{That one time} I was ‘friends with’ Winnie the Pooh

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The sun glared in through the mesh of my ‘mask’ making it impossible to see who I was interacting with let alone whether I was holding their autograph book upside down. I could feel single beads of sweat dripping down my spine one at a time. I was at the tail end of my 20 minute set but it didn’t stop me from making sure every guest got a great memory from their visit with Winnie the Pooh.

I waved with my whole arm starting at the shoulder. I jumped up and down holding hands with a little girl. I blew kisses and gave hugs and, even though no one could see it, I smiled until my cheeks hurt. It was a long day and I left every evening a little sore and sweaty and smelly but nothing could ever replace the experience I had being ‘friends with’ Winnie the Pooh.

We are told to say that we are ‘friends with’ the characters we portray. I suppose the company understands that we’re going to tell our friends and family about our work, they just prefer that we do it with a semblance of mystery for what goes on ‘backstage.’

Thats another fun vocab word that we use. Employees are ‘cast members’, where the guests don’t go is ‘backstage’ and the place where I picked up my costume everyday was the ‘wardrobe.’ (Ok..I guess that last one isn’t super original.)

One of the fun things about being ‘friends with’ the characters at Disney World is that everyday is a little bit different. Yes, the basic schedule is the same, but there are always different interactions with different guests at different locations. In my time there I was ‘friends with’ a lot of different characters, all determined by height. My favorites were probably Winnie the Pooh and Chip and Dale.

I got to work in all four parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Sometimes I even worked in restaurants, visiting guests as they enjoyed a break from the heat and got to sit down and enjoy a meal. If you ask me, that’s a significantly more comfortable way to visit with characters than waiting in line out in the hot sun.

*If you want Winnie the Pooh and his friends to visit you while you eat, head to the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom for breakfast, lunch or dinner.*

I even got to work in an evening parade! But that’s a different story for a different time.

The absolute best part of being ‘friends with’ Disney characters is stepping into their shoes (literally and figuratively) and becoming someone that a guest has waited so long to meet. The feeling of making someone’s day is indescribable. The look in a child’s eye when they recognize you and run up to hug you is like nothing else. The 2 minute interaction you have with them could make their whole vacation.

When even an adult jumps up and down and gives you a tight hug, even though they know you’re not really that silly old bear, it just bares witness to the fact that people decided on a trip to Disney World to be a part of something magical and by stepping into the role as their favorite character, you help provide the magic.

I couldn’t help but smile and mouth words while I met with guests. It gave me an excuse to be as happy as Pooh would be, even if I was having a rough day.

I was larger than life with every movement that I made. You kind of have to be when there’s a full suit of fluff between you and the guests.

I allowed myself to dance and jump and spin and play and be absolutely silly and in doing so gave everyone who came to see me, young or old, permission to do the same.

I loved to think about how many vacation photos I was in, without anyone ever knowing. I had my poses down for each shot. I hardly had to think of what to do before they snapped the picture. Usually it was a popped foot with arm extended. Or hands on hips. Sometimes I’d cross my arms over my chest and go back to back with a guest. Sometimes it was just a big hug for a little kid. And every single time, I would smile.

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^^That’s me with the Minnie ears. Even when I wasn’t in costume,

I couldn’t help but don my classic pose of hand on hip with big cheesy grin. It was just a habit.

On the rare occasions that I didn’t smile, just to try it out, it felt wrong. It felt like the energy I had, that Pooh would have, was gone and he had turned into a limp noodle. Even if I did the same motions and no one could see that I wasn’t smiling, I was certain they’d be able to tell.

Don’t get me wrong though. It was a tough job. Yes, I did get paid 40 minute breaks every 20 minutes but if I didn’t, I probably would have been cooked alive. Sometimes those 40 minutes got pretty boring back in the break room. And it was hard for me to make friends when I was at a different location being ‘friends with’ a different character nearly everyday. Sometimes the costumes were uncomfortable and I’d have a misplaced screw poking me in the head. And you better believe those things were heavy and led to many a back ache.

