Two versus Twenty-Two: Why Disney is affecting me so much more now that I’m an adult.

So, as many of you lovely readers alread know, I just got back from Disney World.

And I want to go back. Now.

Now, I’ve been to Disney World around ten times in my life. Each time has been new and different somehow, but this time, it was the best kind of different. No longer are the trips about going on rides and meeting my favorite characters (though meeting Peter Pan was AMAZING); this time, it was about educating myself and learning all things Disney.

I prefaced the trip by reading countless websites and multiple books about Disney World. Some were about what it’s like to be a cast member, while others were Disney facts. I dropped random facts into conversation with friends and family: “Did you know that Walt Disney World has more hotel rooms than Manhattan?” “Did you know that one of the voices in the Haunted Mansion graveyard is the same guy who played the original Tony the Tiger?” “Oh, and did you know that it’s actually called Cinderella Castle, not Cinderella’s Castle?” I think my family became just as interested in these facts as I did, which was great. I could not wait to just get there and put my knowledge into action as the sights I read about unfolded in front of me.

Then we did the Keys to the Kingdom tour, a five hour (partially backstage) tour of the Magic Kingdom. In those five hours, we learned such a wide array of facts and stories about Walt Disney World and Disneyland that I can’t even remember them all (my brother, however, wrote them down at dinner the same day of the tour). I don’t want to spoil WDW for anyone, so I’ll try and keep the facts limited… but let’s just say there’s a LOT that goes on behind the scenes, especially in the Magic Kingdom. As soon as the tour was over, I was ready for more. I went back to the rental house and downloaded even more Disney facts books.

The whole time we were there, I let the magic take over. When cast members waved, I waved back enthusiastically. I called little girls in costume “princesses” and told them how beautiful they looked. I bounced down the pathways, taking everything in with a new perspective. No longer did (do) I want to be on the outside — I want to be on the inside. I want to be a Walt Disney World cast member.

Now, of course, this could be partially attributed to the “Disney High” — that euphoric feeling that generally accompanies a vacation to the Disney parks. However, I’ve experienced that every time I’ve been to WDW, and I know how different the feeling I have is. I’m no longer looking at it as an experience; I’m seeing WDW as a place that can change me. I want to be a part of the magic. I want to bring magic to people’s lives the way WDW has done for me since I was little.

Of course, I have a lot to consider if I want to be a cast member. First and foremost, I’d have to move to Florida. I don’t see WDW as a life-long career, but I would love to work there for a year or two. Second, I’d have to figure out how to make a part-time/seasonal job work. While in MGM (I refuse to call it Hollywood Studios at the moment), I had the opportunity to speak to a cast member with a blue name tag (the blue name tags are only given to the best-of-the-best Disney employees), and he explained to me that it would be hard to get hired full time but it’s worth it. He’s worked in Mama Melrose’s for 17 years and says it’s the best thing he ever did.

For some reason, on this trip it also hit me that life is truly only lived once. I have so many dreams — NYC, especially, and now WDW. Though I’m only twenty-two, I feel like my twenties are flying by. So now is the best time to consider these dreams and do what I want to do.

I still don’t know what’s going to happen. But one thing I do know is that I have never in my life been so upset to leave WDW. On the last night of our trip, after spending the entire day in the Magic Kingdom, my sister and I stood on the back of the ferry (I insisted on taking the ferry back to the transpo center because it’s more magical) and watched the Magic Kingdom get smaller and smaller. With tears in my eyes, I turned to my sister and simply said, “We’ll be back soon.”

Disney has been a huge part of my life ever since I was small. I don’t expect everyone to understand, but I know there are many of you who will. I want to have a reason for this base of knowledge of a theme park that I’ve stuffed into my head. I want to get Disney degrees. I would love to give tours, but I’d also be content waiting tables or selling merchandise. I just want to try. While I know WDW will always be there as a vacation spot, I want it to be something more for me. And I know that if I don’t give it a try, I will spend my life regretting it.

So we’ll see what happens. If I get in to NYU, I’m obviously not going to turn it down. But maybe I’ll try WDW for a summer or a season at the same time. All I know is that I need to stop letting life ge in the way and just go for it… I’m only going to be in my 20s once, and I don’t want to waste it.

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