Mattituck grad lands dream job — designing Disney rides

Dan Sawicki

When he was a child, Dan Sawicki asked his parents each summer if they would take him to an amusement park.

While most youngsters can’t stop talking about cotton candy and souvenirs on the way home from such an excursion, Mr. Sawicki spent the trips discussing concepts like g-force and gravity, attempting to dissect how the rides worked.

“It’s been a lifelong passion for him,” his mother, Joan, said. “He always said he would work for Disney and he grew up designing rides.”

Although many people eventually abandon the professional dreams of their youth for more realistic careers, Mr. Sawicki, a 2009 Mattituck High School graduate, isn’t among them. He decided as a junior in high school that he would major in mechanical engineering in college and went on to do exactly that.

Now 25 years old and two years removed from earning his degree at Rochester Institute of Technology, Mr. Sawicki has landed his dream job, working in Florida for one of Disney’s manufacturing properties.

Hired around a month ago as an engineering project scheduler, Mr. Sawicki is in charge of creating master plans detailing how the company will accomplish new projects in any given year.

He can’t discuss the projects he’s working on since Disney has yet to announce them, but said they range from everything as diverse as creating rides and animated experiences to installing pipeline systems.

“I’m fascinated with rides — how they work, how they run and the design aspects,” Mr. Sawicki said, adding that his favorite Disney amusement is the “Tower of Terror.”

“It’s a good ride,” he said. “The story makes a lot of sense. It’s really immersive and it’s a thrill ride.”

No matter the project he’s focusing on, Mr. Sawicki said he enjoys having the opportunity to help enhance customers’ experiences.

“It’s not like if I was a regular mechanical engineer where you’re making a product and you don’t really get to see the people working with it,” he said. “I could be working on something that, whether it’s a favorite ride or favorite show, you know you’re bringing joy to a lot of guests. And that’s something I like a lot.”

While at RIT, Mr. Sawicki completed four internships, two of which were with Disney. He credits the experiences with helping him land his job with the company.

During one Disney internship, Mr. Sawicki worked on maintenance projects at facilities throughout the Orlando attraction. The other entailed planning and analyzing engineering solutions for hotels and amusements specific to Magic Kingdom.

“I think the big thing is how it’s something I had a passion for when I was younger and I kept working really hard for it,” he said. “I kept trying and not giving up. It would have been easier to go for a regular engineering job, but if you want something, you gotta stand out.”

Ms. Sawicki said her son’s drive, hard work and dedication to Disney, along with his history of good grades, helped land him the full-time position.

“It’s a dream come true for him,” she said. “It’s a passion, not a job. I’m so proud of him.”

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Photo: Mattituck High School graduate Dan Sawicki recently began the job he’s dreamed of since he was a kid — working as an engineering project scheduler at Disney World. He creates master plans detailing how the company will accomplish new projects, which range from creating rides and animated experiences to installing pipeline systems. (Credit: Courtesy)