GOING BACK TO DISNEY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE MY COLLEGE PROGRAM

Surprise, I went back to Disney World! I was just as shocked as you probably are. It’s been six months since I left and came back to Tennessee to finish. To be honest, I didn’t think this trip was going to happen. With everything going on at school I didn’t think I could. Thankfully, I was able to take a long weekend to visit the most magical place on earth for a much-needed break!

I’m not gonna lie, it was weird being back. In a lot of ways, it felt like I should still be working there. It was like I never left. Truthfully, a lot has changed since my college program ended. My first day was spent back in my home park – Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This day was special because I got to see so many friends that I’d been missing. The fun part was, most of them had no clue I was coming! It was so fun to surprise them and see their reaction (really glad they hadn’t forgotten about me, that would have been awkward). We walked around seeing as many people as possible at main entrance, watched the stunning Merry Menagerie, saw all the Christmas decorations, at Satou’li Canteen, rode the safari, and spent a chilly day re-connecting. It was definitely weird being there as just a guest and not someone who was on their day off. Whenever I heard someone ask a question, my instinct was to respond or say “happy birthday, princess” to little girls with birthday buttons on. Some things will always be engrained in me!

Besides feeling weird like I should be working, the first day was so good being able to see all of my old co-workers and friends again. I’ve missed seeing them every day! Even though a lot of people aren’t there anymore, I am really glad I got to see everyone who was. The only one who knew I was coming was my DCP twin, Emily, so it was also really fun surprising them. Plus, I got to see Chip and Dale in their dinosaur outfits with CHRISTMAS TOUCHES! How cute?!

The second day was a long one! We started off by hitting Epcot for some Food and Wine Festival goodies. I got the tropical mimosa, Twinnings pumpkin spice chai tea cocktail with caramel vodka, bacon and cheddar soup, and a teriyaki chicken bowl. Everything was DIVINE and it was fun being “of age” in Epcot and getting to experience more of the festival than I have in previous years. We also were very lucky to be able to visit my close friend, Chris, who we’d seen the day before but I was so glad I got to see again!

After a lap around the world, we decided to take a ride on the Skyliner. Luckily, another one of my dear friends from the program was working it so I got to squeeze in a hug before jumping in the gondola. This was the first time I got to go on Skyliner and I was super impressed! What a cool way to travel from park-to-park or resorts. When we got off at the next resort, we made a last-minute decision to jump on and head to Hollywood Studios! We had time to kill before we could go into the Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom and I had yet to see Batuu. So, off we went!

We got there, nabbed some FastPasses for Tower of Terror, and headed straight to Batuu. I’m no Star Wars fan, but it was super cool to see! Another one of Disney’s immersive lands done right. We even got to see Chewbacca and some Storm Troopers just walking around doing their thing! From there, we looked at all the Christmas decorations and took a walk through Toy Story Land. We headed to Sunset Blvd. for my first ever ride on Tower of Terror. Since I have a rather intense fear of elevators, this ride seemed like a nightmare! But, as a big fan of The Twilight Zone I decided I needed to finally take a ride. The theming was amazing!! I wasn’t a huge fan of the feeling of my brain hitting my skull with each drop, but it was fun. I don’t know if I’ll ride it again, but maybe if I take some ibuprofen ahead of time it’ll be better! It didn’t cure my fear of elevators though.

After that, it was time for the big event! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom. Most people who know me know that I LOVE Christmas. Yet I had never been to Disney World at Christmas time! This party shattered any expectations I had! It was AMAZING. From the minute walking in and seeing the Christmas tree on Main St. I was in awe. There were lights, decorations, and Christmas music at every turn! Not to mention, free cookies and hot chocolate! I dawned my Christmas ears and wreath earrings and was truly living my best life! How could I not be?

We started off with a ride on Small World (much to my dismay), then hit up a couple of cookie locations. We got to meet the seven dwarves, the hundred-acre woods friends in their adorable Christmas outfits, and it wouldn’t have been a Christmas party in Disney without stopping by and seeing the old boss! Took the wildest ride in the wilderness with no wait, ate lots of cookies, took lots of pictures, and by the end of it we were dragging ourselves to the bus to go home. It was a long one, but one of the best days!

