Where Did 2015 Go?!

Since it’s December, it’s only natural that I put an end-of-year recap on my blog. Everyone else is, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon. Now, I’m sure I’ve forgotten about something. But this is at least a fairly complete list of things that happened to me in 2015.

The best way my year could have started was getting the call telling me I was going to be transferred back to Ad/Lib attractions. At the beginning of February I transferred back to Pirates, my true Disney love.

In my time back in Adventureland, Pirates was to undergo a major refurbishment, so I got trained in Fastpass+ for the summer. Not a bad gig. I was actually excited to understand how the system actually works (when it does), and I kind of miss it. The shifts were boring and my feet hurt from standing and not moving around, but it wasn’t murderous, and guests usually weren’t that upset. 
I got my second tattoo near the beginning of the year. Two of my roommates and I went to get Friday the 13th tattoos together. It was right before Valentine’s Day, so there were heart-shaped flash tattoos with fun themes that were different than your typical superstition $13 tattoos. 

I went out on my first date this past March. I also had my first kiss not too long after. That’s a whole story about such a massive mistake and waste of time, but I won’t discuss it on my end-of-year post. Some other time, perhaps.

Beth, my roommate at the time, and I went and got our septums pierced. This is by far my favorite piercing I’ve ever had, even more than my former nostril piercing.

My roommates and I (sans Shane, Alec, and Dylan) moved into an apartment. We had been in a house for the past year, and decided to move closer to work and into a smaller apartment. There are times when I miss being in a house, but not that one per say. Beth didn’t stay long, and we found another roommate, Chris, who has been a wonderful addition to our lives.

In 2015, my adult dream came true and I got a dog. I’ve got a post about Twix on my blog. She’s the perfect family dog. Extremely derpy, but a great dog. She loves me so unconditionally, always following me around and getting depressed when I’m not home. Twix is absolutely perfect to me, even if she keeps everyone awake chewing on her feet at night.

For the first time in my life, I fell in love. I met Jay in June while I was working Fastpass, and my life will never be the same. I could write an entire post about how incredible he is (I promise. I just wrote him a 4-page letter telling him that). He’s so fun and goofy, but he’s refreshingly realistic–especially when I’m not. He puts up with a lot being with me, and I’m sure he’d argue the same from me. Really, though, we work well together.  I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful man in my life to share park adventures and just exist together. I couldn’t ask for a better person to be in a relationship with; he’s everything I ever wanted and so much more.

My best friend got married in July, and it was my first time to be in a wedding. Not only was it a celebration of two of my best friends, but it was also like a mini high school reunion. Both were wonderful to get to be a part of to catch up with everyone on their own paths. 
July 26, 2015 marks my Full Time seniority date.  A year and a half since the beginning of my College Program and just a few days shy of my one-year part-time hire date, I was finally given a full-time position. With this came a lot of heartbreak leaving Pirates to go to Frontierland and Splash Mountain. But no matter how much I miss Pirates and am looking forward to leaving Frontierland to try something else, it was worth getting the benefits that full-time brings.

Not long after my transfer, I got another tattoo. This marks number 3. Both tattoos this year were done on a whim. This one was with my friend Skylar, deciding to get her first tattoo.  My third tattoo is the one I’ve wanted the longest. Ever since I was thirteen, reading the Series of Unfortunate Events book series, I wanted a tattoo of an eye on my left ankle. I’m probably the most happy with this tattoo because the series has been such a massive part of my growing up.

I played Pokemon for the first time this year. I bought my very own Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Not a huge thing that happened in 2015, but I was proud of it. 
The Country Bear Jamboree is one of my favorite attractions on property. And in November I got cross-trained at Tom Sawyer Island and the Country Bear Jamboree. I had amazing trainers who put up with a lot from me. Driving the TSI rafts is more difficult than I thought, but I really enjoy it and am getting better.  The complex is much more relaxed than any place I’ve ever worked at Disney, and it’s a nice change of pace to be able to have a shift or two there.

