“When I’m with you, I don’t feel so alone.” – Hercules

27 Apr

It’s hard to believe that exactly one month ago today I arrived in Florida, it already feels like a lifetime ago. That after-vacation glow is starting to fade and become more like a dream I was too suddenly waken from. It wasn’t just the fact that I was back in Florida, or back at Walt Disney World, I was with my friends, my surrogate family, people who mean more to me than I’ll ever be able to express in words.

Before my vacation started, there was an 8 hour work day ahead of me…LONGEST DAY EVER! By 9:30 AM I was practically bouncing out of my chair with pent-up excitement and nervousness, but I pulled it together.

If you know me personally, you already know that I LOVE to fly and that within the last year or so I have also developed the habit of flying dressed-up. I leave for the airport straight from work and it’s a hassle to remember to pack a change of clothes, also I am convinced people treat you different because they believe you are someone of great importance. Allow me to present Exhibit A – My BRAND NEW flying to Florida outfit:

Flying to Florida outfit

In all honesty, I had an alternative reason for wanting to look extra nice. My boyfriend, Scott, was the one picking me up from the airport. If you’ve read any of my posts before, you know we are currently in a long-distance relationship. While we talk all the time thanks to Google+ Hangouts and texting, the last time we were in the same state together was October 2013, 6 very long months ago. Maybe it’s just a girl thing, but I wanted to impress him. 🙂

You know that scene in movies where the girl and guy see each other for the first time after an extremely long time apart – everything is in slow motion, heart in their stomachs until their eyes meet from across the room, painfully slow they make their way towards each other, face-splitting smiles on each face and then suddenly they are in each other’s arms and nothing else in the world matters or can interfere with their happy bubble. That moment, those perfect couple of minutes are real. The only thing missing was an elegant and uniquely composed instrumental soundtrack to enhance the feelings of relief, love and togetherness.

But alas, we had to return to the hear and now, and there was a fun moment were we wondered around the parking deck looking for his car.

My Disney adventures began the next afternoon when we met up with my Disney College Program roommate (now I call her my Disney sister because we are so close), Monique. Her 30th birthday was a couple days before I arrived and we had planned that I’d take her out to lunch to celebrate. We ended up at the Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

 

After lunch, we found ourselves at Epcot so I could visit my friend Stephanie, who is a manager at The Electric Umbrella. And then it was time to go on an adventure! This time of the year at Epcot they have the Flower and Garden Festival, it’s really something to see. Here are a few of the amazing arrangements:

I had my first experience with the new Fastpass+ system. We were able to get a FP for Test Track but it wasn’t until later in the afternoon. Then around the world we went, starting in Canada. Somehow in all the time I’ve spent at Disney, I’ve never seen the little movie in the Canada Pavilion, so it was a fun first. It takes place in a 360 degree theater and takes a little time to get use to. (Make sure to hold on to the railings so you don’t fall over, you may feel a bit dizzy as you look all around you.) From there we made our way around towards France, America and Italy. Somewhere in that area, there was a representative handing out free applesauce drinkable pouches, which weren’t half bad.

Once at Test Track, I was very excited! Not only is it one of my favorite rides at Walt Disney World, it was also recently refurbished (within the last couple of years) and I’d only been on this “newer version” once before. With this “updated” version of the ride, each person designs a car and puts it through its paces on the course, competing with the other “drivers”. Check out our AWESOME car, we may have gone a smidgen overboard. 😉 And it’s green because that’s my favorite color!

Design a car at Test Track in Epcot

We finished off the night at Downtown Disney. I couldn’t believe all the construction that was happening, I almost didn’t recognize it! Also, Disney Quest had a paint job, and as a former cast member of the “big blue box,” I was not a fan. Once all the construction is complete down here, I think it’ll be a nice area to come and relax with friends. One of these days I want to go bowling at Splitsville, from what I’ve heard from friends who still live down there, it’s a great atmosphere and a lot of fun!

Saturday, Scott had to work, so that’s how I found myself at Animal Kingdom at 7:00 AM. Now, I am not a morning person, but I think I hid that fairly well. 😉 Of course, it HAD TO BE RAINING (wouldn’t be a Disney vacation if it didn’t rain at least one day), so here I am in my borrowed rain gear waiting for the park to open at 9:00 AM. On the plus side, I was the first one in line and the first one to enter Dinoland, USA, where I use to work and it was strange seeing no one wondering around, but that just meant I was also the first one on Dinosaur, and it felt like my DCP days all over again!

But my favorite part about being at Animal Kingdom was getting to visit Scott at work!

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And I was one of three people to ride the Wildlife Express Train while he was driving! Check out my video!

After a bit more running around Animal Kingdom, I made the switch back to Epcot to meet up with Monique. We had big plans to meet Anna and Elsa, the characters from Disney’s Frozen. While waiting in the 2.5 hour line, the sky opened up again and drenched us. You know you are a dedicated (read as crazy) Disney character meeting person when you brave lightning storms and threats of tornadoes to have your picture taken with a fictional character. THIS is what made us such great friends from the beginning, our willingness to do insane things together all in the name of our love of Disney. In the end, our perseverance paid off and we got those pictures, please excuse the fact that we look like “drowned rats” according to Monique.

Then it was back to Animal Kingdom to meet Scott when he got off work. Apparently Epcot was my park of choice this vacation, because we found ourselves back there so we could watch the firework show, Illuminations. We watched them from the Mexico pavilion, and it was pretty cool, as we were waiting, some of the technicians came around to get the fireworks ready.

