My DCP Story: The Adventure I Never Asked For

“Good bye may seem forever. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.” – Widow Tweed (The Fox and the Hound)

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Throughout my life, I’ve been a very fortunate kid. I was born into a loving family with two parents that wanted what’s best for me, gave a roof over my head and supplied anything and everything they could to help accomplish my dreams and goals.

Through the help of these dreams and goals, I’ve been able to have some of the best experiences in life. When I was eight years old, on a Sunday morning, I woke up before everyone else and went downstairs to watch what I thought would be cartoons. Instead, I scrolled through and ended up turning on Sportscenter. Here I am, an eight year old, at this point only had a year of tee-ball and soccer under my belt, watching the world wide leader in sports.

After sitting there for minutes, watching the highlights go from one game to the next, I was instantly hooked. Looking back now almost 15 years later, on that random Sunday morning was where I found my first love, sports.

Sports gave me the ambition to learn, dream and set goals for myself. Going into high school, my goal was to do football my freshmen year. After a few practices, the goal quickly became to survive freshmen year football. With goals, it took until the summer going into my sophomore year of high school to realize I was never going to make the NBA. Yes, an overweight Polish kid with absolutely no vertical had a goal of making it into the NBA. What a pipe-dream.

Having something to play and win at helped create my competitive side. Sports offered that for me and is the number one aspect I took from them. They gave me love, peace and ultimately, a sense that I belonged in this world. Since that Sunday morning when I was eight, sports has been a part of my every day life and is a emphasis in my college degree I will get in December. However, as time went on, I realized through growing up, that I had already found my first love. That love, is with Disney.

Remember when I said I’ve been a fortunate kid? Just wait. It took me way longer than it should’ve been to realize I was literally born into Disney. Since birth, my family had a timeshare in the Disney Vacation Club and my first trip came before I was a year old. Obviously, I don’t recall a thing from that visit, but thanks to pictures, the confused look on my face after Snow White kissed me on the forehead and left lipstick on there will never be forgotten.

Fast forward to today, I can sit here and say I’ve done a lot of Disney in my life. So much, yet I haven’t even come close to accomplishing it all. After 22 years of living, I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve been to Disney World 18 times, Disneyland twice (for their 50th and 60th anniversaries) and been on two different Disney cruise ships. Going to Aulani was supposed to be the next item added to the list, but due to COVID, guess we’re going to have to wait another year to add that to the Disney resume.

Despite having many adventures with Disney, there’s not a single one of those trips I’m more proud of, than when I went down to actually work for them.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

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On this day a year ago, I began my journey in becoming not just an employee of the Walt Disney Company, but a cast member at the Walt Disney World Resort. Throughout my program, I was fortunate to have the experiences I had. Both good and bad. Working for such a large company taught me many lessons and was the closest thing to real world experience as I could get. It challenged me in a multitude of ways, made me bring my best self out day in and day out and most importantly, I got to know and learn from a ton of people.

As this story continues, I will bring you an insight look at my seven month experience in the Happiest Place on Earth. Some stuff, you’ve already read and see me do (if you kept up with my stories when I was on my program) but with this, I will explain the situations I haven’t told. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, my program gave me a real world experience. Come to find out, the real world is literally a rollercoaster and everything and anything can happen at any given time. Despite these experiences being north, south, east and west, there isn’t a single thing I regret during my time at Disney. At the end of the day, as you live through experiences you need to learn from them, become a better person and use that positivity and generate it to others. My time at Disney was a wild ride, but not every adventure is supposed to go smoothly.

Like any other story, we have to start from the beginning. In fact, lets start from the way beginning to how this adventure was even made possible.

Back around Christmas time in 2018, I was one semester down in my junior year and the talks about internships began to raise. I knew I had to do one in order to graduate so, like any normal college student, the goal was to set something up for myself for the summer of 2019. As the discussion took place, me being a journalism major, doing internships for stations like ABC, NBC, CBS came up in discussion as expected. Knowing how hard it would be for me to get into a major news source like that, I quickly swiped left in my head with the idea.

Other options that came up in the discussion was something with my local newspaper back home in Bolingbrook and anything small I could find myself down at school in Athens. But one idea that very quietly was brought to the table, was a Disney program. In the conversation, everyone, including myself had heard nothing but great things about their programs and was something to consider looking at down the road.

As it got brought up, I really didn’t think much of it. After doing some very basic research on their programs, the option seemed like it wasn’t realistic. Fast forward to January of 2019, when I first arrived back to school, I met with my advisor to help me understand what type of internships I should be looking at.

After I met with her, the biggest takeaway I got from it was that if I get an internship with any major company, I’d get it approved no problem. Soon after, I began the search. For the next two weeks, I searched for internships that would do the trick for me, but came up with nothing really all that great. Until I woke up to a text from my brother in our family chat that.

In the text, was a screenshot of a tweet from Disney’s program and internship page saying applications for fall/fall advantage will open up in two days. After reading it, my mom responded with “Get on it John” and at this point, was the beginning of the adventure.

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When I began doing more and more research into the program, my first thought was who can I go to that’s done this before and been through the process that can help me out. Also, need to note that throughout the entire process, my mindset was I didn’t think I would get in and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be upset. However, thanks to the power of networking, it wasn’t long before the idea actually started to feel like it could be a reality.

After digging through my contacts, I remembered an old friend from the summer going into my senior year of high school named Gabi. Gabi and I met each other at a two-week summer journalism workshop at Eastern Illinois University and have stayed connected through social media as the years have gone on. When I thought of her, I forgot that she had just completed her program and was in the middle of it when I came down for a trip in the summer of 2018.

I ended up reaching out to her through Instagram and asked her for all the advice I could ask for. In the end, as I went through each step of the application process, she gave me the best advice and then some. In reading through her advice and looking up the necessary information, my confidence in making the program went up tremendously. With discussing with someone who just finished up doing what I was looking to do, I knew that the opportunity was within reach, but still had a mountain to climb.

Remember when I mentioned the power of networking? Well, all I have to say is don’t sell yourself short and you can never meet too many people. With that said, the ultimate key that helped me secure my internship came from my fraternity presidents ex girlfriend. Kam was around the house a lot that prior semester and we were always nice and kind to one another all the time. One day after talking to my fraternity president, Mason, he told me that Kam had been accepted into the program last summer. Immediately, I texted her and asked for the advice I needed.

Throughout the process, we face timed twice and in those calls, she couldn’t have been more of a help. Thanks to her, along with the help from Gabi, they gave me the blueprint in getting into this program and took every single bit of advice and applied it to the application process.

As the process went on, I saw myself getting more and more confident. From filling out the initial application, to figuring out what role I wanted to do, to the online interview, all the way to the phone interview where it was my moment to shine. With listening to their advice on top of watching a few videos on how to ace the phone interview, I went into it feeling very confident.

