“See Ya Real Soon!”

Oh my goodness.

The Disney College Program was everything I thought it would be and more. My six months at Disney are officially done; I’ve made magic, experienced the magic, made some of my closest friends I’ve every had, lived seventeen hours away from home, melted in the Florida sun, learned how to budget my money, visited Mickey Mouse on almost a daily basis, and worked with some iconic characters that never fail to bring the world a little happiness when it needs it most.

I got to wear blue every day and become a helper to some of my favorite characters–Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Tarzan, Pocahontas, Flik, Dug and Russell, Baloo and King Louie, and a few other friends.

I’ve made a home in a park that I had overlooked on past trips; Animal Kingdom used to be the park I cared about least. Now I care the most about Animal Kingdom and treasure each aspect of it–conservation, nature, educational experiences, the vivid colors, the characters that call it home, and especially the people who work there, who made me first fall in love with every bit of it.

I’ve experienced so many Disney adventures that would never be possible in a single trip; I’ve eaten at the most wonderful places, visited the most beautiful resorts, and have done almost every single attraction and have seen almost every show that Walt Disney World has to offer.

I was so incredibly lucky to watch Festival of the Lion King from the very front row and experience an incredible performance; it truly felt like a dream. To be quite honest, I still experience my emotional high from that night every time I think about it.

To anyone who is  thinking about applying for the Disney College Program: do it. Do not hesitate. Do it the moment the application drops and never look back.

The Disney College Program is such a unique opportunity. We are magic-makers with a deadline, which only means we are desperate to experience the magic for ourselves on a daily basis once we arrive. In my one hundred and eighty-five days of living and working at Disney, I only skipped out on visiting the parks once. Only one day out of those one hundred and eighty-five. Every day felt new and exciting because every day was new and exciting. Disney is always changing just as its guests are always changing and growing and evolving.

I changed while I was at Disney. I would like to think I changed for the better.

The friends I made have helped shape me into the person I am today; I have pieces of my heart scattered all over the country and the world and I can only thank my friends for that.

I’ve met and experienced a ton of different cultures and guests from around the world. Language barriers were hard at times, but most of the time all you needed was a smile and a game of peek-a-boo with the youngest member of the party. High-fives are pretty much universal; smiles and laughter undoubtedly unite every single culture.

I’ve become even more independent, which I did not think was possible. I’m independent in different aspects of my life –I feel like I can wear what I want and be the most authentic version of myself. I used to think I was able to do that, but my time at Disney has amplified my sense of self.

The bottom line: if you ever have the chance to participate in the Disney College Program, please do it. Yes, it will be scary moving across the country and throwing practicality to the wind. It will be difficult working full-time hours with little to no sleep because you are desperate to experience everything. There will be bouts of homesickness and exhaustion.

All of these “negative” experiences (quotes utilized because they are in no way negative; they are just different) give way to the most fantastic: witnessing so much magic on a daily basis, being responsible for a smile, receiving a hug from a small child, watching your favorite show more times than you can count, discovering your go-to snacks within the parks, uncovering friendships you never knew were possible, and so much more.

There are so many specific moments in my time at Disney that are worth writing about; don’t worry I’ll get to those eventually. Right now, however, I just wanted to thank the program for what it has done for me. I had the best six months of my life, truly.

Don’t you worry, Walt Disney World. This is definitely not a good-bye. It’s a whole-hearted “See ya real soon!”

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