Longing to go back to Disney

August 19, 2010

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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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It has been five weeks since my Internship came to an end and I stopped working for Walt Disney World.

It has been ten days since I left Orlando, FL for Las Vegas.

It has been five days since I left Las Vegas to fly back home to Melbourne, Australia.

Not a second goes by where I don’t think about my Disney family. I miss them so much. I miss everything; the friends, the freedom, the lifestyle. I wish I could go back to day one and do it all over again.

Before embarking on this journey, I used to think I knew everything about myself, but now I’m not so sure.

There are things I never thought I wanted in life, that now I want; things I thought I wanted, but now I don’t.

My time abroad has been a life-changing and eye-opening experience that I will never take for granted.

I have met so many amazing and wonderful people and am blessed to have them in my life, even if it was only for a short while.

This is the parting gift that Bryan left me with.
I haven’t been able to watch it yet without crying.

Disney College Program
July 2009 – July 2010
Best time of my life.

Part I

Part II

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Bienvenidos a Miami

July 20, 2010


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Location:
Miami, Florida, USA
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There was quite the last minute hustle and bustle early Friday morning.

I woke bright and early to the chiming of my cell phone alarm. My eyes were puffy from crying the night before and my eyeliner had smudged a good 1cm radius around my eyes. I looked like a sleep-deprived Panda. I took a quick shower, packed the remainder of my things, stripped my bed down and took out the last of my trash.

Bryan would be pulling up by my apartment any minute now. I grab my things and walk towards my front door. Before flicking off the light switch on my way out I turn around and take one last look at what is now a completely empty apartment; just like the day I moved into it. The walls are stripped bare; apartment 4102 now lacks any character I had added to it to make me feel at home. So many great memories, so many smiles, so much fun; gone. I feel my eyes begin to water. I take a deep breath, turn around, and shut the door behind me. There’s no turning back now.

I place my gear in Bryan’s trunk and hop into the front seat. We make a quick stop by Housing. I reluctantly hand in my Chatham Square Housing ID and my apartment key to the front desk. Just like that, after a full twelve months of working for Disney, I am no longer a Disney Cast Member, no longer on the Disney College Program and I no longer live at Chatham Square. Good bye, Disney, it’s been a blast.

Sadness is quickly over turned. Today a bunch of my Disney friend and I are road-tripping to South Beach, Miami for a few days to have one last big group outing together. Before departure though, we have one thing left to do. What could possibly be better than Maccas for a pre-roadtrip breakfast!?! Mmmm, hash browns and a bacon, egg and cheese bagel! I’m lovin’ it.

We get into Miami Beach at around 4pm. We are staying at the Viscay Hotel on Collins Ave. Everything seemed to be completely booked out for the dates we required, and it didn’t make it any easier since we were a party of ten. This hotel is by far no where as elegant and luxurious as where we stayed a few weeks ago at The Bentley Hotel on Ocean Drive, but they had vacancy, the price was decent and it was ranked highly on trip advisor. Despite this, we are still only a three minute walk from the beach and we are right in the heart of the exuberant nightlife that South Beach offers.  We have two suites booked. The plan is to fit five in each. Upon arrival and first inspection, the rooms seem sufficient; big, spacious area, bathroom is do-able and we have a nice small kitchen space. I think we are more excited about the fact that our kitchen table is big enough to play beer pong on. The king bed is huge and able to accommodate three people, the fold out couch can accommodate another two; perfect… Or was it?

We get our luggage into the hotel. By now it is pushing 6pm and we are bloody hungry but we have to wait for Mike and Jessica to get back before we can head out for dinner. While waiting around, I get a text from Mike saying that he thinks he is standing next to LeBron James at The Bentley Hotel. Bryan tells me to text back and tell Mike to take either a photo or video. Bryan is from LeBron’s hometown so if he sees a photo, he’d definitely know if it was him or not. Mike texts back saying he is too scared because he has four big body guard-looking guys standing around him. Booo, Mike, boooo!

