Home.

Throughout my 25 years on this earth, I’ve lived in four places that I can, without a doubt, call “home.”

The first is my actual hometown of Whippany, NJ. I have lived in Whippany since I was three years old. I grew up there, I went through the school system, I have lived in 3 different houses within the town, and it’s the easiest place to call “home” (probably because I’ve lived there for so long).

The second is my “work hometown” of Livingston, NJ. The first three years of my life were actually lived in Livingston, but during the 22 years I have not lived in the town, I have worked ~10 years in the community newspaper, my family’s business. Because of this, I generally know more about what’s going on in Livingston than I do in Whippany. In addition, I have family in Livingston, so many holidays and celebrations are spent there. 

The third, and the one that sparked this blog post is Lock Haven, PA, where I spent four and a half years completing my B.A. in English. (More on Lock Haven after point four.)

The fourth and final place I call home is Walt Disney World. I always felt “home” in the Disney parks, as my family spent many vacations there growing up. But after having the opportunity to live, learn, and earn in Walt Disney World for over six months in 2014, “home” took on a new meaning (on which I could write about a thousand posts). When I go back to visit, now, after my time there, I still feel like I live there. It’s “home” figuratively, and will most likely become “home” literally, next year.

So back to Lock Haven, the reason for this post.

The very first time I ever visited Lock Haven, PA, I was a 17 year old high school student taking a first look at where I would potentially pursue higher education. It was the first school I looked at, and as soon as we crossed the railroad tracks and I got my first glimpse of campus (interestingly, the PUB and backside of Ulmer), I knew Lock Haven University was where I wanted to be. My mom reminded me that this was the first on a list of seven schools to visit over the summer of 2007, but even as I looked at those six other schools, I knew Lock Haven was my place.

Fast forward to August 2008. Move-in day. Even after my room was unpacked and my family left, I felt comfortable. I was ready for the next four years. And really, it wouldn’t actually be four years, right? I’d have summers at home, I’d have breaks at home…

Until Lock Haven became home. I went home for breaks and the occasional weekend, but after my sophomore year, I started spending summers there. I had three jobs over the course of my four and a half years in Lock Haven, all of which I was able to extend through summer sessions while I took a few extra classes. My junior year house and both of my senior year apartments became pieces of my life that I will never forget. And on campus, Starbucks, Bentley, Raub, the library, East Campus, Russell — all of it became an integral part of my life.

During the fall of 2012, my last semester at Lock Haven, I burned out. I got sick of Lock Haven. I went home-home, or up to my (at the time) boyfriend’s family’s home just to get away from it. I was tired of the school, the people, the drama, the workload… all of it. After I graduated, I packed up my apartment and didn’t look back. I think I visited once the following spring, and once the following fall, and both times I felt the stress as soon as I crossed those same railroad tracks that I did on my first visit. I wanted nothing more to do with the place I felt so strongly about just a few short semesters prior. 

I didn’t visit for the bulk of 2014, mostly because I was living in Florida. But I also had no desire, no drive. From what friends were saying, departments that were near and dear to my heart were having borderline crises. Having done my time of stressing over budget cuts and other departmental drama, I wrote a letter to the dean, and then I disassociated. Which, of course, was easy to do from almost 2,000 miles away.

And then I did go to visit in the fall, to support a show being directed by a friend of mine, and to see fellow alumni who I hadn’t seen in over a year. I didn’t expect to sit around for hours reminiscing with my friends, but that’s exactly what we did; after the show, we sat on the floor of the lobby of a building that was so close to our hearts, and just talked. For hours. About the shows we’d done, about things that had changed, about the drama that ran through the theater department over and over again. I left Sloan that night feeling closer to Lock Haven than I’d felt in years, and I couldn’t wait for my next trip.

This past weekend, I went back again. A day or two before I left, it was announced the Russell Hall, a building that I had fond memories of, would be slated for demolition. I went into my weekend sad about the upcoming changes to campus, but an afternoon with my best friend and then a walk around campus made me feel a little better about things. And between reminiscing (again) in Bentley and then later at Al’s (a student-favorite Lock Haven bar), and then the next morning at the Texas, for hours and hours, remember things I hadn’t thought about in years, it was no wonder that as I was driving on 220 to 80, back to NJ, I felt some tugs on my heartstrings.