I got to celebrate Disneyland’s 60th anniversary this year. Ryan, Cody, Skylar, and I planned a week-long trip to Disneyland in November. It was a long trip, but so incredible. I can’t wait to go back.  I love Walt Disney World and it will always be home, but my favorite Disney park will always without a doubt be Disney’s California Adventure.

While at Disneyland, I ran my first half marathon.  Originally, the trip was just for Skylar and me to run the Avenger’s Superhero Half Marathon with RunDisney. Additionally, I signed up for The Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, running both the Captain America 10k and the half marathon. The experience was great, but I hadn’t trained at all, and the half marathon was very overwhelming. I’d do another half, but not without putting more effort into preparing for it.

I turned 22 in 2015. I spend my birthday working, but got a lot of really nice cards and gifts from friends and family.

I got to see my very first Star Wars movie in theaters this year. For Christmas I took Jay to see it and we somehow got perfect seats, despite the theater being completely packed. Seeing Episode VII in theaters wasn’t a big deal, but it was special to get to see it with Jay because it’s such an important part of his life.

Even with a week left in the year, I don’t have any plans other than working. With that, I feel like publishing this would be an appropriate thing to do. I hope your 2015 brought lots of excitement and good things. Happy New Year, and here’s to 2016!


Fa La La La La

Merry Christmas, everyone! I realize I’m getting this post out the day after Christmas, but with the work schedule I have this week, that’s to be expected. It’s not like I’m a famous blogger with a large following, expecting me to post every day. For my few friends and family members who read this, thank you. I hope your holiday season has gone and will continue to go smoothly and safely and happily.

I had a wonderful, albeit very untraditional Christmas. But I decided that because of the lifestyle I have, Untraditional is the new Traditional. Christmas for me is a time of severe planning and rearranging to make things work to spend time with the people I love. I’ve been having Christmas (and birthday) since November when Jay got my gift early and on a whim. As much as I say I want a Hallmark Christmas, working for Disney makes that hard.

Because of this, other Cast Members open their homes to try and make the holiday special for those who can’t spend it with their biological families. Some of my coworkers were invited by guests to spend Christmas with them. Roommates pull together to make our little family spend some time together, even if it’s in a rush. I tried really hard to make Jay’s and my first Christmas together special. My parents drove down from St. Augustine to spend Christmas Eve in a hotel to celebrate after I got off work. It’s still Christmas, just without the slowing down to spend it together.

For Jay and myself, our Christmas was the most spread out. We went in November to get my gift, and he’s still working on another one for me that isn’t ready yet. But for the actual holiday, we celebrated it on Tuesday. I came over after work and made dinner (chicken and dumplings–yum), then he opened his presents from me, and his dogs’ presents from Twix. The next morning Christmas continued and I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. It wasn’t as fancy as my Dad usually does for special breakfasts, but it would do. Then we picked up and rolled out and went to see Star Wars. And that was our first Christmas.

Christmas Eve was spent working with my Bears. After work, I went to meet up with my family at a hotel near Disney Springs. We opened our stockings and begged to open presents before we left for dinner. We Facetimed my Papa, and called my Nana and our friend Sheila since we couldn’t be together for the holiday. We went to dinner at Saratoga Springs, and it was perfect weather to sit outside and eat. Of course, it wasn’t “winter,” but it was very pleasant. Upon going back to the hotel, Dad had picked out some fancy desserts to share, then we went to Disney Springs. I needed to stop by Starbucks on my way home, and my dad seems to enjoy walking through the insane crowds on Christmas Eve. It was a wonderful few hours spent with my family for the holidays.

I woke up at 5:30 on Christmas day. Not a creature was stirring, because Twix knows I don’t wake up that early and was very confused when I took her outside. Jay and I both worked at 7:15, so up we were, leaving the apartment a little after 6:00am. Splash Mountain was insane. First opening wasn’t any different than a normal day, but at 12:30 when we had a queue of 105 minutes and we suddenly had to dump it, that was completely insane. I didn’t know our queue could hold so many people.