13 consecutive hours, 3 parks, and 27,733 steps later we were filled with Christmas joy but also dead to the world. Not to mention, the next day we’d be taking that 12-hour drive back home! It was 1000% worth it and a trip that my soul needed. I needed a break from school craziness and work, and was ready to visit my second home! I really leaned into my enneagram 7-ness and took a trip on a whim that was the best. Reminds me I don’t have to make sure every moment is planned out!

Other than being over the moon about seeing friends and visiting the parks, the trip also reminded me how much I’d love to make my career at Disney. As I’ve been trying to figure out where I want to be post-grad in May and weighing my options, I’m leaning in and listening to where I need to be. Working for Disney and being able to make advertising magic would be a dream! More and more it seems like I’m being pointed that way. Wherever I do end up, whether it’s back at Disney or not, I will always make sure to keep the magic alive and spread joy in every circumstance.

All in all, it was a festive, magical trip! I’ve been back in school reality for one week and I’m already itching to go back. We’ll see how long that lasts! Maybe next time I’ll be returning as a cast member.

MERRY CHRISTMAS (it’s never too early to have festive spirit)

❤ / Bailey

How to deal with post-Disney depression.

If you haven’t heard, there is a widely known phenomenon know as post-Disney (or in my case, post-DCP) depression. It’s that horrible feeling that smacks you in the emotions when you leave the magical Disney bubble and head back to reality. It sucks when you leave vacation, but imagine having to leave all that behind when you’ve spent months there making a home, friends, and magic of your own. Yeah, it’s rough.

Trust me, I know that there is MUCH worse going on in the world. There are people battling cancer, living in poverty, being separated from their families due to injustice, and so much more. I’m aware of this and that’s why I feel so bad for being such a debby downer lately. It’s the type seven within me beating myself up for feeling such negative emotions. Regardless, I think it’s healthy for me to acknowledge the fact that I’m not happy.

It hits me somewhat randomly now. That overarching feeling of loneliness. I left a place where I had so many accessible and readily available friends to do things with, and if they were busy I could easily make some new ones. Back to small town Tennessee where most of my friends have left, have things going on to keep them busy, or are always on the go traveling. By no means am I blaming any of this on them, just stating the fact that they aren’t around as much.

I also had more things to do. There is always something going on in Orlando from going to Disney parks, visiting a different theme park, driving 2 hours to the beach, going to a huge mall, or just exploring cute towns like Celebration. Not that Johnson City is an empty wasteland with nothing to do, but it’s definitely no Disney World. Now when I’m bored, I got to Target or Founder’s Park. They’re nice things to do, but I miss being able to go ride roller coasters, meet characters, or just take in the visuals that are Disney World. Which I’m aware, that was a very priviliged lifestyle, but one I also worked really hard for.

I don’t know that I’ll be fully able to feel the joy I had during my Disney College Program. It does get better over time. I can finally look back at all my pictures without physically crying (just on the inside now). I don’t think I’ll be able to listen to the Animal Kingdom park arrival music that I found on Spotify for a little while longer, but I’m making progress.

I’m holding onto hope that school starting back will help me feel better. I’ll have more friends around, more to do with homework and joining clubs, and overall more regulairty. I also get to start thinking about the future more as I plan for graduation. Thinking about it has me really excited about what comes next. Maybe a return to working for Disney will be in the cards.

Even if I don’t end up working for Disney again, Walt Disney World will always be a place I call home. So many happy memories were made there and I cannot wait to go back to Orlando. I don’t know when my bext visit may be, but I know I will love every second of it.

So, what are some ways to help cope with post-Disney depression?

Video chats and phone calls are key. Yeah, I’m walking the old fashioned stuff. When all of your friends are dispersed across the country video chats and phone calls can make a world of difference. Texting is nice and a good way to more constantly stay in touch, but there’s nothing quite like seeing someone’s face or hearing their laugh.

Don’t watch Disney videos for a while. This may not be for everyone, but whenever I first came back it was really hard for me to look at content from the parks. Especially my home park! It’s weird seeing it on screen when you aren’t there in person anymore. You’ll work your way back to being able to watch them. As my sister told me, “maybe don’t consume the media that makes you sad.”

