Let’s Make Memories Together!

Welcome to my very first blog! This blog will focus on the lessons I have learned through my experiences in event planning. Some posts will highlight my successes and failures as a growing professional. Other posts will critique the advice of other planners. Most importantly, this blog will be a time-capsule of all of the lessons I have learned on this journey to becoming an event planner.

– The Memory Maker

The Next Chapter

Life is like a book: it’s made up of small sentences, that lead to paragraphs, that end up being amazingly full chapters. In a way, I just ended one chapter in my life.

I graduated college.

This chapter feels different. It feels great, knowing that I am a college graduate. But it’s also terrifying, in the “what is my life without school?” kind of way.

Commencement was a surreal experience. First, it was an insanely beautiful day. My fellow graduates lined up in front of Towers Hall, and I was swallowed by nostalgia. The bells were singing to us as we marched across campus, as if to say their final goodbye.

As I walked up to the stage, shook President Krendl’s hand, and made my way back to my seat, I felt as though this was all a dream. That I would still be back in a classroom come August. That, surely, I was not ready for this degree.

Reflecting on those fears, I realized that this degree is just a symbol. In order to write new chapters, I will continuously be in a classroom. It’ll just look a little different.

To all of the professors and faculty that have bent over backwards to help me, to those who have gone above and beyond to get to know me as a friend, to those who have enlightened me with countless amounts of wisdom…thank you.

To the friends who have laughed with me, cried with me, and have cheered me on along the way…thank you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To my family that has always known I was capable of this, and supported me in unbelievable ways…thank you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s time to turn the page, and begin the next chapter in my life. And I cannot wait to get started!

Stay tuned for updates on my new job, new events, and new adventures!

-The Memory Maker

Our Trip Home

I am finally home, and it feels so good!

But in order to get home, that meant a road trip! And this time, Mom had the pleasure of joining me on the 1000 mile journey. We made lots of little stops along the way!

Check out our trip here! Click through the arrows to see the presentation.

It was so much fun seeing all of these different states! Next time, though, I’ll visit when there is no “Polar Vortex”.

Now my days are filled with finding space for all of my stuff and meeting up with the friends and family I missed so much. Keep reading this blog for updates on events I am apart of, and see where I go next!

-The Memory Maker

Bittersweet

The only way I can describe my emotions right now is bittersweet.

Bitter, in that I am leaving behind a life of fantasy. That I have to say goodbye to the friends I had only just started getting to know. I am bitter that I no longer can walk around in flip flops. And I am truly going to miss spending my time in the most magical place on Earth.

Yet this moment is so sweet in that I can come home to my loving friends and family. I can have a moment to relax before I start the last semester of college. Sweet silence, instead of crying children. Being back in a comfortable environment is something I have been craving these past few months.

Toward the end of the evening, as I rode through the ride on my own, a wave of pride and sadness came over me. It honestly felt like my first day of training was yesterday. But, I’ve seen and done so much since then. I am going to miss going under the sea every day.

Once the park closed, all of us “Merms” rode the ride as a group. Singing along and inserting out own commentary. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to the ride that we’ve called home.

Then all of the Fantasyland College Participants met up and rode the Carousel. It felt like the perfect conclusion of our time together. One of those out of body experiences that you come back to in dreams.

So to all of the amazing people I met during my program, thank you. Thank you for being such unique and wonderful individuals. Thank you for letting me be part of your world, and thank you for impacting a part of my life that I hope to never forget.

-The Memory Maker

13 Things I Did in 2013

As the New Year approaches, I am reflecting on all that I have accomplished this year. Let’s rewind the clock, and see what happened throughout 2013.

1. I helped rebrand the Campus Activities Board.

2. I saw Pentatonix live.

3. I watched one of my best friends get married.

4. I went to Portland for the first time.

The amazing LeakyCon Portland Staff!

