When I got out of high school, I was adamant about having a fun job. I intended to focus heavily on my studies, and a lot of heavy personal stuff happened near the end of my high school career and I wanted to spend my down-time at my happy place. For me, this meant working at Disneyland.
I always considered Disneyland to be my fun job. I loved being there. I loved seeing my friends there. I loved making people happy. I was able to learn so much while I was there and pushed myself to do things I didn’t know were possible. My first job was at Innoventions.
I demonstrated technology to people from all over the world and I was in my first 2 years of college and knee deep in general education studies. Around the time I was getting ready to transfer over to Cal State University Fullerton, I realized it was time to quit Disneyland to focus more on school. As it was, I had piled on a major and a minor and I was looking at a 5-year plan to finish up.
I transferred to Cal State University Fullerton and moved to a cute apartment down the street. I was also only about 2 freeway exits away from Disneyland. My heart called out to it. I hadn’t been gone long and already I missed it. I knew I should be focusing more on my studies, but I also needed a job. I went right back to that glorious yellow building off the freeway, where quite literally dreams come true.
The building was home to Disneyland casting and was known as Team Disney Anaheim. You would walk into the main entry way, and there were hints of Disney everywhere.
Little Mickey Mouse patterns adorned the walls, and you had just enough of a taste of Disneyland, but it was always at that moment that I wanted more. Can you imagine what a tease it is to sit there in the lobby of the casting offices, knowing that just past the neighboring gate with the friendly security guard are all of the parade rehearsal halls, cafeterias and backstage landscape? And just beyond that is Disneyland? I immediately flashed back to childhoods of driving with my mom down the freeway to the entrance of Disneyland.
Anticipating the exciting day ahead of us. Driving past the iconic Disneyland sign on the freeway. Parking. Sitting on the tram with other excited families. And here I was. Sitting right next to the gate. A gate that I might walk through again and skip through the backstage area and slip right into the park.
My excitement at the idea of returning to Disneyland as a cast member seemed even greater than the first time that I had gotten offered a job. The prospect of returning was exhilarating. I was back home. The day I returned to casting there was a limited amount of jobs available. I dreamed of working in entertainment upon my arrival, and there were zero openings. There were openings in attractions, and I got a little nervous because I wasn’t sure if I’d be a good fit. I was a talker. What if I broke the rides down every shift? Future me actually broke down Snow White three times in one hour due to my excessive talking to guests followed by shooting all of the cars in my queue into the ride and backing up the attraction. My lead was astonished at how many times I was able to break it down. Long story short, that was the day that I got hired into attractions and was assigned to work Fantasyland West (Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Casey Jr.)
You would’ve thought that the magic of Disney orientation would’ve already worn off, but nope. I loved it even more. The weird thing was, during orientation when we did our standard walk through the park, the castle looked smaller to me.
I was oddly comforted by that. It wasn’t overbearing or towering over me. It was a feasible dream that was slowly becoming a reality again for me.
I ended up working in attractions for a summer and loved every second of it. My cheesy self found a home talking to kids all day and driving Casey Jr. circus train. After the summer, I transferred into the entertainment department where I ran around with characters all day and taught kids how to use light sabers. I couldn’t ask for a better job. Right after I finished college, I quit working at Disneyland. The idea was that I was like Wendy Darling flying back to London and it was time to grow up. Don’t worry, I didn’t grow up completely. I was pursuing acting full-time and I needed a flexible schedule to audition and perform in plays and musicals late into the evening. I ran with the success of my theatrical endeavors all the way to New York where I made more theatre magic happen. In order to make theatre magic happen, I had to pay high rent in New York, which means I had lost of odd jobs and even some full-time secure jobs and occasionally I had all these jobs at the same time.
Lately, I’ve started to notice that I don’t smile as often as I used to. My normal laugh lines on my face have faded and I have formed a crease between my eyes from furrowing my brow both during the day and in my sleep. I look in the mirror and I don’t see the happy girl that I used to see a few years ago. When I worked at Disneyland while I was in college, I told everyone that it was my fun college job. I even told you earlier in this blog that it was my fun college job. The truth is, it was a lot more than that. Disneyland saved me in more ways than I can begin to explain. Disneyland was the reliable Neverland that I could fly to when things in London got hard. What I’m realizing lately, is that when I was 18, I had it all right. You’re supposed to love your job. You’re supposed to love being there. You will commit such a large chuck of your life working. Going to school. Educating yourself. Earning money to pay your bills. You should love what you’re doing. I had it right at 18 years old. All I have to do is get back in touch with that fearless girl who wasn’t afraid to chase her dreams. Right now, there’s a lot of new stuff brewing for me. I’m reshaping my goals and am ready to hit the reset button. I can’t wait to see where the adventures take me. Happy Motivation Monday, everyone!