Welcome to Wicked Travel! So I’ve officially began my travel blog. I’m by no means stating that I’m an ‘established traveller’, however I think travel is wicked cool, and something I’m passionate about. I would love to share my experiences working for Disney and some of the times that ultimately changed my life.
So here we go.
The moment my life took a turn to Murica (and the time of most hot dogs I’ve ever eaten in my life to date)
Just over a year ago I was just a little British boy plodding along at university telling people how I don’t want to do a placement and that I just want to graduate and get a job blah blah. I was that boring shy kid, a nervous and anxious person who struggled in social scenarios.
As a contrast to right now, around a week ago today I was in Massachusetts at my girlfriend’s family party high fiving people and shouting MURICA whilst simultaneously shot gunning bud light…
And We’re back…
Trying to say yes to doing things out of my comfort zone, I headed to a group interview for a year long Academic Exchange program working at Disney World in Florida. Feeling awkward and nervous, I was stood outside and actual began turning around until someone I knew saw me and so I thought “I guess I’ll stay”. This was one of the first interviews I have done in my life, and it was nerve racking to say the least. I answered the questions as best to my ability and my pessimistic mind kept saying its fine I’m just here for interview practise I don’t need a placement. And of course I assumed I’m the worst human in the world they would never pick me that shy nervous kid over someone whose more confident and qualified.
Weeks went by and I forgot about the whole thing, until I received an email with the header “congratulations”. I was sat with my friends thinking what is happening. Me? Are they sure they sent this email to the right person? This life changing opportunity had opened up. I was terrified and almost certain I would turn it down. Moving countries? Working for an ‘entertainment’ company? The best one in the world? No that was not me.
You could say this is when my anxiety started to build. I began to get anxious about making conversation with anyone. I was that guy who sat in the corner of a class and when forced to join groups would sit in silence and feel anxious about why I was so weird and why I couldn’t just bring myself to converse with others just like everyone else.
My mum, who knew this would be amazing, kept telling me daily the 80-degree weather in Florida and how I could be chilling by the pool, high fiving mickey mouse everyday for 12 months. I kept saying what about this, what if I hate everything, pointing out every single bad outcome that could go wrong. I tended to overthink everything and was way afraid to take risks. Little did I know this was exactly what I needed.
I had finally reached a point where I decided, I’m going to go and have a year of resumé building and nothing else. I packed and headed to Florida telling myself “it’s a year of work and nothing else” to avoid all disappointment.
Lets Go To Florida!
Now to describe this experience is near impossible. Everyone who did the program will tell you it’s hard to talk about to people who haven’t worked there and lived that life. When people say they’ve done something life changing, I consider this 1000 times that and that’s almost close to how I felt everyday for 12 months. If you’ve ever been on vacation to Walt Disney World, that was literally my everyday. I would wake up, go lay by the pool, play some ping pong, go to work, get changed and go into the parks, watch the parades, fireworks. The parks were literally our playground everyday. I made hundreds of friends from all corners of the world (and now have some nice vacation homes to stay at as a result).
Where I worked?
Work was always amazing; I went to work staring out the bus window every single day saying to myself – “this life is incredible”. Id be walking on main street USA in magic kingdom talking to guests, helping them with directions, talking to them about tea and crumpets and every day I’d glance at the castle and just think how lucky I was to work and live in the most amazing place in the world.
My first role was parade audience control in Magic Kingdom – ultimately we control guest flow and safety during parades, fireworks and other events. Once we prepared, set up our ropes and stations – our job was to play ring toss, make quizzes, blow bubbles and try make every guests experience awesome. I was living a dream, and I kept telling myself, I’m getting paid to walk around Magic Kingdom and make people smile. I felt like a celebrity – people would take pictures with me, the slightest gestures would mean the world to these people. Of course there were darker sides where guests would try fight you because you had to tell them they cant stand and watch the fireworks in a spot because it was an ‘emergency walkway’, which makes no sense to anyone. So I got my fare share of 7ft dads swearing at me, fighting one another and a large number of interesting and crazy guest experiences. But I loved the challenge and dealing with guests (Everyone thought I was weird cause I quite enjoyed dealing with rude guests and getting yelled at).
My second role was at a quick service restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Far different, essentially we sold food – but it brought me new challenges and was actually where I pushed myself and learnt to do your absolute best no matter what role you are playing.
A turning point was where manager told me on my final day how she wants me to do something great, maybe public speaking. At this point I told her how I was 12 months ago and how I never in my life would be described as a chatty and energetic person who should speak in public or speak at all for that matter. So this was one of those things I always look back upon to think how far I’ve come.
I travelled around every month. I visited Miami 3 times, explored Clearwater and Daytona beach, went kayaking with alligators, walked down bourbon street in New Orleans Louisiana, shot a gun in a back yard, climbed to the Hollywood sign in LA, walked the streets of San Diego, saw the lights of New York at Christmas time, visited New York again because why not, and ended up meeting my girlfriend who lives in my new home in Massachusetts. Overall I managed to get around 7 states in my 12 months working at Disney – more traveling than I have done in my entire life.
These are just some of the many adventures that this placement led me to. I’d urge anyone to say yes to new and scary opportunities, push yourself to do something a bit out of the ordinary. Never take no for an answer.
I was told I wouldn’t make it into university, I was told I wouldn’t do well, and I was told that its tricky to find work in America. But I made it into university and got the top grade, and I got the placement of a lifetime, and currently pursuing, with some success a career in America. And that’s with people constantly saying no to me and not having faith. If you want something then go get it, because anything is possible, and you can do anything if you give it your 100%.
I just wanted to share this experience with people, and to encourage you to go for new things, don’t just go with the flow. Be different, do what you want.
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Thanks for reading!