I have three “Happy Places”:
3. Chic-fil-A: It is delicious and wholesome (in both food and experience.)
2. Olive Garden: If it’s not O.G., it’s not O.K.
1. Walt Disney World.
Easiest way to my heart? Food and Disney. But Disney World will forever be that happiest place for me.
Now I have gotten spoiled since my days in the College Program. My fellow Space Ranger, Kaelyn, and I have been making our bi-annual pilgrimages to Star Command for the past two years. So in total, I have now gone to Disney 7 times, including the College Program extravaganza, excluding my Paris adventure, in a matter of 5 years.
I was recently asked if working for Disney and going back so often has made it a less magical experience for me. I started to evaluate my past half a decade of coming to Disney.
You see, I didn’t get to experience the dress-up-like-a-princess-and-get-strollered-around-the-parks stage of Disney World. When I was 4, my sister Hannah was born and I was told I would have to wait until she could walk. I bided my time, learning every Disney song and the lines from every movie. And then when I was 8…Mariah was born. Yet, another sister to wait on. Then sports became a scheduling conflict and Disney seemed out of the picture. Until the summer of my junior year! I had just gotten word that I would sign with a school in Arkansas to play softball and since that was taken care of, a Disney trip was planned.
It was amazing. Everything I dreamed it would be. All of my years of waiting were worth it, and it didn’t matter how old I was. My favorite was Wishes, the fireworks show in Magic Kingdom. I cried as the fireworks rained down like pixie dust to the instrumental version of “I Can Go the Distance” from Hercules. Magical.
This summer, going back with my family was completely different from that first time. I was the one with all of the information. I made the decisions, knew the strategies for Fast Passes and Extra Magic Hours, and made reservations for all our meals. I was no longer on vacation, I was the tour guide. And then I had to report to Star Command to pick up some attraction shifts to keep my proficiencies, as well as work a crowd control shift on the 4th of July. On top of that, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as I normally do on a typical Disney outing. WAS the magic gone?
Then I thought of how my family was able to visit every park, and for a discount. That’s my Dad’s kind of
magical. Thanks to my Fast Pass and EMH experience we were able to ride our favorite roller coasters as many times as we wanted. My sisters considered that pretty magical. We had a dinner at Cinderella’s Castle and visited our friends from the Hundred Acre Woods at Crystal Palace for the first time ever. My mom actually used the word “magical” to describe those experiences.
During my shift in Tomorrowland, I was able to help several Space Rangers get on into their Space Cruisers or gave them high-fives as they got off and exclaimed that they were “Galactic Heroes!” When I did crowd control, I was stationed by the Tomorrowland Dance Party where I danced the night away with guests who kept complimenting my mad dance skills, challenging me to dance-offs, asking how I had so much energy, saying I was more entertaining the parks, and even being told I resembled Kate Middleton. All the while working with one of my very best friends, and making new ones.
So to answer the question, the magic that is Disney will never be lost for me. I can still go back and experience the magic with my family, but now I also get to be a part of the magic. And even though I now know every word to Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, I still tear up everytime those fireworks fill up the sky and make the most amazing backdrop behind Cinderella’s Castle…and probably always will.