I Left Disney.

Just writing the title of this post hurt a little bit. Now, you’re probably thinking “stop being so dramatic” or “we’re tired of hearing about this” blah blah blah. But honestly, working at Walt Disney World was, and will always be, a huge part of my life, and who I’ve become as a person. Moving home, I’m finding it really difficult to be able to express, or even just talk about my time at Disney. In Orlando, I could relate to nearly anybody surrounding me, but back home I just don’t have that kind of outlet. My parents have heard my stories a million times, friends don’t care to hear about it, and if I start talking to a stranger about it, I just end up talking in a loop. It’s not because I don’t want to talk about it, I’m just finding it so difficult to be able to relate to people. So here I am. Writing about it. It’s been about a month now since I left, and I’ve had a lot of time to process a lot of emotions. So brace yourselves friends, I predict this is going to be one long post…

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I never formally announced it here on my blog, but I did in fact, leave The Walt Disney Company. I am no longer a Disney Cast Member, and I no longer live in Orlando, Florida. Let me be blunt, it sucked to leave. Many tears were shed. But I knew that where I wanted to be, no longer matched where I currently was. I was missing family, and I wasn’t saving money. I LOVED being a Photopass Photographer with all my heart, but I realized it was time for me to move on…

I learned a lot of things during my time as a Floridian, so lemme break it down:

Working. Working in one of the world’s largest tourist destinations, absolutely changed the way I worked. Both as a merchandise and a photopass cast member, my work ethic drastically changed from any previous jobs I had held. One of the biggest changes was the sheer volume and pace I had to work at. Working right in the middle of Main Street USA is no joke folks. And on holidays? It was nice knowing you. As for guest service? Nobody does it like Disney. It taught me it’s more than ok to bend over backwards for someone, even if I’m not going to be directly benefitting anything. That even translates to my current job. I just want to make people happy, and I think that will forever be drilled into my soul.

Relationships. One of the things I am most proud of, is that I moved to Florida not knowing a single soul. And not only that, but I didn’t just pack up and leave after my internship. I stayed another 2 and a half years. I created a family there. Friends who cared about me more than I even thought possible in such a short amount of time. They supported me, and lifted my spirits. They let me show my goofy self without fear of judgement. They are friends I am going to have for a lifetime. But another thing I learned living down there, is sometimes relationships change, and not for the better. I learned when, and how, to let go of a friendship. No matter how close you once were. If I came across a toxic friendship in my life, I no longer felt the need to mend it, or to hang onto it for dear life. I learned it’s ok to let friends go. In no way does that make it easy, but sometimes to grow, you have to grow on your own. Whether it be old friends back home, or friends you’ve only had for a few months. If the relationship is no longer a positive one, and it can’t be mutually mended, it’s time to move on. Before I moved to Disney, I was a very temperamental person. I could get upset about something in the drop of a hat. But going through all those relationship changes, helped me to grow and change as a person. I can sort my feelings out, without blowing up. (But hey. I’m still human. I have my moments.) But how I deal with relationships it’s one of the biggest ways I changed. I’m proud of the person I’ve become. And I am beyond thankful for my Florida family. They took care of me when my own family was thousands of miles away, and they supported me in ways I didn’t even know I needed.

Money. Now this can be a touchy subject to open up about, but here it goes anyways. I struggle a lot with money management, and working at Disney World did not help my case. All the adorable and fun merchandise, the cool excursions and events you could go to. An annual pass to that *other* theme park… Also rent was expensive, and I struggled to find affordable places to live without having tons of roommates. Props to the people who live in big groups. Because after college, I just couldn’t do it anymore. But as much as I struggled to manage my money, it also taught me just how much help I needed to get my finances under control. My parents and my sister both really helped me get things to be more manageable, but in all honesty, it’s still something I’m working on.

Believing. Just believing in all sorts of things. The magic, hope, the future, myself. Magical moments were some of the best parts of my job. Seeing kids faces light up, or going out of my way to do something for a particular family, or taking photos of proposals. Believing in hope. Hoping for bigger and better things, and being able to stay positive even when things got tough. Believing I’ve got a bright future waiting for me, even if it’s not necessarily working for Disney. And just being able to believe in myself, and my choices. Being confident in the person I’ve become and where I’m going in life. I know, it all sounds so cheesy. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Just being able to stay positive, and believe in myself and where I’m going. One of the biggest reasons I gave up working a job I absolutely adored, was in the hope of ultimately moving to Denver, Colorado. I’m believing and full of hope, that by leaving Disney, I can end up there faster than if I would have rode it out down there. I believe that leaving was the right decision for me no matter how difficult it was.  Even if I’m only temporarily back in Chicago, I’m hoping for a bright Colorado future.