What I’m getting at, here, is that “home” can have so many definitions. I remembered this past weekend exactly why I called Lock Haven home at one point in my life, and probably will always thing of it that way. While this semester is probably the last one that will bring me to visit (I’m going back in April, but I also realize that I know fewer and fewer current students with each semester that goes by), I think I’ll always consider Lock Haven a place to love, and a place to call home. For four and a half years of my life, it WAS home. I learned more about myself in the time I was there than I probably leared at any other point, and I made memories I’ll never forget. Lock Haven was my first journey on my own, and will always have a place in my heart.

Turning 25

I’m turning 25 in three days.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, being halfway through my 20s is really not that big of a deal. But it feels huge. Significant. It feels like I’m leaving the first half of my 20s behind. It feels like I actually may have to start being a real adult soon.

If I had known how quickly the past five years were going to go, and where life was going to take me, I would have done so many things differently. I probably would have done the Disney College Program during my junior or senior year; maybe I would have done a second one after graduation. I would have accepted the fact that I was not where I wanted to be at 21, 22, 23. 24 was the first birthday where I said to myself, “yes, I’m doing what I want.” And where was I? Doing the Disney College program. Living, learning, and earning in Orlando, FL. 

If you told me five years ago that I would be where I am today, I don’t know if I’d have believed it.

At 20, I was in the process of changing my major from Secondary Education English to English Literature. I was dating a guy who I thought could be the one (we broke up about six months later). I was partying and going out and having fun, not putting nearly enough effort into school. I cared more about a social life and the image I projected to others than I did about anything else.

At 21, I decided I was done partying, and I “settled down” into an adult relationship that, for three and a half years, took me on some of the greatest adventures I’ve ever had. I changed my major again, from English Lit to English Writing, a decision I don’t regret. I juggled school and, that year, three different on-campus jobs. I was taking creative writing classes, hopeful that someday I’d write that “one great thing” that could get published. Thinking back on it, 21 may have been the peak of my undergrad.

At 22, I burned out. I ended up tacking an extra semester onto my college career. My last two semesters of college were, in some ways, about the worst I’d ever had. I wanted nothing to do with anyone or anything. I realized that, by nature, I’m an introvert. I struggled with my weight and my health and my overall image. I took pleasure in brooding and bitching about everything. And, as I watched two good friends head off to the DCP, I was kicking myself for not taking the opportunity earlier in my college career.

At 23, I was a college graduate. I was applying for my first round of Disney Internships (and getting rejected). I applied for grad school, something I never thought I’d actually do, and got accepted for the following Fall. My dream was fully formed: I would work for the Walt Disney Company, somehow, some way. And later that year, my dream came true. I was accepted to the DCP halfway through my 23rd year.

And at 24, I was on my Disney College Program. On my 24th birthday, I ran around to all four parks and Downtown Disney in one day. I was living my dream, and nothing was bringing me down. I was in my happy place, doing great things with great people.

Overall, my 24th year has been full of ups and downs. I got to work my dream job for six months. I made some of the most incredible friends I’ve ever met. I ended a long term relationship. I have taken six months to finally do some self-searching in the world of being single, and it’s been a heck of an adventure. I’m still struggling with my overall health, but I’m taking the necessary steps to get better.

I’ve completed three semesters of grad school to date, with one summer class and two more semesters ahead of me. I’ll be spending the next year working to attain my ultimate dream: to move to Florida and get back to working for Disney.

So where will I be one year from now, at 26? If all goes according to plan, I’ll be just about done with my master’s degree. I’ll be applying for (and maybe will have heard back about) Disney Internships and jobs. And with some faith, trust, and pixie dust, I’ll be one step closer to exactly where I want to be.

If you asked me when I was 20 where I thought I’d be at 25, I’d have probably said “maybe married, with a full-time job, living on my own.” Well, at 25 I am none of those things — I’m ridiculously single, I only work part time (though grad school feels like a full-time job), and I’m still living at home. But at this moment, I wouldn’t change much at all. I like where I’m at. I love my job and I love school. But I think 25 is going to be the year of getting ahead. I’m going to spend this year becoming the best version of myself so that at 26 I can be ready for the big changes that are to come after I graduate. 

I’m still shunning the idea of growing up and being an actual adult, but I think I’ve figured out a way to balance that “never grow up” feeling with the tasks I have ahead.

And what am I doing for my 25th birthday, you ask?

Going to see “Cinderella.” :)

Calling Hogwarts “Home”: My Journey as a Harry Potter Fangirl

The first time I read Harry Potter, I didn’t like it.