With the phone interview, it’s to the point where you’re able to show off your love for Disney. I did not disappoint. A good interview, I was told should last anywhere from 20-25 minutes, at the end of my call, my interview went for over 34 minutes. I felt good on the call, yet I knew right after the call some areas I could’ve done better. Although, my love and knowledge of Disney couldn’t be denied when I wowed my interviewer with telling him about the program building a $650 million apartment complex for its participants. Something that was just announced two days before my interview and the guy was almost shocked I had learned of the news.

The worse part of the application process though, is the waiting game. With my interview being done and the decision awaiting, as each day passed, I got more and more anxious. I was checking my email every hour to see if I received anything and after a week of waiting, I received the email.

As I was walking out of my class at around noon, I checked my email and there it was, the acceptance letter into the program. I was literally in the center of my campus when I read the email and my excitement was through the roof. I’m not usually one to cry, but I had to take a second to relieve myself because all I wanted to do was cry tears of joy. It’s a moment that I will remember for a long time and is etched in my memory with how it all went down.

Later in the day, I called my family to tell them of the good news. They couldn’t have been happier for me and thanks to them, I knew I was about to go work at a place that’s always been my second home. However, despite the great news and how happy I was, it soon turned to a serious note when I told my advisor.

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” — The Emperor (Mulan)

 

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As I went into her office a couple days later, I told her I secured an internship with Disney and thought I was good to go. Very quickly in that meeting, the way I expected it to go, ended up going in the complete opposite direction. For 45 minutes, she bashed the program saying all I would do is “sell Mickey balloons and hot dogs.” In addition to the bad reputation she was giving the program, she told me that it wouldn’t count towards my internship credit and if I were to do this, I would essentially be taking seven months off to go work at Disney.

In sitting there taking hit by hit of the program, I came out of her office feeling disappointed. It seemed as though all the joy I had with getting accepted went out the door and turned into clouds with dark skies around it. I then called my parents to inform them on what she did and asked them what I should do given the situation on hand. Ultimately, it was there decision to make. As much as I wanted to do this, like I said, I never thought I’d get this far in the process when I first started. After collaborating with them, they told me they supported my decision and that if I wanted to do it, I could.

I told them I would sleep on it and let them know in the morning. Suddenly, life was coming at me very quickly and had to think of all my options with school moving forward. In taking the night to think things over and do some research, my decision was made and I was going to Disney World.

With accepting my offer, I basically gave my major, as my former friend put it, the middle finger. The support from my family meant everything to me in this decision and as you’ll read throughout the rest of this story, it was without a doubt, the absolute right move. So, after I made my decision, it was time to get ready as I was less than three months away from my program starting.

As I went through the process with paying the fees, filing out the right paper work, getting added to the plethora of Facebook pages and GroupMe groups, I was all set for what was about to be my new life for seven months. After saying goodbye to friends and family, I left for Orlando on June 2nd and was as nervous as ever.

Getting on the flight that morning, it already felt different. I had to pay a luggage fee because my bag was over 50 pounds, didn’t have to worry about what day I was coming home and I went there without my brother, which really made it feel different from the beginning. We arrived in Florida and stayed at our home resort at Old Key West and ended up going to the Boardwalk to the ESPN Club to watch the NBA Finals. The entire day, I tried to be as calm as can be, but the anxiousness and nerves were overwhelming.

I got little to no sleep that night and before I knew it, the central Florida sun was up and it was time to go.

For the duration of my stay, I choose to live at Patterson Court. One of now five different complexes they have for people doing the college program. Quite honestly, after looking through the videos, the pictures and reading reviews of each place, I would’ve lived anywhere. I say this because my entire freshmen year of college, I lived in my fraternity house illegally and slept on a blow up mattress in a closet with no windows. But that’s another story for another time.

Anyways, I arrived to Patterson Court at 8:45 as my scheduled check in time was at 9:00. As I pulled up, I was impressed from the start. Gated community (which I learned is very common in Florida apparently) security guards on watch 24/7, a nice pool, small gym, it was everything you needed. As I went to the main office, I had to take my ID picture and get my guide for the program. The entire time I was in line waiting to get my stuff, I was simply trying to keep my shit together.

Growing up, I never met someone who was as big of a Disney fan as me and my family were. Yes, people knew of it and had been there multiple times, but no one came close to the way we did Disney. In fact, I would get picked on from time to time at school for liking Disney so much. People would always hit me with “Isn’t Disney for kids?” or “Don’t you ever get tired of it with going there every year?” You can probably guess my reaction to those questions, but it was weird to go from no one having a clue on what Disney was about to all of a sudden people being on the same level as me.

As I exited with my ID and other items, it was time to go to my home for the next seven months and meet my roommates. Back in March, after I had been accepted to the program and went got into the group chats, I had the option to try and link up with people to room with once I arrived at my program. After posting something explaining who I am and what is it I like, I didn’t get much of a reaction from anyone except one person.

That person’s name was Nick. Nick was a 28 year old guy who loved sports just like me and had previously done the program back in 2012. He was a cool guy to me over messages and when it came down to it, I couldn’t see myself rooming with anyone else. After matching with him, we connected with another guy named Sam who just graduated from North Carolina at Chapel Hill and coincidently graduated with a journalism major.

As the process moved forward, we were only able to link up with two other people and even if we did, there was no guarantee we would be in the same room together. Given that we had three people and had someone who knew from experience already, we decided to shoot for a three bedroom-six person room at Patterson Court. We decided on this because we heard that some of the apartments had been renovated and felt that it would be cool to live there. Our dream choice was same room style only in Chatham (which I believe is the best out of all the complexes) but it’s not like it was our choice anyways.

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Any who, I was the second person to arrive in the apartment. Sam was the first because he had an earlier check in time and got first dibs on room choice. Again, it didn’t really matter to me because all the rooms were the same with having their own shower, toilet, sink and closet space. As I got there and got my belongings upstairs, room 6207 at Patterson Court was officially my new home.

Me and my parents decided to stay in the apartment and wait for others since I didn’t need to be at my casting appointment for a few hours and shortly as time went on, the rest of the roommates arrived. In addition to Sam and Nick, the three other roommates we were living with were named Josh (from Sacramento, California), Christian (from Houston, Texas graduated from Abilene Christian University) and added another Sam (from Houston, Texas graduated from the University of Houston) to the mix.

It was a pleasure to meet everyone and we were all excited to finally talk to each other in person rather than through text message. After introducing myself to everyone, I went to my casting appointment to get my blue ID picture taken and go through my background checks/fingerprint scanning.