Get your pictures printed. I know you took a TON of pictures while you were at Disney. Instead of just letting them sit on your phone, go get them printed. Plaster them along your walls, desk spaces, planner, notebooks, etc. to bring a sense of Disney wherever you go.

Remember how lucky you were to be there. Disney is a magical experience, and one not everyone gets to take part in during their lifetime. To go to Disney, especially to be chose to participate in the Disney College Program, is a huge honor. Don’t take that lighlty and count your lucky stars. Be thankful for the time you had.

Start planning those reunions. This will give you something to look forward. My DCP twin is coming to visit me in my hometown and I know I want to plan several more visits with the amazing people I met during my time at Disney. Also, plan those trips to return to the parks.

Stay busy. If your busy there’s no time to be sad, right? Okay that might not be the healthiest way to desribe. Being busy definitely helps though because it gives you less time to dwell on the past.

Hopefully some of these can help any others who are also experiencing post-Disney or post-DCP depression. It sucks, I know, but we’ll get through it. Walt wouldn’t want us being sad when there’s a great, big beautiful tomorrow to look forward to.

❤ / Bailey

 

 

 

 

A thank you to the people | DCP Spring 2019

One thing I regret about the end of my program is that I didn’t fully get to say thank you to the people that were a huge part of my life over the last few months. It was the people in my life that made my program so special and one that I will never forget. I made some amazing friends and I wanted to take a moment to really thank them for all they have done. Goodbyes are hard, but this is just a “see ya real soon” because know that you met me y’all are stuck with me!

My Coordinators: Paul, Hunter, John, Evelyn, David, Angel, Pedro, & Joan – it was an honor to get to work with such an amazing team. I honestly couldn’t be more thankful for the influence you all have had on my life in the four months I got to know you. You all gave me the tools I needed to do my job well and put trust in me that has made me grow immensely as a person. You all were always there to answer any questions I had and help me in any way that I needed. You all rock! Keep being superstars. Anyone who gets to have any one of you as a coordinator should consider themselves very lucky; I know I do!

My Leaders: Carmela, Chris, Ashley, William, Al, and Lori – thank you for being amazing leaders. You were all amazing to work for and I’m so thankful to get the opportunity to know each of you! You made work a fun place while also making sure we were doing our best. Thank you for being great leaders. I am so thankful I got to work with you all on my CP.

DAK Stroller Squad: I’m not gonna lie when I found out I’d be working strollers I was a little apprehensive. Now, I wouldn’t have wanted to work anywhere else! The DAK stroller squad is the best group of people. My fellow CPs were just a fantastic group of people who I got to work with every day and all the full-time, part-time, and seasonal people were great to get to know. Y’all made coming to work each day a joy! There was never a time when I dreaded coming to work because even on my bad days I knew I had y’all to lean on & cheer me up. You answered my many stupid questions when I was new & clueless, and I can never thank you enough for the ways you all have shaped my life. All my love to all of you!

Emily: Thank you for being my DCP twin. Who knew I had a twin from all the way across the globe in Australia that I would be paired with for day one of on-the-job training? I am so thankful that I got to meet you during this program. Thanks for all the amazing adventures, from driving to work in a thunderstorm to going to the parks before work or going to Legoland, it was all a blast! Saying goodbye to you was one of the hardest goodbyes, but I’m thankful I got to spend my last day of the program with you soaking in every moment of it. I can’t wait to come back and visit you & remind you to PUT DOWN YOUR ARMBARS.

Jade: One of the first friends I made on the program! I’m thankful we met on day one of training, had merchandise core together, and became amazing friends. You were one of the only people who could always tell when I was upset or frustrated and knew when I needed a hug, to take a break, or have a vent session. We had a lot of great adventures from celebrating your birthday in Epcot & Disney Springs to quite the entertaining day at Legoland and everything in between. Thank you for being my friend & come visit Tennessee soon so I can show you real country food!

Maddy: Also one of my first friends that I met at DAKlimation! You bring SO much laughter wherever you go. I knew I could count on you if I ever needed a laugh or hug. Your positive spirit radiates wherever you go. I’m thankful we got to go horseback riding for the first time together at Disney!! There’s nobody else I’d rather consistently bump into at the parks on my days off. I’m glad you live in my neighbor state of North Carolina so a visit soon is a must!