5. I went canoeing.

6. I got my big girl license.

7. I tried to start a new tradition.

8. I had a magical journey on the Disney College Program.

9. I was on national television.

10. I saved up for my own vacation for the first time.

11. I crossed “Do Lady and the Tramp Scene” off of my bucket list.

12. I spent Christmas away from family for the first time.

13. I went on a 1000 mile road trip….

…And I’m about to go another another 1000 mile road trip home. 2013 may be coming to a close, but I know that 2014 has so much in store. Happy New Year, everyone! I hope we can continue to make memories together!

-The Memory Maker

Eric’s First Disney Trip

When someone tells me they have never been to Disney World, I see it as a challenge. A challenge to give them the best Disney experience they could have ever dreamed of. Luckily my boyfriend, Eric, had never been to Disney World. And I was about to spend four months of my life there. The timing could not have been more perfect.

Challenge accepted.

Check out this video I made with all of the pictures we took!

Eric’s visit was exactly what I needed to push me through to January. As much as I love it here, I really do miss home. Only a few more weeks…

-The Memory Maker

I’ve Earned My Mouseters!

That’s right folks! I’ve earned my degree from Disney Programs and Internships. And so, of course, that means a celebration!

Each participant received a diploma and a commemorative memory box. I feel like the memory box is going to hold all of the collectables and loose items I’ve collected over the past few months. Great way to remember the magic.

Then everyone gets their own graduation Mickey ears. This is a moment I have looked forward to since I was accepted in the program in the first place. I plan on getting mine embroidered with my name when I visit the Magic Kingdom.

Once I got all of the memorabilia, I paid a visit to the Main Mouse and his lady friend. They were donned in their own graduation robes. It was sweet to see them, and receive their congratulations.

And what’s a party without food? Well this party had a full-fledged barbecue, thanks to Sonny’s. Hot dogs, burgers, pulled pork, corn, beans, mac and cheese, and sweet tea. Absolutely delicious!

This event really woke me up. I guess sometimes I forget that only a few months ago I was a worried mess on a road trip down here. Unsure of what was ahead. But now, I only have a few more weeks until I road trip it back. And as much as I know I’m ready to be home, I know I am going to miss it here. Crazy how time flies when you’re having fun.

-The Memory Maker

A Miracle on Main Street

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twas a bright Florida morning,
Throughout the streets of MK,
They were filming a parade,
To show on Christmas Day.

The streets were so full,
We couldn’t move if you’d dared us. 
Then dancing down the street,
Came Neil Patrick Harris.

We clapped and rejoiced,
As he sang his opening song.
Then what do we see?
Some villains came along.

He befriended them as always,
And went along his way.
But then we saw some Newsies,
Doing high kicks and chassés. 

The moment of the day 
That I would label as the best,
Is when NPH and Mickey
Started chatting between sets. 

A big shout out to Lindsey,
My friend from work who joined me.
Thanks for coming for the ride,
And helping make this a great memory.

Please watch for me this holiday,
I may show up on your  screen.
If you see someone jumping wildly,
It’s probably me that you’ve seen. 

-The Memory Maker

A Blizzard Bash

With temperatures reaching upwards of 85 degrees here in Florida, it only seemed fitting to attend the Blizzard Bash Winter Formal, hosted by the Disney College Program Housing Events team. It was lovely getting all dressed up with my friends, indulging ourselves in a night of delicious food and dancing.

(From Left) Kerri, Katie, Adam, Jordan, Taylor, Natasha, Me, Steph

The Blizzard Bash was held at the Contemporary Resort, deluxe location with an elegant ballroom. Each corner of the space was a character meet-and-greet location, that would have characters alternating throughout the night. There were great photo opportunities with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy in their holiday attire. But I also got to hang out with some rare friends like Genie, Hades, Hook and Smee.

The middle of the room was a giant dance floor, that looked like a winter wonderland. “Snow” fell down over the dancing heads, adding that extra special touch that only Disney could make possible.

