Random Things I Miss About the DCP

Did you guys know it’s almost been a full two years since I began the Disney College Program?

TWO. WHOLE. YEARS. And so much has changed.

I’ve been missing that time in my life a lot recently–like, a lot, a lot–and it’s hard to explain why I’m missing it so much. I wouldn’t trade where I am and what I’m doing for the world. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be, and I don’t necessarily want to go back to Disney to work (although that option will never not be there).

There are just random things I miss about the experience. And I miss them so much lately that my heart aches.

Why am I so dramatic?!

I think it’s that time of year where nostalgia creeps in and you start thinking about your past and your childhood, and the Disney College Program encompassed the most complete feeling of carefree-ness I’ve ever experienced. I lived and worked at the most magical place on Earth, and I focused on having fun for six whole months. It was hard not to be happy during that time, and naturally you start to miss feeling like a kid 24/7.

In the spirit of procrastination as I work on my final projects of the semester, I wanted to make a list of random things I miss that aren’t necessarily the obvious things, for my enjoyment and for yours.

Enjoy!

  1. My friends (obviously). The people I met on my DCP are my kindred spirits, and I miss them every day. I’m thankful for group texts and Snapchats and Skype calls.
  2. The green carpet in my apartment at Chatham Square. I can’t explain why I miss this, but I do. I’m weird; it’s weird.
  3. The smell of Flame Tree Barbecue during my shifts with Dug and Russell–during lunchtime, my stomach was always growling.
  4. The smell of characters as you hug them. It’s distinct. You get it if you know.
  5. The Tree of Life in the mornings before the park opened. I’d walk to my location and think I was the luckiest girl in the world because I saw something so beautiful sans crowds.
  6. Loop music that I’ve now memorized the melodies to. I’m looking at you, Asia in DAK. Also–the loop music in Adventureland is exactly the same as the loop music on Discovery Island (specifically the Pizzafari area). That music is my jam.
  7. Taking pictures constantly and never feeling awkward. Selfies all day every day. Princess poses galore. Foot pops, silly faces, the works.
  8. Park days where the crowds are low and your enthusiasm is so high and you do so much stuff and skip around saying, “Nobody’s HEEERRREEE!!!” with your arms outstretched to demonstrate the emptiness.
  9. Looking at pins you swear you’d eventually buy–some you do, and then you realize pins are EXPENSIVE. But you still buy some more. Because why not?
  10. Smells. All smells. Even backstage smells. The drive-through at my local Panera smells just like backstage Tusker House and it’s weird and thrilling.
  11. Speaking of backstage…walking toward base at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and walking by an unfinished Pandora with its floating mountains and its mystery and wishing you could see it finished one day (mission accomplished).
  12. Wearing ears constantly. I love ears. They complete any outfit.
  13. Solo park days when you just sit somewhere and just take everything in.
  14. The Voices of Liberty. I LOVE THEM.
  15. Watching Festival of the Lion King multiple times in a single day. Because we could.
  16. Doing the Tumble Monkey’s “Circle of Life” choreography as soon as you exit the Harambe Theatre, and saying “Look guys, I can be a tumble monkey!” to your friends.
  17. Main Street. And Photopass. Stopping at every Photopass down Main Street. “WE HAVE THE PHOTOPASS!”
  18. Scoring fast passes to big-ticket attractions the same day you plan to ride them. Frozen! Soarin’! Mine Train! SUCCESS!
  19. Feeling sweaty and sunburned and freckled 99.9999% of the time.
  20. My Teva tan. I was proud of it, because I never tan.
  21. Pinning my name tag to my blueberry shirt every day and nearly sticking myself with the pin every day.
  22. Exhaustion-driven sleep–the best kind, the most “out like a light” kind.
  23. Talking to kids all day, and seeing those same kids’ faces light up when they meet their favorite character or when they see the parade or the fireworks for the first time.
  24. Festival of Fantasy and reciting the entire opening monologue thing and singing along to the lyrics: DREAMS THAT GLOW / WONDROUS, DAZZLING, BRILLIANTLY.
  25. CELEBRATE THE MAGIC! (R.I.P.) Also crying when Walt Disney said something about remembering it all started with a mouse…who could that be?
  26. Oh yeah. Mickey. Mickey Mouse. I miss seeing him.

That’s all for now, folks. I’ll see ya real soon.