Esco: I miss your hugs! Thank you for being the amazing human you are. You filled each day of work with so much happiness. Keep on being a bright light to this world. You are going to do so many amazing things!

Quinton: Who thought it was smart to keep putting us together? Nothing but laughter and love came from working with you. I’m thankful for all our times’ stacking, closing Outpost, and just working together. Thank you for ranting with me about the tough times and laughing about everything else. I’m so thankful to have gotten to know you. No matter where life takes us, I’m always here for ya!

Chris: Our friendship formed while an angry old man was yelling at me about change. You always made working in Garden Gate a blast! Every time I was assigned in there I was hoping you’d be there too. I’m so thankful for every hug, screaming my name when I walked by, and laugh shared. Keep being the best and taking awesome pictures!

My roommates: I am so thankful for the five girls from across the country that I got the privilege of living with. Y’all were amazing roommates & really helped make Orlando feel like home! Love you Madison, Ansley, Sam, Kendra, & Barbara! My door is always open to y’all wherever I may be.

Sam: The person I shared a room with & 1/3 of our Three Caballeros! Thank you for being the best first roommate I could have ever asked for. You filled so much of my life with laughter & love. I’m thankful for all the late night food runs, the times you mocked me, laughing at the stupid things we did, talking until 3 am, thinking I was staring at you when really I was sleeping, ranting about crazy days at work, and all the park visits. I miss seeing you all the time! Can’t wait for you to come to visit me & for me to come to Indiana.

Kendra: The other third of our Three Cabelleros & my precious daughter. Thank you for being an amazing friend & roommate. I’m so glad we had Traditions at the same time and got to experience our first visit to the parks as Cast Members together. We had a lot of fun adventures from going to the parks, getting our nails done (talk about a weird place to get engaged!), and going on food runs. Even though my judging may have made it seem otherwise, I am so glad to have you in my life! Reunion soon plz. I’ll make sure to come to you with any health concerns since you’re gonna be a rockin’ nurse!

And to ANYONE I came in contact with, thank you for being you. Each and every person I met along the way had a huge impact on my life. It really is the people that make Disney World so special.

See ya real soon (on Snapchat, Insta, Facebook, and hopefully a real visit), pals. Thanks for everything!

❤ / Bailey

See ya real soon, Disney World | DCP Spring 2019

How bittersweet. That’s all I keep seeing about the end of Disney College Program. It is SUCH a bittersweet feeling.

My last shift working at Animal Kingdom Park Arrival was on May 14th from 6:15 pm – 1 am. That night was filled with goodbyes, tears, and many hugs from people that mean more to me than I ever thought possible for only knowing them for four months. When it came time for me to eventually clock out for one last time I walked over to the computer and as soon as Mickey popped up with “Thank you for helping Make the Magic” I could feel the tears welling up. Me and three of my friends, two of which were also on their last day of work, decided to walk up and see the Tree of Life one last time. Since it was really late the park was pretty much empty and only a few other cast members were around. We stood watching the tree as it was still being lit up and cried. We took a few pictures and said “see ya real soon” to our home parks icon. We walked together to the parking lot, said our goodbyes, gave big hugs, and went our separate ways.

CUE THE SOBBING. I hate crying in front of people, so as soon as I got in my car where I was alone I let out the biggest sob I think I’ve ever cried in my entire life. I cried so hard I almost threw up. Yep, that hurt. The whole drive back to my apartment there were tears filling my eyes. Who knew that a place where I’d be stacking strollers and selling merchandise could mean so much to me? The past four months I’d fallen in love with working for Disney and the people I worked alongside and it hurt to say goodbye.

I pulled myself together the next day in order to head to Magic Kingdom for my last park visit. I went with my mom and sister and met up with my friends Jade, Emily, Aaron, Kendra and Sam throughout the day to spend as much time as possible with some of my favorite people (and take cute castle pics, of course). I ate some of my favorite Magic Kingdom foods, rode a few rides, watched Festival of Fantasy, and prepares myself for that final moment of watching Happily Ever After in front of the castle for my last time as a CP. Yep, more tears. I got to watch the fireworks at a stunning view of the castle with my mom, sister, Emily, and Sam. You could hear a chorus of sniffling and sobs from all the CP’s who’s journeys had come to an end that night as we cried together and reflected over the last few months. The night ended as I said goodbye to two of my closest friends, Jade and Emily, and took the last monorail ride to the TTC (which was also filled with tears, let me tell you).