Hear me out. I was 11. I was stuck in a “young reader” loop of reading and re-reading the same coming-of-age YA books. I didn’t want to branch out. So the first Harry Potter book, while interesting, didn’t really grab me.

I ended up reading more of the books after the movies came out. I loved the movies. And I started to like the books more as I got a little older. But it wasn’t until I was 19, when I did a full re-read of the books, that I truly fell in love with them. I watched the movies over and over again. I couldn’t get enough of this world that J.K. Rowling created.

When I was 21, I had the opportunity to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort. It was a few months after it opened, so it was still crowded, but not crowded enough to get return time cards. The moment I walked into Hogsmeade, I started to cry. A world that had only existed in books, in movies, and in my head, was now an immersive experience. It was tangible. I was standing inside of Hogsmeade, with Honeydukes and Zonkos on my left and the Hogwarts Express on my right. 

I actually remember saying to my mom, “you know how much I love Magic Kingdom? I love this more.”

I don’t even remember how much time I spent wandering around the shops, pouring over every piece of merchandise and taking pictures of every detail. I took my first ride on “Forbidden Journey,” and was blown away by the castle and the ride itself. Every detail of Hogwarts was so special and so beautiful.

Long story short, I was obsessed. Not long after, I got my fifth tattoo, the three little stars that are featured in the novels.

So how could it get better?

I don’t remember where I was when Diagon Alley was announced. In fact, I don’t remember much at all, except that when I got my DCP acceptance, I figured out that I would be in the Orlando area for the opening. (No, I didn’t go for opening day, or even for a few weeks after — crowd anxiety killed that idea.)

I got my first glimpse of Diagon Alley on a trip to UOR in May. Standing in a certain spot, I was able to see the top of the building fronts and the top of the Knight Bus. It was fantastic. After my mom got home from that trip, I begged her to ship me my copies of the books, and I spent the summer doing another re-read.

But I had no idea just how amazing the world behind the walls was. I wish I remembered more details about my first trip to London and Diagon Alley, but it’s such a blur. All I know is that when I went past the brick walls and Diagon Alley opened up in front of me, I cried. I was in absolute shock. The storefronts, the dragon perched on top of Gringotts… it was all even more perfect than I could have imagined. I thought Hogsmeade was immersive, but Diagon Alley exceeded all expectations that I had for it.

Not only are the areas themselves immersive, the team members truly make the experience complete. While I know it’s unlikely that every single Universal team member in the WWoHP areas is a Harry Potter fan themselves, I have found that so many of them can keep up the theming effortlessly. It makes the experience that much more fun when a team member yells “GO RAVENCLAW!” as I walk by in my blue Ravenclaw tshirt. I love when team members back away from me when I walk by in my Sirius Black tshirt. And it’s always an enjoyable experience when the merch team members compliment whatever piece of merch I’m buying, easily tying it into the books or movies.

While it’s clear that I am Disney at heart, there’s one thing that Universal will always have for me that Disney doesn’t: the Harry Potter stories come to life. My love for the HP stories have a different place in my heart than Disney does, but not much compares to what I feel when I walk up to my Howarts “home.” Or how I feel sitting in the Three Broomsticks or Leaky Cauldron with fish & chips and butterbeer. 

It’s undeniable that Universal has done a great job with WWoHP, at least from this fan’s perspective. And again, while Disney is the greater theme park in my heart, I will always have a soft spot for the Harry Potter aspect of Universal. Being able to visit these worlds is what really rekindled my adoration of the series. And while Disney will always be there to welcome me home, so will Hogwarts and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. :)

Opportunities, etc.

Today, applications opened for a Walt Disney World alumni only summer program. Essentially, it’s the same as a regular CP, except it’s from May 26-August 13. As I had a few friends applying, I tracked the app drop and even jumped on the website to check out the specifications.

I didn’t expect to feel a little pang of sadness when I opened up the familiar Disney Careers page.

I have known about this summer alumni program for a few days, and I knew from the start that I couldn’t apply. Chances are I’ll be taking a summer course at MSU to get one of my electives done so I don’t have to scramble for them in the fall. I’m still on track to graduate in May 2016, and I don’t want to mess that up. Plus, there’s a lot going on in my family right now, and that comes first. No matter what.

I always get a little sad when the Disney recruiting application periods start up. It took me two semesters to get an acceptance, and while in progress, I refreshed the pages at an embarrassing rate. I checked my email every 30 seconds or so, even though I had my emails set to “push” on my iPad. For the better part of a year I got used to the application process being a part of my daily life.

