Celebrating Life | 4 Years Post-Transplant | Rachel Cerys

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Quotes are something I love to read, I relate to them and love to implement them into my life. I never try to overthink them and let them control my life, but sometimes they are a way of understanding the world around me and the life I’ve been given. One of my favourite quotes of all time is…

“Life is not the way it should be. It is the way that it is. It’s how we cope with it that makes the difference.” 

It was, and still continues to be a solid reminder to never take things too seriously and that everything always happen for a reason. You have to look for a positive outlook to make the most out of everything.

This past week I got to celebrate a pretty amazing milestone in my life. It hasn’t been easy to get where I am today but I’m grateful for the journey it’s taken me on. It’s been a constant reminder to live everyday as though it’s your last. Do things that make you happy and live life to the full. I’m saying all this because four years ago I had a life-saving operation to allow me to be where I am today.

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Four years ago, on the 8th of October 2015, I underwent a kidney transplant. I have, and still do, suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease. I was diagnosed at the age of seven and since then it was a waiting game for the day I would need a transplant. Unfortunately that meant I had to undergo major surgery at the age of eighteen. Like I said, you have to look at the positive of all situations. Yes I was young, but if my kidneys had failed when I was older, going to university, working in Walt Disney World and just being able to live a normal life for a 20-something year old would not have been possible.

Both my parents went through the testing stages to see if they would be a match for me, I think any parent would in their situation. In the end my dad was the better match, his kidney being the age of a 25 year old, hopefully allowing my time with the kidney to last longer.

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Every year now, calling it my kidney anniversary, we celebrate. Today I am happy and healthy but transplants are a treatment, not a cure. It’s sad to think about, but my dad’s kidney could fail me at any point in life. It could last two more years or forty. I’m like a walking time bomb, but I try not to think about that. I buy those concert tickets, say yes to new adventures and eat that chocolate.

I’m grateful for the life I’ve been given and the support system I have. I’m grateful that I was able to get a live donor and avoid dialysis and I know I’ve had it easier than most. But it was the life I was given and I honestly wouldn’t change it. It’s made me who I am, and moulded me into a stronger human being.

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This year we celebrated with a firm favourite of mine, afternoon tea at The Crazy Bear. I swear I dream about those sandwiches. A chit chat over a good cup of tea and delicious desserts, I couldn’t ask for more. Every year I write a post, usually on Facebook, that celebrates my dad, because without him, I wouldn’t of been able to live the life I do.

It’s easy to get stuck in a routine, I’m guilty of it myself. You may be having a bad day, but that’s one day out of 365 a year. Life may not be going to plan for you right now, trust me, I’m in that boat right now. But if the universe didn’t think you were strong enough to handle it, it would have directed you down a different path. Remember no-ones life is perfect, we all have our own problems we are trying to overcome, you are never alone.

“Life is not the way it should be. It’s the way that is it. It’s how we cope with it that makes the difference.”

Smile and have fun,
Rachel xx

More content from me? Finishing University | Rachel Cerys

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My Last Week in Disneyworld | Week Two | Rachel Cerys

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After 11 weeks in Walt Disney World my magical summer was coming to a close. With one last week left in my favourite, and most happy place, I made sure to make the most of it. My last week was bitter sweet; I didn’t want to leave the place I had called home for 2 months, but I was ready to go home and get started on my future. But for now, let’s reminisce over yet another week in Walt Disney World.

If you haven’t read the first part, aka week one of the Disney holiday, be sure to check it out: The Disney Gang Arrived | Week One


Day Eight
Park:
Hollywood Studios/Disney Springs
Dining:
Sci-Fi Diner

Day eight, aka Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opening Day. Our alarms were set for 3.30am, making sure we left our resort by 4.30am to get an Uber over to Hollywood Studios. It was busy but not as hectic as I was imagining it would be. By the time we got there we were queueing from the “Crossroads” kiosk with a sea of people ahead of us. We had started to slowly move towards the entrance of Galaxy’s Edge, and by 5.00am we were walking inside. It was such an exciting buzz to be in the midst of the crowds on opening day but as we learnt later on, it was not necessary.

