Having Adventures in the Great Wide, Somewhere…

Two posts in two days?! I am spoiling you guys 😉

But I did promise to share some of my fun adventures that I’ve had so far on my program, and I always keep my promises.

So, without further ado, it’s time for DCP Adventures with The Theme Park Princess ❤

1) My coworkers are some of the most amazing women I have ever met, and I LOVE spending time with them. About a month ago, six of us (plus a few other people) went to breakfast at Trails End, located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge and Campground. Trails End is a country themed restaurant that offers an all you can eat breakfast buffet (so delicious and SO worth it!). This breakfast was the first time we all really got to know each other, and we bonded over good food, funny stories and our ever present awkwardness. To say we’ve been inseparable ever since would be an understatement; not only do I see them all the time at work, but we also have a ton of ‘WOD Squad’ dates and sleepovers. I can’t get enough of these girls! That was the day I realized I had made friends for life, and I will be so sad to see the majority of them leave in May 😦

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2) You would think that because I am beyond obsessed with Disney, an annual pass holder AND a cast member that I would have gone to every Disney park in Orlando. Oddly enough…you would be wrong! Up until a few weeks ago, I had NEVER been to a Disney water park! Luckily, my roommate and I changed that and we went to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon! I’ve only ever been to one other water park, and it’s a very small one right by my house in Naples, Fla., so it really doesn’t compare. But I loved every minute of being at Typhoon! I loved the wave pool (even though I got knocked down every time), I loved all of the water coasters and the lazy river was SO relaxing! The great thing about the water park is that you can get a lot done in a short amount of time and still have the rest of the day to do other things, like visit Downtown Disney 😉 If you’ve never visited a Disney water park, I highly suggest making that part of your next trip! Now I just have to conquer Summit Plummet at Disney’s Blizzard Beach!

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3) Aside from my obvious love for theme parks, I also love baseball! I grew up going to Yankees games and when I moved down here to Florida, I obviously stopped going as frequently. Last week, I went to my first baseball game in about two years, and seeing my team play in the most magical place on earth was a wonderful experience! The next day I went to yet another baseball game, this time it was the Braves against the Marlins, and while I’m not a fan of either team, I just love watching the sport and being with my friends. We also went to Hollywood Studios that night (after a much needed nap), and I got to experience my friend riding all the major attractions for the first time. I love watching someone’s face the first time you drop on Tower of Terror, or when you get launched on Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Baseball and Disney are two of my favorite things, so the fact that I got to combine both over the course of two days was truly magical. (Plus, I got to see my roommate hard at work since she works at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!)

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These are just a few of my favorite adventures so far, so I promise to have another post in the near future! But none of these amazing experiences would’ve been possible without the wonderful group of people featured in this post, so a huge thank you to Katherine, Katie, Erin, Denning, Abby, Deanna, Tyler, Ryan and Jake for making my program as fun as it has been. You guys are the best.

Here’s to many more memories to be made at the most magical place on earth! ❤

Adventure Is Out There

I’d like to start by apologizing for being so MIA since I moved to Orlando to participate in the Disney College Program, but I am about to make up for it right now!

I did begin my program on the 19th of January, and it has been a challenging, but highly rewarding, experience thus far. I am living in Chatham Square with four lovely roommates and I am working merchandise at the World of Disney at Downtown Disney, which is the largest Disney store in the world.

*pauses for dramatic effect*

My work location has been the most challenging part so far, mainly because the store is composed of 11 rooms. This means that I have had A LOT to learn, and you only get about a week of training (or, really, four-five days). I will be the first to admit that I had a hard time the weeks following my first initial week (where you go through Casting, Traditions, and get a feel for everything before you start on the job training) trying to find my place and I wondered if I had made the right decision in coming here. I felt overwhelmed from all of the training plus trying to keep up with my classes, and I felt excluded because my hours at work differed from all of my roommate’s hours, so I barely saw them.

But then something happened:

I remembered I am at Walt Disney World completing an internship that thousands of college students around the world would give up anything to do.

I started to find the positives at work, whether it be interacting with more guests or reaching out to and getting to know more coworkers. In fact, some of the best times I’ve had here so far have been with my coworkers.  Even on days when it’s not that great, I know that there are four magnificent parks waiting for me on the days that I’m off, and that alone makes the experience worth it.

This adventure I am on is one I was meant to take, and I am sure of that. The lessons that I am learning and the experiences I am having are going to shape who I am and help me become the best version of myself.

Is it scary? Absolutely.

Is it tiring? Of course.

Can it be frustrating at times? Yes.

