A Quick Trip Recap: WDW (October 22-28)

Six days at Walt Disney World will do things to you.

In my last post, I was lamenting the fact that I never lived in New York City. I also said that I hoped my upcoming WDW trip would spark my dreams again, and oh, it did.

This trip was a couple of “lasts” for me — it was my last trip as a 2014-2015 WDW Annual Passholder, and it was my last trip before I pick up my life and move to Florida to pursue my dreams of working at Disney World. But it was also a trip of “firsts” — it was the first time my mom and I had a vacation, just the two of us. It was also our first trip since my grandma died. 

I knew that there would be a lot of “oh, Bunny LOVED this” on our trip. What I didn’t anticipate was the feeling of complete calm (no sadness) when I thought of her in the parks. Though there were things in the parks that she never got to experience, she did experience so much on our previous trips. And I truly believe she was with us every step of the way, smiling because she knew I was in my happy place, and smiling even more because she knew my mom was getting a much needed break.

Our trip was practically perfect in every way. Mom and I experienced some new-to-us things, like dinner at California Grill (that view is incomparable); the Epcot Food & Wine festival; and Magic Kingdom in the fall. Though I had a brief trip to WDW last October, it was nice to spend a full six days immersed in the fall atmosphere, even if it was 90 degrees nearly every day!

I also got to see my mom experience some new-to-her things, like Be Our Guest, which she adored. She also somehow had never experienced a fully rainy day in Florida, and we ended up with a day and a half of rain. But a little rain didn’t bother us; we donned our ponchos and ate our way around the world in Epcot anyway.

I have said for years that WDW is truly full of magic, and I experienced so much of it on this trip. When it poured during our two last days in the park, I came to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be seeing Festival of Fantasy, my favorite daytime parade. However, on our very last day, right before we had to leave to get on the bus, the clouds disappeared, the sun came out, and we got a parade. That little bit of Disney magic was the perfect way to end our trip.

I also saw some of the most incredible cast members. While many of them are my friends (and therefore I’m a little biased), I met others and made new friends, and having conversations with each and every one of them reminded me of exactly why I want to be a Disney cast member again. So thank you to all the wonderful CMs who made our trip spectacular. 

Applications for the Disney College Program (and I’m assuming Professional Internships) for Fall 2016 will drop in February. While that’s only a couple of months away, and I have a LOT to do before I apply, this trip has made me so excited to pursue my dreams again. 

I’ve got the drive. I’ve got the passion. Now I just need to get the job. :-)

See you real soon, WDW… hopefully as a Cast Member!


“My Manhattan” (Or, “Why Yesterday Has Me Thinking”)

In 2012, about a month before I was set to graduate from Lock Haven University, I visited New York City with my dad and stepmom. I don’t remember what show we were seeing (probably Jersey Boys or Rock of Ages, our family favorites). We stopped in a coffee shop right off Times Square called CaffeBene. Since we had some time before the show, we decided to take our coffee up to the upper level of the shop and sit for a while amidst the sweater-wearing, laptop-using students. Something in me clicked: this was it. This was my atmosphere. That, coupled with the New York City literature class I took during my last semester, got me thinking. I suddenly got it in my head that I had to do graduate school in New York City. 

For a while, I spoke of nothing but post-graduation in New York City. But that dream faded away when I was rejected from NYU’s prestigious graduate writing program. Instead, I ended up at Montclair State University, 20 miles from home, with a beautiful view of the NYC skyline. I settled into the idea that I never would have made it in NYC anyway — I’m too introverted, too socially anxious, etc. Plus, I would probably have missed my opportunity to pursue the Disney College Program. Everything fell into place, and that was that.

I’ve lived just a thirty minute drive from Manhattan nearly my entire life. Even when I was living in Lock Haven, PA for college, I’d make the three hour drive home on weekends to go into the city and see a show. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to see more Broadway and off-Broadway shows than I can even count. I have a stack of Playbills well over a foot tall. There have been times (recently, actually) that I’ve gone into the city two weekends in a row just to see shows.