One of the best parts of the night was the food. Multiple buffet stations were set up around the space, offering main entrees such as pasta and chicken. Later on, they added a nacho bar with chips, salsa, and quacamole. But my favorite part was the dessert bar; a station with chocolate fondue and a variety of delicious dipping options. Cakes, pretzels, fruits, and marshmallows doused in chocolate. A great way to cap off the night.

Most of all, I enjoyed hanging out with my friends where we didn’t have to talk about work. It was a much needed break from the norm, and a great chance to let our hair down. Ultimately, the Blizzard Bash was a success in my eyes.

-The Memory Maker

Disney Thanksgiving (Guest Author Jordan Edwards)

When I was five, my parents took me to Walt Disney World for the first time. Of course, we had an amazing time but when we got home they assured me that that would be the last time we would go. “The next time we go,” they joked, “You’ll have to pay your own way!” Since that day, we have been back no less than five times and each has been its own uniquely “Disney” experience.

One week ago, my parents and I made the now-familiar journey from Central Ohio to Central Florida to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with Emily. We arrived to an unusually cold, blustery Orlando and immediately met up with Emily who greeted us as we stepped off the Magical Express at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Hugs ensued. One of my favorite memories was seeing Emily and Dad walking hand-in-hand toward our room. Disney reunions are the best reunions.

One of the coolest parts of this particular Disney trip was testing their newest initiative, MyMagic Bands! These little things are pretty amazing. They hold everything from your room key, park tickets, and credit card info, to PhotoPass photos and FastPass reservations. After the initial set-up they’re super easy to use and kind of fun to watch (for me, at least). Each park has replaced their entrance turnstiles with a wonderfully sleek MyMagic touchpoint, complete with subtly glowing Mickey silhouette; touch your band to the Mickey and “Bing!” you’re in!

MyMagic bands made it super-duper easy to buy things (which, of course, makes Disney pretty happy) but I like the idea of using them to log your experiences (via photos, reservations, etc.) and I can’t wait to see how Disney grows and expands the program in the future.

Our first night was spent bent against the freezing winds at Downtown Disney. I hadn’t been the resort’s outdoor shopping complex in close to 20 years so it was nice to see how things have changed and what new things they have in store. We skirted in and out of the various Disney and standard clothing stores, buying time (and merch) before our reservation at Fulton’s Crab House. I really enjoyed setting foot aboard the same paddle steamer where we had our first-ever Character breakfast close to 18 years previous. The dinner was delicious and we left stuffed and happy on our way to catch a showing of Disney’s newest animated feature “Frozen” on its opening day.

Thanksgiving Day meant extra large crowds and therefore all-hands-on-deck for Cast Members so after an IHOP brunch we parted ways with Emily and made our way to Hollywood Studios to try and squeeze in as much fun as we could before the sun set and the cold rolled in again. Hollywood Studios is one of those parks that has a lot of secrets that hide just under the surface. We rode my favorite DHS E-Ticket, The Tower of Terror and, despite having ridden it a dozen times, I still find details that make me smile. The idea of “highly maintained dilapidation” is so fun. We indulged in a famed Disney Turkey Leg as our Thanksgiving meal and watched the sun set behind Grauman’s Chinese Theater (which sits sadly, but patiently, behind the garish Sorcerer Mickey hat).

Fantasmic, while still one of my favorite nighttime shows, feels so tired compared to the sparkly new brilliance of World of Color, although its theme song finds a way to lodge itself as firmly in my brain as ever.

Friday was the day I was most anticipating. Through some miraculous act of God, or good timing, or luck, Emily was able to trade shifts and spend the entire day with us at Epcot. It’s funny how the definition of “A Day At The Park” changes as you age. I remember when it meant running around trying to squeeze in as many attractions as possible, strategically planning FastPasses, and sucking down whatever food crossed your path on the way. Our experience was much less hectic this time. We casually strolled through Future World, taking in the sounds of a gospel choir perform on the Fountain stage. Future World is an almost impossible concept because the minute you conceive, approve, construct, and open a “future” concept, it’s no longer all that futuristic. Despite feeling somewhat abandoned, Future World has some gems.