But the friendships I am making, the magical moments I am having and am able to create…they make it all worth it. I mean, where else in the world can I go casually visit Magic Kingdom before work or have breakfast with the Fab Five?

Adventure is out there, you just have to go for it and don’t look back ❤

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*I will do a post about some of the fun things I’ve done since I’ve gotten here soon, and if anyone has any questions about the DCP I can do a question/answer post too, just let me know!*

Halloween Horror Nights 24

Halloween Horror Nights is a hard ticket event that takes place on select nights from September through November at Universal Studios Florida. From 6:30 pm to 2:00 am, the biggest names in horror come to life and you are faced with the task of surviving the night–if you dare.

With this being my third straight year attending HHN, I decided it was time to share some tips on how to make the most out of your night and reviews of the houses I went into. Because I am a super scaredy cat, this was actually my first year going into more than one house, so I’m even more excited to share my experience!

Here we go:

Tip 1) Get There Early

It is not enough to get there on time; you need to get there EARLY. My family and I arrived about an hour and a half early and we were literally the first people to enter the event (aside from VIP guests who had entered the park at an earlier time). You want to arrive early because A) there is a pre-show that takes place before you’re let into the park and B) you get as much time as possible to get everything done. If you don’t arrive early, don’t expect to get into every house unless you have bought fastpasses (which, in my opinion, you don’t need if you get there on time and have a game plan). This brings me to my second tip.

Tip 2) Do Not Worry About Rides

Look, you can go on rides any other day you visit Universal. And if you REALLY love Universal, I would suggest getting a day ticket as well as a ticket to HHN. This is why: You are paying anywhere from $59 to $79 on a ticket for this event, and while seven and a half hours may seem like a lot, in retrospect, it isn’t. There are eight haunted houses, four scare zones, and two shows. The lines for the haunted houses get long, and they get long FAST. If you waste time going on rides that are there year-round, you will not be getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re there for the houses, do the houses. You’ll be more satisfied that way.

Tip 3) If You Like The Walking Dead, Make That Your First House

HHN has collaborated with AMC’s The Walking Dead for the third year in a row, which is what originally drew me into the event back in 2012. The house created for this year is the largest ever created for a HHN event, which, of course, makes it the headliner house. If you have any interest in going through this house (which you should, it’s phenomenal), then this needs to be the first house you go through. The wait time throughout the evening climbs to two and a half hours, and if you’re waiting that long for one house you will probably only get to experience two or three out of the eight. Trust me–DO. THIS. HOUSE. FIRST. It’s at the front of the park, so just make a beeline for it.

Tip 4) Have A Plan/Know Before You Go

This being the third time my family and I have attended the event, we’re pretty much veterans at this point. Since theme parks and theme park events are my thing, I always follow the social media accounts and read up on the events beforehand. This makes it a lot easier to devise a plan of action so that you aren’t standing around trying to figure out where to go next. Go to the event website, make a list of your must do houses, and then map it out once you’re there. There are also wait times available online once you’re in the park, so be sure to utilize those as well.

Tip 5) Don’t Ignore The Scare Zones

I know the houses are the best part of HHN, but don’t forget about the scarezones! It’s easy to just power walk right through them while you’re rushing to the next house, but you really should stop and experience them. For example, The Purge scare zone has a few ‘shows’ that they put on and if you walk right through, you’ll miss them. They really are worth watching (even though they freaked me out, but that’s why you’re there, right?).

And now, onto the reviews:

*Side Note: I only went into six houses so I will only do a review and rating for those six houses. I did not go through Giggles and Gore Inc. mainly because clowns sort of creep me out (thank you, American Horror Story), but also because I wanted to get a drink with my dad. Priorities, people.

My entire family also decided to not do Dracula Untold because I read a few reviews that said this house wasn’t really worth going through. We easily could have since we passed it and the wait time was short, but we wanted to experience the scare zones and see a show instead.*

Haunted House Reviews and Ratings:

The Walking Dead: End of The Line- 5 out of 5

I am a HUGE fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, and this house was absolutely fantastic. I know a lot of people were a little iffy about HHN bringing this back for the third year in a row (I wasn’t because I’ve loved it every year), but this was absolutely well done. I went from screaming to being in complete awe of the details and how visually stunning the maze was. The creative team did an excellent job of making the guest feel like they were walking through season 4 of TWD. I’m also always impressed with the makeup they do for their ‘walkers.’ They must watch a lot of episodes to get the makeup accurate, and boy, is it accurate. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but there is one ‘room’ that will make you disoriented and terrified–it’s the best room in any of the houses, in my opinion. If you go, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. If I could only do one house all night, this would be it. I know it would annoy some people, but I think they should bring it back next year because based on the season premiere of the fifth season, I can see them coming up with an INCREDIBLE maze. I’m just saying.

