A True Disney Delight

The gates open and the crowds rush in; the smiling faces of cast members fill the sidewalks along Main Street; the castle gleams and glistens in the sunlight; the whimsical music invites guests to ‘leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” For Giana Beverly Austin, this is just another day at the office in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Austin is a 17-year-old who has been going to Disney since she was three months old. She credits her parents for instilling a love for Disney inside of her, and that love grows stronger every time she visits.

“[I love] how it feels seeing the castle for the first time ever, or that day,” Austin said. “How you can’t help but want to dance to the music piped through the parks; how you can always get emotional meeting Mickey Mouse or twirling with your favorite princess; how you can be a kid again, no matter if you are 2 or 202.”

Recently, she has taken that love and combined it with her other true love–photography.

“I have always been passionate about photography..and Disney World,” Austin said. “So once I realized I could combine the two, at the beginning of the year, I was just the HAPPIEST.”

At the beginning of March, Austin started an Instagram account called ‘Disney World Delights,’ where she could post pictures she took while at Disney. Much to her surprise, the account skyrocketed. She now has 10,000 followers and receives anywhere from 300-500+ likes on a single picture.

To me, that’s A LOT.

Not only has this young (only 17, remember that), up and coming photographer made a name for herself, she has also managed to grab the attention of many cast members that she takes pictures of.

“It started out with some wanting to thank me for my photos by meeting up on their breaks to buy me coffee or have lunch,” Austin said. “I am still shocked and amazed what it has now turned into!”

Her cast member connections even tell their managers about her.

“Their managers watch my page and review some of my friends on their character performances by my videos and photos! Which is an honor and also a tad nerve-wracking,” Austin said.

On top of being friends with so many cast members, which is something I am just slightly jealous about on the down low, she’s also made some very close friends through this account, one of them being a young woman named Meghan Mueller.

“I originally followed Giana on Instagram and loved her pictures,” Mueller said. “A few weeks after we originally met [at Magic Kingdom], we would see each other around the park and we began to spend more time together. By the end of the summer, we were spending the entire afternoon and night together! Now, we are extremely close friends and we talk almost every day.”

A beautiful friendship tied together with magic and pixie dust. I love it.

Interestingly enough, Austin does not live in the Orlando area. No, this determined photographer makes the four-hour trip to Disney twice a week so she can get her dose of magic and new content to keep her page fresh and up to date. However, it has proven to be a challenge.

“Driving four hours, twice a week, is expensive and tiring,” Austin said. “It’s certainly been an obstacle, but it has not gotten in the way of doing what I love!”

Because Austin does visit the kingdom twice a week, she has developed a precise schedule, which makes her giggle when she thinks about it.

Here’s a typical day in the life of Miss Giana:

“I normally get there at 10 sharp where I proceed to watch the 10:10 trolley show, followed by 10:35 castle show. Then the Move it, Shake it, Celebrate it street party starts at 11 that I never miss. Usually after that, I go see Alice. After I visit her, I get Starbucks and I sit at the Tomorrowland Terrace. I bring my computer so I can edit photos right there. It’s the best to be able to work with a view of the castle!

“I catch the 12:30 street party and then roam for photos until the 2:05 castle show, which is my favorite show time of the day to watch for some reason! After that it’s straight to Frontierland to wait for Festival of Fantasy, which I proceed to watch twice by running to the end of Main Street! After the parade, I grab more coffee and attempt a 10 minute nap at the Terrace while I wait for some friends to clock out from the parade where we sit and hang out. [This is] one of my favorite parts of the day, getting to see my lovely friends and relax for a while!

“I catch 4:55 Hoedown, 5:15 castle show and then 5:40 street party. And after the last street party, from 6-8:30 I attempt to eat something, go visit characters for photos and then by 9 I have a spot for DEP [Disney’s Electrical Parade]. 10 is Wishes, and 11 is usually the second DEP where I do not take photos. I just stand and wave and be silly to some friends. It’s the most magical way to end a busy and fun day!”

There was no way for me to accurately describe a day in the life of Giana better than she did, so I had to give you her entire answer.

Quite a day, huh?

I bet you can’t guess how many photos this girl goes home with at night. Hint–it’s A LOT.

“In a single day of shooting at Disney, I normally come home with about 2,000 photos,” Austin said.

Yes. 2,000 photos. And she goes twice a week, so make that 4,000 photos.

And then comes the editing process.

“I spend 20 minutes on each photo. And with over 2,000 to go through, well, you do the math! (If I could put emoji’s, I would’ve inserted the laughing-crying one),” Austin said.

Is she not the cutest?

But even though the rest of us think she’s awesome and incredibly talented, Austin still doesn’t really get it. She is incredibly modest and humble, and even that is an understatement.

“I minimally have 10 people a day stop me in the parks to tell me they love my photography and normally they ask for a selfie,” Austin said.  “I question if they have the right person because to me, I’m a dorky, weird-looking ‘nobody’, why do they want a photo with ME?!”

But don’t worry–even though she is modest, Austin is incredibly grateful for all of the support and kind words she receives.

“I gush and tell them they made my day because they DO!” Austin said.  “It never fails to make me smile when someone goes out of their way to approach me and spread kindness.”

But the most rewarding part of what she does?

“The friendships alone are the most amazing payment I could’ve ever dreamed of,” Austin said. “And seeing the genuine smiles from people when they see a photo they love..it is unreal how rewarding that feels.”

Mueller is proof that Austin holds her friends close to her and values their presence. She recalls the last time they saw each other this summer, which just so happens to be one of her favorite memories.

