Leaving Disney - The College Program Story

Our guest blogger writes about being a Disney College Program Cast Member.

I am proud to introduce a new contributor to After the Mouse.com. Amanda Kelley. Having read Amanda's forum post how to cope with the separation from Disney I encouraged her to give us her story of what having been a College Program Cast Member meant to her. Please read on...

Tim asked me to write a story about how my life has been since I have left Disney and obviously I have agreed.

I guess I will start by telling you all a little bit about my experience down there first. I did the College Program in fall 2008. In fact I squeezed three years of school into two so I could go down to Florida then graduate in December. I was so excited to go to Walt Disney World. One, I had never been there before, two, living in Nebraska, in the middle of the United States, there isn't much excitement. I was excited to go down and meet new people and experience a new way of life. Little did I know how much it would change my life.

I was assigned the role of Housekeeper at Disney's Old Key West Resort. No it wasn't easy especially at the beginning, but I grew into it. I met some awesome people, full time cast members, and also my first boyfriend. I loved my roommates as we lived in Chatham Square Apartments. It was great going down during the fall because I got to experience Mickey's Not So Scary Party, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, the Food and Wine Festival, and the magic of the holidays.

My last day at Disney was one of the saddest days of my life. My parents and grandparents had come down to pick me up and spend at week there after my program ended. On that last day we started driving home I cried. A lot. I couldn't believe everything I was leaving behind and how my life had changed. Needless to say, I didn't want to go home.

In the weeks to come, adjusting to winter in Nebraska was hard. I interviewed and accepted a job back in Nebraska, and turned down an extension at Disney for it. When I returned, that job fell through. So now here I am a college graduate, with no job and all I wanted to do was go back to Disney. Going from busy, busy, busy, to doing absolutely nothing didn't set well with me. I spent a month and a half looking for a job, and in today's economy, that isn't easy. I filled my days thinking and planning on going back and when I could go to Disney. Talking to my friends down there never seemed enough. I tried to focus some of my attention on making a video of Disney memories, which helped a little, but also just made me want to go back more.

Currently, I am working full time in my desired field, reconnecting with friends back home and still trying to cope with the constant longing to be down at Walt Disney World. I am saving and hoping to go in August or September to visit, but eventually I would like to move down there for a year or two. I am also now scrapbooking my adventures and hoping it will help.

It seems that people back home just don't understand the longing for Disney. Living in Nebraska kind of separates you from life in other places. People can't comprehend being that far away. And it is a whole other world down there, but at the same time it's the place I want to be most. Where there is always something to do even if you're by yourself. You can visit a thousand times in your lifetime, but working and living at Disney is a whole other experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to earn my ears.

"Where everyone screams at the sight of a Mouse and the glass slipper always fits"