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After receiving my Traditions ears… I CRY. Forever thankful for Disney and the sweetest memories. 

 

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Monday Musings

Hello. It’s Monday. I’m feeling a short blog post with a list of random thoughts. I haven’t done one of those in a while, and it’s always a nice way to get creative juices flowing.

So. Here goes nothing:

  • I love bullet points. They’re so clean. So neat.
  • I’ve officially been working two jobs in my field (English, writing, that sort of thing) for two months! I’m practically a full-fledged adult.
  • I’m an adult who eats ghost cookies (you know the ones) every day for lunch.
  • I’m also an adult who writes with a light saber pen to get through a particularly busy Friday. (May the Force be with you)
  • I’m planning/hoping/working for my future. Wish me luck.
  • I’m reading Dracula and loving it. So creepy. So predictable.
  • Well, it’s predictable for me because I know what two little holes on the side of a victim’s neck are–Stoker’s audience didn’t. So wonderfully creepy and campy and horrific!
  • My dogs are currently clamoring for my attention. Silly Snoop. Cantankerous Kasper.
  • I just ate popcorn slathered with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. My goodness, so tasty.
  • I miss Disney a whole lot.
  • To cope, I listen to Disney music every day and sing along with the all force of a great typhoon.
  • If you caught the reference, give yourself ten points.
  • Do these points matter? No!
  • Do you still want the points? Yes!
  • Halloween is one week away! And then the most important month of the year shall begin…
  • NOVEMBER! The month of Christmas (yes), Moana, and Gilmore Girls! I can’t believe the revival is almost here and we will have another Disney heroine. Ohmygoodness. Yes, blended words intentional.
  • Alright. That’s enough for tonight.

Thanks for joining me in my list-making madness. Have a wonderful rest of your Monday, my friends!

“If She Doesn’t Scare You, No Evil Thing Will…”

Happy #SinisterSunday dahlings. Remember, every month of October is dedicated to a Disney villain, and this week goes to that fur-wearing task master.

Ah. Cruella de Vil–yes, this Disney villain is pure evil, but no one can deny that she is absolutely fabulous. She’s a snappy dresser, applies her makeup with an impeccable heavy hand, and knows how to rock a statement piece.

Sure she’s evil. But Cruella knows how to own it.

When I met Cruella at Club Villain earlier this May, I asked her how we should pose for our portrait. She replied, “I always like to take up as much space as I can, dahling!” and proceeded to thrust her hands into the air and point her stiletto in the direction of the camera. I attempted to take up as much space as the queen of color-block, but there is just something about Cruella’s presence that can not be duplicated.

There’s something to learn from Cruella’s attitude. I’m a believer in taking up as much space as you possibly can–figuratively, of course. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, to wear your most fabulous dress to the most mundane occasion, to splurge on that bag that you have been eyeing. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. You can do so much; know it and show it with as much vim and vigor as you can. Show up, own it, and strut your stuff.

Just embrace every inch of your life. Take up space and love it. .

Just be sure not to skin any puppies while you’re at it, ok? Faux fur can be fabulous, too.

“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!”

Dear Animal Kingdom:

I thought I’d write a letter to my now-beloved home, Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

Dear Animal Kingdom, 

I used to not enjoy you as much as I do now. You were so hot on our family vacations. Sticky. Animal-y. All of which is fine, but I didn’t think you were “Disney” enough for me. I liked you, but didn’t love you. I used to meet characters, see a show or two, and then leave. The end. 

I’m so sorry, Animal Kingdom. I’m so thoroughly sorry that I did not appreciate you then as much as I do now. 

You started off being my “home” park in a work sense, but now I can’t help but truly feel at home when I step foot in your wild haven. The soundtrack to your different “lands”–Discovery Island, Asia, Africa, and the inside of Africa’s eatery Tusker House–have become the soundtrack of my daily adventures. The melodies get stuck in my head throughout my work and play days, but I am doing everything but complaining about it. 

Asia, you are chock-full of  beautiful scenery. The flags waving against a looming forbidden mountain (Expedition Everest) catch the sun’s light in such a pretty way–it’s a rainbow amongst a blended Asian environment, a rainbow against crumbling walls painted with intricate murals. Asia, you are also home to my favorite jungle V.I.P’s, Baloo and King Louie. I love those “kool kats” more than I can describe. 