Timehop is bringing a lot of those memories back. It’s so interesting to see that, one year ago today I was starting my CP, but two years ago today I was starting my application process for the first time. And one year from now, I’ll be starting the application process again, hopefully for a future with the Walt Disney Company. I’ll be checking my email every 30 seconds, refreshing the dashboard even more often, and hoping and praying that my dreams will come true.

Today I took the initiative to email Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts casting to double check that the plan that I have set in place for applying to the company is something that’s actually feasible. Better safe than sorry, right? Over the next year I’m going to be working to make myself the best version of me that I can. To make myself as marketable as possible so I can hopefully get offered a job within my dream company.

Although I still have a year to go, that year is going to bring new challenges, new experiences, and new opportunities. This semester alone is shaping exactly what I want to do for a career — I am considering focusing highly on crisis communication in the Public Relations field.

I am excited about where the next year will take me, and I hope that on February 9, 2016, I can look back on this blog post and say, “hey, I’m still on the right track.”

The Blizzard of 2015

It’s 11:15 on a Tuesday morning. Usually I would be sitting at my desk at work, proofreading articles. But instead, I’m sitting at my kitchen counter writing a blog post on (what I like to call) an authorized day off.

Yesterday, as the threat of a major snowstorm rocked the northeast, both my office and my university decided that safety is more important than productivity, a decision that I fully agree with. At work, we moved production up a day and got the bulk of the newspaper done yesterday so we could take today off and still get the paper to press on Wednesday morning. My classes were held virtually through GoToMeeting so that students did not have to risk driving to campus.

Most of the areas under the blizzard watch/warning saw business closures, driving bans, and intense snow preparation in the wake of a prediction of up to two feet. And what did we wake up to? Almost nothing.

The areas that were hit the hardest really did get quite a lot of snow, as well as high winds. My sister is up in Boston and things were, and still are, fairly intense up there. I’ve also heard that Long Island got it bad. But here in north central New Jersey, a mere 30 miles from New York City, the prediction of 18-24″ turned out to be almost nothing (I would say that my town got maybe 5″ total).

I’ve been seeing a lot of backlash in regards to this storm — comments about the competency of the weather forecasters and public officials abound. But here’s the thing, folks: weather is, at its core, unpredictable. Was a major storm coming our way? From what I understand, it absolutely was. But storms of any multitude are subject to change. If I’ve learned anything living in the northeastern United States for 24 winters, it’s that snowfall often falls short of what’s predicted.

But what about when it doesn’t? What about the 7 feet of snow that rocked an unprepared Buffalo, NY just a few short months ago?

I absolutely understand that the affected areas were overprepared for this storm. We even had Geofilters on SnapChat that coincided with the expected blizzard.

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But what if we weren’t overprepared and we ended up with 2-3 feet of snow?

This storm actually came at an interesting time for me. One of my classes this semester is a crisis communications class, which, coincidentally, met last night via GoToMeeting. We began discussing media sensationalism, a trend that has been affecting story coverage of everything from weather to medical crises. While often rooted in fact, media sensationalism is problematic because of the way it uses fear mongering tactics to incite public outrage. In a way, though, I don’t blame the media as a whole. I blame the publics who blow things way out of proportion.

Take this storm, for example. As prediction after prediction came from weather forecasters yesterday, I saw so many people right in line with the media to call this the “storm of the century.” I watched the ShopRite next to my office fill with a constant flow of people throughout the day — presumably the same people who, today, are calling out the weather forecasters and public officials for “bullsh*t” storm predictions. It’s amazing how fast mentalities can switch when things don’t go exactly as planned.

The way I see it, the public officials who make the calls on closures (whether it be for schools, businesses, roads, or whatever) are in a bit of a catch 22. If they don’t do enough — if they don’t call off school fast enough, or don’t prepare enough DPW trucks to handle the impending storm — the publics are outraged. If not enough is done to prepare for a storm, and the storm ends up being really bad, lives are on the line (again, thinking back to all the people stranded on the roads in Buffalo). People can get hurt. But if those same officials overprepare — call for closures a day early, line up DPW trucks, and instate travel bans — and then we get almost no snow, publics are again outraged because of all the inconveniences.