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I have no pictures of the actual firework show from this trip, because believe it or not, I just WATCHED, and soaked in all the amazement and wonder. We did notice there was a slight glitch, one of the fountains wasn’t working and then a speed boat zoomed out there, someone fixed something and zoomed away before more fireworks exploded on the water. I know they know what they’re doing, but I was still kind of nervous for that boat being out there in the middle of the show!

Sunday found us at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We started off the morning in a drawing class learning how to draw Olaf from Disney’s Frozen.  “Do you want to draw a snowman? I promise it isn’t very hard. The teacher tells you what to do, and guides you through each circle that you make….he tells you how to shape his head and body too, it’s a super speedy class….do you want to draw a snowman, it might not always be a snowman. Okay, draw.”

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Of course we hit all the main attractions here, Indiana Jones Stunt Show, Lights, Motors, Action, Rock n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, and AVOIDED Tower of Terror. We did see Fantasmic, a firework and water show. My advice, get there early to get a good seat because even though this is a HUGE theater, it fills up fast, and trust me, you don’t want to be in the “standing room only section.” We started to leave a few minutes before the end of the show to beat the crowd of people because we were going to head over to Magic Kingdom to watch its firework show, Wishes. I have seen this show from various places around the park, each of the resorts around the Seven Seas Lagoon and from backstage behind The Haunted Mansion when I had a perfectly timed break. On this particular night, we watched them from the cast only parking lot. It was pretty neat, the fireworks appeared to be SO CLOSE! Every time there was a big boom, different car alarms in the parking lot started going off. It was different seeing the show and not hearing the music, but when you’ve seen the show as many times as I have, it doesn’t matter because you have the soundtrack memorized and can sing it yourself. 🙂

On my last full day in Florida, it was finally time to return to Magic Kingdom. I will always get chocked up when I see Cinderella’s Castle or visit Mickey for a picture. I will always call Ad/Lib my “home” because I worked at The Haunted Mansion. I will always find such joy in talking to people in line, especially if they reveal it’s their FIRST TIME TO DISNEY, as happened while I was waiting to see Mickey. The family in front of me was from Georgia and they had a little girl about three years old. I couldn’t help but overhear they were already lost and not sure what to do (where you meet Mickey is right inside the entrance), so I offered to help. In the 30 minutes we were in line together, they downloaded the MyDisneyExperience App and we had planned out their entire vacation. Moments like that always bring back my Cast Member days, and it’s exciting to know that I haven’t lost who I was back then. If anything, those days changed me for the better – before the DCP I never in my wildest dreams would have voluntarily spoke to strangers in line, I would have been too shy. But now, it’s who I am – if I can help make someone else’s vacation a little less stressful and more magical, that’s just a bonus for my own trip.

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In the meantime, while I was visiting Mickey, Scott was saving us seats at the train station so we could watch the new Festival of Fantasy parade from up high! It was the perfect spot! There was so much to take in during the parade that I’m glad I had Scott record it so I could watch it again when I got home (yes, there are videos on YouTube already, but it’s different knowing your watching a recording from when you personally experienced it). I’ll share a couple pictures so you can see what I mean!

We ended the night watching the Castle projection show and Wishes. For me it was bittersweet – the next day I had to leave. Say goodbye to Scott, Florida, Disney, my friends, my home. I don’t know exactly what it is about Wishes, maybe because it was the first show I saw when I became a cast member, but it always makes me emotional, I will always cry. Always. I tried to hide it because, well, most grown women don’t cry at fireworks, but for me, it will always be more than just a firework show. I’m emotionally connected, there are memories, good and bad, that I will forever associate with that show and they always come flooding back to me. Luckily, I’m in good company in this crazy reaction, because I met up with another DCP friend, Jayme, who was also there on vacation, and she had done the same thing!

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Tuesday morning I woke up crying. I didn’t want to leave. I hate goodbyes and they never get any easier. I was breaking on the inside. Do you know how it fells to leave your heart behind, not only once, or twice, but now three times? There’s an empty space, calling it a hole would be a joke because it more than that, it’s this place where even though you can smile and be happy on the outside, you aren’t complete because a part of you is missing. All of those feelings, and trying to prepare and hope this time isn’t as bad, make the tears fall randomly throughout the day.

Since I had to be at the airport around 4:00 PM, we decided against going to a park. Instead, we went Mini Golfing at Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf, it was 18-holes themed around the classic animated film, Fantasia. Now, on a side note, you never really know the person you’re dating until you play mini golf together. I was happy to discover that we are both somewhat competitive and can be rather sarcastic (joking of course) with each other. Yes, Scott won, but that’s because I let him! 😉

 

And then all too quickly it was time to go to the airport. More tears. A heart-wrenching goodbye and he was gone. And I slowly made my way through security and to my gate, and then like magic I was home. While the last month has been hard being so far away after being together, it’s only made easier because as of this post, there are only 193 days until I return to Florida. And then, once again, I’ll be right where I belong. ❤

Where dreams come true2_March 31, 2014

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2 Responses to ““When I’m with you, I don’t feel so alone.” – Hercules”

  1. gloucks7 April 30, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    What an amazing trip! I wish that I lived closer to Walt Disney World sometimes so I could visit more often. I’ll just have to deal with the fact that I live 45 minutes from Disneyland and be okay with that.

    By the way, I’ve nominated you for a Liebser Award. If you have the chance, stop by my blog and check it out… http://whyirundisney.com/2014/04/30/the-post-about-the-liebster-award/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Liebster Award | The Undercover Princess - May 3, 2014

    […] I’m not sure I can narrow that down, especially since I just returned from the Happiest Place on Earth. Can I say everything?! Okay here goes – at Animal Kingdom: Finding Nemo: The Musical, […]

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