Generally, I didn’t have really upset guests yesterday. I had a few that weren’t happy with the Fastpass+ system and thought it was “retarded” and “fucking ridiculous” but other than that, even with dumping our line, no guests got upset directly with or at me. Most of the people I interacted with were very kind. One little girl came up to me with a card and told me, “Thank you so much for working on Christmas.” We had a few crazy moments on Christmas, and I know some people had it worse than I did, but I actually enjoyed my time at The Mountain for once.

There were a few things I’m sad I missed doing. Mostly photos. I wanted a Christmas photo with my roommates, with my dog, with my boyfriend, with my family. I wanted to send out more cards and do more crafts and have more decorations. But for one of my first Christmases as an adult on my own, I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out.

An Afternoon at Universal Studios

I’ve been a Universal Studios annual passholder for almost two years now. Almost immediately when I moved to Florida I went and bought my pass because I knew I would frequent the parks enough that it would be worth it. Originally I paid it all in full, so when my ticket expired, I decided to sign up using the monthly payment installments so I never have to forget when my pass expires and I only pay around $14 a month for the rest of eternity. Even if I don’t go every month, it’s still much more worth it with less hassle.

On Tuesday, Jay and I went to the park and stayed a few hours. Universal is one of those places that is fun to go to on a whim, but it’s not an all-day excursion for me. We rode the Hungarian Horntail side of Dragon Challenge, had an shortcut adventure at Forbidden Journey, and that about exhausted our desired attractions at Islands of Adventure.

We weren’t in the mood for Jurassic Park River Adventure, The Incredible Hulk is closed, Doctor Doom is nothing compared to the Tower of Terror, Jay doesn’t do simulators like Spider-Man, and we only walked through Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon.

When we went over to the Universal Studios side of property, we went straight to Mummy and Rip Ride Rockit. After this, we were already feeling dizzy, hungry, and tired. The day was overcast and brought that lethargic, stay-in-bed-all-day kind of feel. We didn’t even make it to Diagon Alley (mainly because we are totally broke and would just want to walk around and shop), and instead walked past it and made Men In Black our last ride.

The afternoon was fun, as any day with the boyfriend is, but Universal days are always missing something. I love the parks, but I would never want to spend more than a few hours there. I remember going a few times on my college program with other people who wanted to stay all day. To be honest, I’m not interested in doing all that much there.

There’s the kiddie rides in Seuss Landing, which are cute, I guess, but I’m never that interested in the attractions in the area. I am an extreme fan of Dr. Seuss, so I love going through the stores and being there for Grinchmas, but the rides are not that fun. Toon Lagoon is cute, but dated and no longer relevant. The rides are great for a hot and sunny day when you’re planning on water rides. As much as I love the Sunday Funnies, there aren’t any characters that I care much about in the area to stick around too long. The Jurassic Park area is cool enough, but there’s only the one ride for adults. Like most of the rest of the park, I feel like there’s so much under-utilized space and so much potential. And what even is The Lost Continent? I have only ever gone there to get to Hogsmeade and just wish it was an expansion of the Wizarding World.

My problem with Universal is the disjointed feeling that follows you throughout the park. Even at Magic Kingdom going from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland doesn’t feel like such culture shock. There are so many big brands in their park that there is no way to make it flow from one to the other. To Universal, that isn’t such a big deal. It’s meant to make you feel immersed in the brand from the movies (at least that is my assumption).  But as someone who is so in love with the Disney parks, I wish the lands wouldn’t transition so harshly.

As both companies are aware, Disney and Universal are two completely different beasts. It’s probably wrong to try and compare them, but I can’t help it when I visit both resorts so often. Universal is great at big thrill rides, but Disney (to me) is more welcoming and I don’t feel embarrassed to ride Winnie the Pooh or The Little Mermaid. At Universal, I don’t want to go on the “baby rides” because I feel silly. Why is that?