There is no perfect way to prepare for a storm. I’ve read a few articles this morning on why the predictions for this storm ended up being so off base (this one is one of the best explanations I’ve seen today), and to be fair, the officials did everything right. Because what if it had been the storm of the century? What if, instead of waking up to five inches of snow, our area woke up to the 2-3 feet that was predicted? We would have been ready. Our towns would have been easily prepared to handle that amount of snow.

I’m disheartened by all the griping I’ve seen about this storm being a “bust.” Don’t fault the weather forecasters — they did their best with the information they had. Don’t fault the officials who called closures — they were simply doing their best to make the area as safe as possible for everyone. We were ready, and the storm didn’t come. Think of how much worse it could have been if we weren’t ready.

And you know what? The snow is actually really pretty. And for a while, there was a peace and quiet outside that only ever comes with a snowstorm. It was lovely.

Enjoy the day off (if you’ve got one). I know I’m enjoying the head start on my schoolwork.

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2014, it’s been great.

It’s interesting reading my January 1, 2013 post and seeing where I was a year ago.

To start, last NYE I spent the night at home with my cat, who was incredibly sick. We didn’t know if she’d make it through the night, or through the next week, or through the following month. But one year later, she’s as healthy as a 15 year old cat can be, and has slept on my pillow every night since I came home from Florida.

To say that 2014 was an amazing year is almost an understatement. I had some of the best experiences of my life this year, experiences which have shaped my future.

One night in mid-October 2013, I was driving home from school and wished on a meteor to be accepted to the Disney College Program. My wish was granted the next day, and I became a College Program cast member at the Walt Disney World Resort.

I moved to Florida in February, an experience that both terrified and excited me. February 3 through August 8 had many, many ups and downs, but I couldn’t have asked for a better CP experience.

When I found out that I would be working at Downtown Disney and not in any of the parks, I was initially disappointed, but DTD Westside turned out to be the best location I could have ever gotten. My time at Cirque du Soleil La Nouba and DisneyQuest is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I spent my 24th birthday doing “Four Parks (+DTD), One Day,” which was truly an adventure. For the first time in my life, I wore a birthday button in the parks (I’m pretty sure this is something that everyone should experience, if possible, at least once).

Throughout my CP, I met some of the most amazing, incredible people in the world. These people ranged from my roommates to my coworkers, and from friends I met online to friends I’d known for years and bonded with during the CP. I met amazing guests and I met terrible guests. I met wonderful leaders and higher ups within the Walt Disney World Resort, cast members who have shaped and inspired my dreams. Walt Disney once said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” Throughout my CP, I met so many people who have inspired me to make my dream a reality in the coming years.

2014 wasn’t all fun and games, though. Between family hardships due to illness, school disappointments, and ending a three-year long relationship, I’ve also had some of my saddest moments during this year. However, each experience made me a stronger person, and I think I’m finally learning what I really want for myself.

Leaving Florida in August was a difficult decision; it took a lot for me not to extend my CP. (However, my school kind of made that decision for me, telling me I could only take off one semester during my master’s program.) In the fall of 2014, I completed my second semester of my master’s degree. I have three semesters left, and will be working hard to complete my degree in 2016. And after that? Well, I’ll be applying for jobs at Walt Disney World, of course!

So where will 2015 take me? Well, it’s starting off amazing; I’m going to Disney World for a two week vacation! I’ll start my third semester of grad school on January 20, taking a full semester of classes. By the end of 2015, I will be one class and a comprehensive exam away from my master’s degree. I also have a March Disney trip planned (sort of for my 25th birthday — by the way, I’m turning 25. Wow), and hopefully I’ll be able to make the most of my AP and get down to WDW for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in November. I’ll also get to spend two weeks in Seaside with my family, a tradition that I had to miss in 2014 because I was still in Florida. So 2015 has a lot of fun stuff coming!

I can almost never stick to the resolutions I make, but I’ve made a few that I think will be attainable in 2015:

Read more. I have so many shelves full of books to read, and I want to get through as many as possible this year.

Take care of myself. This kind of goes with exercising, but every time I set exercise goals I don’t keep them. So. My goal for 2015 is to do a better job of taking care of myself. Okay.

Downsize my life. If I plan to move to Florida in 2016, I should probably go through the 10 years worth of stuff that has accumulated in my room. (I actually already started this and donated 3 bags of clothes and 2 bags of toys to my elementary school!)

Purge social media. This has been a long time coming. I need to clean up my friends lists, following list, and photos. So that will be happening over the course of the year.