Marc had been feeling unwell for most of the holiday so after the initial opening Marc and I headed back to the resort to get more sleep. We left the rest of the family to joy the wonders of Batuu and watch the sunrise over the Millennium Falcon. Although the land was a lot busier than Cast Member Previews, Marc and I were still able to visit and immerse ourselves into Galaxy’s Edge later that day before our dining reservations at Sci-Fi Diner.

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Day Nine
Park:
Magic Kingdom
Dining:
Be Our Guest/Flying Fish

I’ve lost count how many times my sister has celebrated her birthday in the Magic Kingdom and this year was no exception. We had the ultimate Disney day in the parks, dining at Be Our Guest for breakfast, riding the classic rides; Carousel and It’s a Small World included, before having a laugh with Goofy and the gang.

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We spent the evening at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort having dinner at The Flying Fish. It was a beautiful sunset that night so of course we had a mini photoshoot.

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Day Ten
Park:
Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios & Epcot
Dining:
Storybrook Dining

It felt like we were trying to do 4 Parks 1 Day all over again on this day. We started off in Magic Kingdom. We watched the Trolley Show and visited Winnie the Pooh before hopping over to Hollywood Studios and riding Smuggler’s Run. We had yet to see Festival of Fantasy so back to Magic Kingdom we went to watch the parade and express my love to Flynn Rider. A little trip on the monorail led us to Epcot to grab a bite to eat at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. And just in case our belly’s weren’t full enough we ended the night having dinner at Storybrook Dining. This is one of the newer character dining experiences in Walt Disney World with Snow White, Grumpy, Dopey and the Evil Queen. No matter how cool the theming and characters sound, the food was a major let down.

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Day Eleven
Park:
Animal Kingdom
Dining:
Yak & Yeti

This trip really made me fall in love with Animal Kingdom. Growing up it was one of my least favourite parks, but it is now up there in my top two, with Magic Kingdom of course. We spent the morning learning how to draw Scar in the newly refurbished Animation Class, now located at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. We also stopped by UPs Great Bird Adventure and visited some of the animals of the safari. Yak & Yeti lived up to the hype I gave it and it’s now become a firm favourite in the Butcher household.

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Day Twelve
Park:
Hollywood Studios & Epcot
Dining:
T-Rex

You would think after almost two weeks in Walt Disney World you would be doing the same things over again, and of course that happens. You go to the parks to do your favourite rides and attractions once or even twice over. But we had yet to experience the new Lighting McQueen show in Hollywood Studios. Keeping with tradition, we made it over to Toy Story Mania to battle it out once more this holiday, rode Smugglers Run and went to meet Mike and Sully, which we had a great interaction with.

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Back with went to Epcot to experience a bit more of the Food & Wine Festival. Although we have been to Walt Disney World countless times over the years our trips have never collided with this festival, so we tried to make the most of it. In Epcot we wandered around World Showcase even stopping off in the UK Pavailion; a pavilion we tend to ignore as it’s our hometown. However, this time we decided to tried the Fish & Chips for the first ever time, before having to shelter in the Rose & Crown pub from a heavy downpour of rain. It was like being back home.

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Day Thirteen
Park:
Magic Kingdom
Dining:
N/A

Our final day. Just like it’s tradition to start all our Disney holidays in Magic Kingdom, its also tradition to end them there. Unfortunately this day didn’t go quite as planned. Having sat down for a Starbucks and ice-cream sundae break, Marc and I found out our flight had been cancelled “due to the hurricane”. There were tears, by me, and for an hour or so I wasn’t in the most magical place on earth anymore. After a lot of stress and with Marc being amazing we managed to get ourselves a flight out five days later; there were no earlier flights we could get together. It was an added, unforeseen cost to the trip, but we ended up loving those extra five days to chill out and relax.

