Disney is my Home

Looking back on our first year of Living By Disney

This just can’t be. It’s been one whole year since we moved to Orlando and became next door neighbors with the Mouse! How crazy is that? Are you guys as surprised as I am? Some of you have been with us on this journey since the early days and most of you have joined along the way.

It’s been a crazy year! I have been so busy, just rolling with the changes and moving on to the next thing. I haven’t taken much time lately to absorb everything. So going through the pictures and old posts from the past year has been a perfect chance to reflect on it all. moving to disneyThis will be a photo tour of some of my favorite Disney related moments of the past year. Then I will follow-up with FAQ of the most common questions I get about living here.

Slight recap for those who may not be familiar with our story… I lived all my life in Virginia up until last November. As a huge Disney fan we visited as often as possible and talked about moving here often. For the last 10 years or so I’ve followed Disney World news on all forms of social media. I spent a lot of time trying to keep up with the latest news and changes since I was always working on planning the next trip. It was purely a subject that interested me. I had my favorite sites and certain people I liked and followed who lived here. And yes, I (secretly) hoped that maybe I’d get to meet a few people who I had watched and followed for years, but didn’t necessarily count on it actually happening.

The main reason I started this blog was to document our move and give people a resource for information that I wished I’d had when I was searching, and to write more editorial style articles with my thoughts on Disney World happenings since I felt that was something lacking in the existing media. (For more on the MOVE click here. Check here for more About Me)

What I didn’t anticipate is how many Disney fans would connect with our story, and want to hear more of my take on things going on here. Hearing from so many of you and getting to talk and get acquainted through various social media has by far been the highlight of this entire move. The other thing I didn’t expect is how many amazing experiences and opportunities I would have. Some happened just by being here. Sort of a, “right place, right time” kind of thing. And some were from the friends I’ve made who were generous and welcoming to me. Let’s take a look at some of highlights of the past year.

My Favorite Moments of the Past Year

Packing everything you own in a moving truck and hitting the road with two adults, two kids and a dog is way harder than it sounds (and it doesn’t sound easy). That week leading up to this and the few days of moving were some of the most stressful of my life. I don’t want to sugarcoat how challenging this was. Yes I was moving closer to my happy place, but there was still a lot of angst involved in the process. I can’t even tell you how many times I doubted myself and worried we were making a mistake. I was feeling absolutely heartsick at saying goodbye to my friends, to most of our family, and even one of my dogs (who stayed with my dad).

By the time we got on the road there was no more room to turn back. The course was set and all I could do was keep moving forward. When we entered the state of Florida it was like I just remembered, “Hey. We are going to live in Florida now. This will be my HOME.” There was a point to all this work. I was so tired but finally feeling like exciting times were ahead. We were so tired when we took this picture but it as a big moment.

welcome to florida

Five days after we arrived there happened to be a meet up of some local Disney Periscopers. We had been on many of their scopes, anxious to see more of what we were moving to, and also hoping to get to know a few locals in the process. It was a fun moment to realize that these types of meet-ups were something we could do regularly now. The other awesome thing was understanding that we would now be surrounded by lots of fellow Disney fans here. No longer the oddball family who “always go to Disney” and have “Mickey everywhere in their house”.

Remember all those Disney people I was hoping I could eventually meet in real life?   I met the first one at this meet u. He’s a guy we loved watching on YouTube and Periscope, Chris Spokesmayne. And I’m here to tell you- he’s just as nice, fun, and genuine as he seems in his videos. He was the first of several people that we knew “virtually” and have become real friends.

The same day of the meet up happened to be the opening of Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios. So Chloe and I decided we were up for going back out that night and checking it out. I remember how hot we thought it was. And how all the locals were telling us “Oh, this is nothing.” Now after living through the Orlando summer I have to say, I get it. I had never been to Osborne Lights but I’d seen pictures of it. I was completely unprepared by how big and just wow it was. Totally blew my mind. Lots of memories from our first Florida winter revolve around these lights.

osborne lights

This same night I met two more people who were to become good friends. Corinne was someone I had followed were ages on Instagram, her account is DisneyLifestylers and she posts all the latest and best Disney merchandise. She also works for Inside the Magic and is extremely well known here in the Disney community. I will never forget how sweet she was when we introduced ourselves. We took a picture with her and talked for a bit. When we put the picture on our brand new Instagram account she re-posted it on her site and Chloe (my daughter) and I felt so cool. *** Side note: this picture is one of the worst of me but of course I was determined to post it anyway since we had just met Corinne and who knew when we would ever get a picture with her again? Which is funny since my camera roll is filled with pictures of us. But who knew? Also you can tell that I had no clue how to deal with the sudden frizz that my hair was facing living here. I have since learned to manage much better. 🙂

We also met John Panda, another long time favorite Disney YouTuber of mine. (Don’t have a pic with him from that first night, but here’s another.) He’s become one of my absolute favorite people. What a first week, huh?

