Remington’s Winnie the Pooh photo shoot

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I just can’t help myself when it comes to silly styled photo shoots including a disney element and my cute babies. And with the inclusion of Winnie the Pooh into the mix, I just couldn’t say no. This little shoot is the product of a lazy afternoon. It required quick costume changes and keeping Evelyn occupied so she didn’t see that her brother was playing with her Pooh toys.

I bought Remi’s Tigger outfit for our trip to Disneyland and then opened a suitcase to pack for the trip and found this Pooh costume. Seriously. I just found it. Like what is that? Full disclosure, I knew it existed..my sister bought it for Evelyn and then lost it and I just happened upon it in a suitcase in my attic. So with two outfits from Winnie the Pooh for the same little boy, I had to work in a faux twin photo. Am I cray or what?

Anyways, scroll down for some amateur shots of my cute little nugget and all his Winnie the Pooh pals.

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{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!

 

 

 

Doing Disney Part 5: What to Wear to Disney World

This is the fifth post in a five part series on a Walt Disney World trip. Click here for part 1 on Disney for Adults, here for part 2 on Accommodations, and here for part 3 on Restaurants/Dining Plan, and here for part 4 on Disney with a Baby.

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This post is aimed directly at people who want to look stylish/cute and are going to Disney World in the summer. If you couldn’t care less how you look as long as you’re comfortable, grab a t-shirt and your tennis shoes and have at it. Otherwise, read on.

I did a dumb amount of research before my Disney trip (as I mentioned before) considering how many times I’ve been there. But I figured that other people might have better advice than me and it never hurts to get ideas from someone else. The biggest thing I searched for is what shoes to wear to Disney.

My criteria:

  • Able to match cute outfits
  • Not make my feet sweaty
  • Not stay wet if they get wet on a water ride
  • No blisters
  • Comfortable by the end of the day

I saw lots of people on forums suggest tons of different shoes from tennis shoes to some crazy expensive weird sandals and the ones that caught my eye the most were Yellow Box flip flops. My mom has a pair (or 4) and raved about them so I thought I’d give them a try. I got them on sale when I was in Georgia and it was the best investment I have ever made.

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Doing Disney Part 4: Disney with a Baby

This is the fourth post in a five part series on a Walt Disney World trip. Click here for part 1 on Disney for Adults, here for part 2 on Accommodations, and here for part 3 on Restaurants/Dining Plan.

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Don’t.

Seriously though it’s terrible. Our trip wasn’t horrid but that’s only because my parents were there and were more than willing to take their turn helping out with Evelyn so I could do some fun stuff. Also, for the most part, my parents don’t like roller coasters. There was still things I had to miss out on because I had a baby sleeping in a stroller and strollers, unlike wheelchairs, aren’t allowed everywhere. If it had just been me, my husband, and Evelyn, I am positive it would have been a miserable trip because babies are generally as follows:

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Doing Disney Part 3: Restaurants/Dining Plan

This is the third post in a five part series on a Walt Disney World trip. Click here for part 1 on Disney for Adults and here for part 2 on Accommodations.

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I’ve been to Disney World A LOT in my life. I mean I used to work there. So as much fun as the rides were on this past trip, my absolute favorite part were the restaurants! I may have taken a little break from Weight Watchers so I could fully enjoy that experience. I planned each restaurant we went to which meant that I also had to figure out which park we’d be in on which day. That was the only reason I did so much planning. Many of the popular sit down restaurants book up fast and we had a sit down meal every day of our trip. Why so many? Because we were on the Disney Dining Plan!

Before I get too far into this, I’ll preface it by saying that I’m glad that I got the opportunity to do a Disney Dining Plan (on my Dad’s dollar) but for my budget, we would have chosen a different plan. Not to say that the Dining Plan isn’t fabulous for someone who can afford it, but as a young family it wouldn’t have been possible on our budget.

 First things first, I’ll tell you all about the dining plan, but if you want to skip down a little further, you can read about my favorite restaurants.

Disney Dining Plan

So what is the Disney Dining plan? Essentially it’s paying in advance for meal credits that you can use around the park. You pay one flat fee per person and then you can get any meal that you want from approved restaurants. So in theory you save money. The plan we chose consisted of one snack credit, one quick service credit (fast food) and one table credit (sit down) per person per day. Each meal (excluding the snack) includes a drink and a dessert and in some places a side dish. It is SO MUCH FOOD!

Cons of the Disney Dining Plan

Con #1: The quest for the perfect snack

In my research before our trip I read that you should make the most of your snack credits. You could get a Mickey ice cream bar or a bottle of water OR you could get some gelato in Italy or the famous school bread in Norway. So my plan was to save my snack credits for Epcot. The only problem was that whenever I was in Epcot we had inevitably just had a big delicious meal and I was so full that I couldn’t even fathom wanting to find something else to eat, even if I did save it for later. So since I was saving my credits for the perfect snack I never actually found that snack and ended up being hungry in the morning when I could have used a snack credit on a breakfast pastry and having to spend my credits at a candy shop in Downtown Disney on the day we left.

Con # 2: The “all you care to enjoy” buffet

Two of the four sit down restaurants we ate at, though delicious, were, as Disney phrases it, “All You Care to Enjoy”. Good in theory but that manner of eating always makes me feel like I need to get my money’s worth and eat until spontaneous combustion seems a legitimate possibility.

Con # 3: SO MUCH FOOD

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Doing Disney part 2: Disney World Resorts

This is the second post in a five part series on a Walt Disney World trip. Click here for part 1 on Disney for Adults.

Read on for fun pics from the resort we stayed in and my 5 reasons for staying at a Disney World Resort.

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So I didn’t pay for our trip, so it wasn’t up to me to find something affordable for my tiny family of 3. If it had been, we would not have stayed on Disney property cause we’re poor. The end.

However, my Dad has just a tad more money than I do and he was willing to pay for all of us (my mom, dad, brother, sister, me and baby) to stay in a Disney Resort. After talking to a Disney travel agent I determined that our best bet would be a suite at The Art of Animation. As far as an adult hotel for all us adults, this was not the best fit. But I thought this one was better than our other option at The Old Key West Resort solely because it had two bathrooms.

So we lived with the loud (and I mean LOUD) decor for a week and you know what, I’m glad we did because it was actually pretty adorable. Our resort had four little, for lack of a better term, lands: Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. Each section was decorated for it’s land. Every last detail was accounted for. The outside of the hotel, in the rooms, the hallways, even down to the plant life chosen for outside of the hotel. For instance, the Cars land was very desert-y with mainly rocks and not a lot of greenery whereas Nemo and Ariel land had a ton of plants that looked like seaweed and Lion King land had big trees and looked forested.

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Larger than life replicas of characters from the movies were there too. And the swimming pools were too cute! The Cars one was designed after the Cozy Cone motel and the Finding Nemo one had a ton of water spraying everywhere and a splash pad full of Nemo characters and under water plant life (replicas, not the real thing).

The room was a tad cramped for 5 adults and a baby but for the amount of time we all spent in the room (i.e. sleeping) it was perfect.

5 Reasons to Stay at Disney World Resorts

001 Transportation

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