Once the tears had been wiped away, I got my graduation ears from my college program painted at the Christmas shop. We went on more rides and truly made the most out of our last day, especially since the park was so quiet due to the impending storm.

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The rest of my family ended their holiday and flew out on the original planned day. So on the 4th of September Marc and I waved them good-bye as they got on the Magical Express to head to the airport. As soon as their bus departed, we hopped on a Disney bus and spent our last night, meeting up with my friend, in Magic Kingdom.

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Additional Five Days

These five days were on a budget. We no longer had access to the parks and having spent more money than originally planned to stay the extra nights in our Disney resort room, we were pretty tight on cash. We spent most days chilling by the pool, soaking up the last of the sun and spent evening wandering around Disney Springs. We listened to the live music and ate at some of our favourite cheap and easy quick service location; Blaze, D-Luxe Burger and Chicken Guy. However being the ex Cast Member I was, my friend I had met during my program and fellow Cast Member kindly got Marc and I into Animal Kingdom one last time. Here is a quick snapshot of our last five days, ending the ultimate Disney summer.

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And that my friends wrap up Walt Disney World 2019. It was an unbelievable experience. Not only getting to work in my favourite place; a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl, but having Marc experience it for the first ever time. Which he loved and he can’t wait to return. I will never forgot this summer. I’ve dreamed about it for years, imaging what it would be like, but it was more than I could have ever hoped for. The people I’ve met, the memories I’ve made and the experiences I got to have has made this summer unforgettable. And one day when I’m old and grey, reminiscing about my life, I’ll look back on 2019 with a massive grin, grateful for the time I got to have in my home away from home.

Thank you so much for reading and following along on my Disney journey. I hoped you’ve enjoyed all the magic filled posts and weren’t getting too sick of them.

Until next time,
Rachel x

P.S. Thank you Walt Disney World for making my Instagram feed actually good for once, ha!

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The Disney Gang Arrived |Week One |Rachel Cerys

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My love of Disney all started because of my mum and dad. My first trip to Walt Disney World was in 2000 when I was just three years old, and we’ve pretty much gone annually since, falling in love with the Disney magic over and over again. So when we found out I had landed myself my dream job of working in Walt Disney World, my family couldn’t resist booking tickets so we could all experience the Disney magic together once again, making this trip our 15th time. As my sister and I have grown up we both somehow managed to get ourselves boyfriends who hadn’t had the chance to experience the wonders of Disney. So a family trip for 4 has now become the Disney gang’s ultimate holiday.

Having been away from them for nine weeks the excitement of seeing them was real. I checked out of my Disney housing accommodation on the 21st of August, getting a ride over to Port Orlean’s French Quarter; where we would be staying for our two week vacation, a few hours prior to my family arriving. I was able to check us all in and settle down in our room; picking up our resort mugs and unpacking a little. As you can see I was very excited to lie down on a resort bed, having slept on a $15 mattress topper for nine weeks prior.

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Around 10pm everyone had arrived, grabbing ourselves a quick bite to eat before sleeping off the travel day and getting ready to conquer the two-week action packed holiday which laid ahead of us.


Day One
Park:
Magic Kingdom
Dining:
Boathouse

It’s tradition for my family to start every Disney holiday in the Magic Kingdom. It’s magical every time I walk down the middle of Main Street USA, but being able to witness Marc’s first ever reaction to seeing the castle, experiencing the theming and the magic that spans the entire park was something else.

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Shawn – Dawn – Rachel – Marc – Will – Frances

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Of course we stopped to take a picture in front of the castle; the family had reunited after nine weeks, it was a big moment, not forgetting to pick up a “first visit” badge for Marc on the way. We hit all of the big rides, including the three mountains and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, before heading back to the resort to chill out and get ready for an evening in Disney Springs.

