It feels like only yesterday I wrote about my first two weeks in Florida and now I’m at the airport waiting to leave what truly is the happiest place on Earth.
I cannot begin to explain just how unbelievable and incredible every aspect of this experience has been and I know that I am going to be talking about it forever, so sorry in advance for annoying every single person I know!
My time here went by way too quickly and the program was way too short that I hardly had time to blink let alone write about every day in as much detail as I’d wished but I did want to take you through my final 10 days of the program because just like the first two weeks, and everything in between, they were a magnificent and magical whirlwind of fun.
So, in an attempt to last minute check off as much of my bucket list as possible, I threw sleep out the window completely and packed in as much as physically possible alongside work to make my last 10 days some of the best of my program, and I sure did manage it!
Starting on Sunday 11th August, Alice, Sam and I decided to challenge ourselves to ride every ride in Magic Kingdom in just one day. The rules to our challenge was that the ride had to have a moving part/vehicle and it had to start and end in roughly the same place. Taking that into account we had to ride 21 rides in just 13 hours. Which is more than 1 an hour and if you know Magic Kingdom you know that wait times can be extremely long. However, we were extremely prepared for the challenge! We had booked our fastpasses in advance, one for Jungle Cruise, one for Haunted Mansion and one for Peter Pan, which we had made sure were all before 2pm meaning we had plenty of chance to get more after then! We got a 7:51 am bus and arrived at the park for rope drop heading straight for Tomorrowland. We were at the front of the crowd for Space Mountain and were among the very first riders of the day. We wanted to get Space done as we knew the line would get extremely long and we had to save our end of the night long queue for Mine Train! After that we ran over to Splash Mountain before the queue could get above 30 minutes and then ticked off each and every outdoor ride as we knew that later on a storm would probably hit the park and all those rides would go down. Before we could get on Mansion the ride went down and we got a multi-experience pass which ended up massively working in our favour as we needed to ride Big Thunder Mountain but by the time we got off splash is was already an hour long queue which we didn’t have time for! We used our fastpass for that and then slowly started making our way through the indoor rides. Queues in Magic Kingdom weren’t super short that day so we were worried we’d be waiting around a lot but luck was really on our side when it came to picking up further fastpasses! For lunch we mobile ordered at Casey’s Corner (which was another tick off my bucket listH and then scoffed it down on the hub grass. By the time we had done over half the rides and were way ahead of schedule. We had perfect timed fastpasses appear for nearly every ride after that and every time we got in a queue for a ride we would book another. We were so speedy that by 6:30pm we had ridden all 21 rides – including Seven Dwarves Mine Train (however, we got on that because of a lovely guest experience cast member who saw us doing the challenge and very kindly and to our surprise gave us a fastpass for it). To celebrate not only completing the challenge but doing it so early in the day we treated ourselves to Ice-cream at the Plaza Ice-cream parlour (yet another tick off the bucket list) and then did some shopping where I finally bought a spirit jersey (you guessed it, that was also on the bucket list) and then found the perfect spot to watch Happily Every After and watched the fireworks before heading home for a well deserved sleep! It was such a fun day and nowhere near as crazy and stressful as we had imagined. We did 20,000 steps and were pretty exhausted but it was such a fun challenge to do and I urge everyone to give it a go if you’re feeling very energised on day at MK. Next time I get the chance I’m going to try do every attraction, not just the rides, which will also include all the shows!
On Monday 12th August I was up early again and on the 7:51 bus to Magic Kingdom for breakfast at Crystal Palace. I had this on my bucket list as one of the character dining’s I really wanted to do and was determined to tick it off before my program ended. Once again we arrived at the park for rope drop and watched the Castle welcome show. Breakfast was at 9 and the food was amazing! It’s buffet style and I ate a ridiculous amount but it was so worth the money, especially with our cast member discount. The characters were adorable, if you didn’t know it’s a dining where Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet meet and it was so cute. After breakfast we spent the rest of the morning in Magic Kingdom before work and today was the day I finally got Galactic Hero on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Buzz is the ride I’ve probably ridden the most on this program (maybe alongside the Peoplemover) and I have been trying so hard to get 999,999. To say I was happy is the understatement of the year. I spent the whole rest of the day grinning like crazy and showing everyone my galactic hero sticker! By the time I had done that though it was time to head off to work so I hopped on the monorail at Magic Kingdom and headed over to Epcot (just your standard commute to work am I right?). I had cut it fine with timings by riding Buzz but it was worth the very warm run through the park to Electric Umbrella. I worked from 13:30-22:00 and even got a lift back to housing that night. Safe to say it was another great day!