Africa, I love you and your eclectic Harambe, a village with charm and sincerity.  A “hidden”, familiar fellow watches over your Harambe market, a sprawling little quick service area filled to the brim with inspirational words of encouragement. Africa, you are a place to head on safari, to board a truck and discover African wildlife. You are a place to purchase the sweetest treats from Zuri’s sweet shop–I recently devoured an elephant-shaped sugar cookie from Zuri’s and was just as happy as can be. You are the perfect host to the Festival of the Lion King, one of the most gorgeous shows on Disney property. In short, Africa, thank you for being awesome. 

  

 
There are so many other elements that come together to make you, Animal Kingdom, the perfect home for my work and play days. I love the characters that find their home with you, the relaxed atmosphere you boast, the macaws that fly noisily around the Tree of Life every once in awhile, the pesky squirrels that tend to crawl in guests’ strollers, the treats and food you serve, even your gift shops. I just love you, and I want to say I am so, so, so sorry for not giving you a fighting chance before my college program. You deserve the most praise and beyond, so I hope this letter is significant. 

Thank you, Animal Kingdom, for being my home away from home. 

Sincerely, 

Kaila, your Animal Kingdom convert

Resort Hopping

Hello, friends!

The last time you heard from me I was heading to Walt Disney World for the Disney College Program.

Well. Now I am in Walt Disney World (or, rather, just a tad outside of its pearly gates) and enjoying my time in the Sunshine State as a (almost) Walt Disney World Cast Member. I have yet to have my “Traditions” class, so I’m not officially official. Not just yet.

Even though I can’t enjoy the parks just yet, I have found a way to enjoy the magic that Disney has to offer without a ticket: resort hopping.

Even though this pastime is nothing new, it’s completely new to me. I’d thought I’d give you lovely readers a look into my resort hopping experience.

Night 1: The Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Resorts

My roommates (hi, guys!) and I decided to spend one of our first nights as CPs exploring two of Disney’s most elaborate resorts. First stop: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. I don’t think I ever stopped drooling.

The amount of classic Disney touches made my heart so happy. The classic Disney melodies floating from the lobby to greet us as we entered the resort. The little characters on the marbled floor. Cinderella’s coach on the massive staircase. Mary Poppin’s penguins frolicking in a gurgling fountain. Here are some pictures so that you may drool as well:

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We watched “Wishes!” from the Floridian dock, and it was such the perfect moment to begin my college program. I can’t imagine how it will be once I actually can get in the parks to watch it.

Anyways.

Next stop was the Polynesian, one short Monorail ride away.  Hold on, I can’t resist: “Aloha!”

The Polynesian was beautiful in its own right, tropical and bright and Hawaiian-y if that makes any sense at all. I had my first Dole Whip, however, and it was a magical experience. I highly recommend the Dole Whip as a snack at the Polynesian–it’s the perfect way to fully immerse yourself into the atmosphere, tiki torches, leis, the whole bit. A picture:

Day 2: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Beach and Yacht Club Resorts 

Two of my roommates found out that they will be working at the resorts above, so of course we had to pay a visit. Both are gorgeous places to vacation or peruse, but there is something about Animal Kingdom Lodge that I couldn’t help but love. Part of it could be that I found out that Animal Kingdom is my home park…did I forget to mention that? I will be working at Animal Kingdom for the most part and couldn’t be more excited!

As per how this post is going, here are some pictures of these beautiful resorts:

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Day 3: Port Orleans and the Art of Animation Resorts 

When you’re waiting for your chance to get to the parks, resort hopping really does become your best friend. My roommates and I decided to mosey through both sides of the Port Orleans resort and the ever-so-cute Art of Animation resort. My family and I make a habit of staying at the Port Orleans French Quarter, so of course I felt completely at home. If you’re looking for a laid-back, green, and jazzy resort, this one’s for you. Don’t miss the beignets; they are completely and devilishly delicious.

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Last but not least is Disney’s Art of Animation resort. Can I just say this one thing? IT’S ALL SO CUTE! This resort is the most overtly Disney resort I’ve visited, so if that’s what you’re into I completely recommend it. The lobby was filled with concept art from The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Cars, and The Lion King. This Disney nerd’s heart was completely satisfied with the beautiful theming and the respective music and melodies heard throughout the resort.

