I have a confession to make – I’m a big Disney fan. A huge Disney fan. I’m practically a Disney maniac. I’d have Mickey everywhere in the house if I could, not to mention all the DVDs and CDs and books...
I try to keep this under restraint, though. Especially now that I live in the UK, the land of the restrained. For example, my little boy does not have a Disney-themed bedroom because I purposely chose quite a neutral décor. He does have a Sorcerer Mickey plush (which is actually mine) and a Mickey blanket, but that gets rotated so it’s only on the bed one week out of four. The other three weeks there is a plain blanket on the bed. Plus, the only reason I have a Mickey blanket is because someone gave it to me when he was born!
Like any addict I’ve tried to control the obsession: I do have a few earrings and necklaces with Mickeys on them, but they are pretty discrete. All my Disney books are on one bookshelf and not very obvious. I have a normal telephone even though I would really, really love a Mickey one. The only Disney picture that I have on display is a complete property map (circa 1995) from the Eyes and Ears, and you have to look closely to realize it is a Disney map and not just a map.
I don’t know what it is about Disney that is so attractive. My mom thinks it’s all her fault, as I had a very Disney-themed bedroom when I was little! But I don’t think that was it, but rather, all those magical vacations in Disney theme parks. Almost every year we’d take the long drive to Orlando (3 days each way) to spend a couple of weeks with Mickey. One fantastic year we even went twice: during the summer and at Christmas! I loved it all – the park itself, the attention to detail, the music, the smiley cast members, the merchandise... loved it all. We did visit Disneyland a few times but my true love was (and always has been) Walt Disney World in Florida. Back at my parents house I still have a huge box filled with all the souvenir maps that I collected from those years and I’d use bits of those to decorate my schoolbooks, in an attempt to keep the Disney magic with me at all times.
As I grew up I became more and more obsessed with Disney and I bought every Disney book I could find. It is interesting to note that my Disney collecting has nearly always involved paper: I keep books, maps, tickets, that sort of thing. I only have a few actual figurines or anything like that – they take up too much room! So anyway, my Disney knowledge was growing and almost dangerous in its scope: if Disney had anything to do with it, I knew it. I used this knowledge when writing one of my most important University papers: Disney and the Synergy, which got me top marks and I was often asked to present.
Eventually, I decided I should work for Disney, applied for the International Program and the rest was history. I loved my time there, learned even more about my favourite company, met my husband and enjoyed the best perk of the job: a free pass to any park, any time! I loved exploring the parks, riding the rides or just sitting down to enjoy the views. Even though I worked at the parks I always had a thrill when I could just walk into a park and enjoy myself just like any tourist. I was finally a part of the company I loved.
The visa expired and I had to leave Disney, which was undoubtedly the saddest day of my life so far. Things then moved on and ended with me living in the UK with a very non-Disney freak husband (well, he is but only a very little bit) and thousands of miles away from my favourite theme parks. I have been do Disneyland Paris and love it, as well as Tokyo Disneyland but none are as dear to my heart as WDW.
In a couple of weeks we will be flying to Orlando and I’m hoping that we can visit at least one theme park. Or at the very least a Disney shop, where I can stock up on more paper, books, CDs, maps and even the occasional piece of jewellery, all Disney themed of course. I can share space with people that also love the park and the company and aren’t afraid to show it. I can once more wonder at the magic in the place and I’m sure I’ll wish I could still be a part of it all. It’s been about four years since our last visit and that is the longest time in my entire life between visits to a Disney theme park. Far too long for a Disney maniac like me.