During this process, it didn’t take long for me to begin feeling like myself. I was dressed well, the nerves sort of went away and during the first thing I had to do in casting, I ended up meeting a person from the town next to me and who went to school in Illinois named Eric. From there, when I went to get my fingerprints scanned, the guy that was guiding me through it, was from Chicago and we spent the entire time talking about Chicago sports and all things city talk. Again, it didn’t take me long to start to get my groove on.

As I completed casting, I went to grab things for the apartment so I can complete my move in and was stocked and ready to get started. The next day was the hardest as I had to say see ya real soon to my parents and as you can imagine, didn’t go over so well. Granted, I had gone through three years of college in a different state so this was really no different. Only except being a six hour car ride home, I was all the way down in a new region and was a good 18-19 hour car ride from home.

Nonetheless, after they drove off, it was time to get my life at Disney started. That night, we invited people over to play cards against humanity and just like that, we were off to a blazing start. That night, I got introduced to my good friend Amanda. When we put in the chat we were drinking and playing cards, she was one of the few that responded and said they would come through and actually did. She had a thick New Jersey accent and was also Italian so it was pretty fun to hear her speak because there’s just something about a New York/New Jersey accent that gets me.

We ended up sitting, talking and drinking the entire time as we got to know one another and of course, talk things Disney. After she left, my roommate Sam brought over his girlfriend and all her roommates and ended up actually playing cards. It was a great time and later in the evening a whole other group of people came through to chill and play games as well. At this point, we had over 20 people in the apartment at one time and easily was the record we had for the entire program.

All in all, the first week of my DCP was awesome. I got to know my roommates better, went to Disney Springs during the days to look around, shop and have a beer or two. It was a fun, but sort of weird time because this was the first time I was adventuring at Disney without my family. But that’s what life is about, right? Having adventures.

Being that we couldn’t get into the parks within the first week because we didn’t have our blue IDs the only thing to do was get to know and meet people, spend time by the pool or go resort hopping. On that Thursday, me, Amanda my roommate Christian and two new friends Emily and Marissa, went resort hopping around the Magic Kingdom resorts and from that point on, I was comfortable. In doing this, I also experienced Wilderness Lodge for the first time. Which if you don’t know, is personally my most underrated resort on property. But that’s just me. *shrugs

The next day, was our “first official day at work” as our group leaders told us, with what Disney likes to call, Traditions. Traditions is a class that all new employees have to take. I won’t give a ton away here, but basically it’s a class in which they tell you what makes a good cast member and teach you the Four Keys of Disney (Safety, Show, Efficiency and Courtesy). It was a monumental day as I received my name-tag with my school on it, my Blue ID, got a free set of classic Mickey ears, and got to go underneath the Magic Kingdom into the utilidors. For those who read this, look up what they are. I bet many wouldn’t know that the Magic Kingdom at Disney World is built on the second floor.

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Needless to say, the entire experience was breathtaking. It was the first time I walked through Disney with dress clothes on and as you can imagine, it didn’t take long for me to start sweating through my clothes with it being 90 degrees and 100% humidity and not a cloud in the sky. Traditions only lasted four and a half hours and was deemed our first day at work because we technically got paid for it.

As the day ended, with completing the course, we were given free passes to go to the Magic Kingdom that night. Come to find out, they do this for every new class of new hires and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. To end your first day on the job with free tickets to the Magic Kingdom is something not a lot of people get to experience. But that’s Disney man. That’s the power of magic.

If you’re wondering, after I got back to the apartment, I quickly changed and went back out to the Magic Kingdom to take advantage of the free ticket. I went with my roommate Nick and met up with Amanda and it was a great way to cap off the night. With that, my first week of my program came to a close and it was off to a magical beginning. However, as I mentioned earlier in the story, the program was the closest thing to a real world experience. With the real world, you got to deal with drama and A TON of crazy situations all the time. Well, it didn’t take long for the drama to arise as what transpired the next week, no one could have predicted.

Throughout the program, despite living in a six person apartment, I had nine total roommates. The first person to go out of the original six, was Nick. It started out with him having troubles at casting. For some reason, every time there’s a wave of new CP’s, the amount of fingerprints they have to go through can sometimes cause issues for some. In this case, it did for him and 100-150 other people too.

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When this first happened, we thought everything would be cool by the following week and then everyone would be on the same page. Well, that Sunday after traditions, Nick went home for a family BBQ and said he would be back Monday. Monday came, didn’t come back, Tuesday came, nothing, Wednesday and Thursday, no different. By that Wednesday, mostly everyone who had a issue with casting, went and had their traditions. As you can tell, he was not one of them.

Here it was Friday of that week and he still had not come back from home. He said he was calling casting that day and was hoping to get an answer. Despite his issues, I went through with myself on my schedule. The entire week, they messed up my training schedule so after doing something for a few hours on that Monday, I had nothing to do until the following Sunday. So me and my roommate Christian decided to go to Animal Kingdom for a few hours that day. As we were there, Sam texted us saying Nick came back and said he was terming.

Despite talking to him regularly since March and especially that first week there, he gave me no indication whatsoever that this is what he was doing. His excuse was it was taking too long for traditions to happen and said he had to do other stuff. Again, this man was 28, hell was turning 29 within a month and no idea what he was doing. After going out to Twin Peaks with everyone from the apartment, we realized that this was weird especially considering Sam had done the program before as well and never heard of something like this. After having a couple drinks and sharing some appetizers, we knew what we had between us and was set from that day forward.

We jump forward two days later where we finally got the answer as to why Nick left. Turns out, back in January, he was arrested on grand-theft larceny charges in his home county and the case was still open. All I have to say is shout out to my mom for the research and digging. After I woke up and she texted me to give her a call that morning, I knew right then she found something. As soon as the call ended, it didn’t take long to find his mugshot on Google and at that point, everything made sense.

Despite the shocking news, later that day I had my “On with the Show” training at Hollywood Studios. On with the show is really just a clever way of describing a VIP tour of Studios for those wondering. When you go to work at the parks, they do this with everyone so you could get an idea of where anything and everything is. From bathrooms, to different types of places to eat, to where you can get a Mickey pretzel, popcorn, anything. I will never forget this day because it was the first time I ever rope-dropped a park. And to do it in my favorite park made it worth my wild. After this day and getting my training schedule in order, it was time to begin making magic!

 

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At the beginning of my program, I started off working at Sunset Ranch Market on Sunset Boulevard. Not going to lie, my first day, I was extremely nervous and had no idea what I was in for. I was ready to learn, but just cared so much that I didn’t want to mess anything up. When I arrived though, I saw that I was the only trainee for the day so it made it much easier for me because I’m someone who likes to learn when it’s between me and another person. Thankfully for me, I had the best trainer I possibly could have asked for.