Open-Minded. I would definitely not consider myself to be close-minded, but working in such a diverse place taught me so much. Having lived in Orlando during the PULSE shooting, was unimaginable. So many people I worked and was friends with were so directly effected by it. It wasn’t some news story. I was a tangible place I drove past on a weekly basis. But the love and support the people and the city of Orlando showed the LGBTQ community, was so heartwarming. There are so many different, amazing, beautiful people in the world, and such violence is so cruel and unnecessary. Then all the different cultures I got to see and experience. I know more about Puerto Rican/ Hispanic/ Latino/ Portuguese cultures than I ever thought I would know. The friends I made that opened my eyes to the beauty (and delicious food) and the hardships they deal with every day. How the Disney community came together in support of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was amazing. Just the love and care everyone had for each other is what made having a Disney family so magical. No matter what you believed in, how you were raised, or what you looked like mattered. We were one. We were in this together.  Even just being open-minded about trying new things. I ate fish for the first time in years! I went on rides I never thought I’d go on. I put myself in social situations I would’ve backed out on in a heart beat. It’s given me so much confidence to put my best foot forward, try new things, and hear things out before passing any judgement or making assumptions. Being open-minded is such an uplifting, and freeing feeling.

Now if you’ve read this far, cheers to you pal. You got the experience of reading some fresh Andi feelings. Some of it happy, and some of it more somber. I’m one big ball of feelings. Call it Disney withdrawal, call it being emotional. It’s just a lot of what’s going on up in my head, and my thoughts and feelings after working and living in such a magical place and how I’m doing now. Which in all honesty, I’ve been better. Moving back home has not been easy, and has been pretty lonely. I like my new job, but it will never be what Disney was. Friendships have grown, changed, or been lost all together. But here I sit. Typing away late into the evening, just trying to sort out and process all these thoughts and feelings. I could probably keep typing out more, but my goal was to try and streamline some of these thoughts. So with that, I’ll leave you all with a little nugget of wisdom I once read somewhere on the internet:

“Happiness is a choice, not an emotion.”

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Goodbye Magic Kingdom?

As you might know (or if you didn’t), I’m a part-time Photopass photographer at the Magic Kingdom! It’s been almost a year now of calling the Magic Kingdom my home, and not much has changed…until now!

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Coming up in the near future (early July to be exact), I’ll be trading in one kingdom for another! After almost a year of waiting, I’ve finally received full-time status as a photographer at Animal Kingdom!

Animal Kingdom is the one park I really haven’t worked at. I had one (very short) shift a few months ago, and ironically enough, I had picked up a shift there last week before I knew I would be transferring! I’m still going to have to go through a couple of “training” days once I officially transfer, but I treated that shift like a crash course before my move really happens! I even got to work with my boss!

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One of the things I find funny is, over a year ago when I was first becoming a Photopass photographer, Animal Kingdom was my number one choice to be placed at. Obviously, that didn’t happen. I wound up at Magic Kingdom instead, and was absolutely dreading working on Main Street USA. It was the absolute last place I wanted to be, especially coming from working at a relatively smaller resort (Art of Animation). Who knew a year later, I’d consider that spunky street my home, and would be heartbroken to leave it…

The excitement and weariness keep coming in waves. I’m currently very happy working at Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach this summer, and it saddens me that I won’t ever be making an “official” return to Magic Kingdom. But full time status is what I’ve been holding out for, so I’m excited to have finally gotten it! If there’s one thing about working for Disney, it’s that you really need to put in the time to work your way up. You won’t be on the fast track working for such a global company.

No matter the doubts, I’m still excited for this new chapter in my Disney career. Hopefully one day soon(er) I can make another step up the ladder, or who knows! Maybe it’s not my future to work for the mouse forever. But for now, my adventure is still out there!

Cool for the Summer

So I’ve been a Photopass Photographer for about a year now, and this summer I decided to switch things up! Now don’t worry, I’m not leaving Photopass. I am, however, abandoning the Magic Kingdom for the summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working on Main Street USA, and truly being in the center of all the magic. But after a year of it, it can become pretty taxing. I’ve also become very frustrated with Photopass. There are certain areas of Photopass that require special training, aka a “specialty.” When those spots become available you put your name on a list, and hope for the best. After a year of waiting, and putting my name on multiple lists, I’ve become quite tired of the same disappointment. So when a different kind of list dropped for the summer, I pounced at the chance. So where will I be keeping cool this summer?

None other than the Disney Waterparks! Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard beach will be my homes for the summer! So now not only have I worked at all four main Disney Parks and Disney Springs, now I’ve worked at both waterparks too!

I’m definitely excited for the change of scenery and change of pace this summer. After the frustration of still not being selected for any specialties, I needed to escape the kingdom for awhile. I’m hoping this time away will be a good refresher for me as a Photopass Photographer.

