There I was, 18 years-old standing in front of the Walt Disney World Casting team with nothing but my head-shot in hand and my dreams at stake.
In the room with me were about 500 people who shared the same dreams as I did. We all wanted to perform for the Walt Disney Company. Although nerves were laced between the herds of hopefuls and butterflies danced in our stomachs, each and every pair of eyes glistened with a touch of pixie dust.
I knew that some of the performers may have been more talented than I was, but I had something they were lacking. I wanted this for more than just a resume booster, job opportunity, or paycheck. Disney performers brought smiles and light to peoples’ lives. I wanted to be the reason behind that. I wanted to make magic.
After a three-part process and as month of waiting, I finally found out my life-long dream of working for Disney would be coming true. I packed my bags and moved out for a semester.
I would be working in the entertainment department. Although, I can’t tell you what I did exactly, I can say I worked very closely with Princess Ariel. I helped tell her story to people of all ages.
I spent the next six months of my life with Ariel. It was the most life-changing experience I ever went through. Knowing you are the reason behind someone’s smile is a payment in itself. The look on the little girls faces’ when they see a real live mermaid is something I’ll never forget. I will alsos never forget the look on their dads’ facess when they saw a red-head in a clam-shell bra.
Ariel spent her days telling stories to children and adults alike. Some of these interactions still give me the chills. One afternoon a little girl, Abby, visited Ariel in her grotto. She was dressed as a mermaid and was wheeled in by her family. Little princess Abby had many surgeries that kept her from ever being able to walk again. Ariel felt a strong connection with princess Abby and reassured her that she doesn’t need legs to have fun. Ariel named Abby an honorary mermaid because that’s much more magical than being a human anyways. Abby embraced Ariel with all her strength. Not one eye in the grotto was dry.
Ariel had opportunities to meet little princes and princesses from all over the world. The most beautiful interactions were those with families who didn’t speak English. Ariel would assure them under the sea we all speak bubbles. Even though there was a language barrier, the magic never went missing.
Unfortunately, my time with Ariel was coming to an end. We would have to swim our separate ways. I was coming back to Cabrini, but this time, with a different passion. Although it was time to hang up my tiara, I knew storytelling was something I fell in love with.
Ariel, and my time at Disney, helped me to realize that. I am currently a communication major and get to tell stories every single day. Readjusting to life here was difficult, and post Disney depression is a real thing. On my days off, I would go watch fireworks under Cinderella’s castle. Even though it was a lifestyle, I understand now it isn’t a reality.
However, Disney helped me realize where I belong, and that’s here, writing my own story.
I miss Ariel and send her hugs and fishes from Cabrini College. I hope to swim with her someday soon again. Now, not only have I mastered her story, but I have started my own.