Jobs at Disney

I think that at a certain point, a company gets so big that it starts to become a tech company by virtue of needing to do business on the web. I think that until last year or so, Disney was that sort of company: so big that it had to employ a small army of software engineers to manage the huge network of data that underpins so much of the Disney "magic."

That is, until Disney+ rolled round, and turned a not-insignificant amount of the Disney brand into a Netflix competitor, a full-on tech giant.

Notwithstanding the fact that I worked at Disney for a short time as a pretzel peddler at Animal Kingdom, and notwithstanding the weird obsession I have with the parks in Florida, I thought it might be interesting to take a gander at Disney's software engineering roles to see what sort of talent they're in the market for.

Departments

Looks like most of the engineering resource is spread across three main departments:

  • Disney Streaming Services: in short: Disney+. All about streaming video, with a number of sub-departments like Media Security or Billing or Connected Devices. The full-stack roles tend to require at least some background in Scala, a lot of JavaScript, with a focus on Angular or React.
  • Parks, Experiences and Product is the main Disney product (at least, it was before Disney+ and COVID turned things upside-down): the parks and resorts, the cruise line, the Disney Vacation Club. It also includes all of the merchanising opportunities, from children's books to video games to t-shirts at Target. Strong emphasis on Java here, which is to be expected, since I imagine a lot of this stuff is sorta legacy. Turns out everything they said about Java and enterprise was true.
  • Media and Entertainment Distribution feels like the data layer: advertising, network operations, sales, that sort of thing. Postings vary here; some are straightforward advertising and data roles, others are a little elusive but require significant expertise with React.

Technical skills

As far as infrastructure goes, it looks like Disney's sort of all over the place. Whereas Etsy seems to have purposely consolidated their infrastructure on Google Cloud Platform, postings at Disney require some combination of AWS and GCP, with Azure popping up every now and again.

The requisite infrastructure-as-code tools also rear their heads here: Terraform, Docker & Kubernetes, Kafka. That's not surprising.

On the backend of the application layer, there is a lot of Java or (Java-related) code running on their servers. It looks like most of their longer-running services run on something called Jakarta EE, which I've never heard of. Disney is probably one of those bank-like monolith that runs on heaps of 2-decade-old code and desperately snatches up the couple hundred people still bopping around on the web who comprehend the minutia of long-out-of-date software. I'm not saying Jakarta EE is out-of-date (in fact it looks well supported)—but mark my words, there are demons in the dependency trees at Disney.

The meat and potatoes at Disney: Oracle SQL, Java frameworks, "enterprise B2B".
The meat and potatoes at Disney: Oracle SQL, Java frameworks, "enterprise B2B".

The newer stuff, like Disney+, looks like it runs on Scala, and they have a strong functional programming background going there. I guess at this point that's to be expected as well. Twilio also runs on Scala, so Disney+ is in good company here.

Scala, Python, Redis and Postgres: ,[object Object],.
Scala, Python, Redis and Postgres: boring technologies.

On the frontend, it sounds like they've invested pretty heavily in Angular--most remotely frontend roles require it. If you look for them, you'll find a couple of React-related roles, but they seem like the exception, rather than the rule. Weirdly no reference to Typescript here at all.

Pixar

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the couple of open postings for positions at Pixar. It's all Greek to me but it's sort of fun to see a software engineering role where I have no idea what any of the technologies are.

The list of technologies required at Pixar doesn't overlap at all with anything I know.
The list of technologies required at Pixar doesn't overlap at all with anything I know.

Stray observations

  • A few of these postings have the string DISNEYADSALES somewhere in the copy, either as a bullet point under Qualifications or as the only item under a More information heading.
  • Some of these listings also look like they've been writing by someone decidedly untechnical, probably based on a loose spec: nb. references to "Micro Services", "Bot Technologies", and a duplicated "Workforce Management systems" entry under Qualifications on a senior SWE role, which has been posted multiple times.
The above feels decidedly untechnical, somehow. And I found this exact copy on 4 or 5 different postings.
The above feels decidedly untechnical, somehow. And I found this exact copy on 4 or 5 different postings.
  • Not sure where this falls, but I found a listing in the Disney's ad services organisation that requires some experience with C# or C++, and I don't know what to make of that.

Selected postings

Not sure how long these links are going to hang around, but for reference:

Software engineer // Streaming services

Senior software engineer // Parks, Experiences & Products

Senior software engineer // Parks, Experiences & Products

Software engineer, full stack // Parks, Experiences & Products