My first trainer on the job was Nikki. Nikki had been with the company for a couple months before me, but with the way she taught and knew everything, you would’ve thought she had been doing this for years. The first day, we started in Rosie’s All American Cafe, one of the five different locations you can get food at on Sunset Boulevard. When I arrived for my program, my two goals were to: meet as many people as possible and learn the way and system that a Disney park operates at. With Nikki’s help, she made the system look and seem so simple. As the first day carried on, I got more and more comfortable and was picking up things really fast. By the end of the day, Nikki told me that I had nothing to worry about and that I would be more than fine. With the help of those words, the nerves went away more and more by day and I was so anxious to learn new stuff.

As the week carried on, Nikki ended up being my trainer for all but one of the days. That one day she wasn’t, a fellow cast member named Trace, who was there doing an internship for school, got the ok from the leaders to train me. This day in particular was memorable because when the leaders gave him the green light, I had never seen someone so happy. He literally was jumping up and down, squealing with joy and everyone was so happy for him. I was honored to be his first trainee, even though at the end of the day, I dropped a pizza on the floor and the sauce came back up and burnt the back of his leg a little. Overall, the training was great and before I knew it, it was assessment day and I knew all the information I needed when it was time for the leader talk. After that and working all five locations on Sunset Boulevard, I got to take my “Earning My Ears” ribbon, off my name tag and I was now a regular cast member!

The situation created a lot of excitement for me that the first thing I did after my shift, was go to a Disney Park. I was excited for two reasons, one being that I didn’t need to close up shop that night and two, the training wheels were taken off and I didn’t need to put the pressure on myself that going through training can cause. Despite the excitement, the job didn’t really feel real until my first bad day. Throughout this story, you will see a picture of me, sitting down and looking away from the camera with a caption in the upper left hand corner. I took this picture as I was waiting for the bus to go home after the day and that’s when things really clicked for me.

I knew going in that despite working at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’, there would be your good days, your great days and your bad days. On that particular day, I was humbled by it that I made a path to myself that for the rest of my program, I would be the best cast member I can possibly be day in and day out. If you’re wondering what made that day a bad one, well, we got slammed on a Friday at the smallest location we had on Sunset Boulevard and I didn’t do the best job of handling the situation. Mainly, I was disappointed in myself because I couldn’t handle the rush and I’m one who takes a lot of pride in my work. At this point, they trusted me to do stuff and I let them down to the point we needed our coordinator to help because we were that behind. Again, was it all my fault? No, not at all. Did I feel like it was, yes. Why? Because I demand greatness out of myself. The way I was looking at it was if I can’t handle putting pizzas on the oven and having enough to fill orders right, then how can I handle the serious shit that happens in life? But it’s ok, we ended up catching up with minimal complaints and got the job done. Again, all of this was a learning experience and I needed to take a deep breath and realize that.

The rest of the month, I got more into working at Sunset. I was content with my job and by the end of June, early July, I finally came around to where I could say, I could see myself doing this for the rest of my program. I started getting a bit closer with co-workers, the job began getting easier and overall had a nice rhythm to my workday. Life seemed to have no issues until around this time we had our second roommate leave us.

Out of all of us that moved in on June 3rd, Josh was the one that interacted the least with all of us. Josh was a kid from Sacramento, he was 18 years old, born in South Korea and his parents were both in the military. When he first arrived, he dropped his suitcase off at the room, left and then didn’t see him again for almost a week. Turns out he had friends in town he was hanging with and that’s why we didn’t see him at the beginning. After that first week, he began staying in the apartment on a regular basis. Although, majority of the time he was there, he was either on the phone with someone or was working on his YouTube channel. The kid did his thing and there wasn’t anything wrong with that. He ended up flying home for fourth of July weekend and when he came back, he very quietly packed up his stuff and said he was going back home. We don’t know if it was because he missed his girlfriend or had something to do with his parents about to be deployed again, but whatever it was, myself and everyone wish him the best. The one thing I remember from having  the only major conversation with him, was he was an aspiring singer and his favorite basketball team was the Boston Celtics. Hell, maybe one day, I’ll be listening to him in my car. Who knows?

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” Walt Disney 

 

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Speaking of Fourth of July, that weekend I got to enjoy Disney with one of my good friend’s from college for the first time. With living in the same dorm our freshmen year, me and Kenzie always talked about going to Disney together. Well, knowing that I would be down there for the remainder of the year, she set out to come and see me. Due to the employee discount I got on rooms, I was able to make my first ever reservation for Disney and it was for her and her friend Riley.

They arrived on the fourth and stayed for two nights and it was a fanatical time. To begin, we started off catching up at Springs with a drink and some food. It was nice catching up with her as she was in the midst of running for Miss Ohio, had studied abroad in London and was planning on where to go to for law school. It was great catching up and the night ended with us going to to the Magic Kingdom resort area to watch the fireworks. We got there a little late and didn’t get to see most of the show, but there’s just always something about Disney atmosphere that gets you. Even if the line for the Monorail in the Contemporary is over a 15-20 minute wait. Little did I know the craziest thing that happened during their stay, had nothing to do with how long the lines were.

As they got back to their room that night, I got a call from Kenzie a little past midnight saying they found a bed bug on top of the sheets of the one bed and had them in her friends purse. I was so shocked and felt terrible because I made the reservation for them and me being a huge Disney person, this wasn’t the right way to really show off Disney to them. After debating with those at the front desk, they got a new room to stay in for the remainder of their stay, got $200 each for new clothes and the next day we got our own personal taxi driver to drive them to stores and to the park. What really pissed me off was they were told they would get free fast passes to use on any attraction and when they were added to their My Disney Experience, it was just general fast passes instead. Again, I applaud Disney for dealing with the issue, but not going above and beyond like they usually do.

Anyways, after we went shopping, we ended up spending the rest of the day going to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Kenzie, if I remember correctly had never seen Pandora and wanted to go on Slinky Dog Dash because the year before she went, no one in her party wanted to wait in the long line for it. So, I made it a point to get those two things accomplished for her. Although we didn’t go on Flight of Passage or River Journey, them just being there and soaking it all in was awesome. Then at night with Slinky, it was awesome because with Toy Story Land being next to Galaxy’s Edge and the coaster being tall enough on the second take-off, you get a dive down look into the spires of Batuu with the lights on. So not only did I accomplish what I set out to, I gave her a little sneak peek into Disney’s newest addition as well.

The next day, we ended off in Magic Kingdom. After working during the day and meeting up with them later, we enjoyed the park together, along with the fireworks. It was a special time and I’m forever grateful we were able to do this so soon. Who would’ve thought three years ago, we would make a dream into a reality so quickly. After that day, I said see ya real soon to her and Riley outside of the park as they had an early flight and I had work early in the afternoon. Since then, I haven’t seen Kenzie since she began another semester in London in January, but I know the next time we see each other again, it’ll be just as good of a time as it was at Disney. Bobcats forever!