And with each trip, I’ve fostered my love-hate relationship with the “city that never sleeps.” 

Almost always, a Chciuk family trip in to the city goes like this: go in -> go to lunch or dinner -> go to the show -> leave as fast as possible. I know the theater district and Times Square like the back of my hand. On the rare opportunities that I venture away from Broadway, it’s to visit family members; two of my cousins live in Brooklyn, and I’ve explored the Chelsea area a handful of times with them. So I guess I can say”my Manhattan” is the theater district, and not much beyond that.

As faithful readers of my social media know, I am currently obsessed with Deaf West’s Broadway production of Spring Awakening. So when my mom asked me if I wanted to go see Daddy Long Legs, a show currently running in the intimately-sized Davenport Theater, my response was, “Sure, but can we stage door Spring Awakening after?” Despite the fact that my mom doesn’t get the appeal of standing at the stage door and waiting for performers, she said yes.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, despite the wind and 45 degree temperatures. For those of you who have never been to the city in the fall and winter months, it becomes a bit of a frigid wind tunnel. But with the day we had planned, I was in high spirits. I walked on autopilot from the parking garage on 47th, across from the Brooks Atkinson theater (where Spring Awakening is playing), to John’s Pizzaria, a staple lunch location on our last three trips. Afterwards, we had some time to kill before the show, so mom and I walked around for a while. I found myself feeling the same way I had in the upper level of CaffeBene just a few years prior: I love this city, and I want to live in it.

Now, of course, that’s not going to happen. I’ve got things set in motion to apply for jobs and move to Florida in June. Don’t worry, it’s not likely that my plan will change. But this is the first time since I moved home from Florida in 2014 that I’ve doubted my plan. And it’s an interesting feeling.

I have a list of people, places, and things that I will be sad to leave when I head to Florida after graduation. I’m going to miss my Jersey bubble and the things that have been home to me for the past 25 years. But now I can add “my Manhattan” to that list, the parts of the city that I cherish. The places that, even on brief visits, feel like home. 

I wish I could explain what it is about NYC in the fall that captivates me year after year. The weather isn’t great, but I bundle up in my winter gear and brave it anyway. It’s crowded. It’s loud. It’s all the things I don’t normally enjoy, but like Disney World (which is also crowded and loud), it somehow works for me.

Yesterday was a picture perfect day. Daddy Long Legs is a spectacular show (and the reason I keep saying “My Manhattan” – I wish the lyrics were available so I could quote it). The stage door of Spring Awakening, and getting to meet the cast I adore so much, was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. These are the things I’ll miss about “my Manhattan” — driving in for these little bursts of unforgettable eperiences; being able to book Broadway tickets a few days in advance and drive in at our leisure; having access to some of the world’s most incredible theater.

I’m going to Disney World for a brief trip later this week. I’m hoping that being in the place I’m uprooting my life for will remind me of why Manhattan isn’t an option for me, and why I want to uproot my life to begin with.

Because, if I’m being honest, I think it’s going to be very hard to leave New Jersey come June. And NYC is much closer than Florida.


All Shall Know the Wonder … of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening

Note: This may contain spoilers about the show. In addition, the show contains themes of suicide and abuse (physical and sexual). Continue at your own discretion.


I’ve considered myself a Spring Awakening fangirl since 2007.

I don’t remember why, but somehow I came into possession of the original Broadway cast recording a few weeks before I went to actually see the show when it was first on Broadway in 2006. I was fortunate enough to see the show twice on the original run, and once on tour. The soundtrack has been one of my favorite musical soundtracks for years. 

The show tells the story of young teenagers in 19th century Germany discovering sex and sexuality, and in turn, themselves. Based on Frank Wedekind’s play of the same title, Spring Awakening as a musical was conceived and created by Steven Sater and Duncan Shiek. The show sets themes of sex, mental illness, love, abuse, and growing up in Germany in 1891, against a blazing rock music score.

