Spending so much time home alone during the last few months of quarantine has made me reflect on past memories. A lot of those memories have centered around my favorite places- Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Going through pictures and videos takes me back and makes me so emotional and READY to experience the magic again (once it’s safe to travel, of course). Here are some of my favorite Disney Park memories to hold close when I’m needing an extra dash of happiness.
My First Trip to Disneyland (2014)
2014 was one of the most difficult years of my life. I struggled with an eating disorder throughout the entire year and it made everything miserable, even trips and events that should have been fun. Somehow, though, I didn’t let it impact my first trip to Disneyland (too much, anyway). This was when my sister and I were finally getting close and becoming best friends, and going to Disneyland together was our dream come true. We spent two days in the parks (one in Disneyland Park and one in California Adventure) and every moment was magical. My eating disorder did get in the way of me eating some foods that would have been exciting, and I was always thinking about calories and my weight, but those were the best couple days of the whole year by far.
Meeting Groot at California Adventure (2017)
I have mixed feelings about my most recent trip to Disneyland. The memories themselves are good, but *things* complicate them. However, there is one part of that trip that stands out above the rest: meeting Groot. I was already super excited for the re-theming of Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (which was INCREDIBLE), so imagine my surprise to see GROOT meeting guests outside the ride! Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favorite Marvel movies, so meeting Groot was a dream I didn’t even know I had. It was amazing.
Working in Fantasyland (2017)
Doing the Disney College Program was a dream of mine for YEARS until it finally happened in the fall of 2017. The entire experience was amazing, and I will include many more memories in this blog post. One of the best parts, though, was my job. Locations and roles can be hit-or-miss with the DCP, but I lucked out big time being placed in Fantasyland merchandise. Yes, it’s one of the more chaotic and busy locations, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. The costume was a dream (little girls called me Rapunzel so many times), the merchandise was so fun (princesses, Winnie the Pooh, and Donald Duck), I got to hear the fireworks every night, and I worked with amazing people (I miss my FAN-ily). During the five months I was in Fantasyland, I complained a lot about stock shifts (especially in Fantasy Faire, which was my least favorite store but the one I was placed in most often), but honestly, I would only work stock shifts if it meant I could work in Fantasyland again. I miss it every day.
One of my favorite memories of making magic was a night I was in Fantasy Faire. A little girl and her dad were looking around after the fireworks, but she looked sad. I started a conversation with them and asked what was wrong. The dad said they had been waiting in line to ride Peter Pan’s Flight next door for about an hour with their family, but the little girl really had to go to the bathroom, so they got out of line and were waiting for her mom and brother to get off the ride. The little girl had really been looking forward to riding and was sad she had to miss out. I told them to wait in the store and that I’d be right back. I quickly walked over to Peter Pan and told the cast member out front what had happened, then worked a little magic. I went back into the store and found the little girl and asked if she still wanted to ride Peter Pan’s Flight. She looked at her dad confused, but nodded her head. I told them to come with me and took them to the front of the FastPass line, where the cast member let them on the ride right away. The little girl was so happy. It was such a small thing and not difficult to do, but little moments like that made all the craziness worth it.
There are other memories I can’t quite put into words that make my heart so happy. Walking on stage in my stock costume to take a lost phone to Guest Relations during a Christmas party and seeing it snow on Main Street for the first time; driving the stock trash truck down the tunnels at the end of a long night; saying “Hi” to Normani (from Fifth Harmony) while holding a bag of trash; playing with bubble wands on the Pooh Porch; protecting ducklings from children while working the merch cart near Tomorrowland; watching the New Years Eve fireworks from backstage during my break; singing and dancing to Happily Ever After with my co-workers; accidentally sowing “Andrerw” on a guest’s ear hat; Halloween party treat shifts; watching A Kiss Goodnight from beside the castle after closing for the night; the feeling I got every time I pixie dusted a little prince or princess… the list goes on and on. I left my heart in Fantasyland.
Days at EPCOT (2017)
I had never been to EPCOT before my program, so I had no idea how much I would love it. I’m not sure what made EPCOT my favorite park at WDW, but it quickly rose in my ranking to claim the #1 spot. The big beautiful golf ball, Figment, sunsets around the World Showcase… I love it all. I even have a “tradition picture” that started as a funny accident but became something I’ll keep up with my entire life. I love EPCOT so much and I can’t wait to see her glow-up at the end of all the referbs and redesigns.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (2017)
I loved working treat shifts for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but attending it as a guest is a whole different ball game. Chey and I splurged and bought tickets for a single night, and we were ready to take advantage of it all. She dressed like Snow White and I created a last-minute Baymax costume and we were ready to go.
