A year ago today, I woke up at 4:30 am and drove from my Airbnb in Kissimmee, to my new home for the next six months in Chatham Square. A year ago today, I met my seven other roommates and unpacked my four suitcases. A year ago today, I said goodbye to my parents and made some of the most important friendships of my college program. A year ago today, I started working for Walt Disney World, and a year ago today my life changed forever.
So here is a letter I wish I could give my past self a year ago today…
Disney is full of magic as long as you remember to look for it. Don’t expect that every dream will come true just because you wish it to happen, you need to fight for what you want. Like Tiana, hard work will get you where you need to go. I don’t mean to scare you, but a lot is going to happen over the next six months you’re here, and there are a few things I want you to know.
You will move into an amazing apartment and meet the seven other girls you will be living with. They will love the ears you and Jenny made for them, but don’t get caught up in the drama, better things will head your way by the end of April. Just enjoy their company for as long as you can. Not everyone can be a good friend, but good friends can come from anywhere.
You will awkwardly say a final goodbye to your parents (to just have them take you out to dinner that same night) while everyone watches as you wait for the bus to Casting. Casting isn’t a big deal, by the way, its just paperwork. One of those girls that saw you say goodbye is extremely important. When you board the bus, she will complement our homemade Mickey ears and that will start a marvelous friendship. Her name is Abigail.
You will spend your first few days resort hopping with her and her roommates. This day is vital to your future, love every second you spend with those girls. And when you finish Traditions with Abigail, you both make plans to do park open to close at Animal Kingdom. She brings her roommate Makayla, another extremely important person. The three of you will cry as you watch Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After one more time on your last night in Disney together. Be sure to tell them you love them every chance you have.
You will be one of the best trainees at Kilimanjaro Safaris. You will make the safari ride so unique and fun for all who board your truck, and you will see and learn about the most spectacular animals. Don’t let your trainer scare you off, the people you work with will support you. Bryan, Beth, Mark, Stephany, and the others won’t let you fail. I know driving is scary, but trust me, it is going to be okay. Just breath. Seeing the animals every day is worth it. So please, cherish every second that you train and work there, it is so unbelievably special.
Sadly, you will get transferred after a month at Safaris, but it won’t be your fault. Being allergic to the sun and working all day every day outside isn’t healthy and the switch to Mouse Gear is for the best. But don’t worry, you will thrive there. Merchandise is truly the best role to have at Walt Disney World.
Before you learn about the transfer, you will visit Mouse Gear with a girl you met at Casting, her name is Brittney, and she knows everything there is about Disney. She will be looking for her roommate, Laura, but you don’t end up meeting her till much, much, later. When you find out you’re going to be relocated, you get Laura’s number from Brittney and text her… but because you’re you, you never remember Laura’s name. Then, one night after work, Laura will offer to drive you home and tell you of her roommate, Brittney, that works the entrance at Magic Kingdom. That is the moment you make the connection and find out that the two of you had been destined to be friends from the start.
Mouse Gear will give you the chance to truly make magic. You will help Make A Wish kids have the perfect vacation, guide an elderly blind couple to find the best Disney mug, give a mom the greatest gift idea for her daughter in need of a heart transplant, play endless games of hide and seek with dozens of kiddos, stop countless in-store meltdowns with Mickey buttons, plan and execute an epic promposal, and attempt to hold conversations in Spanish which end up being more or less successful. The magic you end up making is endless because once a cast member, always a cast member. You’ll get what that means, sooner or later.
Eventually, you will move into Abigail’s apartment and become roommates with Makayla. This will spark the greatest adventures of all time. The three of you will have non-stop fun and create epic memories in and out of the parks together. From frosting shots to pizza party nights, to riding Dinosaur nine times in a row just to wave to your best friend while she is at work, there will never be a dull when the three of you are together. You, Makayla, and Abigail will go through so many emotionally uplifting and draining experiences, it is certain that the friendship you three share will last forever.
You and Laura will also have insane adventures, she is pretty darn amazing. Every schedule drop will become a night to remember as the two of you find random places around Orlando to visit. You guys even go on several beach trips. Please remember to bring sunscreen! Anyways, Laura will still be a huge part of your life when you return home. She is someone you won’t ever lose contact with, and you’re very lucky to have her around.
Your last day at Mouse Gear will be rough and sad, but looking back, the last day won’t matter because every day before that was just as good as the next. Please remember to say goodbye to people, it might hurt, but Katy, Rizelle, Dalton, Kayla, Olivia, and Marisa all deserve a proper goodbye. Suck it up and just do it.
The people you meet are the reason Disney is magical. Without them, working for the mouse would have sucked. You owe them a lot. <3
So as you start off on your journey, don’t hold back. Become friends with everyone, be open to do anything (as long as it’s safe), and know that when it’s all over the memories you create will be your greatest souvenir. So make every moment special. Write them down and never lose them. Because you are going to have an absolutely amazing adventure.
P.S. Coming home might be a little sad, but there is someone who waited six months just to hold your hand. And the adventure you will have with him is just the next chapter of your impossibly unpredictable, but fantastic, life.