Halloween- 5 out of 5

While TWD was my favorite house of the night, this was a close second. I actually have never seen Halloween (I know, it’s a classic, but scary movies terrify me) but that didn’t make the experience any less scary. The fact that they made the outside of the house look exactly how it does in the film (from what I was told) is impressive and really makes you feel like you’re stepping into the movie. I thought the projection on the outside of the house was interesting and certainly got me a little scared before I even got into the house. Once inside, I was getting scared around every corner. If you’ve seen the movie and you’re a fan, this house will please you. This is also the first house where you must walk side by side instead of in a straight line, which I thought was interesting. Overall, another solid house and job well done. Side note–this house isn’t over until it’s over. You’ll see what I mean 😉

Alien vs. Predator- 3 out of 5

While this house was not a favorite of mine, if you’re a fan of the movie (which I have not seen), then you’ll be pleased. As much as I hate being scared, I actually enjoy live scare actors and getting REALLY frightened to the point where curse words seep out of my mouth without my being able to control them. This house, however, relied heavily on animatronics, which were actually really impressive. This was another visually stunning house which I really did appreciate, and while I did jump a few times, it wasn’t on the same level as the other houses. There were scare actors, but they didn’t ‘scare’ me so much as startle me, which really isn’t the same. It was a decent house, but not as scary as the others. What really gets you in this house is the weird string-like things that hang from the ceiling that you have to navigate through. It makes you feel like someone is touching you, which only adds to your distress.

Dollhouse of The Damned- 3.5 out of 5

This house was very creepy. As a little girl, dolls are kind of a staple in your life. Even now, I still have several stuffed animals in my room and on my bed. In this house, your dolls come to life–and they want to kill you. Every little girl’s nightmare. There were a few things that REALLY got me, and any scare actor who is waiting for me around the corner is bound to make me scream. This gets a little bit better of a rating than AvP simply because I genuinely got scared a number of times in that house. I also loved the design of the house outside–really super creepy.

Roanake: Cannibal Colony- 3.5 out of 5

This house gets a better rating from me than AvP because this was the first house I walked out of SHAKING. It was not particularly stunning, the makeup wasn’t to die for, and the idea of the house itself has probably been done a million times before. However, the scare actors were SCARY. They were not afraid to get as close to you as possible without touching you. Several actors nearly touched my face and came at me more than once. There was also an actor on the ceiling, and when I realized that, I ducked so low I almost hit the ground. The scare actors truly made this house what it was, but it wasn’t a favorite of mine.

From Dusk Til Dawn- 2 out of 5

In my opinion, I don’t really know why everyone loves this house. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen the show or movie the house is based on, but it just didn’t strike me as particularly scary. Yes, scare actors popped out of holes in the wall and behind scenery and such, and yes it startled me, but it wasn’t…scary. I have never seen Halloween, but that house scared me. Even AvP scared me more than this house did. If you’re trying to plan your evening and this house isn’t someone’s ‘must do,’ I wouldn’t even bother with it honestly. The only reason why this has a rating of two instead of one is because I did get startled, so the actors did something right. But other than that, this house was a dud for me.

A quick review of the scare zones:

The Purge: Anarchy

I saw the first movie and it definitely freaked me out a little, and this scare zone got me good. Chainsaws freak me out, and there were plenty of those. Creepy masks freak me out, and there was no shortage of those. The little ‘shows’ they put on really drew a crowd which made it even better. They ‘auctioned’ off people to audience members, and I liked the fact that they interacted with guests. Then they had the truck come by with ‘purgers’ inside and they went into the crowd and grabbed people and threw them in the truck. (The people were actors, don’t worry.) All in all, a solid scare zone, and probably my least favorite because of how scared I got, which I guess makes it the best one, right? One guy decided to follow me and scare me several times. I was pretty much done after that.

Maskerade: Unstitched

This zone wasn’t particularly scary, but it was interesting to walk through. The costumes were beautiful, and the actors towering above you does add a little intensity to the area because they can swoop down right in your face at any moment and you really won’t see it coming (which happened to me a few times). It wasn’t my favorite scare zone but it was alright.

Face Off: In The Flesh

This scare zone was my favorite simply because the makeup/costumes/masks were ON. POINT. I’ve never seen the show, but that didn’t stop me from taking pictures and really taking my time walking through this area. Not too many scares to be had, but it was really truly interesting.