Mike and Jessica finally get back to our hotel and we  all decide to walk down Ocean Drive and go to  TGIFriday’s for dinner. Worst decision ever. Ocean Drive was absolutely packed with a swarm of people; not the most friendliest looking crowd you’d want to come across either. We held hands and made a human chain to get through it all together; it was tough, but we survived and in the end, we were rewarded with the deliciousness that is TGIFriday’s. I ask the waitress if she knows why Ocean Drive is insanely busy and she tells us that LeBron James is in town and everyone is trying to find him. Turns out it was him that Mike had seen after all!

We headed back to the hotel for en epic night of pre-gaming and beer pong. I can’t really tell you what happened because not even I’m too sure, but judging by the photos, lots of booze was consumed, beer pong was played, and there was some sort of weird, drunken photo shoot on our bed… I can recall bits and pieces of Bryan somersaulting across the bed a few times, one time almost crashing into a wall only to have Ali come to his rescue… the words ‘spread eagle‘ being yelled across the room… Dawin getting his drink spilled all over his jeans and then somehow everyone piling up on top of each other for a very close, lovingly group photo shoot.

After our glamor shots we ended up sitting out on Miami Beach in the pitch blackness of the night. It was so pleasant and relaxing until security came by and told us we had to get off the beach because it was closed. Boooo, way to ruin our night; party poopers! Once again, we headed back to our hotel. Everything was all well and good until we discovered a cockroach in our kitchen. I almost vomit a little in my mouth; gross. Not sure who, but someone killed it. Phew. We all regained our composure until not before too long, we discovered another cockroach by the closet. Mike freaked out, grabbed my shoe and squished it before I even realized it was my shoe in his hand. When I finally realizing my shoe had touched that thing, I may have vomit a little again in my mouth. A creepy shiver ran down my spine as I thought about a cockroach flying into my ear and laying babies in it while I tried to sleep at night. Ahhhhh! As soon as morning came, Mike and Bryan went to the front desk to complain but there was nothing they could do.

Cockroaches weren’t enough to bring us down. The next morning we get up and head to Fresh on Fifth to get  freshly made baguettes to order; delicious. From here we walk across the road and find ourselves a spot on the sand. While some wait for their lunch to settle in their belly, Ali, myself and Mike already have our clothes off and are running towards the welcoming, emerald greeny blue waters. Without even thinking, I jump right in. The water is beautiful. We form a triangle and throw the ball out to each other. Ali is terrible at aiming so I am forced to swim after the ball several times. This proves to be quite complicated as the water is extremely choppy today and the waves keep pushing the ball further towards the shore. When I eventually get out of the water, my legs feel like jelly and I can’t seem to walk in a straight line on the sand. I collapse on my towel and soak up the suns rays. Not a worry in the world; this is the definition of perfection.

I head back to the hotel a half an hour before the others do. I want to get a shower and wash my hair so it has enough time to dry before I straighten it. As I hop out of the shower, I hear it start to bucket down rain outside. I worry about the rest of the gang getting caught up in the rain storm but they make it back just in time. Everyone starts taking turns showering. While Ali is in the shower, Bryan, myself, Susan and Leila are laying out on the bed watching T.V. We hear a disturbing crunching sound coming from the air conditioning unit; similar to that of a blender blade trying to chop up thick ice cubes. Out of no where, the AC unit starts spitting out balls of ice; how wonderful! Just what we needed, a broken AC unit when it’s stinking hot outside. Bryan makes his way to front desk to complain, only this time, they relocate us to a new room.

Our new hotel room is much nicer, it’s on the corner so we have windows right around letting in plenty of light and the kitchen and bathroom are newer and nicer than the previous room. This room also proves to be cockroach free! Hooray! We settle in and head out to a Burger King Lounge for a quick dinner. Tonight’s plan is to pre-game at the hotel, then for those of us who are 21+, the night will be spent at Mansion nightclub. We’ve heard only good things about this place so we are rather excited to go there.

Entry to club Mansion is $25 which is a little steep, but at the same time, the clubs back home in Melbourne usually charge $20-$30 club entry so I can’t complain. The wait to get in isn’t all too bad. The club is separated into three parts; there is a small bar and dance floor upon entry which leads into a larger room with more bars, a roped off VIP section and the most awesome music to party to ever and then this room leads into an even bigger room that plays house and dance music. We wait here forever to get a drink then head back to the awesome music room to get our groove on until the early morning.