I never thought that anything could top seeing the original Broadway cast, which included big names like Lea Michele (Glee), Jon Groff (Frozen), John Gallagher Jr. (American Idiot), and Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect), before they got their next big roles.

And then Deaf West’s production of Spring Awakening came to Broadway.

As soon as I saw that the show was coming back, I knew I had to be there. I was fortunate enough to get tickets for last Sunday, 9/13, through work. The show is still in previews, but I was ready to see it ASAP. 

I went in with my mom, three of her friends, and one of my sister’s friends (who has been a good friend to me over the years as well). We got our seats, I bought a t-shirt, and we settled in for the show.

I don’t want to spoil the show for those who may see it, so I’ll try not to give much away. But as soon as the cast stepped on stage, I was captivated. From the opening notes of ‘Mama Who Bore Me,’ I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe I was seeing my favorite musical on Broadway again. And until the final notes of ‘Purple Summer,’ I was captivated beyond words.

For those of you who are unaware, this production is done by Deaf West Theatre, a LA based theatrical company that makes theater accessible for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. This particular version of Spring Awakening is performed by both deaf and hearing actors, in both American Sign Language and English. And it’s not just the deaf actors who sign — the hearing actors sign their way through the show as well, making it a fully accessible production for deaf/hard of hearing audiences.

Nearly everyone in the cast is making their Broadway debut in this production. In addition, Ali Stroker (The Glee Project) is making her Broadway debut as the first person on Broadway — ever — to be in a wheelchair. This show is making history all over the place.

The cast is, without a doubt, purely incredible. Each of the deaf/hard of hearing actors has a musician counterpart who provides their lines and singing parts alongside the sign language, while also performing on their own instruments. The characters also interact with their hearing counterparts, so they’re not just background.

The blend of sign language and spoken/sung word is beautifully done. The performance is inspiring and breathtaking, from beginning to end.

The story of Spring Awakening is remarkable on its own. But Deaf West’s interpretation, incorporating sign language into the story, takes it to a whole new level.
I can’t imagine what kind of artistry had to go into making this production so spectacular. It’s incredible to watch all of the actors, but especially the deaf actors, who perform along with music they can’t hear. The flow is just unbelievable to experience.

I was fortunate enough to get a set of tickets for today’s matinee. The show is still in previews, and I noted a few changes in today’s performance (one of the fun parts of seeing a show in previews!). The cast was, again, wonderful beyond words. The energy is strong, the message is clear, and I found myself in tears yet again. I know I’ll be doing my best to see it again as soon as possible.

The show is only on Broadway until mid-January. If you’re thinking about seeing it, I urge you to go (if you can). It is by far the most powerful show I’ve seen, maybe ever. But it’s so hard to describe the beauty — it’s something you have to see for yourself.

Last week on Instagram, the cast was asked to finish the sentence “All shall know the wonder…”

In the musical, this sentence is finished with “of purple summer.”

In my opinion, though, all shall know the wonder of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening.

Because it truly is wonderful.


Dolce far niente: The sweetness of doing nothing (Or, “My trip to St. Kitts”)

It’s very rare for me to have a vacation where I can do nothing.

I’m used to the jam-packed Disney trips, with every moment planned. I’m used to running from one thing to the next, making FastPass times and dining reservations. I’m used to waking up and knowing exactly what I’ll be doing.

I’m an obsessive planner (which I discussed here). I’ve currently got a note open on my iPad with an exact list of everything I’ve got planned for my October Disney trip (the last one before my AP expires). Those who have gone on trips with me in the past are used to my “dramatic reading” of the day’s itinerary at breakfast.

So for me to go on a vacation where nearly nothing was planned was so different, and so wonderful.

