Saturday, June 6, 2015

Epilogue: Last Days in WDW, Closing Thoughts, & Thank Yous

          The last character I ever attended was Goofy at Epcot’s Character Spot. I was called to CSpot on my last day when I came in for my spare shift. The day passed by as usual and I turned in all of my costumes once I clocked out. It was a huge relief. I used my time after getting off work to explore Epcot one last time, and I ended up meeting up with Aurelie’s boyfriend and hanging out that afternoon with company instead of alone like I was expecting. It was a nice change of pace.

          The next day, Sarah and I went to Hollywood Studios to spend the day exploring. I came to the realization that in all the time I had been in Disney World, I had not yet met Mickey Mouse. If I was going to meet him, it was going to be in Hollywood Studios while he was dressed as Sorcerer Mickey.

Sarah and I met with every character we could and took one of the drawing classes, which was super fun. We ended up drawing Dale.

It was a beautiful day. I think we had more fun hanging out in Hollywood Studios, watching baby ducklings learn how to swim in the lagoon, not worrying about making it to as many attractions as possible and just enjoying being there, than we’d had in any park we had gone to before then. We capped off the night at the pool and at about midnight, I found myself walking across the highway with Aurelie and her boyfriend for one last late-night meal together at Applebee’s. The entire day was perfect.

          The next day, Tat joined Sarah and I on our next adventure. We were Blizzard Beach bound! This was the only location I had not been to yet in all of Disney World. Blizzard Beach trumped Typhoon Lagoon by a long shot. I loved the theming so much more, and it probably helped that I wasn’t alone. Their wave pool, which was not nearly as intense as Typhoon’s, was my favorite part and how we ended our day at the waterpark. We stayed until they kicked us out, haha. It was wonderful.

          After that, we took an hour or so and relaxed at our apartment pool, swimming and laughing like the good friends we had become. We tried our best to look like Ariel by slapping our soaking wet hair through the air while in the pool, but I don’t think any of us succeeded at pulling it off. :P We just took our time and were in no hurry to get anywhere. I think we were all just happy to be spending time together.

          Because it is what it is, I knew where I wanted my Disney experience to end. It was only appropriate to end things where they started at Magic Kingdom.  That night, after all of us had cleaned ourselves up from our various swimming excursions, we caught a bus and were Magic Kingdom bound. We hit all of my favorite rides, except for Pirates, which we missed by about a minute due to park closing. Even so, I was able to end with my favorite ride in all of Disney World, Splash Mountain. We were so tired by the time we caught our bus home that things we quiet and I was desperate to fall asleep against one of the bus windows, which I did pretty successfully. We all knew what was coming the next day. Our friendship was going to be separated by distance.

          The car ride is always the same. Whether I am on my way to the airport with Eric in my passenger seat, whether I am in his passenger seat, whether I am riding with my mom, knowing I will not see her or any of my family again for months, or whether I am leaving the friends I never expected to make and grow so close to during a miserable internship completely out of my comfort zone, the drive is always the same. Quiet, still, too short, and yet, too long. The tears are hiding behind your eyes and you worry that even the tiniest noise or movement will set them free. That car ride to the airport was the same, as it always is. I was leaving three very good friends behind and I was going home.

          After reading this blog, you may still not understand what it was that I did not like about the Disney College Program. Some days, even I am not so sure what set me off about it so much. What it really comes down to, I think, is that working for Disney is simply not what I want to do with my life and so it felt like an empty use of energy that was not leading anywhere for me. Granted, I learned an enormous bit about myself. I got pushed through it and I made it. Most of all, I will never regret my experience. Whether I like it or not, I do think it changed my life. It brought out the best and worst side of me. It taught me that I can manage on my own and that I’ll be okay. And it taught me to, no matter what, do what I love, because Lord knows how torturous life can be when you do something you don’t even like. Did I know I was not going to like this job? No. I could have just as easily loved the job, but either way, it was worth finding out. Aside from the job, I will never forget the amazing friends I made. The “friends” part of the experience, in all honesty, I was not anticipating at all. I had prepared for the worst, but received the best.

          If you have read all of this wondering if you should participate in the Disney College Program, I will tell you right now that everyone around you is going to tell you the same thing: “Do it! You get to live in Disney World! Lucky! That’s got to be the best job ever!” I can’t promise you that it won’t be amazing. I can’t promise you that it will be awful. My best advice is to go with your gut. If your gut tells you “you have to do this and find out!” then don’t ignore it. But, if your gut tells you “this really doesn’t seem right” don’t ignore that either. In the end, you have to block out what all the other people are telling you to do and listen to your heart. If you want to try it, try it! If not, move on and don’t worry about it. As I told Epcot when I was terribly sick, Epcot will survive. Disney will survive. You will survive. Don’t regret going and don’t regret not going. Just follow your heart. I spelled out my experience because I thought it deserved to be heard, but that does not mean your experience will be the same. There is only one way to find out and the choice is up to you. There is no wrong choice whether you decide to go or not. I hope this helps those struggling with the decision of whether or not to participate/audition for/apply for the Disney College Program.