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Day Two
Park:
Epcot/Hollywood Studios
Dining:
Coral Reef

Day Two started off by Marc and I waking up in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. During my time as a cast member I was able to get a room in the resort as a surprise for Marc during his stay. We took a chilled approach and spent the morning hunting down Hidden Mickey’s and exploring.

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My favourite hidden Mickey I found during this trip. See if you can try and find it.

We met up with the rest of the gang before heading to Epcot for an afternoon of fun and eating one of my favourite meals of the holiday at Coral Reef.

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The evening ended in Hollywood Studios, making time for a ride on Toy Story Mania, where of course I beat everyone after weeks of practice and watching the Star Wars fireworks.

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Day Three
Park:
Animal Kingdom/Epcot
Dining:
La Hagienda de San Angel

Finally! Back to my home, Animal Kingdom. I was so excited to show Marc around the park that had been my home for two months, and for my family to experience Pandora for the first time. Of course I was wearing my Animal Kingdom Mickey ears.

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It felt so good to be back home!

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We all become Banshee flying experts, immersed ourselves in The Festival of The Lion King, fuelled ourselves up on BBQ food, the best food in my opinion and become honorary Dinos with Chip ‘n’ Dale.

The evening was spent saying goodbye to Illuminations, the only Epcot firework show my family has known, while eating at our favourite Mexican around the World Showcase Lagoon.

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Day Four
Park:
Hollywood Studios/Animal Kingdom
Dining:
Tuska House

Day four started out in Hollywood Studios where I was surprised by my family’s reaction to Toy Story Land; they preferred Alien Swirling Saucers over Slinky Dog, hmm! We got our fix of Star Wars by riding Star Tours, rode Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, finding Hidden Mickeys as we went, before trying the famous Grilled Cheese’s from Woody’s Lunchbox.

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Our dining reservation for the day was at Tusker House where we dined with Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey.

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I do love a character dining but as we’ve grown up we’ve settled with one character dining option per holiday. My family love the food at Tusker House, making it one of our favourite character dining experiences. Besides, who wouldn’t want to meet Mickey in his safari gear.

We ended the night by watching Rivers of Light from the dining package exclusive seating, which I would highly recommend to get the most out of Animal Kingdom’s nighttime show.

Day Five
Park:
Universal
Dining:
N/A

Time to get out of the Disney bubble and experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time this trip. I was also so excited for everyone to ride Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike Adventure.

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Hadgird’s was a success and we only ended up waiting about an hour and a half having got there for park open. Marc brought Dumbledore’s wand, meaning I have to keep him now? ha! And we tried to act cool with Optimus Prime. I love Universal but I only visit now because of Harry Potter, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Day Six
Park:
Typhoon Lagoon/Hollywood Studios
Dining:
Morimoto Asia

We took the morning to chill out and relax at Typhoon Lagoon which was lovely and in the end was our only day at a water park due to the hurricane. We went back to the resort to shower and sort ourselves out ready for our dining reservation at Morimoto Asia. Unfortunately we got caught in a Florida down pour so recently washed and dried hair instantly got wet again.

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We spent the evening in Hollywood Studios to watch Fantasmic! and luckily the rain held off for us. Of course we went on Toy Story Mania, it’s a fan favourite in the group, before waiting way too long for some Starbucks drinks to enjoy while watching the show. I also managed to pick up some new Mickey ears, because what’s new.

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Day Seven
Park:
Universal
Dining: Teppan Edo

When we visit Universal we always get a 2 Day-2 Park ticket as we feel like it’s the best value for money and we are able to do everything we want to in those two days. Therefore on our second and last day at Universal we rode Hagrid’s again, ate at Cowfish and took a trip down memory lane with a ride on Cat in the Hat.

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Florida in August is always extremely hot and walking around theme parks in that heat can get pretty tiring. We headed back to the resort for a little chill out session before hopping over to Epcot for dinner at Teppan Edo.

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We are half way through our holiday and also half way through this blog post so congratulations if you’ve gotten this far. However, the fun hasn’t stop yet as Day Eight includes the opening day of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. And because I’m such a tease you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the Disney adventures to continue.