For those of you who missed it, my sister is living on St. Kitts, going to veterinary school at Ross University (I talked about all that here). My mom, after visiting the island for ten days in the spring to move Kylie in, decided that my brother and I needed to experience it. So we set our trip for August 13 to 22, which coincided with Kylie’s semester break. 

My mom, dad, stepmom, and sister all tried to prepare me for what life on the island is like. They told stories about great food, loud music, very spotty WiFi, dark roads, cars that you can’t believe are still running, and the nicest people you’ll ever meet. After my parents returned from moving Kylie to Ross, we actually started counting how many times my mom and stepmom would mention “St. Kitts” on a daily basis. They were bit by the island bug, and I was ready to see it all for myself.

Flying to St. Kitts is not as easy as, say, Orlando. There are no direct flights from Newark to SKB; this was my first time having a connecting flight (I know, right? Crazy). We took the “early flight,” which required leaving the house at 4 AM, flying on a 6 AM to Miami, and getting into St. Kitts in the early afternoon. But we made our connection with no problems. 

When you fly into St. Kitts, it’s a small enough airport that there’s no jetway — you disembark on a staircase and walk across what I call the “plane parking lot” to the customs office. Once we were through there, we contacted my sister. We were supposed to help her move from her dorm to her new apartment, but she pretty much finished that up on her own. So we went and dropped our stuff at the hotel, which was on a beautiful cove (and where we’d only be staying for two nights before moving ourselves into Kylie’s apartment for the rest of the trip), and got ready for dinner with my sister and a bunch of her friends. And then, after dinner, we went back to the hotel and relaxed. 

That day was the first day of the trip, and the last day of jumping from one thing to the next.

When I asked my mom what our plan was for the second day, she said that we were supposed to help Kylie finish moving, get a tour of her campus, and then “whatever.” 

I had told my mom before the trip that I wanted to do a whole lot of nothing. I wanted to spend my time reading and relaxing. While we had a few quick excursions planned (including zip lining and exploring Fort Brimstone), almost every day was spent either by the pool at the Marriott or on Reggae Beach, doing nothing but relaxing.

When I first read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I was struck by the part of the book where she talked about “the sweetness of doing nothing” (in Italian, dolce far niente). Aside from on Disney trips, one of my favorite things about vacation is being able to just relax and read. Being a perpetual student, vacation is about the only time I get to read for fun. I knew the island had things to do, and that we would be doing some things, but I loaded up my Kindle and packed four print books anyway. And am I glad I did.

My mom had talked about “island time.” I’m used to the busy buzz of the suburbs of NYC, full of pushy people and fast paces. On the island, everything moves slowly. Meals could take up to two and a half hours just because. You wake up slowly, eat breakfast slowly, move slowly all day, and fall asleep slowly. You spend the day relaxing and doing nothing. And it’s a beautiful change of pace. 

The other thing about the island that got me is the state of the WiFi. While we had fairly steady WiFi in Kylie’s apartment, that was about the only place we had it. Some restaurants kind of had it. The Marriott had it, though it would cut out. Reggae Beach had it, but only sometimes. At the hotel, we ended up losing WiFi for twelve straight hours. Those of you who know me know how addicted I am to my phone, but this trip forced me to disconnect. Instagram posts would have to wait. Snapchats were sent hours after they were taken. I was limited to iMessage, and even those went through (or didn’t) without any sort of regularity. It was so different than the constant hum of technology that I’m used to.

What I’m getting at, here, is that everyone needs to disconnect at some point. Had I been home, I would have been glued to my devices, waiting for every update from the D23 expo, which went on while I was away. But because I was away, I got the highlights from a friend and then read recap posts days later. And I was okay with that. 

Now I’m back to the reality of life and my routine, but I’m still on island time. I woke up slowly, worked out slowly, and ate breakfast slowly. I’m writing this post slowly. I have to do laundry and go grocery shopping, but eh, I’ll get to it later. 