To Aurelie, thank you for crying with me that very first night, giving me cookies, and letting me know that I was not insane for not loving the program.

To Tatiana, thank you for being so welcoming right from the beginning, talking with me when I was inches away from tears, making me laugh hysterically with your many stories, and for reminding me that not everything Disney is a bad thing. Thank you for the pancakes and for letting me steal milk from you too.

To Sarah, thank you for letting me drop the “Mae” in your name so casually, for not being named Layla to make my apt. life more difficult, for listening to me ramble on and on about Rhode Island (and Eric) even though you obviously know more about it, and for being my sidekick on so many random excursions. I thought I had already lucked out with two great friends, and then you came along and shocked me with your kindness and friendship (and that terrible movie you made me watch).

To Eric, You may never read this, but even so, thank you for enduring so many extremely difficult phone calls with me ranting relentlessly, sobbing into your ear, or taking my anger with my situation out on you. Hearing your voice, listening to you tell me about your day, or just knowing that you were on the other end of the phone helped me more than you could ever know. I will always love you for that and be forever grateful. Thank you for telling me I could do it.

To Big Bob, Thank you for letting me call you during many loud bus rides and for letting me begin every conversation with the same sentence (“I just don’t like it here”) every day for three months. Your comfort was always so helpful and I missed you so much. Thank you for being so understanding and for helping me through the entire program. I love you.

To everyone else who has read this blog, thank you for reading through all, or even just one, of these emotional journal entries. The fact that you spent any time reading this at all means so much to me. Thank you for being a friend.


Friday, June 5, 2015

4/24/15 The Last Entry

          So here we are – the final page of this life-saving book. While there is always more to be written, I’d like to close this book with some positive, meaningful words that have also helped me on this journey. Without them, this book may not be complete. <3 <3 <3

          “The day is long, flight and song, but I don’t even listen. The bluebird hides a piece of night, I don’t even try. For every mama gone missing, for every papa gone mad, I’ll take a chance, it’s not romance, but somethin’ more important. So give me wing, let me sing, it’s all been done before. For any girl that’s unhappy, for any boy that is bad, for every mama gone missing, oh…mmm every papa gone – mad.” <3 <3 <3

“Thank you for being a friend.”
See you, Eliza.
“We are here to change the world.”

(Writer’s Note: When I first began writing in my journal, I wrote to Eliza – a fictional character from my childhood. I felt it most fitting to say goodbye to her once the book was complete.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

4/23/15 My Day & Universal Studios

          These past two days were seriously some of the best ever since being down here. I am proud of myself for being able to have such an amazing time on my own and allowing myself the satisfaction. Right now, I am seated where I started – in Mary Poppins’ break room. It’s hard to believe I only have a few days left, but I am beyond happy to say so. I have learned so much just from being away. Going home will be a relief though. No more lost days. I am going to take advantage of all that I have there as well. There is a lot to be done, but I am ready for it. My only hope now is to stay on my feet and dream big to succeed. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.
          My first day off began with a long repeated loop of Michael Jackson which was very inspiring and got my blood pumping. I took a bus down to Cast Connections, which is the Disney employee discount store. Overall, I was not impressed, but at least the bus ride was nice. Their main content consisted of all the same items you can find at the outlet store with some variation. There is a back room with “damaged” & “unsellable” merchandise. It’s all just a bunch of junk that needs to be thrown away, honestly. Leave it to Disney to try and make a buck off of their employees with absolute garbage.

          Once I got home from CC, I picked up my residency letter from the apt. office for Universal Studios, then I walked to Walgreen’s and bought lunch and junk food just because I could. It was fabulous! After some lunch, I changed into my swimsuit and caught the bus to Typhoon Lagoon since cast members were not allowed in the water parks beforehand due to spring break and Easter. It was an experience and I definitely had fun, but a faux beach made me miss and want Myrtle Beach so badly. Anyway, there were lots of tube slides & a tube water-coaster which was awesome. Because I don’t weigh very much, I always fly all over the place in the tubes. It kind of adds to the fun and the thrill of it all to be honest. After tubing it up down the slides, I found the “shooter” slide. Now, I should have known better before I climbed all those steps and shot down with an unplugged nose. Let’s just say I learned to look at the slide before you go down. I ended up totally disoriented with a nose full of water and my bathing suit up my butt. I’ll know better for next time. I treated myself to the lazy river after all of the slides. I got plowed by water every time there was a sprinkler or waterfall – neither of which was relaxing. It was comical at least. I thought about jumping in the big wave pool at the end of the day, but something about riding waves, knowing there is a rough cement bottom beneath you rather than soft sand is not appealing. That and there was a bandaid floating in the water when I considered getting in. Gross! Needless to say, I caught the bus home after that. The water park was fun, but I would have liked for it to have a hot tub and a lounge pool in addition to the wave and kiddie pools. I took a dip in my apt. pool when I got home. It was private and wonderful. It felt so incredibly good to swim in the sun peacefully with me, myself, and I.

