey Premium Bar, which immediately told me he was a keeper.”
LaManna said it’s only fitting the Cuestas met, fell in love and committed themselves to one another in Disney World.
Jonny was also the president of The Disney Club at BYU from Sept. 2015 to Dec. 2016. Jonny and his wife were involved in the club for a year prior before Jonny served as president. Jonny noticed everyone had a different love for Disney, whether it was someone who enjoyed Disney films or someone who loved Disneyland, and he wanted the club to portray that.
“We did our best to make sure the club was catered to all different interests for Disney,” Jonny said. “For example, one activity was themed around ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ while the next would be a lecture on the ‘Silly Symphonies.’”
Jonny said most importantly, he wanted to ensure other club members remembered Disney’s core values correlate with being a member of the LDS Church. He said he wanted to emphasize that the Lord and the church come first before anything else.
“It’s sad to see fellow members leave the club to pursue a life of Disney and only Disney, thinking that Disney can provide all the happiness they need, when that reality of it is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is what bring them everlasting joy,” Jonny said.
One of Jonny’s last contributions to the club was to change the name from The Disney History Club to The Disney Club. He decided to change the name to let students know the club celebrates all things Disney.
“Today, we still do our best to make sure that we network with those that are working for Disney,” Jonny said. “Many of the officers were past cast members at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, which is one way to connect.”
Jonny said he has big plans for when he achieves his goal of becoming the CEO of Disney. He said Disney used to treat children more like adults. He wants to bring the tradition of treating children like they are smart.
“Today in our society, a lot of people when they think Disney, they think children. And more specifically, they think Disney princesses, which is something that isn’t necessarily wrong, but it could be better,” Jonny said. “I would put more focus on that it is family entertainment, and not just for little girls.”
LaManna said the Cuestas love Disney and the influence Disney has had in their lives.
“Disney doesn’t just play a part in their lives; Disney is their lives,” LaManna said. “I cannot wait to see what type of impact my favorite Disney prince and princess will have on the world — not just the Disney world, but the entire world.”