That first week was pretty much indicative of how my life here would be. Since we moved here in November, my husband and I decided to take off the rest of the year to get settled into the new place, and to just de-stress and enjoy getting to know the area. We bought our Florida resident Annual Passes and immediately started going to the parks. I’m not going to lie. At first I went a little bit overboard with going to the parks. Who needs boring adult life when Disney is 10 minutes down the road?! I wrote about that adjustment here. It did take me a month or so. (maybe a tad longer) But I think part of that was after the stress of the last year my brain just checked out for a bit. Looking back I think it was what I needed to do. Maybe it helped me keep my sanity. I’m just so glad that I was fortunate enough to be able to take that time to settle in. Free time is such a gift. And I enjoyed that time immensely.

This is LIVING (by Disney)

I am a huge Star Wars dork fan. So being here for the opening of Launch Bay was a pretty big deal to me. But even bigger was when I won the Disney Parks Blog giveaway to the premiere of Force Awakens and the private party at Hollywood Studios. I didn’t even fully understand what a big deal that was until I attended the event. I thought it was mainly the movie, which was cool just to see it first before it came out. But they had a special after-hours party with everything themed Star Wars. Special photo ops and Meet and Greets, and even had Rock n Roller Coaster re-done so you could ride it with a Star Wars music soundtrack and effects. That was incredible! We also got a framed opening day ticket and other swag. What an amazing experience that was!

Going to the first ever Club Villain was so cool- this wasn’t due to any opportunity so much as I just bought a ticket to the first one. My review of that event remains one of my most popular posts. (I went several times it was so much fun.)

Hanging with some of my favorite Disney ladies for a full day of Character meets was so much fun! One of them, Jenn, has since moved here and become a cast member and fellow Disney local. I have met and talked with so many who want to move here too. Several have actually done it and it’s pretty cool to be able to add them to my Disney local friends. To have had a small part of their journey is such a treat.

The final Dream Along with Mickey was so cool to witness. Anytime you go to the final anything at Disney this is where you see your tribe. These are the die-hard fans, the cast members who have had a part in making it happen over the years, the social media people who want to document it, and the locals who want to be a part of it. They are so much fun- the energy and emotion is hard to describe. It’s one of my favorite things and one of the biggest perks to being local.

Final Dream Along with Mickey

My first Dapper day just about blew my mind with the awesomeness of everyone’s outfits. These people have style. They are so creative! I just love seeing what everyone wears. I’ve since been to my second one as well. Can’t wait for the next one in April. Plan ahead for these!

Because I have a Social media Marketing background, I do occasional articles on this- whether it be latest things, like Periscope, or growing Instagram, or the most Instagram Worthy picture spots at Disney. That one is an article that I really love because it highlights so many of my favorite Disney accounts on Instagram. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet!

So I guess you could say that having this “job” does have its perks. ( yeah there’s some understatement there) But it’s also a very, well…. weird life. No one really understands just what it is you do. And everything just looks like you’re playing around and having fun. I mean, yeah. It is fun. But it’s something people don’t really get.

“So…. what exactly is it that you DO?”

Keeping it real: I’ve had old friends from Virginia distance themselves from me because they feel like my life is nothing but going to Disney. I’ve gotten concerned messages asking if I’m still caring for my children or if I’m still attending church, or having some sort of mid-life crisis. Really.

Fact: Social media can be deceiving and never shows your entire life. Yes I’m happily married and try hard to take care of a household and cook dinners and have date nights. Yes I still have two teenagers I care for. There’s running them to practices, friends, homeschooling, dinner, groceries, cleaning, etc. All the normal mom and wife stuff. I may not share all of that publicly on Social Media but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Putting parts of your life out there for people to see means that you will open yourself up to criticism and misunderstandings. But the downside to all this has been worth it when I reflect on how many incredible opportunities and moments I’ve been able to enjoy over the past year.

Thank you so much for coming along with me on this journey. Please don’t ever hesitate to send me a message through here or any of my other social media if there’s advice or help I can give.

It’s been an incredible year and I can’t wait to see what the next has in store!

MegaCon 2016

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