Growing up, I was always surrounded by Disney images – the main movies my family watched were either classics or Disney animation, and the dolls I had weren’t Barbie, but the princesses. From how my family tells it, at an early age I would pretend to be a different Disney character each day and only answer to that character’s name. My love for all things Disney stayed fairly steady until junior high hit: at that point, Disney seemed uncool and even childlike. Not something I wanted to associate myself with. For a few years, things were rocky and I walked away from myself, high school came and I met my good friend, Krystal. She shared her passion for Disney with me, and told me about casting opportunities with the company. I started looking for all the Disney information I could find, wrote papers about the company in college, and started making plans for the future.
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By 2005 both of us had completed high school and were of age to apply for the College Program. I still remember sitting at the college library computers, filling out the application. It had asked for employment information, and I remember thinking that I would never be accepted as all of my work, to that point, had been volunteer only. Still, I decided to complete the application, and go to the orientation. The worst Disney could say to me, was no. And if they did, I promised myself I’d be back.
A few weeks after completing the application, Krystal and I headed up to one of the community colleges in our area for the College Program orientation. Anyone who knows both of us knows we like to talk and have a good time. The ride up Bellevue Community College was different: We filled the car with Disney theme park music, and exchanged hopes that this would be our ticket into the Disney company. It took about 45 minutes to get up there, 45 minutes of not knowing what came next, or what to say.
We finally reached the campus, and headed into the room for orientation. It was filled with other college hopefuls, many of whom were dressed in suits, dresses, and brought along resumes and portfolios. We all gathered together and listened to the presentation, and watched the film for about 20 minutes. Then, our presenter, Bryan, requested we all leave the room so he could start the interviews, which would be conducted in groups of 3. Krystal and I waited in the cafeteria for over an hour. Then, finally, our group was called. The 3 of us went in (I believe the other girl’s name was Julia) and sat in front of Bryan, trying to maintain our calm and quickly prepare answers. I remember that any thoughts I had prior to entering that room quickly left me. Internally, I was panicking, hoping that Krystal and Julia could keep talking so I could come up with something original to say. My turn suddenly came, and Bryan asked me why I wanted to work for Disney. All nervousness left, and I was able say that Disney was my dream. I had been pretending to be a part of their company since I was 3 years old, had researched it in high school, and wanted to create the magic I experienced on all of my trips. Bryan smiled, and then moved on to ask the other girls new questions. One of the last questions he asked me was what role I most wanted and why. Before I answered, he gave me a sheet with the listing of available roles along with a description. My first choice was being in costuming, because I wanted to be behind the scenes and create the magic, to let other kids see the characters, believe they were the characters, and take that memory home with them after their trip.
The other girls gave their answers, and then Bryan took a moment to look over our applications again. He finally looked up, smiled, and said he was going to do something unusual, and that we could not tell anyone else from the orientation, but that he would like to extend the opportunity of working at Disney World to all 3 of us. Bryan then said that, though none of us had much work experience, that we made up for it in our passion. He felt we would be a true asset to the Disney company, and he hoped we would accept the offer. After a few moments of just staring, all I could do was nod and say yes over and over again.
We left the room trying to contain ourselves, and not show our true excitement. Somehow, Krystal and I made it to the parking lot without saying a word. Once in her car, we let loose screaming, bouncing up and down, and calling random people – I actually remember leaving my now sister-in-law a voice mail shrieking “I did it, I got in, I’m going to Florida!!!!!” We ended that day with making future plans, and started coming up with how we wanted to decorate our Florida apartment. I still remember the ride home and the shock I felt: the shock at how one interview, and one man, could change my life forever and give me a chance at my Disney dream.
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