The next week, it was business as usual. Mostly worked nights, kept the grind up as well as my park quota. One thing I made sure to do throughout the first six weeks of my program, was go to the parks. I’d work five days and then during my two off days, would go to a park. Whether if it was with roommates, Amanda or even by myself (only did this twice and wouldn’t recommend) I made sure to take advantage of going to the parks that I’m used to going to only once a year. I even kept a log for how many times I went to each park. To no surprise, Hollywood Studios was the park I went to the most and for a few reasons. One, because it’s my favorite and two, in July, it was saying we would be blocked out from middle of August for the foreseeable future due to Galaxy’s Edge opening up August 29th. All in all, I went to Studios 16 times during my program, followed by Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom 10 times and EPCOT 9. In addition, went to one of their two water parks twice as well. If you add it up, I went to a Disney park 47 times during my program, averaging a park and a half per week.

“Sometimes things have to change and maybe sometimes they’re for the better – Nani (Lilo & Stitch)

 

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Funny how I mentioned Galaxy’s Edge there, because that’s where we smuggle into next. As many who read this know, I was randomly selected from a handful of people at Sunset to move on over and be part of the opening team for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. The move was a complete shock to me and could’ve never guessed I’d be doing this for my program. I remember the time I found out like it was yesterday.

Every Sunday at midnight, Disney drops their schedules for all its cast members. Usually, I’d wait until 12:30ish or so to check it that way the system is running smooth and won’t run into any long waits. This time, I checked it at 12:25 and going in, I was hoping to get some better shifts since the week before I only got scheduled 33 hours. Little did I know what was about to hit me. As I scrolled through the week, everything looked normal until I got to the end of the week and words started to be different. Instead of sunset ranch or boulevard, it read “DHS OJT Ogas Cantina”. After putting a screenshot of it in our Facebook post trade group chat, it wasn’t a typo, I was heading to Batuu.

Upon seeing the news and it finally marinating in, I was so shocked and happy I was literally shaking. Honestly thought I was about to have a heart attack. But nonetheless, the news had to settle in fully and before I knew it, I was onto my last full week at Sunset Ranch.

The month of July was arguably the best month I had during my program. I got to explore Disney with a close friend from school, got transferred over to Batuu, got to be at Disney with just me and my brother for the first time, had the most underrated day of my program and got to learn so much in such a short amount of time.

With my most underrated day, I’ll begin this explanation by saying, I’m always here for people, especially good people. So the story behind this, is one day I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that some girl posted in one of the Disney chats I was in saying she was in a tough spot right now and was in need of some advice. Me being a helpful person, plus being part of a fraternity where our motto is an assisting hand, I offered my help to her and she took me up on it.

After going back and forth through Facebook messenger, she told me of her situation and where she was at. To be honest, it wasn’t that great after first hearing it, but she had time and opportunity to get herself out of the hole she dug herself. In offering advice and trying to show her some support to gain her some confidence, it led to us talking more and more. After awhile, we exchanged numbers and began texting each other. She mentioned to me how all of her friends from the program had left since she had been down in Disney since January and really had no one to hang with. I offered to hang out and go to a park or something and after a week or so of making time schedule wise, we decided to go to one of Disney’s waterparks, Typhoon Lagoon.

I’ll spare the time of what we said and talked about, but what I will say is, there wasn’t many more enjoyable moments on my program than the one I had with her. For five hours straight, we talked nonstop. Story after story after story, there just was so much we talked about. We went in the wave pool, lazy river, tube slides, everything, and this was the first time meeting in person. You would’ve not guessed it if you were with us. Ultimately, it was great time and we even were trying to make plans for the future to do stuff that we’ve never done at Disney. Well, those times never came.

Upon our great day, we only met up two more times when I went to go visit her at the Magic Kingdom when she was working to help make the day go a little smoother for her. She expressed to me how she struggled with social anxiety and sometimes work would make her uncomfortable. When I went to see her, it was if we were still at the water park, only with different outfits on.

In the end, she ended up ghosting me and I really never saw her again for the remainder of my program. I thought she was a great person, but just needed to gain her edge back. I have no clue what she’s doing now, but I hope it’s nothing but well. Thanks to her, I had my most underrated day of my program and haven’t forgotten it at all. Oh, and if you’re wondering, her name was Kaitlin.

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Going forward here, the rest of my second month of my program ended with saying goodbye to Sunset Ranch Market and getting to be at Disney with my brother. With the ranch, it was sad to go, but in the end, I knew I was off to a better situation. Sunset wasn’t bad to me or for me, but it wasn’t what I got out of Galaxy’s Edge. When I arrived at Sunset, there were many groups. People who were on their programs had been there since January and were finishing up, there was a lot of international groups that kept to themselves and most importantly, it felt as though people just weren’t happy there all the time. Overall, it was an older crowd and despite having an old soul like I do, it’s not exactly what I was looking for in my program. What I was looking for in my program, I got with Galaxy’s Edge.

To cap off the month, I got to spend a few days at Disney with my brother. For years, we had dreamed about being at Disney on our own and we finally got the chance to do it. Despite the timing not being the best, we made it work and in a four day span, despite working 45 hours in those days, we went to all four parks, closing them down everyday and I got him in to Galaxy’s Edge the first day we had cast previews. Which, on the first of August, was his last full day here. So in the end, two months were down and the most exciting time of my program as well as my best day, happened in August.

“Venture outside your comfort zone. The rewards are worth it.” –Rapunzel (Tangled)

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The month of August was dominated by Galaxy’s Edge for me. Every day, every hour, minute, second was dedicated to this new role I was given. The fun and enjoyment I got with GE came on the first day as I had to “Live Your Story”. What I feel is fascinating about GE is that I was a complete different person with a different persona. I wasn’t John from Bolingbrook, Illinois, I was John from Galma and the reason I was working on Black Spire Outpost, was because I gave advice to Oga on an cough cough illegal cough cough droid battle and it ended up not going in my favor. To spare my life, Oga hired me and made we work in the spires at her cantina, milk stand and coke carts.

As you can see, this wasn’t something you just pulled from your ass. You needed to put some thought, energy, had to be creative with it, more importantly, had to be confident with it. I can’t tell you how many times I had to explain my story like I just did. So much, I can do it in my sleep. That was the fun of it though. We had no idea what was happening on earth. We weren’t in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, we were in Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu with three sons and two moons.

That’s what it was like everyday. It was such a joy and there was so much to look forward to. And this was just during training at this point. The first day of training actually, before we could go over introducing all the leaders and coordinators, we were given access to go to GE and test ride the Millennium Falcon ride. It was something I just couldn’t believe was happening as it was happening. To be part of the biggest Disney park expansion ever was such a humbling accomplishment and to this point in my life, is arguably my finest achievement.

