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I’m back from a week in Orlando, and as most Orlando vacations go, I’m in desperate need of a vacation from my vacation. A trip to the Walt Disney World Resort is always totally magical, but very exhausting. We got to stay in my FAVORITE resort, the Polynesian. I always feel like I’m home when I go to stay at the Polynesian. It just has a completely different and wonderful atmosphere than the rest of the on-property hotels. Can you really beat a 24-hour yummy quick service place like Captain Cook’s right in the hotel, or a view of Cinderella’s castle while taking a dip in the pool, not to mention being right on the resort monorail line.

Also, I got in the rest of my hours for the year at Kilimanjaro Safaris! I’ve clocked in exactly 41.5 hours for 2010, which means I get my little 2011 sticker as well as all the wonderful discounts that come with it for all of next year! It’s always so weird going back to work, especially because I know maybe two people that are still working there. Also, did you know that drivers are supposed to STOP on the ride path now? Yup. Ten different times for 5 seconds each. My first day I had no idea of this (because as long as you were there within the last six months, nobody feels the need to tell you anything), and was basically on the butt of every truck in front of me. The next day I came in and finally saw the sign explaining that trucks were now supposed to stop, and I spent the next two days at work completely mortified that I had to stop my truck. Old habits sure do die hard.

The rest of the trip was very magical. One plus of going to Disney with my aunts is that you’re always at the parks by park open. I saw the welcome show at the Magic Kingdom, and practically started crying when all the characters cam riding out on the train (including Tiana and Naveen!! Eeee!!). I also got to experience Captain EO as a more sophisticated adult, since the last time I saw it I was probably about two years old, and it was absolutely marvelous. Seeing MJ preform while he was still so young was incredible. Not to mention he had an awesome t-shirt on, that I somehow resisted buying, but will most likely own if I move down to Orlando.

Although Captain EO was life-changing, there were two even more magical moments. The first was at the Living Seas, where we were lucky enough to meet Leslie. She brought us up to the top of the tanks at the Living Seas Aquarium. It was totally awesome. I love being in backstage areas. Even as a cast member, I get seriously geeked out about being places that guests are not allowed. The second happened on our first day. We had taken the bus from the Polynesian to Hollywood Studios only for me to realize that I had completely forgotten my Main Gate pass. Total bummer. I felt so awful and I was so stressed out about having to wait for a bus to come get me from Studios and then wait for another bus to come back to the Polynesian to bring me back. By that point, we would have definitely missed our breakfast reservations. Then Maria came along, she was this saint in a Transportation role in charge of deploying buses. When she couldn’t get a bus to come pick us up to bring us back to the Polynesian, she told us all to pile into her van and she was going to bring us back to our hotel to get my pass. She was a complete life-saver. And this my friends is why Disney is so incredible. No other place has guest service like that. Especially no other theme park.

I got to experience Summer Nightastic as well. This was quite fun, although none of it was really new, just a bunch of old shows and parades from past night shows. Like the fireworks from the Pirate and Princess parties and the Main Street Electrical Light Parade. I especially enjoyed watching the parade. I think I liked Eliot the dragon the best! I took video of the whole thing, I will have to post it! I’m glad they will be keeping that parade around for longer than just the summer. I like it very much and think that kids these days really should learn who these characters are.

Anyway, now I am home, wishing I was still living in a world of fantasy, but there are more important things to worry about. Like getting caught up and back on schedule with Animation Mentor. I missed last week’s Q and A as well as a Toy Story 3 Q and A. Total bummer. But life goes on. I’ve got lots of work to do this week for class, like watching last week’s lecture. And on top of that it’s like crazy birthday week with my brother’s birthday, my sister’s birthday, and one of my best friends from college’s birthday. Crazy, crazy week.

Oh, and by the way, I fianlly found me on of those Mickey Key Lime Pies. Nevermind that they didn’t actually have a little Mickey Mouse made out of whipped cream, but it just wasn’t as yummy and satisfying as I would have hoped. Le sigh. I guess I’m just a cupcake and chocolate mousse kind of girl.

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You may or may not know that I am absolutely in love with all things Disney. So much so, that I even took a semester off from school in 2007 to do an “internship” there (aka Disney paid me next to nothing to work 30+ hours a week). That sounds crappy, you say? Hell to the no. These seven months were some of the best of my life! Working all day and then going into the parks at night to play with all your friends. Watching fireworks almost every night. Being amongst the last of the public to ride Back to the Future at Universal Studios. FINALLY celebrating my birthday in the happiest place on earth! Winning a “free” cruise to the Bahamas. Becoming best friends with a waiter at Friday’s and convincing his manager you were married to get free drinks. I made some of my most favorite memories while on the Disney College Program. I feel like everyone should do it. As miserable as it can be, the amazing experience that comes out of it far outweighs the drama and long hours of work.

Why am I so sickeningly reminiscent all of a sudden? Well, while on my program, I worked at the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I drove an oversized truck and gave tours of our African reserve. In the reserve were zebras, elephants, lions, cheetahs, and giraffes. We had a super tall male giraffe named Asante, which is Swahili for “thanks.” And today he passed away from a serious neck injury. So so so sad 😦

If you want to read more, here is the link: Giraffe dies with broken neck

So this got me thinking of all the wonderful times I had while on my program, and I wanted to share some of them with you!

Here I am with my ill-fitting khakis costume and my truck!

Jambo everybody! Are you ready for a safari?

Just hanging out on show in costume!

Breakfast at Ohana, Ohana means family

Bryly and Kitty ❤

My hubby and I with our friends from Fridays!

Blue Man Group with some of my favs, Ry Ry, Jaclyn and Erin!

Ry Ry, my bestest friend on the program, we did everything together!

We were the second to last group of guests to ride Back to the Future before it closed!

Ry Ry and I on our cruise to the Bahamas!

We even jumped on hotel beds! haha

With the girls at graduation!

Hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane with me. I wish I could go back every day and be with my friends again working at safaris, but I know, just like Walt said, we have to keep moving forward and learn new things. I have been so blessed to have so many incredible and life-changing experiences, and I can’t wait to have so many more!

Love to all my safari friends. Kwaherini Asante, you will be missed out on the savannah. See you in two weeks.

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