I think these goals are fairly simple, and I’m looking forward to how reaching these goals will better my life in 2015.

So that’s that. Thanks for reading my blog for another year (though the posts have been sparse…), and I wish you all the best for 2015. Happy New Year!

Why I’m still talking about my Disney College Program

I realized this morning that TimeHop may not be the best app for me.

One year ago around this time, I was getting ready to go on my DCP. So I’m guessing that for the next month or so, there will be something about DCP prep in my TimeHop every day. And then once February comes, reading my TimeHop is going to lead to all sorts of Disney feels, as I’ll be seeing posts from my CP.

And while I’ve been wrestling with deleting the app for a while, I do love reading about what I was doing two years ago (graduating college), three years ago, and so on.

I’ve also realized that most of the TimeHop posts that I share on Facebook and Twitter are DCP related. It’s interesting to see my thought process before leaving for my CP, especially knowing everything that I know now.

So why am I still talking about the Disney College Program?

Why am I posting #tbt photos and TimeHop updates about my CP?

It was only six months of my life, right?

I’m still talking about my Disney College Program experience because it was, quite possibly, the best six months of my life. Yes, it was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done — it was long hours and late nights. But it was still one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

I’m still talking about my DCP because it shaped my life and my future, and I can’t wait to return to Walt Disney World, hopefully as a Cast Member.

I’m still posting about my DCP because it affected me. I love reliving as many memories of my time in Florida as I can. TimeHop is a way to do that. Going through my photos is a way to do that.

I have six amazing months of memories. And even though my program ended in August, the memories are still affecting me, and will probably affect me until I get the opportunity to go back (right now it’s looking like summer 2016).

Since I still have a year and a half before I can go back to Disney to work (hopefully they’ll hire me), I’m basically holding onto whatever I can. I’m hanging onto the memories of my CP to keep me motivated. I’m remembering how much I loved working there — it really was more about work, not play, for me. I’m planning multiple trips to WDW to keep the magic alive for me (but I know I’m meant to be a Cast Member and not just a guest because I’m craving the opportunity to work there).

So for now, I’ll be using TimeHop to remind me exactly what I was thinking through every single social media post from my CP. And I’ll be sharing some of those posts on Facebook and Twitter. :)

Saying “we” instead of “they”: Life as a former Disney cast member

Tonight, I became very conscious of how often I say “we” when talking about goings-on in Disney.

“In Downtown Disney, -we- have been…”
“-We- are trying to make parking as efficient as possible.”
“When -we- go on break at Cirque, -we-…”

I think the fact that I (and I’m sure other former cast members) use “we” instead of “they” when talking about Disney is quite telling of the company culture. I truly felt like I was part of a family while working there. I felt like an integral aspect of the whole.

But I realized tonight, when talking in class about how Disney immerses guests into stories, that I shouldn’t be saying “we.” As much as I wish I was, and hope to be in the future, I am no longer employed by the Walt Disney Company. And I’m wondering if and when I’ll be able to break the “we” habit.

Tomorrow I am embarking on my first journey “home” since I finished my CP in August. The newly formed Disney Alumni Association is holding its first big event this weekend, and I was one of the lucky 400 or so who was able to book a spot. I will be meeting up with two of my CP roommates and staying at All-Star Music. I’ll get to see friends and coworkers who I haven’t seen in a few months.

I’m really looking forward to it all, but throughout all the planning, there’s been a twinge of sadness: I’ll be going as a full-on guest. My ties to the company are in the past. I won’t be using my maingate to get into the park, and I won’t be showing my blue ID for discounts. I won’t be able to walk behind Cirque du Soleil and use the back entrance. I won’t be able to go into the DisneyQuest box office. I’ll see new parts of Downtown Disney that were merely construction materials a few months ago, when I walked past them every day. And it’s going to be weird not having been immersed in it.

It’s been a hard couple of months being away from Walt Disney World and my job as a main entrance operations cast member, but I think it’s going to be even harder to be THERE and not be a cast member. I think overall this trip (and my two upcoming trips family in November and January) are going to solidify what I’ve already come to know: I am going to work for Disney in the future. Somehow, some way, Walt Disney World is going to be a part of my career. And I cannot wait (though I have to wait, since I can’t graduate until Spring of 2016 — but that’s another story).