Thank you for reading and stayed tuned for tomorrow’s blog post all about week two of the Disney gang’s adventures.
Rachel x


Check out more from me:
You’ve Got A Friend In Me | Rachel Cerys
The Best Character Meet & Greet | Rachel Cerys

Saying Good-Bye to the Magic | Rachel Cerys

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On the 28th of November 2018 I found out that my dream had come true. I was going to be spending my summer working in Walt Disney World, something I had dreamed about since a little girl. I had months of waiting ahead of me; Christmas, my 22nd birthday, as well as getting my university degree lay ahead of me. And although I was counting down the days until I was back in my favourite place, I knew the minute I drove underneath that Walt Disney World sign, the summer of my dreams would be over in a flash, and sadly I was right. A two week holiday to Disney goes fast enough as it is, let alone a nine week exchange program where you have a full time job mixed in with a full-on holiday, time just flies, especially when you are having fun.

Therefore the 20th of August 2019 fast approached and I worked my last shift at Flame Tree Barbecue. It was a 4pm-10pm shift so I was able to spend the morning in the park wearing my “I’m celebrating…my last shift” pin.

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My co-ordinator promised me I wouldn’t close fryers on my last shift. Instead my friend Karli, who was also a program participate from Hong Kong (we started and ended our program together) closed the hot line. Our first day of training was working the hot line, so it was like coming full circle, closing hot line with her on our last shift.

I spent the morning in Animal Kingdom, after I had done a little packing. I met up with Emily (Emily’s Wanderland – I had redesigned her YouTube channel), we rode Flight of Passage, watched The Festival of the Lion King and ate at Satu’li Canteen. I wore my brand new Lilo & Stitch ears and enjoyed the Hakuna Matata Dance Party while sheltering from a crazy thunderstorm.

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I was soaking up the last moments of being a Walt Disney World cast member. Before I flew out to start this crazy whirlwind journey I had this image of watching the fireworks on my last day of the program with all my friends, crying our eyes out, sad that it was all coming to an end. But reality took over but luckily for me that wasn’t the last of the magic. My family were due to fly out to join me for another 2 weeks in the most magical place on earth.

Not yet sick of all the Disney content? Check out more of my posts here:
The Most Magical Day

Rachel x

 

You’ve Got A Friend In Me | Rachel Cerys

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“how lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”

Disney is a brand that is loved all over the world. Walt Disney World is a place people come to spend quality time as a family, reunite with friends, celebrate birthdays, weddings and babymoons. It bonds people like nothing I have ever seen before. Disney connects people of all ages, bonding them over the same happy and magical moments. Going through the Disney Cultural Exchange Program process was nerve wrecking, no doubt about it, but remembering that everyone had the same dreams, the same passions and the same hardcore passion as me eased my mind.

The friends you make before and during your program are friends for life. You are all going through the same journey and that bonds you unconditionally. You find comfort, support, laughter and sometimes a shoulder to cry on, in the people you meet. They understand you like no-one else ever will. They will be by your side during your highest highs and lowest lows. Waking up early to enjoy magical mornings before work or staying up late to watch one more firework show. Sharing yet another Mickey treat or supporting you in your latest Spirit Jersey purchase. Pushing you out of your comfort zone, or staying in on a rainy day in Florida to eat brownies and watch Netflix.

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Doing the Disney Cultural Exchange Program this summer was an eye-opening experience, one of the best things I’ve ever done, and being able to achieve my dream will always mean the world to me. But creating the friends I did and the memories we made is what made my program what it was. Without Katie to rant too, watch Netflix with and share so many brownies with after our closing shifts. Without Joe who was always down to go to a park open, ride all the rides and run to make it to his shift in time. To Kateyln who always believed in us and our dreams, who never doubted for a minute we wouldn’t be in the Magic Kingdom together, and for the ultimate photoshoot sessions. Without Juan to get me through all those long, and usually closing shifts. Who made me laugh, and is the most caring and funny person I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Who was always the gentleman, helping everyone who needed the help and always giving his seat up on the dreaded CP bus. Oh I hate how you are so far away, I miss you my friend.

