I’m well over one month out of my time as a Disney Cast Member, returning to a summer similar to others before. I have returned to the pool to train the next team of swimmers, and I’m hunkering down on writing Project Stripes – this is a special year for me. However, this summer my life isn’t as it used to be, even now I’ve moved back home. Whenever I think about the last nine months, I still can’t believe it happened: I worked for the Walt Disney Company at the place Where Dreams Come True. Often I’ll picture working at Animal Kingdom, playing at the parks, or simply walking around the area I lived and watching the Transtar buses zoom by. Every time I do, it seems so unreal, more unreal than my time studying in London. Honestly, it’s been like stepping out of a dream.
In fact, some of my dreams did come true down there, to a degree, of course. I found the version of Project Stripes that has brought me to where I am today, one where I think I’m finally on the right track; I lived in a new place and interacted with more people than I thought I ever would considering my occupation. I also made friends, whom I sincerely hope will be in my life for a very long time.
As much as I complained about the weather – envied even the winter my friends and family got everywhere else in the country – I was able to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter more than I thought I would in a year’s time, able to navigate its streets and attractions without a second thought. A fair trade. Additionally, I traded my beloved cold for being part of some premier events for STAR WARS such as my favorite fireworks shows: Symphony in the Sky. As if that wasn’t enough, I was able to visit the parks and ride a ride whenever I wanted for however long I wanted. I greeted Mickey and the other characters like they were my own family.
See now how all that seems so hard to believe now after the fact?
This is all coming from a person who wasn’t all that into Disney when I went down to Orlando, and still I would say I’m not at the level of some of my friends. No matter my level of fandom for the legacy of Walt, I think anyone can get something out of their time as a cast member (college program or not). It’s all about what you put in, what you expect from the parks, and how you would want the company to present itself, what it adds to the parks, and the films it puts out.
The point is, after everything I learned about myself, others, and the company (the good and the bad), it was worth it. Given a chance to go back to before I applied, I would say do it. If studying abroad in London showed me how resourceful and happy on my own I was, Disney sealed this fact. I am hopeful my time with the Mouse will help my future search for jobs while trying to get published.