This time last year I still didn't think I'd get the opportunity to interview for the Disney College Program, I wasn't extended the offer to schedule a phone interview until the end of September. Fast forward to the end of January when I finally make the step to venture out on my own. I didn't know anyone, I had a few friends I'd met on the Facebook group and was excited to meet, but unlike moving to college, I really didn't know anyone. I have a few uncles in Florida but both live a few hours from Orlando so I was really venturing out all on my own for the first time.
I flew back from Minnesota to New Mexico a week before I had to leave for Disney. I started packing up all my belongings and wrapping up loose ends. I had to say goodbye to lots of friends and return some of my work uniforms. This week flew by faster than I ever guessed it could! The hardest part was going to my last Nav night for the time being and saying goodbye to all my friends there.
January 23: Almost Missed my Flight!
The day was finally here, I was flying to Orlando at 5pm! My roommate was still sleeping (and we had gotten in a fight the night before about me needing to pack this morning), so I took a walk to Frontier for one of my favorite Cinnamon rolls and to say goodbye to my friend Michael. I sat at a corner table and read a Hebrews 10. After my quiet time I prayed about the program as I walked back to finish packing my dorm, luckily my roommate had left for work. Two hours into packing I was panicking, there was no way I'd get all this done before Michelle arrived to take me to the airport at 2:30! I called Michelle and another friend who lived just down to hall from me to help me finish packing. Both sweet women came to help me finish packing. Almost everything was packed but I couldn't fit all the things I wanted to bring in my three suitcases. (Looking back I was bringing a lot of stuff I didn't need or should've tried to buy there.) I started panicking again! We finally decided to put some of my belongings into a few separate boxes and ship them to Florida once I had an address. (These never got shipped to me so I just lived without them until this summer.) Finally I had the things I wanted right away in my three suitcases and was ready to go, super late! Michelle and I rushed to the airport. As she dropped me off, this goodbye was one of the hardest for me. I hurried in to check my bags, one was 25 pounds overweight, but they were telling me they didn't know if my bags would make it onto the plane in time and I didn't have time to fix it so I just paid the ridiculous fee and hurried through security. I ran to my gate and was the last one to board the plane with way too many carry ons but the flight wasn't too full so there was room for them and I still got a window seat. I sat down, a mix of relief and great anxiety washed over me.
So Close I can Almost Taste It
That flight was the longest flight I've ever taken, and the only flight I've ever taken anywhere besides Minnesota or New Mexico by myself. It was three hours to Atlanta, a one hour layover, and then another hour in the same plane to Orlando. Partway through the first part of the flight, one of the flight attendants approached me, seeing my still nervous expression, and asked me how I was doing and where I was going. I explained I was flying to Orlando for the Disney College Program, and turns out she was a DCP alumni herself! She offered me some helpful tips and eased my mind a bit. It really helped, making me more excited for my program. During the flight I watched the movie Tomorrowland, which I had rented specifically for the trip, and read the book Two Girls and A Mouse Tale, written by Caroline and Ellie Collins about their DCP a few years ago. Finally, nearing the end of the flight, I could see Disney World! A parent on the plane was pointing it out to her children, I could see the EPCOT ball! (I didn't know what it was actually called back then.) I held my breath in excitement and started crying, it was finally happening! I would soon be in Disney World, my home for the next 4 months. My plane landed at midnight Florida time. Disney magic fills the Orlando airport and I grew more and more excited seeing all of it. After making my way to baggage claim, panic came over me again as I started to worry whether or not my bags actually made it onto the plane. About half the bags came down the carousel, and I started to lose hope...and then...unmistakably, my purple bag! They made it! I gathered my bags and made my way to Disney's Magical Express, and got lost more than once. On board DME anticipation kept building. "When will my life begin?" Finally I arrived at Disney's All Star Music Resort close to 1:30am. Unfortunately reservation wasn't for this night, but the next. (Yes, I knew that.) Having nowhere to sleep for the time being, I stayed up and worked on homework and watched Saving Mr. Banks in the cafeteria of the resort.
January 24: My First Taste of Disney
As the sun started to rise I knew I needed to do something to keep myself awake until my room was ready. I checked my bags with bell services to have them delivered to my room once it was ready. Next thing, I hopped on a bus to Magic Kingdom! I couldn't get into Magic Kingdom for almost a week still but seeing it was still magical! I hopped aboard the resort monorail to check out some of the Magic Kingdom area resorts, I really wanted to check out the Grand Floridian. We rode through the Contemporary, I was totally amazed by the fact that the monorail drove THROUGH it! Next stop: The Polynesian, oooo I love the theming here, make a mental note to check it out later, I'm on a mission to the Grand Floridian! Finally I arrived at the Grand Floridian, wow!! I wandered around looking at all the beautiful sights and checking out the various stores inside the resort. Soon I got a text from my resort saying my room was ready! Hallelujah! Upon arriving to my room I was too excited to sleep and only slept about an hour. Waking up around noon I decided to go check out Disney Springs (where I spent much of my first week before I could get into the parks), wow, it's cool! I walked over to CiCi's pizza (the one next to housing, but I didn't know that at the time!), and called my sister to tell her all about my adventures so far. Feeling more exhausted, I made my way back to my resort with hopes of a more successful nap. After another hour of little to no sleep I decided to watch some TV and then head to the Polynesian to watch Wishes. By the time I was ready to head to the Polynesian I was exhausted from the day and it was raining so I just went to bed. The next day I had the very first check in time, so it was all official after that!
Writing this, I started tearing up and shaking from the memory. Do you remember the day you arrived for your program? Haven't started your program yet, what are you going to do the day before it starts?