  
  


  


There you have it! Since I’ve been here, I’ve been resort hopping up a storm and loving every single minute of it. Every time I drive through the “Welcome to Walt Disney World” arch, I get little butterflies. I’m here and I’m home. For now.

Have a magical day, everyone!

 

 

Disney College Program: Last Day at Home

DCP Update:

My journey begins tomorrow, my friends. By this time tomorrow, my grandma and I will be comfy cozy in a hotel room after a day of travel. By this time tomorrow, I will have said goodbye to my room and my mom and my puppies. By this time tomorrow, I will finally be officially on my way to the Disney College Program.

I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m impatient, I’m apprehensive, I’m eager, I’m…everything.

I’m just so ready to finally know what working for Disney is like, to be totally immersed in the world that Walt envisioned. I’m “ready to know what the people know, ask em’ my questions and get some answers.” 

Oy. I can’t stop with the song quotes.

I just can’t wait to get started and to make magic for others. I say that a lot on this blog, but it’s totally worth the redundancy. I can hardly contain my excitement to see a guest light up because they have met their hero for the very first time.

It’s going to be so cool.

Here’s a quote that encompasses the reason I’m so proud and happy to be moving to Orlando to help create the magic that has influenced me so profoundly:

“You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” {Walt Disney} 

Can’t wait to do you proud, Walt.

Have a magical day, my lovely readers!

My car is packed and ready to go!

 

Disney College Program: Excitement Abounds!

Only seven days until I depart my hometown. Eleven more days until check-in!

What is my life?!

I’ve decided to document the things I am most excited about here on my trusty little blog. I’ve been stalking the #DCPspring2016 hashtag on Instagram while subsequently getting little butterflies. Two groups have checked in for spring, and I believe there are three more to go.

It’s almost my turn! How does the song go?

“Look at the world, so close, and I’m halfway to it. Look at it all, so big, do I even dare?” {Rapunzel from Tangled}.

Oh. I dare.

Here is what I’m most excited about for the Disney College Program:

  • Finding out my work location! I cannot tell you how anxious I am to know where I get to work for the next six months. My role is a global position, but I’m so excited to call one park truly “home.”
  • Seeing the “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks at Hollywood Studios. I’m a newly-minted Star Wars freak, so I am so pumped to see this show.
  • Meeting the Star Wars characters for the first time.
  • Walking down Main Street as a cast member for the very first time.
  • Seeing the Castle as a cast member for the very first time. There will be happy tears, I guarantee you.
  • Traditions! I’m so excited for the official initiation to the Walt Disney Company.
  • Meeting characters I haven’t ever met: Tarzan, Baymax, and the Mad Hatter to name a few.
  • Creating my first “magical moment.”
  • Memorizing the words to “Dream Along With Mickey.” This was the show that really introduced me to Disney magic, so I know I’m going to be a die-hard fan girl and see it an innumerable amount of times.
  • Character dining–I want to eat at all the places and meet all the characters.
  • Receiving my name tag. Goosebumps.
  • Meeting my roommates and knowing which complex I am going to be living in. I’m going in “random,” so I do not know who I will be living with yet. It’s going to be exciting, I tell you!
  • Meeting the boss–aka Mickey Mouse–for the first time as a cast member. I can’t wait to give you a big hug, Mickey.
  • Going to the water parks. I’ve never been, so I can’t wait to give them try.
  • Experiencing Disney magic each and every day.

As this week goes by, I’ll have nervous/excited butterflies in my stomach, Disney song lyrics on repeat in my head, my puppies on my heels as I pack, wondering why I’m moving all my stuff.

I’m sorry, puppies. I’m going on an adventure! “Adventure is out there!” 

“I can go the distance!”

“I’m almost there!” 

“Tell everybody I’m on my way; new friends and new places to see. With blue skies ahead, yes, I’m on my way. And there’s no where else that I’d rather be!” 

You get the point.

I hope you have a magical day, with “blue skies and sunshine, guaranteed.” 

Ok, enough with the Disney song snippets. I’ve got some packing to do.

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“How Lucky Am I”

I’m truly lucky, my friends. To steal a quote from Winnie the Pooh:

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” 

I only have ten days until I leave home. Ten. In two weeks exactly it will be check-in day. And I’m starting to feel little tugs at my heart each time I look at my mom or my puppies or my hometown. I already said goodbye to my sister as she left home to begin a new semester in her own adventure. I miss her so much already–we FaceTime multiple times a day.