I got home to my apartment and did a last minute packing dash to try to get everything ready to load up the next morning. My mom and sister met me at the complex, we loaded all my belongings into our two cars, and it was time to say goodbye to The Commons apartment 1311. It was a great place to live during my college program, filled with normal ups and downs, and it was said to see it empty. It really did become home and my roommates became family. I turned in my key and ID, said see ya later to my roommates, and drove out of The Commons for the last time. I then proceeded to curl up in a ball in our hotel room, cry, eat Chick-Fil-A, and then sleep. We got up in time to make our dinner reservations at Sana’a (AMAZING FOOD BTW) and headed to Disney Springs for one final shop.

The next morning, I got up and went to costuming to return everything then it was off to Tennessee. 13 hours later, and I pulled into a town that felt like home but weirdly unfamiliar. The transition has been rough, but that’s a separate post all in its own. As I have more time to reflect, I’ll touch more on how exactly this journey impacted my life. For now, I’ll just say…

See ya real soon, Orlando! You haven’t seen the last of me yet.

❤ / Bailey

I just graduated from the Disney College Program, what’s next?​

Whoa, what a journey. The Disney College Program has been the most life-changing experience over the last four months. I’ve spent every day working and playing in the Disney World parks, and it has been the most joyous time. I loved my job and the people I have been surround with. But, like all good things, it must come to an end. As much as I would love to stay here (and trust me, I REALLY would), I am at peace with my decision not to extend my program. I got my graduation ears yesterday and have five more shifts of work until my program is officially over.

So, what is next? I’ll be moving back to Johnson City, Tennessee. My mom and sister are meeting me here in Orlando to play in the parks for a few days beforehand and then help pack all my stuff up and begin the 10-hour drive home. I’ll have a few days to get settled in and catch up with friends and family before starting back my job with the Communications team at FCC. I’ll be working on a cool project that I am excited to dive into and looking forward to seeing my amazing coworkers there!

I’ll be back on East Tennessee State Univerity’s campus in the fall to start my SENIOR YEAR of college. I can’t believe my last year of undergrad is already here. I only have five classes and two big tests (a critical thinking skills test and a major field test) standing in the way between me and a bachelors of science in media and communication. It’s crazy! I technically could squeeze that all into one semester and graduated in December, but with being gone this semester and getting used to being back on campus, I’ve decided to stick with the full four years and graduate in May 2020.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey with Disney, and I can safely say that this isn’t the end. I will be looking into Professional Internships and other positions within Walt Disney World for post-graduation in the hopes of returning next year. This has been an amazing company to work for and one that I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye to just yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do another College Program! Whatever may come, I know doing this College Program will be a great door opener and I cannot wait to see what my future holds.

Goodbyes and really hard and this next week is going to be emotional, but I’m going to take advantage of every moment I have to make some magic!

❤ / Bailey

ONE MONTH LEFT | DCP SPRING 2019

Where has this year gone? I cannot believe that it’s already down to only one month left of my Disney College Program. I am excited to be seeing my family and friends that I have been missing back at home soon but am heartbroken at the thought of saying goodbye to this program and the people here. It has been the best time of my life and I have grown in ways I never could have imagined. So, what’s been going on since the last time I’ve posted?

I worked a lot. From the start, I’ve loved my job and that love has only grown as the program has progressed. I get to work alongside some of the most amazing people who provide my days with laughter, professional growth, encouragement, and immense joy. I’ve had some amazing guest experiences whether it be a little kid hugging me exclaiming it has been “the best day ever” to just having a chat with an older couple who are annual pass holders about the love for Disney and seeing the joy on someone’s face when they ready “East Tenn State Univ” on my nametag and are from that area or went to ETSU as well. Of course, there are rough moments but the good always outweighs the bad and I’ve grown in my ability to handle all types of situations.