On Tuesday 13th I ticked yet another item off my bucket list by doing the Keys to the Kingdom tour. The only downside was the 5:30am wakeup to make it on a bus to Magic Kingdom before we were due to check in for the tour at 7:45am. The 5 hour tour was amazing even as a cast member and with the lunch at Pecos Bills with unlimited guacamole included, it was well worth the cost with our discount! After the tour there was some time to get on some rides again before work and this time I got a bus over to Hollywood Studios and from there got the bus via the resorts over to Epcot (again, just another standard commute)! After getting a costume and changing I got myself a chocolate milk, something I did before nearly every shift, and headed to work. It was a slower night as I was bussing for the whole shift but I got to help a little princess embarrass her brother by getting the majority of the front of house team to sing him happy birthday. Moments like that are so much fun! It was extra magic hours in Epcot and so I didn’t finish until 23:45 and after the busy last few days I was definitely ready for bed!
On Wednesday 14th I spent the morning in Epcot before work and finally got round to getting a penny press from every country in the world showcase, which was yet another thing on my bucket list. It actually worked out well that I left it late to do it as by then I had collected so many coins. We met Aurora as well as Anna & Elsa, since I have barely met any characters since being here! I got quick service in Japan for lunch and then a berry cupcake from Norway after, both of which were amazing. The world showcase is definitely my favourite place to eat! Then I had to head to work again at 16:00 and was closing again so worked until 22:00.
On Thursday 15th August I was working a day shift instead of a closing shift which was more like what most of my shifts had been during my program unlike most CP’s who get stuck with all the late closing shifts. I managed to get an ER (early release) at 4:15 though and headed over to Studios for the evening to watch Fantasmic for a final time. Today was also the day I finally braved Tower of Terror… eek! Both shafts were back open and the wait time was only 30minutes so I couldn’t put it off any longer and Alice dragged both Bethan and I on. I was terrified and it was honestly as horrific as I expected (p.s. I HATE drop rides & if you see my face in the photo… well, you can see just how much I hate them)! I survived it though and the panic and adrenalin soaring through me made me go slightly loopy. We had such a long ride sequence as well, every time we shot up and dropped and I thought it would finally be over, it went and did it again! But I did it and could now at least check it off my ride list. We got VIP seats for Fantasmic too and it was such a perfect final show. Got back to housing and got changed to head for a final, and very drunken, night at Cowboys. It is always so much fun there and I am going to miss terribly attempting to line dance alone to all the country songs!
On Friday 16th I had a bit of a lazy morning and just went to get Chickfila for lunch before we would need to get ready for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party. We arrived at Magic Kingdom in our very budget costumes – Alice, Bethan and I as the three fairies and Sam as Maleficent. It was basic but I think it was kind of recognisable, maybe…? It was such a fun night though! We got a ridiculous amount of treats, watched the parade, which was phenomenal, as well as the brand new firework show and the Hocus Pocus stage show. We managed to ride Pirates of the Caribbean which had live pirates in the ride as well as Space Mountain with all the lights off, which made it seem so much more intense! We also managed to meet Lotso, who was a special Halloween party character and had an amazing interaction with him as well as meeting Moana, who for some crazy reason otherwise doesn’t meet at all at Disney World now?! The 5 hours absolutely flew by but it was such a fun night and I am so glad I got to experience a Halloween Party and tick it off the bucket list! Next up will be Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party whenever I find my way back over here. It was another late night and we didn’t get back to housing until 1am. Which meant that I didn’t get much sleep before the crazy day I had planned for the following morning…
On Saturday the 17th I didn’t just tick one of the biggest items off my bucket list but I one-upped it and then ticked it off as Gary and I didn’t just do the regular 4 parks, 1 day challenge but instead decided to do 6 parks, 1 day. All 4 Disney World Theme Parks plus the 2 water parks. The rules for the challenge are you have to ride one ride, eat one snack, do one character meet & greet and get an icon photo in every one of the parks. We had planned our route well, starting with rope dropping Animal Kingdom at 9am as the water parks don’t open until 10am and then doing the water parks before heading back to the regular route of Hollywood Studios, Epcot and ending in Magic Kingdom. However, our day didn’t exactly go to plan with an evac off our first ride, a bus not showing up for 40minutes and a rain storm at the water park but despite this, and the fact we didn’t exactly rush around but instead took our time even if we shouldn’t have, we managed to complete the challenge and watch the fireworks too! I’m planning on writing a dedicated post about the whole day and everything we did so that will be up at some point but it was such a fun day and everyone who said it would be impossible and too much in one day and they 4 parks was more than enough, well, you were wrong!