Sunday is check out morning. We gather our things and head towards Fort Lauderdale to grab a late breakfast at Arby’s. After Arby’s we decide to spend some time at Fort Lauderdale beach like we did last time. Fort Lauderdale beach is extremely beautiful and much more peaceful than Miami Beach. I decide to not swim this time; I don’t feel like having sand in unwanted places for the three hour drive back to Orlando.

On the drive home Bryan and I notice that Mike’s right back tire is looking a little flat. I text him to let him know he needs some air in it and he texts back saying he’s going to pull into the next rest stop to inflate it. Unfortunately, the next rest stop seems to be quite the distance away, and only two miles out from it, Bryan and I smell burned rubber, and, sure enough, Mike’s tire blows out so we all pull over. It takes a call to AAA, the State Troopers and Dawin to fix this hot mess. The jack that Mike had in his car wasn’t all that great, so once the wheel was off, the jack gave way and the car tilted and rolled backwards. Once the State Trooper arrived and lent Dawin a better jack, it went smoothly from here. Finally, after what seems like forever, we are ready to continue our journey back to Orlando.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we get in a lot later than expected. Despite this small obstacle, the trip was great fun and I’m glad we could all do this once last time before we all go our separate ways.

Next up, our cruise to the Bahamas in t-minus six days and counting!


Exiting the Circus

July 15, 2010


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Location:
Orlando, Florida, USA
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For the last twelve months of my life I have watched people from right around the world who have grown so close and dear to me depart as their Disney College Program experience had come to an end. As I sit here typing this from my apartment here at Chatham Square for the last time, I have tears rolling down my cheeks. The Cirque du Soleil; La Nouba soundtrack is playing in the background; certain parts triggering my mind as I run through my queues in my head. Although I really should be packing, I can’t bring myself to realize that this amazing whirlwind of a life-changing experience is about to conclude.

Last night, sadly, after one entire year of working for Walt Disney at Cirque du Soleil, my Disney College Program came to an end. It was a series of many lasts:

  • My last ride to work with Bryan; someone I have come to love so dearly
  • My last time putting on my hideous blue pants and blazer
  • My last time proudly wearing my Disney name tag
  • My last time clocking into CDS for my final shift
  • My last time laughing and joking around in the dungeon
  • My last pre-shift meeting on the stairs before first show load
  • My last time ushering a Cirque du Soleil show
  • My last time assisting Disney World guests
  • My last time calling cameras on the radio
  • My last time screaming out ‘Mop Help’ to Lalita
  • My last time working with a team of extremely amazing people from all over the world where I really feel like I belong
  • My last time clocking out of CDS to mark the end of my final shift
  • My last ride from work to Ale House to enjoy loaded fries and a few beers with my Cirque crew
  • My last ride from Ale House back to Chatham Square with friends that have become family for me while I’ve been here

My time here on the Disney College Program has been something that words can’t even describe. Twelve months ago I would never have thought I’d have grown so attached to so many people. Everyone is so different and unique and it’s quite hard to sum them up. I love each of them all dearly and each for different reasons.

If any of you happen to read this, thank you all for being you! I love you all so much and and I am going to miss you all terribly. I will definitely be back to visit, sooner rather than later.

Again, thank you, it’s been a blast.

-xoxo-










Visa update Part I – Visa Waiver ESTA and J1 Visa dilemma

April 17, 2009

For the last week I have been racking my brain and emailing every U.S. visa and immigration contact I could find an email address for online. It was driving me insane that everywhere I searched online, I could not find the answer to my one very important question. This question was the difference between a $1600 (inc tax) airfare or a $4000 airfare so receiving a response was imperative to me financial wellbeing.