I guess it’s because I go to Disney to feel the nostalgia, to feel the imagination and immersion into the story that Walt wanted guests to feel in his parks. Universal Studios is meant to put you in the backstage story of the movie set, not directly into the movie–hence the “Studios” portion of the name. With Islands of Adventure, there is a little more feeling of being in the story, but too much of it doesn’t feel relevant to me at least.

Who knows why I really feel the way I do about each of the resorts. I love them both in their own ways, but I’d much rather spend a full day at Disney than at Universal.

I Miss Reading

I miss reading so much. I used to read non-stop back before I moved to Florida. My bookshelves are still a source of pride, but I’m also ashamed when I look at them and I know how many books I haven’t finished yet.

My shelves are so beautiful. I love organizing and reorganizing them.

I have 277 books on my shelves. I have only read 168 of them. Granted, some of those total books are single-issue comic books or bound collections of more than one novel. But I have approximately 277. This means I’ve got nearly 40% of my books unfinished or totally unread. This is a problem to me.

I love talking books. Jay and I sat at lunch the other day just talking about books. Reading is so important to me, but I’ve seriously neglected my love for it in the last few years. I’m so tired after work, the last thing I want is to turn my brain on and read. I’d rather shut down and surf the web. Even writing is easier to me than reading. But I can tell that I’m suffering intellectually.

Since working for Disney, I have started using smaller words in conversation. So many of our guests are from other countries, and English is not their first language. I try to speak in a slow and easy-to-understand manner, but that affects me personally. Because I’m not reading and I haven’t been writing, my vocabulary has weakened substantially. I don’t like this.

Another reason I haven’t read much this year is that I have so many series to begin, but no money to continue buying them as I read. Yet stand-alone novels don’t entice me as much, because I love being immersed in a world in more than one book. I won’t allow myself to buy any more books until I finish at least a few that I already have.

My Goodreads account is crying. I have so many to-read books that I am craving to buy, but because of my book ban, they’re just sitting there. I need to work on reading more so I can buy more books. Even with starting school next summer, I really want to read at least a book a week. I feel like that isn’t much to ask for, right?

As much as I don’t need recommendations, I’m always accepting them. Maybe it’s one I already have on my shelf and it will give me more incentive to pick it up. Or if nothing else, it would give me the motivation to read what I have so I can acquire more books later. Check out my Goodreads account and let me know what should be a priority to read next!

Happy December!

December is a great month. First and foremost, it’s my birthday month! I don’t know about you, but I’ll be feeling 22 this year. It’s also the time where my year-round Grinch quotes are finally accepted.

I love the Hallmark-ness of Christmas. I love the old movies, the tv specials, the cookies. My dad always had the most perfect decorations at the house. Our house is straight out of a magazine for every day of the year; Christmas isn’t any different. Even though it isn’t very cold here in Florida, I have the strong need to make a big batch of my Munner’s hot chocolate mix and my mom’s Puppy Chow Chex Mix.

I went about 8 years without celebrating Christmas. My family celebrated Hanukkah, and we were pretty traditional with it. I remember spending many of those years in New Mexico mountains, lighting our menorahs against snowy backdrops. I found a blog that mentioned growing up celebrating both holidays, and she included a recipe for latkes. Now I need to go to the store and make them for my roommates. If nothing else about December is great, the food is incredible.

Our apartment Christmas tree

 I put up our tree a few nights ago with the help of Cody. I need to get quality photos of it at night and from outside. The only photos I have are the ones taken on my phone. We also have a cheap garland with some lights and candy canes hanging from it on our bar. Next year I hope I get to do a little more as far as decorations; then again, I hope I’m not under so much financial stress next year. I will admit to being a little underwhelmed with my decorating skills. These are a few of my most favorite ornaments on the tree:

My baby ornament.

A cool t-rex.

A gift from my Munner a few years back.