On Sunday 18th August I had another little bit of a lazy morning and FaceTimed home before a very special shift at work. Today I was doing a trainer shift and it was very exciting but also very nerve wracking. Being a summer ICP we don’t get the chance to become Disney Trainers as we are with the company such a short time but I was asked my my leaders if I would do a training shift for them and despite not quite knowing what it would entail I jumped at the opportunity. And I am so glad I did! I spent my shift from 13:30-22:00 training a new leader in front of house at Electric Umbrella and it was such a great shift. I even got to wear a Disney Trainer pin which may or may not have been the most exciting part about it! It was such an amazing opportunity and I am so glad I was lucky enough to get the chance to do it despite it being my penultimate shift. If I ever get the chance to go back and work for the company again for longer I know I would definitely want to officially become a trainer. After work it was also our final Jellyrolls which meant it was the last time getting an extortionate cocktail bucket and listening to High School Musical, Disney ride themes and many many musicals played on the duelling pianos.
On Monday 19th I was lucky enough to be scheduled a day off and headed to Animal Kingdom one last time. I got to do the Animation Experience at Rafiki’s Planet Watch which I was so desperate to do and even managed to do a little Wilderness Exploring which was another tick off the bucket list. We had a final meal at Satul’i Canteen which may be one of my favourite quick services on property… and I finally watch the Nemo Musical which was so well done! One of my other aims for the day and the meet and greet I was so desperate to do on my program was to meet Chip & Dale in their Dinosaur costumes but by the time I got to the front of the ride the rain meant they had to go keep their fur dry and they weren’t going to come back out. I was definitely much more sad than I probably should’ve been as a 21 year old girl but I was lucky enough to get a very special autograph from them and also Pluto too. I got one last chicken fried rice which may be the best snack on property (can you tell Animal Kingdom has the yummiest food?) and then headed over to Hollywood Studios to catch the Wonderful World of Animation projection show as I hadn’t got round to seeing it until now and I am so glad I went to see it because it was so cute and is one of my favourite of Disney’s nighttime entertainment shows.
Tuesday 20th August marked the day I worked my last shift at Electric Umbrella and the last time I would ever get to be in the restaurant due to its planned closure as part of the Epcot renovations. It was an emotional shift that’s for sure. However, I didn’t start until 18:00 so after being reasonably responsible and getting up to do a wash, I headed to Epcot early with Tamsin and we had one final meal in the World Showcase, and our home park, together. We went to Via Napoli in Italy for wood-fired pizza and it was incredible! We then walked round the world showcase one last time and took some photos outside Spaceship Earth before riding it for the last time and probably for the last time as the original ride since that too will be closing for an upgrade. It was then time to go check out one final absolutely gorgeous costume from costuming (which despite how gross it is I have decided I will miss) and get ready to work in the carpeted walled Electric Umbrella one final time. It was another extra magic hours shift and I started it casually training on counter before bussing & closing circle/patio for one last time (it’s safe to say I won’t miss dragging half the patio chairs back outside at the end of the night due to our ridiculous chair shortage). We were bid farewell in our final post-shift and took so many photos together in the restaurant. I spent the end of the evening and the walk back to cast services on the verge of tears as I couldn’t believe it was the last time I was going to do it. I still can’t believe now that I’ll never be doing that again (cue the tears)! Nick came and picked up Tamsin and I one last time and we had a final disco ‘uber’ ride back to housing, with a quick stop off for food, an attempt at driving left-hand drive in an empty car park and me crying my eyes out at the goodbye letter he wrote. It’s so strange saying goodbye when these places and people are all you’ve known for what despite feeling like a short amount of time was still a whole, and very intense, summer. That night we sat and talked in our flat about our final shifts and all got pretty emotional before what would be our final day here at Disney World as Cast Members.
(Technically this is the 11th day but we are going to ignore that because it’s our final one after the 10 day countdown).
