From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Jennifer Fickley-Baker
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is an immersive experience that transports guests to the Outer Rim planet of Batuu. Building Batuu meant doing so from the ground up and was no easy task. But with more than 20 years of onsite construction management experience and an almost ten year Walt Disney Imagineering career, Kristina Dewberry, Construction Manager for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Resort, was a natural fit for the job! We’re thrilled to share her story and role as part of the construction team responsible for bringing the land to life in this week’s installment of #WomenBehindtheMagic!
In her role at Disneyland Resort, Kristina manages construction site logistics and ensures the operational safety and efficiency of sites. From working on guest favorite attractions like Matterhorn Bobsleds to building Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, and also her most recent project Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, she helps build destinations that invoke magical experiences and memories.
Kristina’s journey began in a galaxy not so far away, as she grew up loving all things Star Wars from a young age. As a child, she recalls that girls were told that math and handiwork were for boys, but Kristina didn’t let that stop her when it came to her affinity for the historically male-dominated field of construction. Instead, she drew inspiration from iconic Princess Leia that she shouldn’t let anyone stop her from doing what she loved.
Growing up, Kristina spent a lot of time helping her dad with home projects and even had her own tool belt! In fact, it was an early family construction project of building a shed in their backyard that led her to fall in love with construction.
“My brother and I each got a tool belt, a pouch full of nails and a measuring tape. Dad taught us how to measure twice, cut once, Mom taught us the fine art of painting and my little sister brought us lemonade,” she shared. “Looking back, it was the tiniest little shed, but it lasted for years and it gave us a sense of pride that we all made it together.”
In her teenage years, she had the opportunity to take her skills outside of her own home and helped re-roof neighbors’ houses because she always loved building things that would enhance people’s lives.
From there, Kristina knew that she wanted to spend her time on job sites, and obtained several degrees in construction management including an associate’s degree from Cincinnati State Technical and a Bachelor of Science from Northern Kentucky University.
Now, she spends her days working on various Disney sites and enjoys that her role encourages her to be a problem solver and provides the opportunity to bring people together from different parts of a project, and even around the world. On any given day, Kristina leads tasks that can range from managing safety training protocol to handling construction material deliveries, and even coordinating the site removal of construction debris. But when it comes to what skills she finds helpful, Kristina says that keeping a drive and ambition are necessary to growing her own skillset and helps teams continue to challenge themselves.
“If you hear someone – or yourself – say ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it,’ you should take a step back,” she explains. “You shouldn’t be doing things the exact same way you did a year ago, but be taking in new technology and adding to your skillset.”
And of course, Kristina aims to always keep up a positive attitude and sense of humor. Construction sites can be stressful, but with the help of her “Boss Mode” music playlist, full of empowering and upbeat tunes, she strives to always find the fun in her work and encourages her team to follow suit.
“Keeping joy in your heart and moving forward with each new challenge is much easier when you have a twinkle in your eye,” she notes.
For a lifelong Star Wars fan like Kristina, keeping that joy wasn’t hard when going to work meant going to create the historic land that is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
“To be asked to join the team creating this land really struck me as an epic adventure,” she says. “Walking through the land and watching the project grow from the first day to now being a finished land, ready for guests, is an incredible feeling.”
Being able to say “wow, look at what we’ve been able to create,” is awe-inspiring to her. As a woman in construction, Kristina wants other women to know that this career path is absolutely within their grasp.
“There is an important place for women in the construction industry that extends beyond simply swinging a hammer,” she says.
“A lot of women don’t even consider construction because they think it’s not within their reach,” she says, but notes that with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, she’s worked with more women than ever before. “It’s really enlightening to see that.”
Kristina’s favorite piece of wisdom she would impart on anyone who may be considering a career in construction is a motto she keeps on the wall in her own kitchen.
“It’ll cost nothing to dream, and everything not to,” she shares. “If you see anything in the construction field that you find interesting, you owe it to yourself to find out more. Find an ally, someone to help you get started on your search. Construction may not be for you – but it just might be the most rewarding work you’ll ever do.”
Guests can see Kristina’s work at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, now open at Disneyland Resort. And there is even more to look forward to with the upcoming opening on August 29 at Walt Disney World Resort! Stay tuned as we look forward to sharing more stories of the amazing #WomenBehindtheMagic with you over the coming months!