But if I had to go back in time and decide whether to work at Disney all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

There is nothing quite like wielding the power of Disney magic.

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Originally this post was going to be a day in the life of a Disney World character performer in which I divulged all kinds of secrets and tid bits about what things are like under the costume and behind the scenes. But after some re-reading and editing, I decided that I wanted to preserve the Disney magic, just a little bit.

I’m sure you could find out about that stuff if you looked hard enough…this is the internet after all. But I believe in all the happy feels that come from the magic of Disney and if I tell you all that I know, it might not be as magical anymore. And that’s just unacceptable.

 

Keep an eye out for more posts about my time at Disney World. And if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them as best I can. Leave me some comment love!

 

 

 

Home Update: Living above ground

Guys. GUYS! I am not a sole basement dweller anymore! It’s true, I have moved to the land of the living, above ground!! Can you even believe it?! It sort of feels like it happened all at once but then I remember that we started this process of applying for permits over a year ago.

When Chris’ dad came into town, crap got done. When he got here there was a big whole pile of nothing upstairs. By the time he left, the floors were tiled, the cabinets and most of lighting was installed, the closet shelving was installed, the painting was started, the doors and trim were in and the railings for the stairs were in. It was magical to watch.

While they were doing all that I found and scheduled our carpet and countertops so when he left we mainly just had finish painting before the carpet came in (not a necessity but makes it easier to not drip on new carpets.)

We were so eager to move upstairs that we didn’t even mind that things weren’t finished. My necessity was a toilet for those midnight bathroom runs. Since moving up Chris has gotten all our appliances working and even the kitchen sink. We still don’t have working sinks in the bathrooms and we have to go downstairs to shower but we’re getting it all done a little at a time. Hopefully it will be 98% done by the time baby boy decides to show up to the party.

Well I know most of you are looking at the pictures anyways so, I’ll just stop typing now.

First some work in progress pics:

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^^When Chris’ dad was here I was trying to be helpful so during one of Evelyn’s naps I took a massive shopping list to Home Depot and was absolutely exhausted by the end.

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^^The nursery sans carpet

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^^The kitchen sans appliances

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^^Living room pre-carpet. I’m seriously so happy with how all my paint colors turned out!

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^^Entry way and stairs

Our house in its current state:

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^^Living room. We got a new (to us) couch off KSL (classifieds) for some temporary seating upstairs. When we save up and can get the furniture we really want this will go into the basement.

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Exploring Philadelphia

This is the third in a series of posts about our 5th anniversary vacation. View the first post on Maryland here, and the second post on Washington DC here.

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Our day trip to Philadelphia was honestly the highlight of my trip. The original plan was to go to New York City for the day but after our exhausting afternoon in DC and the prospect of 6 hours of travel time round trip, Chris wasn’t too crazy on the idea. I was super disappointed at first, but looking back on how great our day was I don’t even mind that it was spent in Philadelphia instead of NYC.

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I did a little research the night before and had a long list of places I wanted to try and see while we were in town. Philadelphia is obviously a really historic city but not being a big history buff myself, I really wanted to do some other ‘fun’ things besides just taking a history class. But Chris took a look at my list with a loud groan. He is the history buff kind of guy and wanted to take advantage of being in such a historic city.

Free Activities

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Much like DC, there was a lot of free stuff to do. We took a quick walk through the Liberty Bell museum, got a pic of the bell and moved along to Independence Hall. I still don’t really get the big significance of the Liberty Bell.

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You have to get tickets for the tour at Independence Hall but they’re free. You just pick them up at the information center across from the Liberty Bell. The tour was actually pretty cool. I liked our tour guide and surprisingly I wasn’t bored even though my attention span and interest level is similar to that of a 15 year old girl.

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^^This is where the magic happened. Washington sat in that chair at the front

The US Mint (where they make money) is right across the street and also free, but we decided to skip out on that one.

