Friday, June 30, 2017

Day 1642: Oral Surgery

Don't get too freaked out about the title of this blog post, I promise it's not as bad as it sounds (although if I'm being honest, it's not like it was a walk in the park either). 

As some of you may know (although probably not), when I was somewhere around age 12, my brother cut me off while we were outside riding our bikes. My front tire hit his back tire, and so I went flying, hitting my front teeth square on the pavement and cracking them completely in half (along with a bit of a third tooth). I had double root canals the next morning and have had crowns on my front teeth ever since. 

Which means that since the above experience, I've never really been a huge fan of dentists or dental work (even though my dentists are lovely people). Unfortunately, over the past few months, I've been dealing with some significant pain above one of my front teeth, and when I brought it up to my dentist at a tooth cleaning a few weeks ago, they took some X-Rays only to find that, yep, I'd need surgery. 

So in to the oral surgeon's I went on Wednesday, much to my dismay, and along with fixing the issue in the roof of my mouth, they went ahead and took out my wisdom teeth as well (which were causing entirely different issues). I'm pretty thankful that they did it all in one sitting, just because it meant I only had to go under anesthesia once, but at the same time, I've now got several areas of heeling going on in my mouth. Really fun, huh? 

Therefore, my days have been spent sitting on my couch with ice on my face on and off, watching mostly TLC because I typically don't have to pay attention to it to know what's going on (plus, sometimes watching the drama of women trying to find their wedding dress is the prefect distraction when your face is numb). I've been existing mostly on a diet of broth, jello, and sweet potatoes with the occasional ice cream alternative (yay lactose intolerance) or smoothie...meaning that I'm incredibly hungry for literally anything other than what it is I'm actually allowed to eat. 

However, the healing process seems to be going well. I do occasionally feel a bit off, but for the most part I'm doing alright, as long as I take it easy and don't over-exert myself. It does give me plenty of time to plan blog posts and DCP Roommate gifts and work on other projects that I've been putting off for weeks though, which is probably good for all of you! I did just want to give everyone an update on how I'm doing and give more excuses as to why there aren't blog posts popping up continuously on the blog! I'll be back to work full-time soon though...and then it'll be off to New York for a week soon too! 

Now, if only I could figure out what I really want to put on my DCP Bucket List...

Have a magical day! 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 1641: A Different Kind of Blog

There are days like today every so often, when I'm hopelessly drowning in blog posts and I get a little frustrated with the kind of blog I write. Not only am I a topic-specific blog, but I'm a daily topic-specific blog, and I've worked very hard over the past few years to avoid repeating myself over and over again. It's hard, especially when I get behind, to think of original ideas that fit within the guidelines I've created for myself, and even when I'm totally caught up and I only have to come up with one blog topic a day instead of twelve, it's still frequently difficult to find something I feel people might want to read about in relation to Disney. 

But then there's also the realization that Everyday Disney isn't even your typical Disney blog. Many Disney blogs out there focus on news or tips and tricks for your Disney vacation, and while I myself subscribe to many of those blogs, I find myself jealous of how easy it must be to come up with continuous content in those cases. Here, I post once a day, and only once a day. If it's 3pm and suddenly Disney announces that they're closing Epcot permanently, but I already had a blog post up at 11 am, we're waiting until tomorrow to talk about it. Here, I find little bits of Disney in the outside world and bring them to life through blog posts. The problem is, sometimes the outside world doesn't directly line up with the Disney universe. Here, I strive to make the ordinary feel a little less ordinary and a little more magical, but sometimes one has to accept that, perhaps, a reader won't be interested in hearing about how salt can be related to The Magic Kingdom. 

Not every post on Everyday Disney is a prime example of the Disney magic either. Some are more about me than the parks and films. Some take place at a Disney Park and others don't. Some fit right in with what the other blogs are talking about and some fall completely off the beaten path. In other words, and not to toot my own horn here, I'm not sure there's another blog out there quite like Everyday Disney. It's a personal blog and a news blog and a special interest blog and a daily blog and more all rolled into one. 