But leading up to the opening day on August 29th, there was a lot of learning and a lot of preparing. The first week of training, we spent 7-9 hours a day in a banquet room at the top of PizzaRizzo, or as older Disney junkies still call it, Pizza Planet learning about all things Batuu. I can’t tell you how much of my tan I had lost in just that week. It was intense stuff and as I saw with some people in my group, if you weren’t fit for the role or couldn’t keep up, they’d transfer you back to your old location. In this case, there was no chance in hell, I was going to let this opportunity get taken from me.

As the training carried on, I got better and more confident. I wrote down notes all the time, went home and studied the Batuun lingo, for example, instead of money we say credits, as well as got use to saying bright suns and rising moons, which means hello during the day and night time respectively. We practiced amongst ourselves for a good couple days before we started to do cast previews. In it, we practiced how working at Ogas Cantina would be like with sitting people, theming and explaining the rules. Yes, we had rules for our bar.

In addition, we were the first bar I heard of that you had a drink limit and as well as a time limit and the bar is 90% standing room. As time went on they got away from the drink limit, but realistically, how many drinks are you putting down in 45 minutes at around 13-17 credits a pop? Not many, I’m assuming. But it was great, that and learning about the different milks we sold at the milk stand.

On Batuu, we have two milks. Blue and green. The blue is a tropical flavor that comes from dragonfruit and is a little more sweeter because we add a little more sugar and comes with rum upon request. For the green (the better of the two) is more of a citrus flavor that comes from orange blossom and is a little more of a tangy flavor because we don’t use as much sugar and can come with tequila. See, imagine saying this everyday for five months straight. Becomes second nature at that point.

My time learning in and about Batuu was a blast and was organized very well despite the land not being 100% ready when we began. As it came time for cast and annual pass previews, we were ready to go and it was a smooth transition. Yes, some days were harder than others, we touched on this way back in the beginning, but it was something that felt like it was worth getting up for. Something to practice and get better at. Throughout the next several months, I found myself watching videos of other cast members from Batuu at Disneyland and saw how they were theming and tried to learn things from them that I can use it my daily routine.

After nearly four weeks of training, going through cast and annual pass holder previews along with multiple media days, I knew two things. One, we all deserved a day off and two, we were ready to officially open. My best day of my program came two days before the grand opening. On a day that literally everyone had off, we decided as a group and organized an event to go to Typhoon Lagoon together. I don’t even know where to begin with that day.

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Kidding, we started off bright suns early and rope dropped the water park. At this point, it was I think nine in the morning and it was when the legend of Party John was born. The reason this was my best day was because I couldn’t be happier and alcohol. I snuck in my 40 once water bottle that had half blueberry Smirnoff and have blue Powerade as well as three shot bottles of fire ball. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for word to travel what I had and then everyone wanted to try it. With 40 ounces, I had enough with me and thanks to that plus the heat, I couldn’t had been on a better vibe than I was that day.

Despite being lit up, I remember everything about that day from beginning to end. I had the time of my life in the wave pool, all the slides felt like I was on a space ship and the lazy river felt exactly how you should feel, lazy. But what made the day was being with my fellow Batuun citizens. By this point, we had gotten so close to each other and realized how involved we were in each other. Which, is no surprise when you’re working 35-50 hours a week with the same people. But just seeing how much fun everyone had, and how everyone got along and everything, it was great to be apart of and we only were getting closer and closer to each other.

The rest of the day, I ended up going to Springs and somehow ordered and ate a burger without passing out due to heat exhaustion and somehow went directly to Studios and rode Tower of Terror during a bad storm four times in a row. You just can’t make this shit up. After a day of relaxing, it was time for the big day.

On August 29th, 2019, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opened to the public for the first time at Walt Disney World. As you can guess, I worked opening day and from that point on, life was a sprint. When opening day came, it was a sigh of relief because we had finally reached that point. For the past four-five weeks, the talk, the anticipation the preparation, was all towards opening day and beyond. When we finally reached that point, as a group, we knew, it was time to put on a show, and a show did we put on.

Within the first three days of being open, I worked over 36 hours. May not seem like a lot, but remember back at Sunset when I was getting scheduled only 32 hours in a week? Yea, great times. But that’s what the job demanded and I wasn’t complaining one bit. All I have to say is, that opening week check was the largest one I got my entire program. We were off to a blazing start and from the end of August through the rest of my program, we didn’t slow down one bit. And I was ready.

“No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it.” – The Emperor (Mulan)

 

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September, despite working insane hours every week and still spending any off day I could get going to the parks, was probably my most uneventful month of my program. Despite it being the case, it made the moments mean that much more at the end of the day.

By this time, Food and Wine at EPCOT was in full swing, Magic Kingdom began its Not So Scary Halloween party and Universal Studios had Halloween Horror Nights. At this point, we survived hurricane season, with only Dorian being a ‘threat’ if you’d want to call it that, in which fun fact, Oga, you know the proprietor of the Cantina? Well, her story is she just broke up with her boyfriend who was a wookiee and his name was Dorian. So you can imagine the fun we had with that one.

By this point, I had found my own little group to be part of, one thing that I failed to find at Sunset. We would plan and do things together all the time. Whether it was getting something to eat after work, going shopping together, going to the parks and even working together too. I’ve always said that with this group, I had my best days of my program with them. I felt the love, I felt the friendship, it was nice to feel included and be myself around people and feel good. Like I said though, this month was the most uneventful because everyday at work was a grind and the crowd demand was so much they had everyone working six days a week.

The month of September was two things for me, either work or Halloween Horror Nights. With my group, it seemed as though once a week we were heading there. It was nice to get out of the ‘Disney bubble’ for a couple hours and was able to explore elsewhere. I ended up buying a pass and went three times total. I’m not usually someone that gets scared easily so the haunted houses didn’t phase me at all. In fact, I was the one that had to hold the girls hands tight every time someone would jump out at them. It was whatever, I mean, we were in a Universal park so it’s not like it was the greatest. If you come to know me, you’ll find out I have a hard head when it comes to Universal, being they’re the competition to Disney, but definitely not on the same level.

Regardless, by the third trip to HHN, was where I messed up for the first time during my entire program. I won’t go into specifics, but basically, I had too much to drink before going in and  I ended up becoming a completely different person by the end of the night. I wasn’t acting like myself and was very rude and sassy to one of my friends for the remainder of the night. At this point, it was the beginning of the end for me and being in that group.

As the weeks carried on and work became more of a hassle, it tried to make up for the way I acted that night every day. Despite it, I knew I had messed up, but wanted them to know that the person they saw wasn’t the real me. The only way I knew I could win back their trust, was to be myself and act the way I did before. So I did. I was normal, not like I wasn’t the vast majority of the time, but I just looked at it as business as usual. By time October rolled around, it was a special month for me as it was the first time I was able to celebrate my birthday in Disney.

