This weekend I’m in Orlando (surprise, surprise) visiting my family, planning on going to the parks on Saturday. And I’m realizing that next semester I’ll be living here after almost four years of going to the University of Florida. And that’s actually terrifying, but in the best way possible.
A lot of people have questioned why I want to live in Orlando, why I want to pursue a career in the theme park world (my dream job is working in social media or PR for Disney or Universal). So this post is to explain what some people might call strange ambitions.
The best way to catch you up to date is through old photos I found at home tonight.
That’s me. Curtseying with Minnie Mouse. And according to the time stamp on the photo, it was my birthday. I was 2 years old.
If you live in Orlando, and/or are a theme park enthusiast like myself, you might recognize this place. It’s Downtown Disney, now rebranded as Disney Springs. My mom, brother and I are playing in the fountains of what used to be the more humble, less extravagant entrance. It was my mom’s favorite place to bring us when we were little.
This was the year Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas came out on VHS. I’m dating myself, folks. Like I’m realizing I’m actually a little bit old…I’m still just enthusiastic about getting/watching a new Disney movie.
I look back on these photos and a rush of memories come back. The last Halloween I truly went trick-or-treating and dressed up like wintertime Belle from Beauty and the Beast. My hands dyed blue for a solid week after celebrating my birthday throwing beads off a Mardi Gras float at Universal with my two best friends from middle school. Meeting Tom Felton, J.K. Rowling, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe, who all signed the box of the wand I got after going to Ollivanders at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that very same week.
Some of my very happiest moments have been spent witnessing what feels like pure magic in these parks. Whether 2 or 20, the enchantment never seems to vanish.
And that’s why I want to work in the parks. To create an experience, a memory, to gift guests a photo or a thought that they’ll carry with them through life. Something that they can fall back on or hold onto when life gets tough. So yes, I’m a theme park nerd with ambitions to shape my career around these places I adore. I’ve been to the parks 500+ times. And I hope that sometime in the future I’ll be going down memory lane again, this time with some newer photos.