I always keep my Christmas music on my playlists. Here are a few of my favorite albums:

I hope it gets colder before Christmas. At least a little bit colder. I need an opportunity to wear my sweater, and it’s hard to do that when it’s still in the 80’s in the afternoon. Christmas in Florida just isn’t the same. My dream is to someday take a trip to New York in the winter. My bucket list includes New Years Eve in Times Square. Some day I will have enough seniority to ask off and take that trip. 
I’ve got some fun little things planned in between now and Christmas. Nothing too big, but still fun and festive. I’m hoping to cook and make some of these delicious goodies for the boys (my roommates and boyfriend), and hopefully enjoy some of the holiday offerings around Disney property. Work is going to start to be more and more busy as schools are letting out and holidays begin. Come January life will slow down again and I will hopefully continue the process of finding a new home at Disney, as well as starting school. The year has flown by. Here’s to the last month! 

Pursuing a Degree in Communications

Yesterday I touched on the idea of going back to school. I’ve been researching some different options, from online courses through Texas Tech, University of Phoenix, Valencia, and UCF. University websites are the worst. They’re nothing but labyrinths of information to get lost in. But I’m extremely inspired right now to buckle down and gain some focus on a goal. I’ve said for two years that I’m not that interested in going back to school; I’ve asked people to stop inquiring when I’m going back to get a degree. The answer is now probably Summer 2016.

I’m really inspired right now to do something. I’ve been needing something to do besides sit around watching Netflix; something productive needs to be done. School isn’t going to hurt me one bit. Three or four classes a year won’t get me anywhere fast, but it’ll get me there eventually.

In 2012 I graduated high school and began my college career at Hardin-Simmons University. I already had 12 dual credit hours under my belt from high school, and started at the university taking general studies courses my first semester. Originally, I was going along the Spanish Education route. Before I even took a Spanish or an Education class I knew I didn’t want to teach. So at the end of my first semester,  I changed my major to just Spanish and would figure something out later. I knew I didn’t want to just be a Spanish major, but I didn’t know what else to choose at the time so I left it at that. For a while I considered leaving it, and then getting certified as a translator. This would make the most sense for keeping Spanish. Instead, I went to the academic advisors and talked with them for a long time about my interests and my career goals. After that meeting, we decided Public Relations might be the way to go. At this point, the spring semester was almost over and I didn’t have a chance to take any Communication classes. After that semester, I went home to Lubbock and transferred to Texas Tech for a semester before moving to Florida. At TTU, my only class was a PR class. And I loved it. From the class, it seemed like a good balance of being in an  air-conditioned office, but also being able to get out and do some hands-on work through writing and partnering with other business areas. I’m still very interested in pursuing a Public Relations-type degree.

A few things I have discovered in my school search: Florida Schools don’t offer solely PR degrees, and they don’t do it online. So it’s back to the drawing board. I do know that the University of Phoenix offers a Public Relations/Organizational Communication degree, which I’m still looking into. Valencia offers the same degree transfer plan, but UCF doesn’t offer it online.

I have officially applied to the UCF College of Sciences with intentions of majoring in Communication and Conflict. I have sent out lots of e-mails to transfer departments about my credits coming over from Texas schools. I have reached out the the head of the department for further information on it. I know I want a Communications degree, and this seems like it’s the best for what’s offered as well as my career with Disney. Communication and Conflict is a little more of a business management degree than I thought I would be interested in, but I feel like the required classes will benefit me in working for such a large company, even if management isn’t something I’m interested in. Having a degree with a management slant will (hopefully) make me a stronger and better utilized Cast Member wherever my career takes me.

As far as a minor goes, Spanish isn’t offered online. That’s okay. I still have every Spanish text book from high school and college and can easily keep fresh and teach myself vocabulary. Out of the online minors offered, I’m going back and forth between Journalism Studies and Mass Communication. This makes my studies as a whole closer to a PR-type degree, without the title of “Public Relations.” Because both minors seem so incredibly up my alley, I might just have to double minor, or I’ll eventually make a decision.