In years prior, I had only been to Disney in October once and that was early October before my birthday on the 19th. So with this opportunity, I felt I should try and plan something special for myself. Well, given that work was so much, it was hard for many people to have the same schedules and still be ok by the next day. So I couldn’t do anything big with people so went with the next best thing, a quiet fine night at the Boardwalk.

After spending a week there during my trip in summer 2018, I came to the conclusion that my favorite resort on property, was the Boardwalk. From the feel you get when you pull into the lot, to the smell you get hit with in the lobby, to the atmosphere you get on that boardwalk itself, to me, if they had a better pool area, it would be undoubtably the best on property. So, the day of my birthday, I went with my guys Evan and Sebastian to Trattoria al Forno for dinner and followed it up with having margaritas and walking around the EPCOT resort area.

It ended up being a calm night and I was happy I got to spend it with someone. Quite frankly, the only reason why I didn’t have more people there was because a few days earlier, I went to Hollywood Studios with my old group and others and I did the same thing to myself again.

“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.” Rafiki (Lion King)

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That day at Studios, I once again drank too much and got too comfortable in my surroundings and that cost me. For some reason, during this entire program, I was living my best life and felt as though nothing could go wrong. Well, as I quickly had to realize here, I wasn’t unbeatable and saw first hand that even I can get out of hand sometimes. The day symbolized the end of me being in that group and things between me and those individuals were never the same.

I felt horrible for myself and believe me, no one was harder on me than me. After word quickly traveled around work on what I did, I knew right then and there people would develop and have opinions of me. Especially if they didn’t have one of me already to this point. The last two months of my program, I set out to make those opinions of me untruthful and had to get back being John and not Johndo. So, I began to lay low and started doing my own thing per usual.

Once November hit, it was a special time because it was holiday season and despite crowds and attendance still being high, you just had a sense of more joy around Disney. The highlight of the month came when my mom visited for a week. Lets just say, I was able to show her the new way of Disney I learned and we had a magical time.

Anyone close to me know how much my mom means to me. She’s my number one supporter, always is in my corner and has made many sacrifices to help create who I am today as a person. For a lack of a better term, I’m a mommas boy. Always have always will. When she came down, I was so excited to see her. It had been the first time seeing her in person since her and  dad left after dropping me off and getting me situated.

By this point, Disney had begun issuing it’s holiday season discounts and man did we ever use that to our advantage. The first day, we started off at EPCOT and went around the world for the Food and Wine Festival. If I’m not mistaken, we tried something from all but two or three locations around the World Showcase and I have never been more full exiting a park before. Later that night, thanks to the discount we got on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we went to it that night for the first time ever.

 

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Now, here’s my little Disney hot take here, to me, I personally like the Christmas party over the Halloween party that Disney puts on every year. I know I know, many would argue against me and I understand, but something about the spirit of Christmas at the Magic Kingdom beats the spirit of Halloween at the Magic Kingdom for me. Just a preference. Regardless, the day was so great and we just couldn’t stop buying stuff with my discount.

The next day, I got to show her Batuu for the first time and was happy she enjoyed it. My mom has never been a ride person, so we didn’t go on Smugglers Run, but she said the immersion of which GE had, was so strong. I remember her telling me it didn’t even feel like we were in Hollywood Studios anymore as she was coming from the Market area. Overall, it was nice to show her my home park. By this point, before my program, we hadn’t been to Studios for two-three years because everything was under construction and didn’t feel spending $100+ on tickets to go there and ride a handful of rides. This time though, she got to experience GE as well as Toy Story Land for the first time and I got to show her everything I could about my old location on Sunset too.

 

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Overall, it was a fun time with my mom. Arguably one of the best trips me and her have had at Disney. We capped off the trip with going resort hopping around the Magic Kingdom with buying clothes, trying the brand new bar inspired by Beauty and the Beast called Enchanted Rose at the Grand Floridian, to having breakfast at Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge. The next day, mom had to say see ya real soon as I had to get back to reality with somehow getting four days off from work that week. When I returned back, it was all about making as much credits as I can.

Before I knew it, December was here and I was in the last month of my program. At this point, I was asked daily if I was extending my program and sadly, my answer every time was no. As I accepted my offer to join the program back in March, I made a promise to my dad that I would come back to school and finish my degree. That and I had a house to pay for at school beginning in January so had to come back so I wasn’t just wasting my money. Thanks to this pandemic we are currently in, I’m basically doing that anyway, but the point is, I had to go back and secure this piece of paper.

On December 5th, Galaxy’s Edge had it’s first first addition as Rise of the Resistance opened up to the public. To explain this ride experience, I don’t think there has ever been a ride that had this much anticipation about it going into it. It was a ride that Disney was calling the first of its kind and was different in terms of how the ride operated. For those that may not know, this ride experience can last up to 20+ minutes, has multiple sections in it across the journey, is a trackless ride and runs off wi-fi.

As one of my friends I met on Batuu said it best, it was the first ride in which they implemented a virtual queue. So as you can see Disney was different with this attraction in various ways. It demanded so much time and due to the way the system is, it has to rest for a certain amount of time everyday in order for it to work to capacity.

Needless to say, the ride itself that first month was a lot to handle. It would break down multiple times a day, take a good minute to get back up and caused a lot of issues and outbreak with guests. But that’s if they didn’t get onto it that day after being at the park since as early as 4 a.m. When they did, seeing their faces and hearing them talk about it, was great to see, but also made me and my co-workers jealous. Reason being, it was on such on a tight schedule to be ready in time that they never did cast previews for it. Despite an uproar from its cast members because previews are a consistent thing with new additions to the parks, they stayed true and the only way you were getting on it, is if you showed up to the park bright spanking early and grabbed a boarding pass online.

Thankfully enough, I was able to get on it before the end of my program thanks to working shifts beginning anywhere from four-five in the morning and I have to say that this is the best ride on Disney property. As I’ve said to my parents, it’s a one of a kind ride and no other theme park in the world has something close to it. I won’t spoil it for you, other than, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you need to check it out for sure. It’ll blow your socks off.

In the end, it was an incredible experience to see day in and day out because now, Galaxy’s Edge was now full. Being able to see it grow from two months before opening day, to opening day, to the first couple months, to when rise opened, it hit home because Galaxy’s Edge is now forever a part of me. My Batuun identity will always be with me and it gave me everything and then some that I wanted my program to have. The number one aspect, however, that made GE so special, was none other, than my fellow cast members.

Throughout the five months of training, working and striving together, I got to meet some extraordinary people during my time at the BSO. In addition to meeting them, I got to know their stories, their backgrounds, and took from their situations and learned from them for my personal self. We were a family. When you spend anywhere from 38-50 hours a week with people, you get to learn about them and their lives and that was the highest reward I could ever have asked for.