Everyone needs a change of pace, even just for a few days. If you want a really disconnected, slow-moving vacation, St. Kitts is your place; it’s a beautiful island, beautiful beyond words, with some amazing adventures and a whole lot of not much else. 

Plus it looks like this:

Taken at Reggae Beach

I encourage everyone reading this to shake up their change of pace sometime soon. We all need to just do nothing for a day or two, right? I get it, responsibilites get in the way of that sometimes. But even if you just take an hour or two to read something for fun, or watch TV and relax, or whatever, we all deserve the sweetness of doing nothing.

Go find your dolce far niente

I found mine on the island of St. Kitts. :-)

Disney’s Four Keys: Courtesy (Or, “The most ridiculous guest situation I ever had”)

[NOTE: I am no longer a Disney cast member. I know this. But I say “we” a lot because, even after your CP is over, you still feel connected to the Disney brand. I still feel connected to the company. Okay.]

It’s fairly common knowledge that, as a Disney cast member, you’ll hear your fair share of ridiculous comments and questions from guests. Guests check their brains at the gate, and that’s usually okay (unless it compromises safety). As cast members, we’re there to help.

The biggest inside joke is “What time is the 3:00 parade?” (There’s even a tshirt with Goofy asking that very question.) Maybe in other places you’d say “Uh, 3:00. Obviously.” But at Disney, things are done a little differently. “What time is the 3:00 parade” may mean “What time does the 3:00 parade get to where we are in the park?” It may mean “Does the 3:00 parade actually start at 3 or will I have time to go to my 3:00 Fastpass+ first?” Context is everything, and being that courtesy is the second of Disney’s four keys, it’s imperative to answer even the dumbest of questions with a kind, courteous response.

When working at Downtown Disney, I had my fair share of ridiculous guest questions. At DisneyQuest, I was often berated for not having the ability to sell Universal tickets. However, a kind reminder that the theme parks are separate often cleared that up very quickly. 

I once had a guest present his Sea World ticket and ask if it would work for DisneyQuest. It turns out he’d pulled out the wrong card and didn’t realize it. Again, a courteous explanation cleared it up, and the whole group got a good laugh out of it.

But the most ridiculous and frustrating guest situation I ever experienced came from an older woman who could not find her car.

I was working a closing shift, and around 4 PM a guest approached my window. In heavily accented English (I believe she was Russian?), she asked me where the nearest parking lot was. I had her turn around and I pointed her toward OPQ, the parking lot behind Cirque. She asked me if there was another lot. I told her about LMN, the parking lot in front of Cirque. She explained that she couldn’t remember where she parked, but that she had taken a bus from the parking lot to the Marketplace, and she had other women with her who did not have the ability to walk around the lot with her looking for her car. 

I pulled out a map of Downtown Disney and pointed out each of the parking lots. She knew where the bus had dropped her off (Marketplace bus loop), but none of the parking areas seemed familiar to her. I asked her if she’d used a GPS to get to Downtown Disney. She showed me the address — a quick search showed that it was the House of Blues address. So logically, she was likely in OPQ, right? But how would she have gotten a bus from OPQ to Marketplace? That wasn’t possible.

At this point, a Guest Relations CM stepped in and asked if there were any landmarks or anything she noticed in the parking lot. The guest explained that there were lots of trees, and a bus stop, and that was it. So no, that’s not LMN or OPQ. The Guest Relations CM asked if maybe she’d accidentially turned into the Typhoon Lagoon parking lot instead. By this point the guest was very upset — she’d even said to me, “If you can’t find my car, how am I supposed to find it?!” Though it was frustrating, especially with a minor language barrier, the GR CM and I remained calm. I continued to speak to the woman while the GR CM called parking to come over and pick up the guests and drive them around LMN and OPQ to see if maybe the car was there. The GR CM went with them, but came back not long after to say that the car wasn’t in either West Side lot, so they were going to try Typhoon Lagoon. 