Everyday Disney, like the Disney Parks themselves, is always evolving, and as we get closer and closer to year 5, it's time to really see what we can do. I've covered the basics, we've gone in-depth on the traditional, and now it's time to dig a little deeper to see what it is we're missing. So with new series like DCP Wednesdays, A to Z Disney, 50 States, and Random Disney Things, let's get exploring and keep going, because Adventure is Out There, and now it's time to find it. 

Have a magical day! 

P.S. - Think of this blog post as a sort of new Mission Statement for Everyday Disney. With a list of 314 blog post topics to work on over the next few months, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, and then I realized that it's time for a new mission in addition to a new look. So for the rest of 2017, the theme here at Everyday Disney is "Dig a Little Deeper," which is ironic considering it's same theme of the first blog post I wrote for the year, and it's time to find out who we are and what we're missing! 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Day 1660: Why the DCP?

Now that I've finally announced my big news about participating in the Disney College Program this fall, we can get started with the myriad of topics relating to the experience, even if I haven't actually arrived at Disney yet! In fact, you wouldn't believe just how much of an experience the months leading up to the Disney College Program can be, from deciding to apply to the application process to roommate gifts and a packing list. There's a lot to cover, and some of it comes long before applications drop. 

I first learned about the Disney College Program well before I was even looking at colleges to attend in the fall of 2013. As far as I can remember, the first time I really decided that maybe I'd like to look into doing the program was during an included breakfast on a tour at Animal Kingdom my Dad and I took years ago. We ended up being the only ones on the tour and spent a good portion of the meal discussing the college program and professional internships with our tour guide. Of course, I'm not sure I was truly serious about it back then, because it wasn't until my senior year of high school that I really decided that I wanted to pursue a career with the Disney company, but it's still important to note that for some, dreams of the Disney College Program go pretty far back. 

Now, whenever I tell people I'm going to go work for Disney as a part of the DCP, it's almost guaranteed that they'll ask me what that's about. By definition, the Disney College Program is a semester-long paid internship at either Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Students work in a front-line role at the theme parks and resorts, participate in college-level coursework, and live in company-sponsored housing with other students from around the globe. Applicants must be enrolled in a college or university during the semester prior to participation, meaning you can graduate from college and participate the following semester (which is what I'm doing), and for those who are heading back to school at the conclusion of their program, college credit may be available. 

Knowing I wanted to do the program, I immediately asked the study abroad rep at my college during my freshman orientation, only to find out that, unfortunately, my school does not award credit for doing the program, meaning that I'd basically take a semester off to go to Florida or complete a full semester of classes online in addition to the workload in the parks. In addition, as a Music Performance major, I was required to take lessons every semester, meaning I would have had to find a way to take lessons while away to stay on track. 

This left me with one option: put all my eggs in one basket and apply for the college program for the semester after graduation. I'll say with complete honesty that it felt like jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge in regards to the risk I was taking. I had no plans whatsoever if the DCP fell through, not wanting to waste hundreds of dollars on applications for grad school if I was going to pursue Disney instead. I felt like I had a pretty good shot of getting accepted, but I have a friend who is perfectly suited for the Disney College Program who was in the same boat as me, applying for the semester after she graduated, and she didn't get in. It's a risk, it's terrifying, but if it's something you really want to do, absolutely just go for it

If you want to apply for a semester in the midst of your college career, apply early. Some are accepted the first time through, and some apply four or five times with no luck, so since you can start applying during your first semester (to participate your second semester), start right away. You never know what will happen! 