The issue at hand…

Granted I pass my visa interview next week, before heading to Disney, I want to swing by Montreal, Quebec to visit some friends I made last summer on Contiki through Europe. Pretty much every airline except for Air Canada have a stop over in Los Angeles, meaning I would have to clear immigration at LA airport. I had been advised by Disney that I was not allowed to enter the U.S. on my J1 visa then fly to Canada as it would cause issues for me in regard to the Disney College Program. So the question I was desperately seeking an answer to was…

“Can I clear immigration at LAX on a Visa Waiver (ESTA) in transit to Montreal, Quebec, despite having the J1 visa in my passport? (I wouldn’t be leaving LAX, I’d just need to change flights there). Then, when I fly from Montreal back into the U.S. at this point I will enter the U.S. on my J1 visa to avoid interference with the Disney Program.”

If the answer was going to be a no, then my only option would be to purchase a ticket with Air Canada as they fly direct from Australia to Vancouver which means I would be able to by-pass U.S. immigration. The only problem with this is a one-way ticket from Melbourne – Vancouver flying Air Canada is $3000 AU! And that is only one-way, I would still need a return airfare which would more than likely be another $1000 AU! Ridiculous. On the contrary, however, if the answer is a yes and I can transit through LA on a Visa Waiver ESTA, then I could purchase a return Melbourne – Los Angeles airfare for $1600 AU including taxes!!! $4000 and $1600… BIG difference!

The solution…

On my quest to find a response to this question, I was kindly directed to the CBP.gov (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) website. I searched every inch of pixel on that website trying to find the answer to my question, but no such success. However, what I did find was a nifty little section where you could ‘Find an Answer, Ask a Question‘. I searched through the question and answer database but still had no luck with an accurate response. After several search attempts, I noticed a new tab had become available which allowed me to submit my own question… PERFECT!

I submitted my question last night and was extremely impressed to see a response waiting for me in my email inbox today… less than 24 hours, amazing! The best part is, it was the response I wanted to hear!!!

“What your immigration “intent” is to do, is to make entry at LAX as a traveler for business / pleasure for which as an Australian citizen, if eligible, you may use the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA. You may do this because your “intent” is not to go to work at this time. Then after your holiday, it will be your “intent” to make entry as a J1 in Orlando.

With this scenario having the J1 visa in your possession is not a problem.

So, may you do this, yes.”

Problem solved. I am, however, going to print this response out and carry it with me through immigration in case I am given any hassles. I applaud the speed in which my submission was attended to, it was amazing, especially given the fact that they must receive a plethora of questions on a daily basis.

Five more days until my visa interview! Excitedness! Once I get the all clear, I’m off to STA Travel to purchase my airfares! YAY! I can’t wait to be done with all this paperwork…

Visa papers taking up my bedroom floor space!


Disney International College Program – Visa Interview

April 9, 2009

Today all my Disney International College Program visa papers arrived! So excited but also very stressed. There are so many papers to read through, fill out and sign. I’m worried that if I mess one thing up the whole visa opportunity will backfire and I will be denied a J1 visa.

I booked my visa interview for April 22 at 8:15am. I have to be at the U.S. Consulate in Melbourne at 7:45am however I can be waiting there for up to four hours before it’s my turn. At first I thought I’d kill the waiting time with mobile Facebook and Twitter, but they take your phones away from you before you enter! AHHH! I guess I will have to make do with some Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift on my iPod. Fun.

For the next few days I will be pulling out my hair trying to figure out how to correctly fill out all these papers and pay all these fees. I hope I don’t make any mistakes. Granted I get my visa, then comes the fun part… airfare shopping! YAY!

Wish me luck 🙂


OMG! I just got accepted into the Disney World International Program!

February 5, 2009

EEEEEEEEEE! So I just got home from work and checked my emails, and sure enough, there was one in there from the Aussie Disney Rep saying…

Hi Lynda,

Congratulations!!! You have been accepted to take part in the Walt Disney World International Program.

My God I am so excited right now! Too much to comprehend at the moment. I’ll have to let it all sink in. Given that I pass my visa interview, July 18 will be my departure date and Florida will be my home for a year! EEEEEEEEE! I will continue to blog my journey from here on 🙂


Disney Phone Interview…

February 5, 2009

Just had my phone interview… I think it went well. The Disney chick, Sarah was delightful and such a pleasure to chat with. We were both travel nutters so we got so excited sharing travel stories haha. But yeah, think it went well, but let’s wait and see…

Wish me luck!