“I had bought a Mickey balloon and wanted my picture with it in front of the castle,” Mueller said. “I handed her my phone and asked her to take a picture for me, which she did, but then she grabbed her camera and said, ‘Let me take some on my camera so you can have some good ones too!'”

“It’s nothing glamorous, but it’s one of those little moments that I absolutely love.”

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I don’t know, these seem pretty glamorous to me! ❤

Because Austin is only 17, it’s safe to say she has her whole life, and photography career, ahead of her. However, as Cinderella would say, they cannot order her to stop dreaming, and she is excited to see where her life takes her.

“I would love for Disney to hire me as an official park photographer, which is a huge dream right there! But as for right now…I am so happy and content with where I am. Things can only go up from here!”

You can follow Giana Beverly Austin on Instagram at ‘DisneyWorldDelights’ and on Twitter here.

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Happy Halloween in September!

It’s really no secret that I love Walt Disney World. However, one of the things I love most about Disney is how different it is during every season.

Last year, I went to The Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Christmas is my favorite holiday and the kingdom looks breathtaking adorned in Christmas decorations. Plus, who doesn’t love free hot cocoa and cookies?!

This year, I promised myself I would make it Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Not only did the idea of trick or treating in the kingdom and getting to dress up sound appealing, but my sister was born on Halloween, and I really wanted to take her so she could experience it with me.

Unfortunately, the hard ticket event sold out for Halloween, her actual birthday, so I was forced to decide on another time I could take my sister.

And then, something completely unexpected and magical happened.

The Disney Parks Blog hosted a raffle on the blog site last Tuesday. The prize package? Tickets for you and a guest to MNSSHP and the Villains’ Sinister Soiree, a separate event where you have dessert and interact with various characters inside of Cinderella Castle.

My friend and I both entered the raffle on a whim while sitting in class, not expecting to win.

Except we both won.

Fun fact: I NEVER WIN ANYTHING.

Needless to say, I was beyond excited. Not only was I able to take my sister to the event, but we were going to go INSIDE Cinderella Castle! It honestly felt like a dream come true.

When we, my sister, my friend, her guest and I, arrived at the park on Sunday, we went to a table outside of the park to pick up our credentials (CUE EXCITED SCREAMS) and tickets. We then went to a separate area to get our invitations and credentials for the Villains’ Sinister Soiree.

The minute we stepped into the park, I had to fight back tears. I was in my happy place and I was about to have a magical VIP experience.

If you have never been to MNSSHP, put it on your Disney Bucket List. You get to dress up (I dressed up as Buzz Lightyear), you get to trick or treat around the park, the park is beautifully decorated for fall, and the wait times for your favorite attractions and meet and greets? SO. SHORT. I walked right onto Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin, waited 10 minutes to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and barely waited to meet Elsa and Anna (YES, no 2 hour wait time!), Cinderella, Rapunzel, Ariel and Gaston.

Along with getting to attend the Villains’ Sinister Soiree in the castle, you also get VIP viewing for the ‘Boo to You’ Parade, the Halloween themed parade, and HalloWishes, a jaw-dropping fireworks spectacular set to Disney Villain music.

Honestly, HalloWishes may be my favorite fireworks display at Walt Disney World. It’s THAT good.

The Villains’ Sinister Soiree event was such a treat! My first experience dining inside the castle was truly spectacular. We had the most delicious desserts and drinks, mixed and mingled with some Disney Villains (including Lady Tremaine, Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Cruella De Vil, Dr. Facilier, Drizella and Anastasia), and went home with some wonderful souvenirs, including a Maleficent dragon cup, autograph card signed by several villains, several Disney Parks Blog posters and a Park Starz Vinylmation.

Can I also just say that New Fantasyland is beautiful to look at from inside the castle?! So majestic. So regal.

In addition to all of that, a few more exciting things happened that I’m really happy to share!

First off, my friends, sister and I are featured in the beginning sequence of the video recap from the night on the Disney Parks Blog! We were sitting in the VIP area waiting for the parade and a very nice man named Drew (I wish I knew his last name!) came over and asked if we there for the blog meetup. When we said yes, he asked if we wanted to be in a video for the blog. Of course we agreed, and our smiling faces are the first faces you see when you watch the video 🙂

Immediately after that, the Social Media Manager, Jennifer Fickley-Baker, and Merchandise Communications Manager, Steven Miller, came over and introduced themselves to us. Jennifer recognized me from my twitter account, @_brainy_beauty, and we talked briefly and even took a picture together! If you follow my twitter, you already know that my dream is to work in the social media/communications department for Disney, so meeting the social media manager was a big deal for me. A clip of us talking even made it into the video recap!

FINALLY, the last super exciting thing that happened–my sister and I were interviewed for the video recap! We were interviewed by Drew after the event and asked about our evening. We gushed about the fireworks, our first time being in the castle, and how much we loved being part of this special event.

All in all, it was a truly perfect evening, and there’s nothing like being one of the last people to leave the park!(Closing down parks is one of my things.)

I’d like to thank the Disney Parks Blog again for putting on such a fun event and giving us the opportunity of a lifetime! Go check out their article on the event and the video recap here. See if you can spot us 😉

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party runs on select evenings through Oct. 31, which is already sold out. If you want to take part in this special event, get your tickets now! It really is one of the most fun times I’ve had at Disney and I highly recommend checking it out!

Now, enjoy some photos from our ‘Not So Scary’ evening ❤

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