If you're in the same boat as me, jumping into a sea of sharks, know that the Disney College Program is incredibly competitive, and many use it as a jumping off point to start a further career with Disney. That means that, for those of us applying for after graduation, you have to make sure you stand out from everyone else. Because I knew that I wouldn't be able to apply until my final semester, I spent my four years of college building on the foundation I'd set and gaining relevant experience. I did my research and looked at what roles might fit me best, and then sought out opportunities that would make me a better candidate. In fact, almost everything I've done over the past four years has been with the DCP in mind, and while it won't guarantee you'll get in, it certainly won't hurt because even if you don't, it'll make you more qualified for whatever the next step after graduation ends up being. 

For more information on the Disney College Program, check out the official website, and check in every Wednesday for a new blog post focused on my DCP Experience! 

Have a magical day!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Day 1637: Aladdin Chicago

I'll openly admit that I've never really liked Aladdin. If asked, I'll be the first to suggest that A Whole New World is probably the most overplayed song in the history of Disney Music (closely followed by anything from The Little Mermaid), and that while some of the characters are interesting, there's just nothing special about them that's truly appealed to me in my 21 years of life. In fact, and no one murder me for saying this, I realized recently that the most likely reason I've never really enjoyed the film is that the chemistry between Aladdin and Jasmine seems forced and unrealistic in the film, among other things. I do love Genie though, so there are some redeeming qualities here. 

Obviously, my feelings toward the film made me cautious going into the musical. I've only listened to the soundtrack a handful of times (mostly to avoid hearing A Whole New World for the 8 millionth time), and other than watching a video here or there over the past year out of curiosity about Adam Jacobs, I kept away from the show altogether. My family does, however, have a history of taking in the newest Disney musical when it arrives in Chicago, and that meant that at some point before September 10, we were bound to make the four hour drive to see the show. 

Overall, I'll say this about Aladdin: It was good, but not the showstopping extravaganza Hamilton is, with the exception of Friend Like Me and Prince Ali. In fact, Friend Like Me might just be one of the best things I've ever seen on stage, and that's saying something. The near 10 minute Genie feature is full of glitter and glam and everything you'd expect from the Genie. The dance breaks (specifically the tap) are full of energy and honestly, the entire number looks just plain exhausting, but is equally musical, hilarious, impressive, and magical. 

Prince Ali is similar, with bright colors and a high-energy atmosphere that brings the audience right back into the story at the opening of the second act. It was also in this number specifically that I marveled at the quick costume changes for the entire swing company. It's obvious that the creators of the show spent their time working on this piece in particular to bring to life one of the best-known moments in the film, although I do wish the elephant had made an appearance. 

The new additions to the musical lineup are nice, specifically Proud Of Your Boy, Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim, and High Adventure. The entire added Aladdin subplot actually did a lot for me in terms of the story as a whole, as it gave some depth to the character that was missing before. However, that same depth is missing for many of the other characters, but this story is about Aladdin himself, so it was helpful nonetheless. 

Not to continue to bash on A Whole New World, but per usual, this is where I thought things were lacking the most. Perhaps it's because I'm not a fan of the song itself, but this number was extremely underwhelming in comparison to the others in the show, and after seeing the Disneyland production multiple times, where the carpet literally flies out into the audience, the on-stage carpet did little to dazzle me. From a production standpoint, I completely understand the point of this, because flying out over the audience severely impacts the viewing of well over half the audience, but there was just so much that could have been done with this number and wasn't. A Million Miles Away was a welcome addition to the show though and added some of that chemistry I was missing in the film, so a few bonus points there!

Plus, seeing Adam Jacobs in person almost makes up any faults in the show. For those of you that aren't constantly following the Broadway Facebook Pages or Cast Lists, Adam Jacobs is best known for originating the role of Aladdin on Broadway, and he's since moved to the Chicago production. It was an honor to see Jacobs in the title role, and his portrayal of Aladdin is spot on in every way. Plus, he's not too bad on the eyes...or did you not notice that he hardly wears a shirt in the entire show? 