I’m so excited for my new adventure, but I am also know how much I’m going to miss the silly, insignificant things that really do mean so much.

I’ll miss mornings in my house, lounging as I eat my bowl of Mini Wheats and sip my cup of coffee. Kasper licks his lips and whines to persuade me to feed him a little morsel; his little nose twitches from side to side in an attempt to look cute and innocent.

It usually works.

I’ll miss my afternoon jogs through my neighborhood, the leisurely “me” time that involves me, my Asics, the pavement, and the local neighborhood rabbits. It’s been so nice this past two weeks at home, and I’ve beens soaking up as much time outside as I can.

I’ll miss trips to eat at my favorite local restaurants, the kind of restaurants  you only find in my hometown. My “usuals.” My own versions of Luke’s Diner.

I’ll miss my time as a student–reading, writing, organizing, walking to class, sitting in the Beanery, managing my time in such a way. The fresh supplies at the beginning of the semester; the satisfaction of earning an awesome grade.

I’ll miss my volleyball–I already do. It was such a special time in my life. Life was organized and team-oriented: class, practice, homework, rest, repeat. Team bonding, fundraising, volunteering, study hall, repeat.

Most of all, I’ll miss the people in my immediate life, the people who are always there.

Guys. Don’t you see? I am so incredibly lucky to be able to say I will sincerely miss everything that has come and everything that must go. My life has been wonderful, and I am optimistic enough to continue to believe it will be wonderful down the road.

Let’s face it: I am moving to Disney in ten days. I have a pretty good shot.

While I’ll leave insignificant (yet so important and profound) little moments behind, I get to gain new insignificant, important little moments. Perhaps a little moment I’ll savor involves donning Mickey ears on my off-days, or receiving my name tag at Traditions (that one might be a big moment). While I’m a little sad to leave things behind, I’m so, so incredibly happy to gain so many more experiences.

Even though I’ll miss the people I love with all of my heart, I know that I’ll never truly be alone, that I’ll always have a piece of them with me. Below are pictures of the people and the puppies I’ll especially miss–my mom, my sister, Kasper (the little white pup) and Snoopy. They are my best buds, but I know that we’re all connected through some unexplained relationship. My experiences are their experiences, and vice versa.

Because I have been lucky with the people and the experiences in my life, I know that I’m ready for this new adventure, to make magic for others and to experience a whole new life. I’m brave, I’m strong, and I’m smart, all because of my favorite people in my life. Panda bear. Don’t worry readers, they know what it means.

Bonus quote: “If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. 

But the important thing is even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you.”

 

 
 

2016: The Year of New Beginnings

Every new year brings a chance for a fresh start, but 2016 certainly feels like the freshest fresh start I’ll ever receive.

First of all, I’m participating in the Disney College Program. New state, new town, new state-of-being. I’m not a student anymore, I’m a…somebody. Not quite adult, not quite a kid.

I’m a twenty-something. A person who has no idea what her life will look like in six months. A young woman who doesn’t quite know what her next five years will look like.

2016 will be my first year in a long time where I won’t be participating in an organized sport. I’m not thinking about a conference championship anymore (we won one of those, by the way). I’m thinking about salaries and jobs and opportunities and my future and what not.

2016 is chock-full of new beginnings. Here are some of my resolutions for the new year, in order to fully take advantage of all my sweet fresh starts.

  • Write a blog post at least once a week. Hopefully I can do that for myself and for my readers (thank you all!) in the blogosphere.
  • Keep up with my physical fitness. Do something–something–everyday that benefits my health. Even if it just means meeting my 10,000 steps goal walking around the Disney parks.
  • RELAX AND ENJOY EVERY MOMENT. I’m moving to Disney for six months, maybe for even longer (and maybe not). I want to take in as many  sights, smells, attractions, characters, and magical moments that I can.
  • Explore and take in new experiences. I want to visit St. Augustine, Cape Canaveral, GatorLand, Harry Potter World, and so much more during my time in Orlando.
  • Document my journey in my journal my mom gave me. I want to remember this exciting time of my life.

Here’s to a new year, my friends. Let’s take in every moment of every second and try to savor the way we feel at this point in our lives. I’m young, I’m moving to Disney, and I have the whole world at my feet. 2016 will be a year to remember and cherish; I can just feel it.