Typhoon Lagoon

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So come splash with me in the waterparks this summer!

I Still Exist!

Look! I’m still here! My last post was all about stress, and a lack of any posting. Yet, here I am, several months later, still without a blog post. I have’t forgotten about my blog or my YouTube channel, I have thought about it, had a couple of flickering ideas, but none of them have caught fire. I go in waves where I’m proud of my Youtube channel and blog, and then another where I feel really embarrassed by it.

I’m still working as a Photopass Photographer in the Magic Kingdom, and I’m actually coming up on my “official” one-year anniversary with the company! I’ll also be temporarily transferred to the waterparks for the summer! As much as I love Photopass, I’ve feeling a little bit in a rut with work. I still have not been trained in any specialties, so I’ve been feeling really disheartened. I’m looking forward to a little change of pace and scenery for the summer!

I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again. I’m going to try and get back into the swing of things. I’m going to start with my blog, and try and go from there. So don’t worry, I still exist!

Stress.

So I’ve been away from both my blog and YouTube for awhile now…and honestly there isn’t a real reason for it. I’m stressed. I’m feeling uninspired. I’m feeling alone. I’m scared of what the future holds. But there is always one quote I cling to in the down times:

“Life is like a book, some chapters are better than others.”

Simple, and to the point. I may be having a hard time now, but I’ll get past it, and move onto the next.

Right now I’m just thankful for the very few friends here, and I’ve been trying to work on strengthening those relationships. I’m doing my best to not sit alone at home, and going out and doing things. Even if it is by myself sometimes. Occasionally I just need to get out of the house. So today I took myself out shopping, and had dinner with a friend.

It isn’t always easy, and sometimes things get put on the back burner, but you just got to keep on, keepin’ on. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things.

 

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2016!

Would it really be fall in Walt Disney World if you didn’t go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? I think not.

Until I started working for the Walt Disney Company, I had never attended a halloween party. Nor did I really know anything about them…So last year as a Disney College Program participant, I attended my first party! It was more than anything I had ever anticipated, so this year I made sure I was going again!

The first step after buying a ticket, was deciding on a costume for this year! Last year I went with my roommate Laura, and we were Woody and Buzz from Toy Story! So this year I wanted to mix it up. I was going to be attending the party with my friends Michelle and Ashley, so that made for a grand total of 3 people. Since one of our favorite rides to go on is the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, it was only fitting we go as them!

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Since it’s still rather hot out (and we were on a budget), we decided to go for more of a “Disney Bound” type of look, opposed to an all out costume. And since we went that route, we weren’t even entirely sure people would understand who we were trying to represent! Since I was representing Donald Duck, I was the most recognizable. But to our surprise, people really loved our costumes! Some cast members even said they’d never seen anyone go as the Three Caballeros! It felt really good to feel a little unique at such a major Halloween party.

And since we were the Three Caballeros, who else would we meet other than the #1 duck himself?

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Donald was so cute when he saw us in line, he was blowing us kisses and drawing hearts in the air! Daisy even got a little jealous…Then when it was finally our turn to meet them he ran right up to us! We had such a fun meet and greet with them.

Thankfully it only rained very briefly right at the start of our party, unlike last year when it had rained almost the entire time! We spent a lot of time meeting characters, so once we were done with that we watched the Hallowishes Fireworks. We also decided to watch the 2nd parade, and the final Hocus Pocus show at midnight!

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This party was just as fun as last year’s! And since I now work in Magic Kingdom, I also get to work that Halloween parties! So that means I still get to see the fireworks and shows on a weekly basis! If you’re ever on the fence about attending a Not So Scary Halloween Party, I would highly recommend it!

Am I a “Professional” Photographer?

Since I am now mostly settled into my role as a Photopass Photographer, one thing I’ve come to notice is how guests will often refer to me as a “professional.” And that, is something that baffles me every time.

I’ll be positioning a family, or having them pose for a fun, creative shot, or they’ll even be just walking by wanting a photo, and they will say things like “Oh, let the professional do it” or “She’s the professional, she knows what’s best,” that kind of thing.

According to Google’s definition of “professional” it is: someone engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime. So technically, under that definition, I am a professional. I am paid by Disney to take photos for guests. I also have a degree in art, where I took several photography courses. Therefore, under that definition, I suppose I would be considered a professional.

But for whatever reason, I can’t get over the mental hump of being referred to as such.  It’s not that I don’t feel that I know what I’m doing. I think it mostly comes from the way guests so openly refer to me as that, before I ever even thought of myself that way.

For now I’m just going with the flow. I am absolutely loving my role as a Photopass Photographer, and now that I am trained with characters, I’m having in more fun. Professional or not, teamwork makes the dream work!