So does Aladdin rank among some of the greatest musicals of all time, even the Disney ones like The Lion King and Mary Poppins? I'd say so, but it's also not something I'll be rushing back to see immediately. Then again, that may just be my dislike of the film talking, so make your own decision on the show by checking it out on Broadway or at the Cadillac Theatre in Chicago (through September 10), and when it's finished there, Aladdin will head out on a national tour, so watch for when it comes to a city near you soon! 

If you've already seen Aladdin, leave your thoughts in the comments below! 

Have a magical day!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 1635: Big News!

If you haven't already watched the above video, I'm going to need you to do that now! After all, it's been torture not letting the cat out of the bag for the majority of the world these past three months, but I've finally gotten around to making the announcement video you can see above. 

If you've already watched it (or are like me and are horrible at following direction), I'll just say it now: I've accepted a role as a PhotoPass Photographer with the Disney College Program in Orlando, Florida starting this fall, and I couldn't be more excited about this new adventure!!! 

It's certainly not that I didn't want to say anything, but that I sort of struggled with how to say it, especially since an opportunity like this comes with a few strings attached. I've spent the last few months rearranging my life and getting things in order so I can move to Orlando in less than two months, which meant changing my contracts regarding YouTube videos, redesigning Everyday Disney, and reexamining everything I've been working on for the past 4+ years. All in all, I needed time to figure things out, especially since I was accepted at the height of the stress in my final semester of college, and there was hardly time for sleep, much less creating a new logo for my blog. 

To give you a brief rundown, I'll be starting my Disney College Program experience on August 7, and I'll be in Orlando until at least January 4. As I mentioned, I'll be a PhotoPass Photographer, and while I won't know my location until August, there's still a lot to talk about and a lot to get done between now and then, which is why every Wednesday I'll be writing a post focusing specifically on the Disney College Program, just to catch all of you up on my experiences so far. I'm also in the planning stages of a new YouTube series about DCP, and I'm ready to jump head first into this new adventure. 

If you have questions about the DCP, write them in the comments below, and you might see your question in a future blog post! 

Have a magical day! 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 1634: Why I Love Being a Photographer

If there's one thing I remember most from my childhood trips to Walt Disney World, it's the constant presence of cameras. There were the old ones with film, and yes, even slides, the point and shoot cameras I first used while learning the art of photography, and finally the digital varieties that we carry with us everywhere today, my iPhone included. I'm actually in the process of converting many of our old family videos from tape to digital, and it's sort of reminded me of the reason I walk around Magic Kingdom with a video camera in hand, even as a hurricane rolls in. 

Earlier this year I went on a trip to Florida with the Knights on Broadway, which was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences I've had in my entire life. I visited parts of Florida I'd never been to before, I got to go somewhere warm for spring break, performed for donors of the college while watching the sun set over the gulf, and went to Walt Disney World with some of my best friends. In short, it was incredible, but I struggled a bit too. 

For the past seven years specifically, I've taken the video camera (or at least a camera) with me pretty much everywhere. It came with me to the Twin Cities, Colorado, New Mexico, California, and of course, Florida. It feels almost wrong to be walking through a Disney Park without the video camera in hand now, but as we approached the KOBreak trip, a friend of mine suggested that I leave the cameras at home. 

Their argument was entirely valid: leaving the cameras at home would offer me a chance to be "in the moment" with my friends instead of seeing everything through the lens of the camera, as I often do. I'd see everything through my own eyes and capture mental memories, and after all, there are plenty of moments where, even on a Disney vacation, we turn the cameras off and we bask in the moment. 

Still, the thought of leaving the cameras behind was hard for me. As I mentioned earlier, my family never travels without a camera, and it's absolutely become a part of the Disney tradition for me, stopping every five minutes to take a picture of something we probably already have pictures of. Plus, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd regret not bringing them along. Yes, I'd take mental pictures, but what happens when those start to fade? Would I truly remember some parts of our day at Epcot as clearly as I remember so many of the spectacular experiences cataloged in my vlogs? Probably not. 