          I fixed myself up after a wonderful call with Eric by the pool. I then took a bus to Hollywood Studios and took a minute to browse the shops, ride Rockin’ Rollercoaster, and take photos. It felt very fancy. Afterwards, I made a pit stop in the Old Key West resort, which is absolutely beautiful, and headed to Downtown Disney to soak up some of its festive vibe and enjoy the atmosphere. Once finished at Downtown Disney, I took a bus home and settled in for the night. It was absolutely fabulous. I definitely made the most of my day and was endlessly on Cloud 9 from start to finish. It truly was my day.

          The next day was amazing too and filled with nostalgia. I was also Lisa’s birthday. I took my first trip to Universal Studios Orlando with my roommate, Aurelie, her boyfriend, and a friend of theirs. It was very French. I was the only American in the group which made things pretty quirky. It was super fun though! I had to explain what some things were and why they are popular in America. I discovered that I love anything that resembles Hollywood. It’s still weird to me how actual Hollywood looks like the Pavilion around Pier 14 in Myrtle Beach. I could wander around in Hollywood-like settings for hours. That is a place I believe I could move to and be happy. Hollywood, no LA.

          Back to Universal, I immediately was able to meet some characters which made me happy. I met Woody Woodpecker & Curious George. They were so cute! I saw Marge & Homer Simpson too, as well as Krusty. Characters are so much fun. We rode all the big stuff, but my favorite ride had to be the one in Hogwarts castle. Talk about magical… That ride is AMAZING! But that brings me to my next point. Going to Universal was like stepping back into my childhood. I felt so happy, excited, and at home. I remembered how it feels to do something fun when it’s not part of work or being stuck somewhere. It’s by choice and it feels completely different. I had a blast, even when I was by myself after the French went home. I felt great and happy. I am proud of myself for being able to recognize that.

          I fought back tears entering Harry Potter World. Seeing it real and in person brought back all the memories. It was amazing. I saw myself walking into the theatre as an 11-year-old little girl dressed as Hermione. I saw the last time Layla and I walked into a Harry Potter premiere for the final movie. I saw the Borders parties and the cosplays for school. The wonderful memories are endless. Seeing it all in person kind of showed me that any fantasy is best just like that – when it stays a fantasy. Imagine really working or going to school in a fantasy environment. It becomes “work” and “school.” That is exactly how the Disney program has been for me. I was so thankful to be visiting Harry Potter World rather than working it.

          Universal was so amazing. I admit, it’s not as refined as Disney, but at the same time, it’s much more relaxed. I genuinely enjoyed the environment. I would love to go back to HP World with my family someday, as well as Eric and several of my best friends. I filmed a goofy video for Lisa’s birthday in Krustyland. I love Krustyland! Growing up with the Simpsons, that show is very dear to my heart. It reminds me of all the good days with my dad too. I sang “Lisa, it’s your birthday! Happy Birthday, Lisa!” It was very appropriate. I even won a Krusty plush playing a carnival game. It was all so much fun. I’m glad I went. I almost missed the bus home, but my instincts lead me back correctly. I finished the great day with night swimming, candy, & “Legally Blonde.” Those two days off couldn’t have been better or more jam-packed. <3

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


          I went to sleep at 10pm last night with a terrible migraine. The last two sets at work yesterday were murder and the bus ride home was even worse. I slept for like 11 hours so I feel way better now – just hungry. I think the exhaustion from the cold I had, my vacation, and the muggy weather all caught up with me yesterday. I felt awful. It was a much needed night of sleep – that’s for sure.

          My roommate and I are planning to go to Universal before I leave. Only 9 days left! I am so ready. Believe it or not, one of the things I will miss most is the library. That collection of DVDs has saved me in many ways. Even the very first night when I got here and felt so overwhelmed, sad, and lost, Harry Potter was playing in the library and I lingered around so that it could comfort me. I feel I need to expand my DVD collection after the movies I have discovered.

          I am in Pooh & Tigger’s break room now. The day has almost started. I need to really be wise with my time from here on out. I plan to buy gifts for family and friends and eat lots of good food. Budgeting is key.

          I can’t help but reflect back on ways I felt in high school as my program comes to a close. I want my group of friends here and I want to feel the way I did senior year. I guess I do in some ways. I am sad to leave my friends, but ready to move on in life. How do I get that back? Not that time necessarily, but that place of fun and freedom mixed with hard work.

          I have a feeling this last week and a half is going to be great and something to remember. I have got to make the most of it and live each day to the absolute fullest. God puts us everywhere for a reason. And for some reason, God put me here.