On Wednesday 21st August we had our last day in Magic Kingdom and our last day in Disney World and to say it was emotional is a massive understatement. The weather was perfect today, if a little warm, but the sun was out and shining and the sky was blue all day. It was just like our first day in MK at the start of the program and after so many cloudy and stormy days it seemed like fate! Before we did anything we headed to Fantasyland and got pixie dusted because why shouldn’t we be covered in glitter for our final day in the happiest place on Earth?! Our first ride was It’s a Small World, which had to be done despite Bethan’s hatred for the ride. Afterwards I went to get the Lost Princess cone and with it did the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done for an instagram… I ran with it across Fantasyland to the Tangled restrooms to get a photo in front of the Tangled wall with it. By the time we took them it had dripped all down my hand but we managed it and the lemon soft serve was so yummy that it was definitely worth it! We then did Philharmagic for a nice bit of aircon and what is always a very cute show and then Leah, Bethan and I finally went to get a Turkey Leg after all of us wanting to try one since the beginning of the program. We got one to share and it actually was pretty good, not as bad as it looks it’s going to be but one between three was more than enough! We then headed to what is arguably one of the top rides on Disney property, the Peoplemover, and didn’t ride it just once but were allowed to stay on for a second time. Then it was time to watch Festival of Fantasy for the last time (I hate how much I’m saying this phrase) and so we headed to meet some others outside Town Square Theatre to watch the parade. It was wonderful as always and as soon as it was finished we hurried into the Theatre and got in line to meet Mickey & Minnie. We had time it perfectly and it was only about a 15 minute wait for what would end up being about a 15minute extremely emotional meet and greet between the 5 of us who were there. It was so amazing and so touching to see the boss one last time and the interaction was one of my favourite ever even though it ended in us sobbing. We left just in time to see Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire on the castle stage and then got a much-needed Starbucks which for me consisted of ice water (because you shouldn’t wait to hydrate and also because I was poor as a result of this next item) and a giant Mickey Donut! Let me tell you, it was well worth the $9. We sat in the hub and then wandered through the shops on Main Street before to was time for what is most definitely the greatest dance party there ever was and will be, Move It Shake It! We had a party in the hub, danced with Pluto and of course I grabbed a couple more pompom’s at the end. After that we headed to Seven Dwarves Mine Train to use our fastpass. Yes, you read that right, somehow Sam managed to get a Mine Train fastpass for 5 people! I guess sometimes the impossible is possible, even when it comes to getting a Mine Train fastpass! After this we somehow caught the castle being pretty empty out front so we naturally took a million photos in our graduation ears and embroidered ears before heading to Space Mountain. Our fastpass wasn’t until later tonight but the lovely cast member let us use it early so we could fit in as much as we could on our last day. We then went to get dinner at Pecos Bill’s and take advantage of the incredible toppings bar while we still could! As always it didn’t disappoint, both in terms of yummy food & also in terms of how messy you get eating the tacos! Of course we had to ride pirates one last time and were lucky enough to get into the fastpass queue for that early too! Our day was coming to an end and I definitely was not ever going to be ready for that to happen, nor was I or anyone else ready to watch Happily Ever After one last time. We were all stood right in front of the castle in the most perfect spot and the crying started before the fireworks did. I can’t describe how fulfilling, overwhelming and magical it felt standing there with all the incredible friends I’d made on this adventure, holding hands while watching the fireworks. It’s a show that means so much to me, not only because it’s the one from my program but because it’s all about chasing your dreams and not giving up and taking hold of your happily ever after which is exactly what we all did upon moving to Disney (guess what, I’m now crying while writing this). Watching it for the first time, I cried and sniffled. Watching it for the last time I was sobbing and that was before that one moment towards the end where they say ‘you all have the courage to fly’ (if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone) because nothing ever prepares you for that moment. The minute it ended everyone was hugging and sobbing and although we were all sad that we were leaving it was also a moment full of gratitude and love and pure joy and happiness at what was he most incredible and magical summer full of so many memories that we will share forever. To round of the night before it hit extra magic hours we ran to go on the Haunted Mansion and then headed to the Peoplemover to end the summer on the same ride we started it on. We ended our night up by the railroad at the end of Main Street, looking down towards the castle and taking it all in. It was so hard to turn and walk away and it was even harder to leave the park but I have to remember that it’s not goodbye, it’s a see you real soon!
Everything about this summer both has and hasn’t sunk in and I honestly think it’ll always feel like a dream because it really was all just too good to be true. I am so grateful to have spent the most magical summer in the happiest place on Earth working for the most incredible company and surround by absolutely amazing people. I can’t thank you all enough for making this summer the most memorable of my life and I know I will forever cherish each and every one of the memories I have from my time as a Disney World Cast Member.
If there is one thing I’ve learnt above all from this adventure, it’s that you can always go the distance to find where you belong.