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Washington, DC

This is the second post in a series of three on our 5th anniversary trip. You can read the first one here.

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Washington DC is such a fun city and I love how much there is to do there for free.

It was one of the selling points to my husband. We could go on a trip and do cool stuff without having to pay a fortune.

Our original plan was to spend a whole day in DC with my aunt and cousins while they were still on spring break. But due to unfortunate weather conditions that didn’t work out. Instead it was just the three of us for a quick afternoon jaunt.

Taking the Metro

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To avoid terrible parking situations due to the Cherry Blossom Festival, we decided to drive to a metro station and take that the rest of the way in. In theory this was a great idea, but as it turns out there were no super descriptive instructions on how to purchase our metro passes.

Basically you buy a metro card and put money on it. Each stop costs a certain amount of money. So you have to figure out which stops you’re going to go to, see how much each is, figure in the round trip and then apparently add an extra dollar which is the fee for not having a permanent metro pass (My SIL gave me a head’s up on that one).

Thankfully there was a big sign that said to avoid Cherry Blossom traffic, we should use the Archives stop to get to the National Mall. We just bought a pass that would get us to that stop and back. There might have been a cheaper way to do it if we were going to multiple stops but at that point we were just so ready to get on the metro and get into the city.

The Smithsonian

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^^Smithsonian Castle (Just a walk by)

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^^We attempted a baby harness to keep Evelyn from running away. It didn’t work quite as planned. Turns out babies are a little different from dogs. Who knew?

Once off the metro, the baby was sitting right on my bladder and I needed to find a bathroom IMMEDIATELY! There was no bathroom that I could see at either metro station (Keep that in mind if traveling with kids who may need a bathroom), the closest place we could find was the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. Thankfully all of the Smithsonian museums are free admission, so I was able to run inside and relieve myself.

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Home Remodel: Expansion continued

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Since we’re not working on the house full time, things have been very start/stop. Drywall and stucco outside seemed to happen so fast. But since then we haven’t done much.

Isn’t it funny how I keep using “we”?? My contribution is complaining that it’s not done yet.

I guess that’s not entirely true. I did help pick out doors and trim, while also wrestling a toddler who did not want to sit still and talk to the nice man about our interior finish work.

So where are we now?

The stucco is DONE!

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The color turned out a little more blue than I was expecting.

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We still need to do the front and back porch. I also want to add some shutters and paint the door and whatnot, but that comes at the very end.

The drywall is DONE!

(How about a little tour??)

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^^View of the kitchen as you enter the house

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^^The nursery and all our doors!

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5th Wedding Anniversary in Maryland

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Christopher and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary a couple weeks ago. It was fabulous. Not only because we’ve had 5 lovely years of marriage but also because I convinced him that 5 years was so significant that we needed to go on a trip to celebrate. My  compelling argument included the fact that soon we’ll have a newborn and two children which will make traveling a tad difficult. I may have also convinced him of this while he was only half listening (and also playing a computer game).

Naturally on the list of my top dream vacation spots, Maryland doesn’t actually make the cut but we decided to go there for four main reasons.

  1. We could stay with my aunt so we’d save money on hotel and eating out expenses.
  2. She and her two daughters would be fabulous babysitters in the event that Chris and I want a day to ourselves.
  3. She lives relatively close to DC and New York City so we could still do some fun touristy things without having to pay to stay in the city.
  4. Also I really like my family a lot and was excited for an excuse to visit them.

I have to admit, this vacation turned out to be so much more wonderful than I ever expected. It was such a glorious mix of relaxing/doing nothing and sight seeing. I got to chill and there were always people around who wanted to play with Evelyn so I got a little mom break. Plus Chris took off work for an entire week. So even if no on else was around to watch her, he was. And that was fabulous.

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I may have even left him home a few times with her so that I could have some girl time and I didn’t feel bad about it at all.

