As of today, I officially only have one more week working for the Mouse. I started my Disney journey on May 17th, 2012, and I will end my time on August 8th, 2015. 3 years, two months, 22 days. It seems unreal. How did the time fly by so fast? What is my life going to be like, now that I will no longer be able to afford a trip to Disney? Of course I will always have friends that work there, but I know I can’t rely on those people to just “get me in” whenever I feel like it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that Disney passes are sacred and reserved for special occasions. Besides, Disney has been pretty liberal with blackout dates this year.
In any case, I’ve been doing lots of reminiscing. When I first started at Disney I created a “bucket list” of things I wanted to do. Originally my plan was to work at Disney for one summer and save up some money to go off to Europe with. Which I did. And then I promptly returned for another summer of magic. My first bucket list looked a bit like this:
1. Go to both waterparks as a guest.
2. Buy an autograph book (or two) and get every character in the parks to sign it.
3. Meet Merida. Preferably before June 22.
4. See “Brave” on the day it opens.
5. Meet Rapunzel.
6. Meet Tiana.
7. Send Disney postcards.
8. Go to Downtown Disney.
9. Ride every ride that I’ve never been on.
10. See the end of the day show at all theme parks.
11. Take my mom to the parks and sit through every show she always wanted to see that I refused to go to with her.
12. Spend an entire day in each park.
13. Eat something from all of the food locations in Blizzard Beach.
14. Go on every adult slide in Blizzard Beach.
15. Experience the parks with at least one of my sisters.
16. Take pictures of everything and scrapbook it!
17. Go mini golfing at one of Disney’s mini golf places.
18. Meet Megara.
19. Pick up a shift at all four parks, Typhoon, and ESPN.
20. Go resort hopping.
I was able to do almost all of these over the past few years. I have indeed bought not one but two autograph books, and I’ve met almost every character I can. Still on my bucket list are Buzz and Woody, who I will be meeting next week. I’ve been on almost every ride (and seen almost every show) with the exception of three: Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and Disney Jr. Live On Stage (which I will also be doing next week). I have not scrapbooked my adventures yet, but I have been diligently saving materials to do so, and will probably begin my book next week. I have not met Megara, but I did attend the Villains Unleashed event, in which I camped out to get a front row spot in front of the stage, so I was as close to Megara as I probably ever will be. And I have not only picked up a shift in all of the parks, but I have also worked in places like Cirque Du Soleil, Disney Quest, Beaches and Cream, and at least 8 other resorts. So looking back at all of the cool stuff that I’ve done, here are some things that weren’t included on my bucket list, but totally should have been (and have been accomplished):
1. Visit three of the five Disney Parks throughout the world. (Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Disneyland California).
2. Attend Disneyland Paris’ 20th anniversary, and Disneyland California’s 60th.
3. Be a beta tester for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train
4. Be a member of the opening day crew for Art of Animation Resort
5. Audition to be a Disney Villain
6. Be a member of the opening team for the Move It, Shake It, Dance It, Play It Street Party in Magic Kingdom
7. Lead the Main Street Electrical Parade down Main Street
8. Watch the premiere of Festival of Fantasy
9. Try the grey stuff, and drink wine in the Magic Kingdom
10. Meet Maleficent, the Evil Queen (and the old hag), Lady Tremaine, Cruella DeVille, Dr. Facilier, the Queen of Hearts, and Jafar
11. Meet Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
12. See the Boo to You parade and Hallowishes
13. See the Once Upon A Christmastime Parade and Holiday Wishes
14. Count down to the New Year and experience 360 degree fireworks from the castle hub
15. Ride Space Mountain with the lights on, and get paid to do it.
16. Go underneath the stage of The American Adventure and see the audio animatronics up close
17. Get paid to go on a scavenger hunt in Magic Kingdom and Epcot
18. Watch the sun rise from Main Street
19. Talk to Mickey Mouse, and hear him talk back
20. Create real-life magic for people everyday, and fall in love with doing so. 🙂
When I started this job in 2012 I never dreamed I’d get to do any of this stuff. New Fantasyland hadn’t been built yet, Festival of Fantasy sketches hadn’t yet been revealed, Starbucks didn’t yet exist on Disney property, and PAC still wore navy vests and red bowties. The Plaza Gardens had probably not even reached the drawing board yet. Frozen hadn’t been released. Hollywood Studios still had a giant sorcerer’s hat. Mickey’s voice could only be heard in the castle show. Selfie sticks weren’t a thing. The parks still had paper fastpasses and actual turnstiles. Magic Bands had yet to be invented. Disney World has certainly changed quite a bit in these past three years, and it’s sure to undergo just as many changes in the next three years. It’s sad that I won’t be here to see them all, but exciting to know that when I return there will be so many new things to try. Because I will return. Maybe not as a cast member, but someday I will be a guest again and come play in my Neverland.
I’m not saying goodbye just yet. There’s still a week for that. But for now, I’m saying thank you. Thank you Disney, for some of those most amazing experiences of my life. I know that someday I will look back on this and know that I didn’t appreciate it enough, but I’m certainly trying my best to do so. 🙂