From the commanders, to our deck officers, to just regular Batuun natives, everyone was special in their own way. It didn’t take me long to realize I was with a gifted group and despite some people moving on to other areas in life, the people they brought in throughout help add to the magic.

For those who kept up with my blogs during my program, you’re probably wondering why I stopped after week 12. Well, life got in the way with work. Like I said, working six days a week, sometimes all seven days will take you away from activities. For instance, I only played basketball at Disney one time during my program. Just today alone I played basketball twice. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, but when I made the move to GE, that was the only thing I focused on. I wanted to be the best cast member I could possibly be and wanted to make sure I left with having no regrets.

Especially considering who my leaders and coordinators were, to them I have so much gratitude towards them and can’t thank them enough. They set the bar for me because as I’ve mentioned, if you want to be the best, you need to learn from the best. And they were undoubtedly the best.

My time in Disney didn’t end without one more magical moment though. In the middle of the month, another friend from college came up to see me. This time, it was my best friend from college. I remember telling Tyler and showing him Disney during our freshmen year together. After showing him, I could judge by his reaction that it was something he can get into. So, being that I was down there and he had the time and money, he decided to come visit me with his girlfriend and group at the time.

The trip with him was amazing and it took me a few times to pinch myself to believe this was actually happening. Needless to say, it was the best moment for me to wrap up my program. It was a pleasure to have him come down and I was happy to show Disney to a few people that either never had been there or haven’t since they were really young. Although the trip wasn’t perfect and I screwed up with block out dates for the specific passes I had, we still made the most of it and had a great time.

We got to drink around the world, go to the Christmas party at the Magic Kingdom and they got an air BNB so I was able to spend time with them drinking and swimming in the pool that came with it. Overall, it’s a moment I will cherish forever and I can’t wait to have another adventure with him at my second home.

Shortly after the trip, it was time to say not just see ya real soon, but good bye, to Black Spire Outpost.

“Our fate lives within us; you only have to be brave enough to see it.” — Merida (Brave)

 

 

On December 31st, 2019, I step foot into the spires for my last day of work of my program. A day I knew going in would be rough, actually ended up being so much harder. As the day progressed, I wasn’t thinking of the finish line, I was simply enjoying my time with everyone for one last go around. Thankfully, our coordinator Amanda let all of us who were CP’s work together at the same location for the first time and I couldn’t have been more thankful.

At the end, as you can imagine, it got very emotional. I’m not usually someone that identify’s as a cryer. Hell, the last time I cried this bad was when I watched Endgame for the second time. But with this, the emotions ran over me and I simply couldn’t contain them. To be part of something so historic to the company I love so much, I put my heart and soul into Galaxy’s Edge. The experiences I had there were incredible and wouldn’t change anything about my time there.

In my time, I also got to see many celebrities, such as: Serena Williams, Josh Gad, head nodded to Jaden Smith, Neil patrick Harris,  Scarlett Johansson, Brook and Robin Lopez, Mo Bamba and many Disney Imagineers and executives that helped make the dream of GE into reality.

Despite some people not having a favorable opinion of me, I still have love for everyone that I know is still there. It was such a sprint from August to December and there were literally no breaks in the action. Being with these people on a daily basis made it possible as we would feed off each other. It was an extravagant time and I couldn’t thank the people I was around enough.

That last day, saying good bye to everyone, giving each other hugs with water streaming down my face from my eyes, it was official, my debt had been paid off. In the end, I need to take this time and thank every single person I worked with at GE. Without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and you all have helped keep the fire in me lit for a long time to come. Through everyone’s support, guidance and help, I never worked with a more caring group of individuals and was damn proud to be part of such an historic feat.

Although things are vastly different now, I will return to see everyone. If you’re asking me when, well, lets just say you’ll see me sooner rather than later.

Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.”— Olaf (Frozen)

By the end of my program, I was sad to leave, but was happy to return home. As I mentioned way back in the beginning, I had nine roommates in total. When Nick left, a kid named Jessie took his spot in the room with me. Jessie was a kind, respectful man from Australia and towards the last couple months of the program, would always have his boyfriend over.

Now, I had no problem with it because technically, you’re not allowed to have overnight guests in CP housing, but I didn’t make a problem out of it. Instead, I spent majority of the nights sleeping on the couch and let them have the room to themselves. You may ask why I did that? Well, for starters, his boyfriend would snore loud, but really I did it because I wanted them to have their moments together. Overall, who am I to step in the way of someones love?

With them two, once Josh left, we got a kid from France who was 25 years old. I don’t recall how to spell his name but basically the story on him was he ended up getting terminated from Disney because he showed up to work late too many times. In result, being he was from France, at the end of his program, he was supposed to go home because his green card would be no good. Well, after moving out, and weeks later, we would still see him on the pathway from the Chatham bus stop to Patterson. I don’t know the situation, but he basically was living here illegally and hiding by living at a friends house. Again not much to say other than that situation should explain it all. He was then replaced by another guy from France that spoke little to no english, but he was much nicer and courteous to others in the apartment so, couldn’t complain there.

In the end, for the rest of my roommates, Sam and the other guy from France stayed, Jessie moved back to Australia, Christian moved back to Texas and other Sam got accepted to a professional internship and began working guest relations at EPCOT. My time with them was well spent and we had our moments together as you can imagine. It was a good time and I couldn’t have asked for better roommates than them.

Overall, I’m honored to have completed an internship with Disney. As the title says, I never really asked for this. Hell when it came to me being transferred over to GE, it still didn’t seem real to me. But in the end, it’s an experience I’m beyond grateful for having and learned so much to help me move forward in life.

I’ll never forget all the good times. I’ll miss eating at Ale House twice a week, I’ll miss the hang outs, the people and all the experiences that were available to me. To my close friends, Amanda, Cierra, Caron, my little bro Jalel, Jake, Jordan, Evan, Jenna, both Emily’s Brie, Codie, Cydney, all my roommates and so many more (you know who you are) thank you for making this experience worth it for me. Without you all, who knows how my program would have went and where I’d be at today.

You might be wondering, what’s next for me? Well, I’ll tell ya. As I mentioned earlier, I will wrap up my degree at Ohio University in December with a bachelor in science of journalism. After three more classes and an approved internship, my scholastic career will finally be over. After that, my next move, as you could probably guess, will be back to Disney.

One thing I realized during my program is there’s room to grow in the company. After I got comfortable with the job, I realized I really could do this and strived to go above and beyond. I know what I’m capable of doing and have my sights set on returning to my second home upon graduation.

I may not know what I’ll be doing there or how I will go about it, but just know it’ll be something Disney related. The fire in me has never been more lit than it is now. I see something at the end of the tunnel and thanks to those against me and my decisions, you keep feeding me energy to go and do what my dreams desire me to do. One thing I realized in writing this story, is my first love wasn’t sports, it was Disney. It always has been, Disney.

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