One of the highlights of my trip was getting my hair done. I’ve been wanting something fresh and new for a while now and I am thrilled with the outcome!

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Chris was not okay with the pink, so I compromised and just got them as extensions. That way I don’t have to worry about them fading either. Win-win.

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^^My aunt tried to get Evelyn to call Uncle Darryl ‘Duncle’

but it didn’t catch on…he was just Uncle.

Evelyn loved getting to know her great aunt and uncle and her (second?) cousins too! She especially loved Jack who taught her how to fist bump. Should I be worried that she is so keen on boys? I was honestly surprised at how quickly she took to my Uncle. She just did what he said from the get go. And danced and played ball.

The weather was pretty crappy the whole time we were there but on one of the nice days we went to the park (where Chris kicked a soccer ball into my face..) and then walked on this adorable promenade down to a lighthouse.

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^^It was a hoodie and yoga pants kind of day

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Babyland General Hospital (Cabbage Patch Hospital)

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The Saturday before I left Georgia, my mom took Evelyn and I to the Babyland General Hospital. For those of you who have never heard of it, it’s basically a huge toy store for Cabbage Patch dolls but it’s set up like a hospital.

I used to love going when I was a kid. And when I was a little older than a kid. I’ve always loved dolls and the way they had it set up was so fun. You could walk through a baby nursery and the NICU. Then there was a whole schoolroom setup and playground scene. The main room was set up like an enchanted forest and had cabbage plants everywhere with babies growing out of them. There were twinkling lights and little fairies and a huge tree where a baby was born every time you visited.

Since I was a kid, they built a new location and redid everything. I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed. Maybe it’s because everything is better when you’re a kid but I’m thinking it was mostly because they transformed it from a cool exhibit to basically a big toy store. You can still walk through some baby nurseries but they aren’t staged…it’s just a bunch of baby dolls in cribs.

The exterior of the new building is incredible!

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The inside was less impressive compared to the old one.

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Adventures in Home Remodeling

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People ask all the time how our house is coming. It’s the first question they ask when I haven’t seen them or talked to them in a while. And you know what, I’m starting to be okay with the question. I’ve stopped thinking so much about it. It doesn’t make me cringe quite as much anymore.

My default answer is, “It’s coming.”

The worst question now is, “When will it be done?”

Well that really is the question isn’t it?! One we would ALL like to be answered. So if you find out the date it will be completed, please let me know. I’d love to plan around that.

Does that answer your question?

Now on the subject of the slow moving progress:

We caught Home Depot on the tail end of their November Black Friday sales and got great deals on all of our kitchen appliances. It was a lot of fun to pick them out and picture our soon to be kitchen.

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Home Remodel stage 3 part 2

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So things are actually starting to look pretty dang impressive. For the most part, the whole house is framed. I can actually walk through each of the bedrooms and see how big they are and imagine how I’m going to decorate. I’m so excited!

No really I am! It is all seeming more real.

Now that the rain has slowed down and we no longer have a cup duct taped to our ceiling in our bedroom to catch drips, things are on their way up.

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Are you a true Gilmore Girls fan? Take the quiz!

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These aren’t cheap questions about random actors and history of the set or writer, these are all about the content of the show. No cheating! I’ll post the answers at the bottom. Don’t look until after you’ve given it your best shot! Then tell me how you did in the comments below. Give yourself 1 point for each one you got right and 2 points for the bonus.

Then you can show this post to your friends and make fun of me for how crazy I am. I don’t mind.

The True Gilmore Girl’s Fan Quiz!

001 What was Kirk’s name in the second episode before he was actually the repeat character, Kirk?

002 Why was Lorelai late on Rory’s first day at Chilton?

003 Why does Lorelai shout Copper Boom as she’s getting Rory moved in at Yale? (Be specific)

004 How did Lorelai hurt her back the night of Rory’s dance at Chilton?

005 Name 4 characters that are talked about but you never see.

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