But that’s what is so amazing about the program; you meet so many people from all over the world. Some could be living on your doorstep or a whole ocean apart. But one thing I  know for sure, I will never loose contact with the friends I’ve made during my summer working at Walt Disney World. One wise girl only a few minutes ago wrote, Disney bonds people like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It connects people together who are thousands of miles apart, but because they spent that one amazing, memory filled summer together, they will always find their way back home to each other.

Rachel x

 

 

 

 

Star Wars : Galaxy’s Edge Cast Preview | Rachel Cerys

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It all started on a chaotic night in Jellyrolls. Joe had had multiple buckets, and counting, of their speciality drink. I had rushed over to join the fun after my shift and everyone was loving life, having just jammed out to a Disney medley. But the minute the clock striked midnight everyone’s faces were suddenly lit up with their phone screens…Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Cast Member previews had just been released.

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It was a stressful few minutes but after a while both Joe and I had managed to bag ourselves a time slot to visit the new Star Wars land; one of the most anticipated lands to open at Walt Disney World. We were allocated a four hour time slot where we could explore the land, experience the ride and enjoy a beverage, or two, at Oga’s Cantina.

On August 6th 2019, over a month before the land opened to the public, Joe and I walked through the infamous green hedges and travelled to Batuu.

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Black Spire, Batuu, Galaxy’s Edge, whatever you want to call this land; it’s the most immersive land the Disney imagineers have ever created. Being a massive Disney fan I appreciate all of Disney’s theming, but Galaxy’s Edge is out of this world, no pun intended. With droid tracks imprinted into the ground, Cast Member’s wearing exclusive Galaxy’s Edge costumes and Chewy free roaming around, Disney has excelled in bringing Star Wars to life. But of course, the only reason I was there…the exclusive Coco-Cola products.

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I’m joking….I think. $6.00 well spent.

Oga’s Cantina was another great addition to the land with unique food and beverage offerings. Joe sampled a few of the items; the Jabba Juice and Oga’s Obsession. And while the Jabba Juice was really nice, I can’t say the same about the other concoction, I guess that’s Black Spires cuisine for you. 

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No Disneyworld grand opening is complete without it’s range of exclusive merchandise. As I was able to experience Galaxy’s Edge during cast previews, making my boyfriend extremely jealous, I had to purchase the exclusive pin badge.

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So far the land had exceeded all my expectations but the ride felt very lacklustre for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really cool concept, who wouldn’t want to fly the Millennium Falcon. But as you try to shoot the enemies, repair the ship or pilot the Falcon, you can’t concentrate on the true wonder of the ride, which are the graphics and everything that the imagineers purposely placed to truly immerse you. It’s an enjoyable ride, especially if your party takes up an entire pod, but for me, my heart still lies with Flight of Passage.

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Being able to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge early was one of the coolest perks I received during my time working in Walt Disney World, and it did not disappoint. As I was exiting Hollywood Studios after having spent the past three hours in Batuu, I truly felt like I had travelled to a different world. I had been transported far away from Disneyworld during my time in Galaxy’s Edge as Disney works it’s magic once again.

Rachel x

 

 

 

 

The Best Character Meet & Greet | Rachel Cerys

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One of the most magical things about Disney World is the chance for guests to meet their favourite characters. But as you get older the unique meet and greets don’t become a priority anymore. Instead you focus on the rides, and of course the unlimited amount of snacks Disney has to offer. However, one thing I discovered this year, at the ripe age of 22, is just how magical character meet and greets can be, no matter your age.

During my program, due to everyone’s different schedules I had a lot of time to spend by myself, meaning solo park days became one of my favourite pass times. Of course with Animal Kingdom being my home park, it was a great place to relax, go on a few rides, get pre-work food at Flame Tree Barbecue and wander around to enjoy the atmosphere as a guest before my shift would begin.

