Karsten Burgstahler and Taylor Maloney are two theme park geeks who have staycationed at Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World too many times to count. When they aren’t standing in the single rider line, they’re studying communications at the University of Florida.
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Hi, I’m Taylor and Universal might as well be my second home. I have spent most of my life in Orlando, Florida, where I learned to love the hospitality industry. My dad works food & bev at the parks, so I’ve grow up around the culture. I’ve gone from watching the “A Day in the Park with Barney” show to riding “Revenge of the Mummy” until my head spins. I started working at Universal when I was 16 as a sales associate for the Universal Studios Store in Universal Studios Florida (a mouthful, I know), and interned with the social media department during summer 2014. My dream job would be working social media or public relations for this company that stole my heart.
Disney comes in at a close second (sorry Mickey). I love the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and keep not one, but two Disney CDs in my car. I am obsessed with anything Tangled and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” is my jam. I remember when Hollywood Studios was MGM, Expedition Everest was a mere vision and Downtown Disney was a place you went to buy a Belle costume instead of an upscale shopping site. While I love to tease, going to Disney makes me feel like a princess returning to her beloved kingdom (that and I’ll take Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween over Halloween Horror Nights any day).
Hi everyone! I’m Karsten Burgstahler, and while I can’t claim to have all the background at Universal that Taylor has, my love affair with the Orlando theme parks stretches back to a time when Islands of Adventure was just a preview center in the New York section of Universal Studios Florida and Twister belonged to the Ghostbusters (Fun fact: I now own the “R” from the Twister sign). I vividly remember the first time I saw the Universal Studios Escape commercial featuring Doc Ock and Spider-Man fighting on the wing of a plane while a kid watched inside. A sign lit up in the cabin: “ARE YOU READY?”
Yes, yes, I was.
Nostalgia’s great, but we’re also here to talk about the behemoths both Universal and Disney have grown into. They’re self-contained universes, with so many ins and outs that it’s hard to keep track – but I try. I’m at the parks often enough that I don’t need that reassuring voice to tell me the moving walkway exit is approaching. Reggie keeps asking me if I’m insane (THIS WHOLE PLACE IS A TRAP!), yet I keep getting back on Revenge of the Mummy. Someday I’ll get Brendan Fraser his coffee.
I’m originally from Illinois, and I worked in journalism both during my undergraduate and post-graduate years. However, a few years back I decided I wanted to try something completely different. I knew I loved the Orlando area and dreamed of working in the parks, so I packed up, moved 900 miles and went back to graduate school to pursue my dream. I’m excited to share my knowledge as a “single rider” and look forward to meeting other theme park enthusiasts!