By far my favorite part of Epcot is World Showcase. My graphic designer, proto-Imagineer brain goes ballistic around the amazing design, architecture, typography, music, and optical magic. Our lunch reservation at The United Kingdom’s Rose & Crown was somehow simultaneously very British and very delicious. Disney magic at its finest. After a few pints, we made our way down the way to Japan for some hot sake and on to Germany for a few more pints. “Drinking Around the World” is an adult luxury of which I will forever avail myself.

We were lucky enough to catch the opening night of the annual Candlelight Processional at The American Adventure. We watched as Cap’n Dan (Gary Sinise) told the Christmas story accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra, mass choir, and my favorite, a rank of six herald trumpets. Everything is better with herald trumpets.

We capped off the night with the special Holiday edition of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth with the incredible choral epilogue of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and a salutation from Walter Cronkite that brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it.

Saturday was our final full day in Florida. Emily took us to one of her favorite local spots, Flippers Pizza, for lunch before heading to The Magic Kingdom for the day. For me, the Magic Kingdom is one of those innately magical places and it’s made even more magical when draped with incredible Christmas decorations.

A spin around Big Thunder Mountain and a dinner at Liberty Tavern later it was time for our FastPass on Emily’s ride, Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid! This was my first visit to New Fantasyland and, despite it being well past sundown and rather dark, I was amazed by the detail. I cannot wait to explore the finished land in daylight and soak up everything. The show building for The Little Mermaid ride is incredibly beautiful. We jumped on to the ride and went under the sea and had a blast only to be greeted by a familiar face as we returned. it was so fun to see Emily on the conveyor belt doing her thing!

One of special parts about the holidays at The Magic Kingdom is the holiday edition of the Celebrate the Magic castle projection show. Only Disney could transform a 180+ foot castle into a gingerbread house, wrap it in gift wrap, cover it in poinsettias and set it shimmering with christmas lights all in the span of six minutes. This show was the opening act for the Wishes fireworks which, even all these years later, remain a perfect kiss goodnight from the most magical kingdom on earth.

We had one last bit of magic in store for us however. Emily was able to get off work early so she and I consorted to surprise mom and dad and have her waiting in our hotel room when we returned! Several excited shrieks and a few minutes later the four of us were seated by the pool sipping caribbean drinks, already planning our next Disney adventures.

Spending Thanksgiving at Disney is a special opportunity that not many get to experience and it reminds me how thankful I am to have a family who can still celebrate the magic, even after all these years.

-The Brother

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Still Children at Heart

This week my friend and mentor, Molly, came to visit me with her mother. She and Bert were here refreshing their pixie dust. It was nice to have a blast of familiarity, especially before the busy season.

We toured New Fantasyland (which I still get a thrill from), from flying on Dumbo, to telling the enchanting love story of Belle and her Beast. I highly recommend that everyone try Lafoo’s Brew. It is a delicious frozen apple juice with hints of marshmallow, and a pomegranate mango froth.

Most of all, I get a sense of pride walking people through the Mermaid area. Molly and Bert enjoyed all of the hidden secrets I was able to share. I’ve learned that I am emotionally attached to Under the Sea, and that it will always be a special part of me.

A few rides, and a parade later, we set off for Hollywood Studios. We rocked out on a roller coaster, fell into the Twilight Zone, and saw Fantasmic! What I really enjoyed was the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights, a Disney tradition I hadn’t experienced. The backlot area is filled with over 5 million LED lights, dancing to some Christmas tunes. “Snow” fell around us, and for the first time I finally felt like Christmas was on it’s way.

Here’s a taste of the Dancing Lights!

Overall, it was nice to experience the Disney magic with veterans of the parks, but still children at heart.

Thanks for sharing your Disney stories with me, Molly and Bert! I loved being able to spend time with you!

-The Memory Maker