And while it's not what he intended at all, the suggestion felt as though they were  asking me to give up a part of myself. I take pictures and film videos at Disney World not because I feel like I owe it to anyone, but because it's what I love to do. Can I have fun at WDW without the cameras? Yes, of course! I ended up leaving them behind after all and still had a wonderful time, but because of how I grew up, with a video camera capturing everything from my smiling face to my temper tantrums, having a camera around is second nature. Filming every waking moment in a Disney Park isn't for everyone, and maybe it wasn't for him and that's where the suggestion came from, but in the long run, I won't be separated from my cameras for too long, and it all boils down to this: 

As I watch the videos from my childhood, there's nothing I love more than reliving the memories behind them. Memories I've since forgotten. Truth be told, they'd be lost if not for the videos my dad took, and that's exactly why I love being a photographer (and videographer). That's why I keep filming even after I can't feel my hand from holding the camera too long. That's why I willingly lay down on the ground next to a cockroach to capture the perfect shot. That's why I sprint to the nearest building in an attempt to protect my camera from the pouring rain, and immediately turn the camera back on to show how much it's raining. 

My friend didn't understand that standing behind the camera isn't about missing out on the moment itself, because you're there living it too, and you're also preserving that moment for years to come. It's never been abut the hassles of carrying the camera or the continuous "in your face" feeling. It's always been about making memories. Taking pictures, and making memories. 

Have a magical day! 

(Bonus points if you caught the vintage Epcot reference)!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 1632: Looking Ahead

Out with the old and in with the new. That's what they say, about change when we don't necessarily want to change, right? I'm a creature of habit, no doubt about it, and the past year and a half is a perfect example of that. I'm not particularly fond of new situations, I find myself irked when things don't go the way they always do, and when everything boils down, I'd likely be perfectly fine if things never changed, at least in some facets of life. A significant portion of me wishes I could maintain the life I've been living at St. Norbert College for not just the past year, but the past four. It was easy, it was comfortable, and above all else, it felt normal

And yet, I came to the conclusion on a plane ride back from Florida almost a year ago that my life is anything but normal. This is no ordinary life I'm living, not with the constant trips to Walt Disney World and the other traveling I do all over the country. Most aren't writing a blog and filming YouTube videos in addition to their schoolwork, only a few people are members of Knights on Broadway, performing more shows per year than most other ensembles on campus, and as far as I know, most don't have plans like I do for after graduation. 

What am I doing now that I've graduated you ask? That, my dear readers, will remain under wraps for a few more days until my official announcement on Friday, an announcement a very long time in coming, but for now you can plainly see the changes that have overcome Everyday Disney in the last 24 hours. I was already debating a rebrand of the blog a year ago, but wasn't at a point where I felt it was right. Now, with my special announcement and the upcoming five year anniversary of the blog, as much as my habit-wanting self tried to argue to keep things the same, I felt it was time for a change. 

As some of you may know, Everyday Disney hasn't really changed much in the past four and a half year, aside from the fact that I've found myself incredibly behind in my daily posts from the last year. In fact, below you can see a screenshot of what Everyday Disney looked like way back in the day, and then a screenshot of what it looked like with the 2015 redesign: 

As you can see, the colors and overall look of the blog have changed since it's beginnings in 2013, but since the 2015 remodel, things have remained the same, and even then it was just a re-do of that original design. 

Which meant that with everything going on, I figured that Everyday Disney wasn't just in need of a new mission and purpose, but was in need of a whole new look as well. Hence the new design (and logo!) for Everyday Disney. Over the next few months there will be plenty of changes, but more on all of that Friday. Trust me though, this announcement will change everything I've known and everything Everyday Disney is about, and in the long run, a new normal will form the same way it did when I moved to college four years ago. The point is, things do change, and I'm fairly certain my life has a long way to go before it resembles any kind of ordinary, but for now, it's time to keep moving forward and look ahead, because the journey is just beginning. 

Have a magical day!