This is where the situation left my hands. I felt I had done all I could to help the guest, and because I was the only DisneyQuest box office CM on shift at the time, I couldn’t leave to assist with the situation any further.
So where was the car?

I’m not sure how they figured it out, but at some point while they were searching the Typhoon Lagoon parking lot, the guest said something about another water park. Yes, it turns out the car was all the way down at Blizzard Beach. The GR CM drove them there, dropped them off at their car, and returned very frustrated but happy that the situation was resolved. 

Again, context is important. While it seemed ridiculous to me that the guest was insisting she parked at DTD and got a bus to another spot on DTD, it turned out that she was confused. It was a frustrating situation for all involved — especially when the guest yelled at me for not being able to locate her car from my window. However, Disney trained me well, and, with the help of one of the most lovely GR cast members I ever worked with, the situation was resolved. Patience was key. Courtesy was key.

So to those who are or dream of being Disney cast members, know that you’re going to have ridiculous situations. Know that you’re going to get asked the same stupid question hundreds of times. And know that answering with kindness goes a lot further to alleviate confusion than answering sarcastically or rudely. 

And remember, for many guests this may be their first (and only) time visiting Walt Disney World. Do you want them to remember the cast member who went out of their way to help in a confusing situation, or the cast who answered rudely?

[This whole post was inspired by a post I saw of cast members, present and former, complaining about stupid guest questions. I understand how annoying it can be, but courtesy is always very important, and I hope these CMs were nicer to guests’ faces than they are behind their backs.]

Tomorrowland: Strategic Marketing? (Warning: Spoilers)


I was fortunate enough to see Disney’s Tomorrowland early on in it’s theatrical release. I went with my brother and cousin; the three of us are avid Disney fans and had been looking forward to the movie since the early trailers. (Also, my cousin is studying visual effects at SVA, so he was especially blown away.)

After the movie, still impressed, the three of us got to talking about the marketing aspect of the movie. One of the chief complaints I saw on social media is that the trailers didn’t divulge much about what the movie was actually about. I agreed with that — while I was excited for the movie, every trailer left me wondering (which I actually liked; I’m starting to get sick of trailers, especially theatrical trailers, giving away major plot points). 

But what if the vague-ness of the trailers was intentional?


When Casey first touches the pin, she gets quick glimpses into another world. Though she doesn’t know it at the time, what she’s seeing is Tomorrowland. As the movie continues, Casey gets more and more into the world of Tomorrowland. But what she doesn’t realize until later in the movie is that what she’s seeing when she touches the pin is not actually Tomorrowland, but instead, a carefully crafted glimpse at this other world. She’s not getting all of the gritty details about what’s actually going on in Tomorrowland. 

Now, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen the movie. But I recall Frank saying something to Casey about how what she saw through the pin was not quite reality, but instead, a commercial to draw people into this other world. It’s intentionally perfect and crafted (and vague) to draw the people who receive pins in. 

This is just my (and my brother’s) theory. But what if Disney’s marketing team created intentionally vague trailers to mirror what Casey goes through in the movie? What if the trailers were created to draw us into this world without actually giving away much detail? 

It could just be that the trailers were hard to create because of the movie itself. But I like to think that Disney knows what it’s doing in the way of marketing, and knowing what I know about “Disney Details,” I like to think that this was actaully strategic marketing that mirrors the “marketing” (through the pin) of Tomorrowland in the movie.

I’m still seeing complaints and questions of “What is this movie actually about?” Well, from the trailers we can gather that this magical pin transports the main character to another world, this futuristic Tomorrowland. But for those of us who’ve seen the movie, we know it’s more than that. 

I don’t know about you folks, but the vagueness of the trailers actually drew me in more. I would have seen the movie regardless of the marketing, but after seeing the movie, I really do feel like there was some strategy in the lack of plot detail in the trailers.

What do you think?