Everything about the night was perfect. Trick or treating, meeting rare characters, taking pictures, the Monsters Inc dance party, the special parade and fireworks, the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular… it was all amazing. Definitely one of the best nights of my program.
Solo Days at Hollywood Studios (2017)
Something about Hollywood Studios makes me miss my College Program more than any other park, and I think it’s because DHS was the park I went to the most just to chill and hang out. It has such a laid back energy, and there are so many little things to do that can keep you occupied for hours. It was my favorite place to go when I had a couple hours free and just wanted to enjoy living at Disney World. One night in particular stands out to me: I bundled up in a Disneyland pullover, not caring how cute I looked because I just wanted to soak everything in towards the end of my program. I watched Jedi Training and cried, rode Star Tours, hung out in Launch Bay, met Star Lord and Baby Groot, then sat on Sunset Boulevard. I listened to the Christmas music (which is the BEST at DHS), watched the lights on Tower of Terror, and enjoyed the snow that fell every few minutes. I felt so much magic- genuine, pure happiness.
Playing Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and Getting Wilderness Explorer Badges (2017)
Some of the coolest things you can do at Disney World are the little hidden games and quests not everyone knows about. In Magic Kingdom, they have a card came called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. You get to follow a map and a story around the Magic Kingdom, using your cards to defeat villains using hidden portals. Chey and I went to MK a couple times to play the game, and it’s a fun way to relax and enjoy yourself without worrying about rides and characters.
In Animal Kingdom, you can earn Wilderness Explorer Badges by completing tasks, talking to cast members, and learning more about animals and conservation. I didn’t do this as much as I wanted to, but all the badges I did earn were so much fun! Chey and I spent a day collecting badges, and I even earned a couple by myself!
Watching the Fireworks Under the Lanterns (2017)
I. Love. Happily Ever After. Of course it’s beautiful and amazing watching it from in front of the Castle so you can see the projections, and I LOVE doing that. However, my favorite place to watch the fireworks is a little more hidden- under the Corona lanterns by the Tangled bathrooms. You can still hear the music, and when you’re sitting on the ground looking up, you get a beautiful view of all the fireworks enhanced by the glow of the lanterns. I made so many people watch them with me from there, and all of them loved it. It’s also a great place for pictures!
Watching the Premiere of The Last Jedi (2017)
I love watching movies from the Disney Springs AMC!! Once of the best movie watching experiences was when I went with some of my co-workers to watch the midnight premiere of The Last Jedi. The atmosphere from outside the theater was infectious, and there’s just something special about watching a Disney movie at Disney World. I also saw Coco and Pitch Perfect 3 during my program, and this past year I saw Frozen 2 at the theater!
Reuniting with my Roommates (2019)
Two years after our program began, I reunited with two of my roommates at Disney World, back where it all started! We spent some time at Disney Springs and spent the next few days at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios! This was my first trip back since my program (a year and a half later) and it was so emotional and made me feel so much nostalgia. It was like no time had passed- we remembered everything about the parks and fell right back into our old peaceful happiness. This time, though, we had better phones to take better quality pictures XD I also got to see Toy Story Land for the first time!
Seeing Galaxy’s Edge for the First Time (2019)
In November 2019, I went back to Disney World to spend some time with my sister and her friends during Thanksgiving Break. I had a lot of personal things going on and Disney was just what I needed to escape. The highlight of the trip was 100% seeing Galaxy’s Edge for the first time!
As soon as Disney announced this park expansion, I was SO excited. I love Star Wars with my whole heart and I couldn’t wait to step into the universe. Galaxy’s Edge did not disappoint. It looks and feels so real and beautiful, and I can’t wait until I have more time to explore the hidden details. The characters walking around just adds to the wonderment. Don’t even get me started on the attractions. When I went, only Smuggler’s Run was open, but it was AMAZING and so realistic. Oga’s Cantina is another perfect aspect of the land, and I loved every second spent there. So, so incredible.
I miss Disney so much. I miss running around the parks, Magic Band on my wrist, with nothing but time and possibilities. I cannot wait until the world is safe again and I can go back to my happy place and soak in the magic.
Until then, I’m so thankful for the memories ❤