No matter how much I work, I still get bored. Hopefully I can channel that boredom into something useful for the future. Who knows, maybe I’ll find myself writing for the Disney Parks Blog someday. Funny how that was the first thing I ever said I wanted to do for Disney. Even in choosing a major with my advisors, that was the thought I had. Now, I don’t necessarily think I’ll ever be doing that, but who knows? I do know come January I’m putting in a transfer for a change. And the Summer brings new things as well.

Inspired to Become Something Great

I’ve been in a bit of a slump recently, financially, emotionally, and physically.  This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way, and I’m sure it won’t be the last either. Part of living is dealing with the hard times as well as the good times. You can’t have one without the other and I’m trying to remind myself of that, because I know I’ve had plenty of the good, and I still do. But aspects of my current life are not as I would like them to be at this point in my life. Let me explain.

Working for Walt Disney World, I’m feeling very unfulfilled in my job, and it’s taking a toll on the rest of my life. Come January 13th, I’ll have been with the company two years. In my mind, at this point in my Disney career, I should be further along. I wanted to be, and I could have been. I still can be. In two years I’ve done two different roles in three locations, being trained in two systems and two attraction complexes. Since January of 2014, I’ve been trained at Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Tom Sawyer Island and The Country Bear Jamboree. I learned the merchandise computer system as well as the Fastpass+ system. The happiest I have ever been was the time I spent at Pirates. If you’ve known me or read this blog at all, you’ll know how in love I am with that attraction. I had to leave it twice, and I’m never going to be able to go back. My heart is broken, but I know it’s not the end of my Happiness at Disney. I’ve learned that Merchandise wasn’t a match for me, and neither is Frontierland. Being in two areas I’m not happy has been a struggle. I want to find my Disney Home, and I’m trying.

When I first started working for the company, I thought it would be awesome to not fall in love with anything and to travel my way through property trying new things. I’ve reminded myself of that dream of two years ago, and that’s what I’m going to try for now. I’m going to transfer to different places and see how it feels to learn different roles and different areas of the massive property of WDW. I want to take a break from Attractions and the theme parks, and maybe try resorts. Magic Kingdom is my favorite park on property, and its magic has been fading for me because it makes me too sad to be there for work, that I don’t want to be there for pleasure. I want that back.

A few days ago I had to park in Guest Parking to go to work. I walked onto Main Street USA and saw the Christmas decorations for the first time this year and heard the castle show,  Dream Along With Mickey. As I walked past and into Frontierland, I began to cry. Just as Mickey says, “Take the dream with you, wherever you may go!” I lost it. I’ve momentarily lost my Dream, and I’m trying to pick it back up. For me, hopefully, taking a break from the Magic Kingdom is my solution.

I’m so lucky to work for this company. Even if I don’t get paid enough and days can be long and guests can be mean, there are so many days that are wonderful and guests who are so kind. I know there are better things out there for me within the company, I just have to search for them.

I don’t have a degree. I didn’t know if I ever wanted to go back to school. Even though I don’t want a cubicle desk job, I’m starting to think that I would still like to pursue a degree. I already have about 40 credit hours of general studies done, and I was loving the Public Relations class I was in my last semester. So today I started doing some research and collecting information about classes I could take online one at a time. Even if it takes some time, I don’t think finishing up a degree is going to hurt me at all. It may not help, but it might. But I would hate to not have one and then find a place within the company that at least wants me to have something to show for myself. One class a semester will be slow-going, but not impossible. I could get three or four classes a year done and graduate soon enough. I don’t want to overwhelm myself, but right now with my uncertainties about my career, I can’t help but think that online classes will help me have a focus on something solid and will give me a better advantage than if I didn’t have any degree.

Maybe 2016 is my year. Maybe this is a wake-up call and a time to get inspired to become whatever I want. I’ll never forget the day I moved out of the dorms at Hardin-Simmons University and my RA, Whitney, hugged me and said, “You’re going to do great things. And I’m going to watch.” This is why my blog is entitled “Orlando Is Calling;” it never stopped calling when I moved here. Orlando wants me here and I want it too.