As strange and different as it will be, I’m excited to get back “home” for a few days. I’m looking foward to seeing what it’s like to experience the parks not just as a guest, but as a former cast member. I’m probably still going to slip up and say “we” when talking about Downtown Disney, but hey, maybe it’s one of those things that once you’re part of the family, you’re ALWAYS part of the family. Who knows. :)

Collection of DCP Interviews

So last week, I compiled a ton of information so that I could put together an article about the DCP for Montclair State University’s student newspaper. I gathered factual information about the DCP and interviewed DCP alumni from MSU. Long story short, a lot of information got cut do to spatial constraints (which I totally understand). However, since the CP alumni that I interviewed gave such fantastic responses when I interviewed them, I figured I’d put together a blog post to showcase their awesome answers and the photos they sent!

(Each of the students interviewed is either a current MSU student or recent graduate who successfully completed his or her Disney College Program. They have given me their permission to post their responses, and each provided their own photos.)

  • Jason – attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Lauren – attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Rafelina – housekeeping at the All-Star resorts
  • Sarah – QSFB at Disney’s Animal Kingdom/Magic Kingdom
  • Caity – attractions at Epcot

Interested in applying for the DCP? Visit the website!

Scan the code:

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Learn more about opportunities with Disney through the Disney Internships & Programs blog:

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It’s probably time for a blog post.

So… um… yeah. It’s been a while. And a lot has happened in the past couple of months.

One of the last times I wrote, I was having a hard time with the fact that I was leaving Florida. Well, August finally came, and I said “see ya real soon” to my life down in Disney. I’m back in New Jersey, fairly settled in, and ready to start school next week.

A few things of note happened during my last month in Florida. The biggest thing that happened is that I made the decision not to go seasonal and stay with the company. At first it was a tough decision to make, because I really wanted to keep my proficiencies at Cirque and DisneyQuest, but now I realize that I have definitely made the right decision for myself. Right before my program ended, Disney changed the rules for cast members who wanted to go seasonal. It used to be that if a CP wanted to go seasonal, all they’d have to do is talk to their leader, and their leader could set their status to seasonal (if their record card was good and all of that). Now, however, CPs have to take a 13 week break in service before applying for a seasonal role, and there has to be a “need” for a seasonal cast member in that area. I know way too many people who got screwed over by this rule change, and as much as I love my location and miss working, right now I want to focus on my degree and not stress over getting my hours done.

The last month of my program wasn’t actually as difficult as I thought it would be. I was fortunate to have some truly amazing people by my side to help me through it all. Scheduling was awesome and gave me two DisneyQuest shifts and two Cirque shifts for my last week. My last shift at DisneyQuest came on August 4th, and was fairly uneventful. However, I spoke with two of my leaders who both had really, really nice things to say about my work ethic and general attitude. My last Cirque shift was on August 6th, and I only teared up a couple of times during the show. I also got to take a few pictures with performers, which was fun! The night after, I got to see Cirque one last time as a guest. I miss it immensely, but I get to go see it again in November when I visit Orlando with my family. (Also, I’m going to see Cirque Varekai tonight, which is going to be awesome!)

One question I keep getting asked is “what next?” in regards to Disney. I do fully intend to pursue a future career with the Walt Disney Company. During my last semester of school, I’m going to apply for professional internships (and probably another CP, though I don’t know if it could ever top my first one). If PIs don’t work out, I may just go all out and head down to Orlando with a suitcase and a dream, go to casting, and beg for a job. I don’t know; I want things to be more planned out, but for now I’m content just saying “yes, I will work for Disney again.”

So yeah, I’m back home in Whippany. At first it was weird for a couple of reasons; first of all, it felt like I never left. Second, all of my winter clothes were still in my closet. But now that I’m getting settled back in, everything feels more comfortable. I’m getting back into the routine of work and school, but now I’m working toward even more of a “routine” than what I had before I left. I’m working in daily exercise as well. I’m binge watching Doctor Who at night. I’m catching up with family and friends. I saw my sister off to school this morning, and will be driving my brother down to school on Sunday. Pretty soon we’ll be planning holidays. And to top it all off, I’m taking a trip to Orlando in November with my mom and grandma. Things feel good right now, although my heart gets tugged every time I see DCP or DPI application posts on social media.

To sum this all up… the Disney College Program is literally one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I had the absolute time of my life on my program. I’m planning on doing a series of short vlogs talking about my experiences, so I’ll try and post links to those here as well. :-)

I guess that’s all for now; I’m supposed to be working on paperwork for my dad’s truck club and I should probably get to it. Thanks, as always, for reading!