Bayou of Blood

This area was a dud. The only thing that made it semi creepy was the amount of smoke. The smoke compromises your vision, you don’t see a scare actor, then they’re there, boom, you’re startled. But no one scared me in this area. The smoke just really bothered me. I know some type of show happens in this scare zone but we didn’t stick around to watch, so I can’t really comment on it.

Here are a few things I think could’ve been better:

1) Where is The Walking Dead Scare Zone?

This is probably my BIGGEST hang up. I know last year the entire park was crawling with walkers instead of the traditional scare zones, and I know a lot of people disliked it. I was not one of those people, but that’s probably because I enjoy the show so much and I LOVED how well done the makeup and costumes were. But aside from that, I just didn’t understand why we didn’t have a scare zone for TWD. It was the headliner house because it was the biggest house ever created, it had the biggest banner in the front of the park, it’s the focal point on the limited edition pin, yet we did not have a scare zone. And yet, HHN in Universal Studios Hollywood had a scare zone AND a terror tram (which I hear is AMAZING). So, I’m confused as to why we also couldn’t put together a scare zone. I think it would’ve done really well over some of the scare zones they chose to implement instead, but I digress.

2) The ‘Welcome’ Show…Eh

Every year they do a ‘welcome’ show/skit before they let you into the park. Last year, because the theme was TWD, the show obviously featured walkers. Smoke filled the streets behind the gate and from the smoke emerged a hoard of zombies. It was INTENSE. I was already shaking and we weren’t inside yet. Of course more than that happened, but I can’t recall. However, I do remember it being longer, and better, than the show this time around. It was quick, it wasn’t particularly scary, and I’ve seen it done better at HHN in California, so it did not meet my expectations. But, again, I digress.

3) Spread Out The Scare Zones

When I can walk through half of the park without coming across a single scare actor, we have a problem. I should be watching my back, no matter where I am. That’s another reason why I enjoyed it so much last year–while there were still certain ‘zones’, they were spread out across a vast amount of the park. This year, I felt that they were kind of all in one big area and then you were pretty much free from all terror unless you were going to a house. It was weird.

4) Bill And Ted–Not As Good As Last Year

Maybe it was all of the digs at Disney that really bothered me, but this show just wasn’t as funny as last year. I found myself really bored and barely laughing. If you’ve done the houses you want to do and want to take a breather, then I’d recommend seeing it. Otherwise, it’s really not worth the time.

All in all, despite my few hang ups, HHN 24 was super fun and did an excellent job of keeping me on my toes and scared. This was the first year I actually made it through more than one house and I didn’t get chased by any scare actors, so for me it was a success. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m already looking forward to HHN 25.

Having a Moment

Do you ever wake up and realize you’re three days away from turning 21?!

No? Okay, maybe it’s just me.

I’m currently having a moment. Growing up is scary–really scary. But that’s why I’m spending my 21st birthday in Walt Disney World, because not only is it my happy place, but it has no age limit.

Since I leave Thursday for my magical weekend, I decided to share one of my favorite Disney moments with all of you. Who doesn’t love to hear about magical moments?!

Here goes:

I am a Disney Princess. I may not be an official one, but I’m totally an honorary one. However, as much as I love princess interactions, I was so excited to meet Mickey Mouse, for the first time, during my last trip to Disney. Everyone remembers the first time they met the mouse that started it all, and I made it a priority to meet him.

My family, boyfriend and I were walking through Epcot and were passing the Epcot Character Spot. The wait time said five minutes, so we decided to head inside because really, who can resist such a small wait time? We had NO idea what character(s) we were going to meet, which only increased the anticipation. I didn’t have an autograph book, but I had a fanny pack my boyfriend had bought for me with a Mickey Mouse stitched on it by my mom. I whipped out my sharpie as we rounded the corner, and I gasped as I saw who we were in line to meet: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy.

I completely freaked out. I was about to meet the big cheese, the boss man himself. When it was our turn, Mickey hugged each of us, joked around with my boyfriend and dad, and took a picture with us. When we got back in line to continue meeting the rest of the characters, I realized I hadn’t gotten him to sign my fanny pack. My mom flagged him over, and he LEFT his meeting spot and came to us in line. He happily took my fanny pack and the sharpie, signed the entire front of my fanny pack, handed it back to me and hugged me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crying right now thinking back to that moment.

You can say that it’s childish and silly, but to me it’s a memory I will cherish forever. One day I hope to be a Cast Member, and I can’t wait for the day that I can call him my new ‘boss.’

Okay. NOW I’m excited for my birthday. Let the magical festivities begin!

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Do you remember the first time you met Mickey Mouse?

What has been your favorite character interaction?