Happiest place on Earth
For those of you who follow me on social media, you know that I took last week off to gallivant around Orlando with my friend Amy. She convinced me to join her on a very scary looking roller coaster, where the pre-pubescent attendant actually made me shove all of my belongings in a locker so my family would have something to remember me by in case my body went hurling through the air, landing somewhere near the Island Adventure section of the park.
I rode it twice. And looked like this after collecting my belongings from the locker.
Those of you who are hard core will question my loyalties to Disney, wondering why I would even waste my time at “the other park” in Orlando.
1. It has Harry Potter. Where else am I supposed to get a wand?
2. It has really fast roller coasters.
Let the record show that my first love will always be Disney World. I collected anything Mickey Mouse as a young girl. I watched every Disney movie. I was able to go on my first trip to Disney World when I was in sixth grade. I dressed up as Walt at my junior high “what do you want to be when you grow up” career day. I longed to be on the new Mickey Mouse Club.
And when my college professor looked me in the eye and asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I couldn’t help but blurt out that I wanted to work at Disney World. You can imagine the shock and amazement of a young girl from a tiny town in East Texas, when she received an acceptance letter for a six-month long fall internship at the happiest place on Earth.
People sometimes poke fun at how many times I have visited Disney World in my adult life. They don’t understand why I would want to go to the same place I’ve been before. Why wouldn’t I go to a beach or the mountains? Doesn’t it get old?
For me, Disney is woven into the tapestry of who I am as a person. As a young girl, it represented magical lands and handsome princes. When I got older, it represented adventure. We didn’t go on vacation. I didn’t have a passport. I could count on one hand how many times I had been outside of my own state. To even think about moving across the United States to work in place I had admired for more than half my life seemed unrealistic.
Until I got the letter.
Disney taught me to embrace the person God made me to be. I learned to be independent. I became bold and comfortable in front of an audience as a Jungle Cruise skipper. I became a better listener. I became a more patient person. I was a complete nerd and spent most days (even when I wasn’t on the clock) soaking up every inch of Disney property. I worked hard to secure my Ducktorate degree (yes that is a real thing) and as a result, I believe I landed more job interviews when I returned to the real world.
Disney World isn’t just a theme park to me. It’s a major tick on my timeline of life. And if I ever get a chance to return and take a boat ride through the jungles of the world, I will not hesitate. I owe it to the girl who proudly put on that monochromatic uniform 15 years ago. Because of her, I am who I am today.
Make sure to catch that 3:00 parade.
If you do catch it, let it go. It will drag you all the way to Main Street.