On this particular day, with my shift starting at 4pm, I decided to enjoy some jungle vibes before work. With my priorities in check my first stop was Starbucks to get my go-to drink for the summer, Peach Green Tea Lemonade. I then headed straight for Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail to visit the baby gorilla. She was so cute, and luckily for me, her and the mother were sat right by the glass so I had the perfect view.

With a fastpass for the safari booked, I headed over there to say “jumbo” to some more animals, because what else would you do before work when you have a safari on your doorstep. I personally feel that Animal Kingdom is one of the better parks to enjoy by yourself; with the walking trails and shows to enjoy. Sometimes I don’t enjoy doing rides by myself as I feel really awkward enjoying myself sat next to a stranger, which is why Animal Kingdom was so perfect for me to enjoy solo.

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Working in Disney World only means one thing, Mickey Mouse is your boss and meeting Minnie and Mickey in their safari gear was high on my bucket list. But never in a million years did I think the three minutes I spent with them would be some of the best minutes I had during my program.

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I queued up to meet them like everyone else except with one difference, in my back pocket of my shorts was my cast member name badge. I knew I wanted a picture with Minnie and Mickey in Animal Kingdom with my name badge, nothing would sum up my program more perfectly, but the reaction was more than I could have ever imagined.

I walked in and gave each of them a hug and then revealed by name badge, they were so excited for me. They proceeded, with the help of the character attendant, to ask where I worked, my response of course being ‘Flame Tree Barbecue’. I let them know I had a shift starting soon and that Minnie and Mickey should stop by for some food as Mickey was upset that I hadn’t brought any for him. The character attendant asked me how long I had left on my program and when Minnie and Mickey heard I only had three weeks left working for them, they bundled me up in one big hug trying to prevent me from leaving.

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You’re probably thinking, what a nice interaction, but as cast members we go that extra mile to make everyone feel special. I walked out of that interaction smiling from ear to ear. I rushed to buy the photo that the PhotoPass photographer had just captured before heading into work. About an hour into my shift, minding my own business and cleaning the condiment station, my leader walked up to me with a piece of paper in her hand.

“Did you meet Minnie and Mickey today?”

Lo and behold in my leader’s hand was a letter addressed to me from Minnie and Mickey….

“I wanted to say Mickey and I enjoyed your visit. We stopped by to eat like you suggested but we just missed you. I hope you enjoyed your experience here and we’re so sad to see you go, but hope life takes you beyond your wildest dreams. We’re so happy we had the honour of having you here and sending you off to your next journey/adventure.”

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I was tearing up at the end of the letter, not a great look for being at work, ha! I was over the moon by the interaction but Disney go above and beyond for everyone. The letter means so much to me, because no matter how old you are, Disney magic does truly exist.

Rachel x

 

 

 

 

 

Four Parks One Day | Rachel Cerys

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If you are familiar with Disney World, you will be familiar with the 4 Parks 1 Day challenge. So 25,000 steps later I have completed one of the most bucket list things to do in Walt Disney World. It’s pretty self-explanatory, a challenge where you visit each of the Walt Disney World parks in one day.

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Before coming to Disney World this summer I knew I wanted to give it a try. I had yet to ever attempt it but it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It doesn’t sound too difficult when you say it but within each park you have a mini to-do list, just stepping foot into each park would be too easy. A character meet and greet is a must, along with an attraction, as well as a snack.

Joe, one of my closest friends from my program, and I decided to tackle this day together and we had so much fun, even if there were some hiccups along the way. Joe and I tweaked the challenge a bit and decided to try to complete one character, two attractions and one show in each park. It was 100% to make the challenge harder and not because both of us had no money to afford food…ha!

