Sunday, October 2, 2011

What WDW means to me...

I should've posted something yesterday, but I was so tired/busy/lazy....But I would like to take the time now to put in my personal thoughts on WDW in honor of the 40th.

Disney, Disney, Disney.....where do I even begin?

My first trip to WDW was in 1991 [I was three], so my first time there was when the 20th anniversary was going on. I really can't recall much of the trip because I was still too young to retain memories. But clearly, the vacation with my parents was memorable and meaningful enough that we had to come back next year. And then again. And again. And again. My sister Brooke was pretty much born into WDW, as my mom was pregnant with her and she was a baby on her first visit, if memory serves.

I can't place years to these, but here are some scattered memories from my trips when I was younger:
-burning my hand on a footlight in the Marketplace
-scaling the pile of Mickey and Minnie plushes in the Christmas Shoppe
-standing on a lightpost in Liberty Square, screaming, "MICKEY! MICKEY!" when he made the corner into the area during Spectromagic [we have video evidence of this]
-openly criticizing Fantasmic's dragon as nothing more than, and I quote, "A dragon's head on a stick with streamers" [video evidence of this as well]
-almost getting bit by a softshell turtle on one of the shores of Caribbean Beach Hotel
-the park about to close, mom and I trying to find dad  and Brooke(this was before cellphones), only to find that they were getting an ear-hat embroidered
-the Goosebumps Show at MGM Studios and getting freaked out by the giant hamster
-hammock fights with my sister on the shores of the Caribbean Beach

Man, there are too many memories attached to this place that I can't even remember all of them!

And rightfully so. I mean, how can you NOT have countless memories of WDW?!?!

We always stayed at the Caribbean Beach Hotel. We're not sure why, especially since there's so many other lovely hotels on the property. But I think we fell in love with it and didn't want to try anywhere else! To this day, it remains to be my favorite hotel. Oh sure, I've ventured into just about all of the other hotels, just to get a looksie. But it's the nostalgia that keeps me attached to CB. The rooms have a distinct smell to them. Heck, even the air feels different there. And for some reason, I actually welcomed rain while we stayed there. Not sure why.

I didn't think my love for this place could get any bigger, but that was before I participated in the Disney College Program from February to June '09. Prior to that, I had what my friends and I dubbed "Disney Con" in August '08 which was a BLAST! I had never been to the parks with friends before and it was a wonderfully fun experience! I love my folks, but it's nice to run around like, well, kids. Without adult supervision, haha.

But yes, the DCP was truly a life-changing experience for me.
I was lucky enough to be spared a position at floater carts at Downtown West Side [the least magical place on property, if you ask me...] and was instead asked if I wanted to be a 'Fairy Godmother In Training [FGIT]' at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Magic Kingdom.

You cannot get any more magical than that.

'course I said yes! And to this day, I am still grateful to that Cast Member that pulled me aside to ask if I wished to switch  roles. Because if that didn't happen, I probably never would've met the people I did and make lasting friendships with almost every one of them!
I also never would've been able to make lasting memories for so many guests if I remained at DTD. I didn't hit me until I got a little card from this 'princess' I worked on, saying, "Thank you for spreading Pixie Dust on our vacation! - love, the [insert family name here]" I was a part of family's Disney memories. Me. Some chick from Tinylittletowne, New Jersey. I even made it into somebody's Youtube video of their daughter's transformation.
It still blows my mind whenever I think about it. It feels surreal when I think back to what one of my managers said one day, before opening the castle-doors: "You guys are working in the most photographed building on the planet."

The whole duration of my internship, even when I wasn't on-stage, I made wonderful memories for myself. I had all the time I wanted to explore the parks. No family, no friends to say, "Let's go here!/I wanna go back to the room/I don't wanna eat there/I don't want photos with Mickey/etc." I think that was one of the highlights of this experience for me. I admittedly got used to everything so quickly. I'd put my iPod on while walking around World Showcase and make a beeline to the Funnel Cake stand for some fried-ice cream. And if I felt like it, hop in on a party of 9 and have some tasty Teppan Edo for dinner (got to the point where the cooks recognized me...). I developed a lot of routines like that that I probably never could've done if I had somebody else with me.

After my internship, I probably talked people's ears off for MONTHS about everything I did. Surprised nobody slapped a piece of duct-tape over my mouth after awhile. But that wouldn't have stopped me, oh no. I would've still told my stories, but in muffled form.

[Wow, have I really written all this stuff so far? Sorry, readers! Guess it's still true that I talk too much about this place, haha]

But anyway, in an effort to wrap this up...

The Walt Disney World Resort has touched a good majority of my life. I have people in my world that I never would've met if we didn't have WDW as a connecting bond. And the thing I've noticed about all these WDW-crazy people? They all have beautiful hearts and minds. They're genuine.

There's a reason why tears well up in my eyes whenever Wishes! or "The Magic, Memories, and You!" or some version of "When you wish upon a star" pop up on my ipod while I'm driving.  There are millions of memories attached to such beautifully simple notes and lyrics. People's smiling faces. Adventures that I would do again in a heartbeat. Pixie dust fights. The fireworks that look like shooting stars. It's such a rush of emotions and nostalgia that overcome me.

I'm forever grateful to Walt Disney and his Imagineers for their hard work and determination to make such a happy, wonderful, magical, amazing, [insert every other worthy adjective here] place. I wouldn't be the person I am today without it.

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