10 Reasons why I have an Orlando Blog
Everyone who writes about a particular subject has a reason.
- Fans of a sports team have passion for the game or a participant.
- Foodies really like cake…so they want to share it to the world
- Journalists who cover politics…well we don’t know why they do what they do…but a payday helps.
I have a different story, because I’m not the typical “Disney Fan” who went to Disney Parks growing up with their families on regular summer vacations.
In fact, the first time that I went to Disneyland was in 1994 because my mom had won a bowling tournament and the prize was a trip to California. Looking back through the photos, it wasn’t the best experience as I was a shy kid and didn’t know how to soak it all in. In fact, the only thing I bought as a souvenir was a deck of playing cards and a giant map of Disneyland!
In high school my true colors started to show. Constant interaction with various student events (like organizing dances), Band & Vocal Groups and everything to get my hands into the business of making people smile and have fun!
I went to university for Journalism, but realized that the program was still teaching print journalism and was years away from adapting the curriculum to digital. I did one year and then went out into the workforce to make a name for myself and work harder than anyone else.
In 2007, I went for an interview for the Disney Cruise Line. During the chat, there was a discussion about WDW…and within a week or so…my phone rang and let me know that I was accepted to the Disney International Program and that I’d be leaving in just over 6 weeks for my role as a Cultural Representative. Life sure has a way throw you curve balls!
Reason #1 – I was a former Cast Member at Walt Disney World
Unlike a bunch of folks who are in the Disney Online Community, I actually worked for the mouse. It was a mind-altering experience and I’m thankful to this day that I jumped at the opportunity. When I moved from Vancouver to Orlando, I lost friends, relationships and a ton of money…but it was the right decision. It allowed me to grow as an individual and a professional.
All good stories need a lesson, and this was when I was hit with a realization that even if I networked like crazy and did the best job that I was capable of, it wouldn’t help. Because I’m not an American Citizen, there was a brick wall that stood in my way of working full-time in a professional capacity once my contract was over.
Related Article – How to work at Walt Disney World
Reason #2 – I moved from Vancouver to Toronto
When I came back from my contract, I actually made the decision to move from British Columbia to Toronto in a bid to work for The Walt Disney Company.
I actually had an offer on the table to work for the Vancouver Olympics, but turned it down because I didn’t want to be unemployed at the end of the Games while surrounded by incredibly talented individuals who were all-of-a-sudden on the job market without an opportunity.
Knowing that there was at office in Toronto made the move a great idea (at the time) because I knew it housed everything from the Parks and Resorts, DCL, Consumer Products… so my thought was that I’d get settled out here and get back in with the company that I had a blast working for in Florida.
Long story short, I got hired on as store management at the Disney Stores and was there for a few years before realizing that the Disney Stores and the Disney Parks are completely different brands. Very seldom do the two actually connect and work together.
Reason #3 – I never stopped visiting the parks
As a cast member in Canada, I actually was down in Florida more often than most would believe. I would take weekend trips in-between week-long vacations. I had a limited number of weeks for vacation each year, but if my schedule was set up just right, I’d be able to be at the airport by 6pm on a Friday and back by midnight on Monday.
I’d always stay at Pop Century and would be in the parks from rope drop to The Kiss Goodnight…because I wanted to soak up as much magic before heading back to the retail store.
Reason #4 – I gave up a Silver Pass when I left the Disney Stores
Disney Management cast members get something called a Silver Pass. Look it up;)
When I’m writing articles, recording podcasts or doing videos in my home office…I have my old Silver Pass on my desk. It’s a reminder that sometimes you have to give up something nice to follow your dreams. That card gave me more access and more memories than anything…so it’s a fairly good reminder to keep working hard!
Reason #5 – I started my company in the Tourism Industry
In 2011, I started a company that provided guided tours around Toronto. The difference was that the tour guide was also your personal photographer and included in the price of the private experience were photos from the tour and route that we went on.
Sounds familiar right? It was basically the PhotoPass concept on steroids.
When you’re an entrepreneur – you have to work harder than everyone else. Plain and simple!
That company lasted from 2011 to 2016, which actually coincides with the launch of the first version of StepsToMagic which I co-founded before my business partner decided to go on her own.
Reason #6 – I love meeting new people
The best part of being part of the Orlando Online Community is the fact that each person has their own story and own passion for the brands that they write about. There are young folks and older folks…mothers, fathers, grandparents, locals and travellers… and couples who have a cat (like me and my partner).
Meeting folks is part of the joy that I get while I’m in the parks or when I’m setting up new story ideas and researching topics on skype. We all have a story to tell and that’s one of the main reasons why this website exists.
Reason #7 – The food, attractions and activities
I’ve seen people get into heated arguments about cupcakes and whether or not desserts that are decorated as a character are actually more flavorful.
It’s also a privilege to have been present when other bloggers get together and try to get the definitive list of the top 50 attractions at Walt Disney World or the best location on property to meet Mickey Mouse. The passion that lives within the words (both spoken and written) is such an honor to be a part of and sometimes we forget about that.
Just in case you don’t quite know ——
- My fav Resort – Polynesian Village Resort
- My daily commute – Usually by bus, but you can’t beat a good monorail ride
- On a day off I explore – The Animal Kingdom with my iPhone playing PokemonGo
- I can’t go a day without – Meeting Mickey
- Favorite Disney Landmark – Canadian Pavilion (Hotel Du Canada in particular)
- Favorite Summer-in-Disney activity – Dole Whip Eating
- Disney or Universal – Yes
Reason #8 – Collecting Stuff
Part of my fascination with the theme park industry is their willingness to provide things for fans to collect. If you’re a fan of a sports team, there is little that you can actually collect, outside of apparel and trading cards.
For Disney, you’re able to collect everything from maps, Pop Vinyl, Pins, Vinylmation, Movies, Books, Pennies, magnets…basically if there’s something that you want to collect, you can. This is a huge part of growing a fan base and I’m guilty of participating in a few of the above categories of fandom.
- I love pin trading
- My book collection is sizable
- I’ve bought full complete boxes of Vinylmation
- I also have pretty solid collections of old FastPass tickets, photos and so much more
Reason #9 – I love Travelling
You don’t become a travel blogger if you don’t like travel, and although I’m no longer representing a travel agency or actively selling the “product of travel”, it’s still a blast to learn more about locations. There are so many new frontiers opening up each year within the industry and I can’t wait to explore as many of them as possible.
The other thing is that I’m an entrepreneur at heart, so when I’m travelling…it’s all about research and finding new things to explore and create.
Reason #10 – I grew up wanting to be an Imagineer
This is pretty evident if you’ve ever jumped on a call with me, but I can go into storylines of attractions and provide insights into how the business of creating dreams actually works. My background allows me to reverse engineer an experience and see where the real “magic” is and what’s just a system that a paper-pusher wanted to install for giggles.
The theme parks in Florida and Anaheim (and all over the world to be honest) are all growing…but technology is passing them by just due to their size and red-tape. Be it social media, trends, tech advances or infrastructure – it’s all fair game.
My real passion is answering the question “how can I make this better?” and it’s an absolute blast!
I hope that this gave you some insights into who I am, where I came from and what really made me start this website. It wasn’t because I like creating lists…or because I have something to prove and get acceptance into a community. My real goal for this is to make as many folks enjoy their vacations better by knowing about things that I’m passionate about.
Creating lasting memories is so much more than saying “you should skip the Crystal Palace because I don’t like the way the chair cushions my butt”. It’s all about realizing that each person that you speak to is an individual and deserves so much more than a generic experience.