I’ve had plenty of park days. When you have the unlimited ability to go to a Disney park, why wouldn’t you take full advantage of it? Most of my off days and several mornings before work have been spent exploring the parks and resorts. I rode Big Thunder Mountain for the first time (and now it’s one of my favorites) with my roommates Sam and Kendra, ate at the iconic Beaches and Cream with Maddy, ate a lot of festival food at Epcot’s Flower and Garden, and even built up the courage to enjoy some time by myself in the parks (well, besides the thousands of other strangers there).

I’ve had hilarious late night chats with my roommates. I honestly don’t think I could have gotten better people as my roommates for this experience. One of my favorite things to do is have late night chats with my roommates after we get home from work! We even had a late night waffle party that was full of laughs and delicious Mickey waffles.

With only one month left, I’m hoping to make every moment count. I want to play in the parks whenever I get the chance and make tons of memories with my friends here before we go our separate ways. I’m looking forward to celebrating Earth Day and Easter in the parks this weekend. In a few weeks, I’ll also be having some visitors and I cannot wait to share with them this place I love so much.

Here’s to the last month and everything that it will have in store!

❤ / Bail

MAKING DECISIONS | DCP 2 & 1/2 MONTH UPDATE

It’s no secret, I’m pretty bad at making decisions. I have been for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s deciding what to eat for lunch, what color to dye my hair next, or what to wear to class, you can bet I’ve had an in-depth thought process happen while trying to pick. I’m an overthinker, no doubt about it! This *special* trait of mine has been really apparent recently.

I’m currently two and a half months into my Disney College Program and loving every moment of it. So much so, that I applied to extend my program through the summer. Now, when I went into the program, I was pretty dead-set that I’d be coming back to Tennessee in May. Little did I know just how much I’d fall in love with this company, this city, and the people here. It’s truly felt like home and the amount of love and joy I feel every day is something I don’t think I can fully describe.

So, when the opportunity to apply to extend arose, I took it. I wrote a couple of paragraphs about why I wanted to stay through the summer, chose my role and location preferences, and a few weeks later I was offered an extension. Then, I had a decision to make.

QUE THE BIG YIKES AND MANY DAYS OF ASKING MYSELF  “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?”

There was something different about this decision. It was a really big one to make. I had a lot of reasons for staying in Florida. I love working at Disney World, I’ve made some INCREDIBLE friends here that I dread saying goodbye to, and l want to keep my journey with Disney going. However, there were also a lot of factors tugging me back home to Tennessee. A lot of my family members are going through a lot right now and I physically want to be there for them, the job that I loved back at home was being held for me until May, this is my last summer to be at home before GRADUATING college, and there are a lot of people and things I just miss about Johnson City.

Can you see why I was having such a tough time choosing? Plus, they only gave us about four days to give them an answer to whether or not we were accepting the extension. Talk about added pressure! After several days of constant inner debate, inner-lip biting (s/o to you, anxiety), praying, and a few tears shed thanks to it also coinciding with period week, I made my decision.

I declined the offer to extend my program and will be moving home to Johnson City in May.

It was a REALLY tough choice to make, but one that I’m at peace with. I want to be able to spend my last summer before entering the real adult world (post-graduation) at home in Johnson City and be close to my family who is going through a lot right now & could need me.

Don’t worry, I don’t think my journey in Orlando and with the Disney company is quite over yet! I’m already planning a trip to come back in June to celebrate my 21st birthday. I’m also planning on applying to Disney’s Professional Internships once I graduate next year and will definitely be looking into career paths in advertising and public relations with Disney.

I’m excited to see what the rest of my program will hold and will be soaking in every second of the experience! I’ve got some friends from home who are coming to visit in May, fun adventures to come planned with friends here, and many more days of working in the best park. The best is yet to come, I’m sure!

As far as what I’ve been up to recently, the last month since I’ve updated has been a blast! My sister, best friend, and their friends came to spend part of their Spring Break with me and I got to show them around my favorite place!! I got to go on a backstage tour of the Haunted Mansion ride with my coworkers. Spent a beautiful day Kathy & Wendy. Ate at Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh & friends. I went to the parks a lot and worked A LOT. It’s been the best of times!

Here’s to learning to make decisions. I’ll see you in May, Johnson City!

❤ / Bailey