Winging it (Or “Why I’m not actually making plans for my upcoming WDW trip”)

I’m a planner by nature. Whether it’s school, work, or vacations, I have every single detail handwritten in list form in my planner. Generally, things are color-coded. I have to have every detail written down or my anxiety tells me I’ll miss something. My lists have lists.

Usually when I go to Disney World, I have an extensive, organized itinerary. I spend up to a month before-hand planning which park we’ll go to on which day (based on which parks have EMH, because we stay off-property and try to avoid EMH crowds), and which restaurants we’ll eat at, and what our Fastpass+s will be, etc.

MyDisneyExperience, the (relatively) new Disney planning app, has made this a breeze. By pre-planning FP+s and dining reservations, we can create a fully scheduled day easily.

However, when I was on my Disney College Program last year, I got to learn the importance of “winging it,” or going to a park with no set plan in mind. And it was great. I kind of loved waking up on a day off and saying, “I want to go to (insert park name) today!”

Since I left WDW in August of 2014, I’ve been back four times. In October, I went with friends, and while we had somewhat of a schedule (we had to figure out which parks to do when because we were using specific convention tickets that were only good at certain parks), we were fairly spontaneous in our activities. 

In November and January, I went with my family, and, as usual, we planned out every detail of every day. It kept everyone on track, which was especially nice in January when we had a party of 7. MyDisneyExperience was a lifesaver, and every morning before we left the house, I’d read off exactly what we had planned — FP+ times, dining reservations, etc.

In March, I went to WDW with my mom, sister, and a friend from college. I kept saying I was going to wing it, but about a month before the trip I put together an itinerary to make it easier on my mom, who could only come for a few days and still wanted to do everything. Before I knew it, yet again, every detail was planned out. My sister and I even scheduled in a “winging it” day, our last day, and as soon as she arrived in WDW we ended up planning out that day, too.

Planning is important. Especially if you’re an obsessive organizer like me. But again, on my DCP I learned the importance of “winging it,” too.

My next trip is June 4-10. I started making the plans for this trip back in early March, as soon as I found out that my best friend and CP roommate, Nichol, got accepted to do the Summer Alumni DCP. As soon as I found out her program dates and looked up the dates of my summer course, I picked a week and booked my flight. However, I soon realized that I would not be planning every single detail of the trip. In fact, 20 days out, I’ve only booked my flight, my hotel (Pop Century), and one dining reservation — lunch at Be Our Guest on June 5th (because it was available and why not?). 

So what makes this trip different? Why am I not obsessively planning every detail? Plain and simple — Nichol doesn’t have her work schedule yet. And since this trip is for me to visit her (and visit WDW), I don’t want to make set plans until we know what days and hours she’ll have off. 

We have noted a few things that we know we want to do as soon as we have her schedule — spend as much time as possible at Epcot, go see La Nouba (shoutout to a former coworker and good friend of mine for offering us her lightbooth seats), and (if we can) go to Ohana one night. We also want to explore resorts, walk the World Showcase before it fully opens, check out the new Downtown Disney offerings, and watch Wishes/Illuminations/Fantasmic as much as possible. But none of these have a specific date yet, and probably won’t until I actually get there. And even though I love planning, I’m actually enjoying NOT planning this trip. It’s interesting not knowing what I’ll do when I get there (though I’ll likely drop my stuff at the hotel and go straight to Downtown Disney, as usual!).

I’m fortunate enough to be an annual passholder, and to have spent enough time at WDW, especially over the past year and a half, that I don’t feel like I have to do EVERYTHING on each trip. However, I’m already planning my next-next trip for the fall (and then hopefully my next-next-next trip will be for a job interview next spring). I’m excited to (hopefully) make Orlando my forever home next year, and be able to “wing it” in the parks whenever I want. 

Like I said, planning is my thing.

Even though I may not be planning each detail of this trip, I do have my packing list done…

And even though I don’t leave for another 20 days, I’ve already got stuff in my suitcase.