I don’t have a single place I call home; I am lucky enough to have three. There’s my hometown of course. As much as I complain about it, it’s where my mom lives, where my dad’s buried, and where my bar’s at, not to mention the two closest friends I’ve got. No matter how far I go, I’ll always come back to it eventually.
My second home has been Chapel Hill. It’s where I formed so many of the ideas and friendships that shape me now, even if they aren’t still part of my life. I had a hard time leaving UNC, but I knew it would have been harder if I hadn’t been heading to the other place I consider home: Disney World.
I spent four months working and living there, but it was a home to me before that, before I took the ferry alone, shivering against the breeze coming off the lake, and caught my first look at Cinderella’s castle in three years. It was the moment I pulled up to the apartment complex and showed my ID to the man at the gate. “Welcome home,” he said.
I had driven eight hours to get there, crying part of the way. I cried because I knew how much I would miss my mom, my boyfriend, and Cora. I knew I wouldn’t stay forever, that I had another home I would go back to, and gladly. But man, did it feel right to hear that.
This Saturday, I’m flying to California to visit Disneyland for the first time. I’ve been craving the familiarity of it, but I’m also excited to see what new stories I’ll get to experience while I’m there.
In that spirit, I’ve been thinking of my favorite stories from those four months I spent in Disney World. I can’t tell you the best one because somebody from the company may hunt me down and kill me—or worse, never hire me again—but here’s the rest of the Top 5 list.
(It’s possible a few of these are also Top Secret, though not AS Top Secret…but you won’t tell on me, will you?)
- I once overheard a security guard asking a little girl if she knew who his boss was. When she guessed Mickey Mouse, he said, “I don’t know how it works at your house, but Minnie runs the show around here.”
- One night, after the park was closed, there was an exclusive event for Cast Members where we got to ride the Rock’N’Roller Coaster (basically my favorite ride ever) with the lights on. It’s incredible seeing the difference. I did it three times.
- I worked Fantasmic, helping Mickey get into his Sorcerer’s Robes for his big scene. When Maleficent is at her highest point, there’s a moment when the lights go dark. It’s bad luck for someone not to wave. Usually Mickey does it but, on my last night, he let me.
- Also on my last day, I got to test the lift before the show. I was literally on top of the mountain. The view is spectacular and being so far up with so little holding you back is thrilling.
Honorable mentions to:
- The time a cute boy working in Epcot’s France Pavilion called me “Princess” in a French accent. (Even a taken, demisexual girl is not totally immune to that; it’s like a Southern boy calling you “darlin’.”)
- The time I went on a scavenger hunt through Magic Kingdom.
- The time my cousin (and my whole family) met Aladdin, Jasmine, and Genie backstage between Fantasmic shows because I had connections.
- That time I thought I passed Johnny Depp in the park.
- Getting to be there when Hollywood Studios celebrated 25 years. Also, being among the first to work with Darth Goofy and the gang.
- Meeting Belle (yes, again) and discussing books with her. (I recommended Of Mice and Men because it’s what I was reading at the time.)
Walt Disney World is full of stories, and these are just a few of mine. (If you want some trivia about the park itself, comment and I will respond with one random fact/story each.) I’m taking all of them with me on this new adventure, and I can’t wait to see what new magic I experience while I’m there.
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