Park #1 | Magic Kingdom

✔️ Character – Stitch
✔️ Attractions – Haunted Mansion & Thunder Mountain
✔️ Show – Move It Shake It

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It was time to hop on the monorail over to Epcot but not before becoming honorary monsters with Stitch, forgetting to bring our death certificates for the Haunted Mansion, going on the wildest ride in the wilderness and dancing as if we knew the routine to Move it Shake it.

Park #2 | Epcot 

✔️ Character – Mexican Donald
✔️ Attractions – Soarin’ & Figment
✔️ Show – Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Live Mix

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During our stop in Epcot we met up with Joe’s friend Taylor, who managed to achieved three parks in one day. Once our party of two became a mini trio we flew around the world on Soarin, jammed out to 80s songs with Starlord, chatted with Donald about the challenge, and somehow walked ourselves onto Figment.

After consuming some delicious Japanese food we walked from Epcot to Hollywood Studios for our third park of the day.

Park #3 | Hollywood Studios 

✔️ Character – Olaf
✔️Attractions – Tower of Terror & Rock ‘n’ Roll
✔️Show – Frozen Sing Along

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By this point we were all getting rather sweaty but we enjoyed the aircon whilst singing Let it Go at the top of our lungs in the Frozen Sing Along. We gave warm hugs the happiest snowman to ever exist and gave ourselves a quick wake up call on Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

We couldn’t quite believe we had made it to our fourth and final park of the challenge, seeing as I let the team down in the morning by waking up late, meaning we didn’t get to Magic Kingdom, our first park, until 10am. But we had made it and I’d made it back to my home park…Animal Kingdom.

Park #4 | Animal Kingdom

✔️ Character – the Safari (?)
✔️ Attraction – Flight of Passage & Expedition Everest
✔️ Show – Rivers of Light

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Okay, let me explain. Animal Kingdom was a little bit of a fail for us. We did manage our two attractions, and even completed a third with Kilimanjaro Safari’s. But because we arrived to Animal Kingdom fairly late we had missed all the characters for the day so we counted the safari as our character…don’t look at me, I didn’t make the rules, ha! So according to “the rules” we were right on track until Rivers of Light got cancelled due a thunderstorm in the area…boo! So instead of ending our very long but extremely fun day watching Rivers of Light for the first time, we all headed to Disney Springs for my first ever D-LUXE burger.

I love my job at Walt Disney World and I enjoy my shifts but there is nothing better than a day off and being able to be a guest in the parks. This day is for sure going down in the memory book.

Rachel x

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have A Degree In Making Magic | Rachel Cerys

My dream has always been to work in Walt Disney World, it didn’t matter when, where or how I got there. I’m so grateful to have be able to achieve my dream at such a young age so it’s crazy to think I’ve graduated with the only degree I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl, a degree in making magic. I got to celebrate this achievement with my friends, meet the main mouse himself and get free food, the only thing anyone ever wants.

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With a degree in my one hand, a plane ticket in the other, a heart full of passion and a head full of memories, it’s now time for my next adventure. Where that will take me I don’t know but what I do know is that it’s time to make the most of my last two weeks here in the most magical place on earth.

Rachel xx

The Most Magical Day | Rachel Cerys

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Getting the balance between living in the moment and capturing memories is difficult when you are working a full time job but also trying living your best life in Disney. But days like this one make me realise how many memories can be made and how capturing them are easy when your friends are around you.

I’m already pining over the adventures I shared in Magic Kingdom last week. It was a truly magical day that has become one of my favourite days so far on my program. I keep looking at the photos and getting emotional that this is only my life for one short summer.

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I met up with my friends Kateyln, Joe, Katie and Sammy to spend the day in Magic Kingdom. Me and Kateyln started the day together, getting to Magic Kingdom for rope drop. I had yet to see the new “welcome show” and I’m not going to lie it disappointed me, bring back the train station and the classic “welcome show”. We headed straight for Peter Pan’s Flight, Katelyn favourite character, before visiting my favourite character on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

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Joe joined us to ride The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Tea Cups. We danced until we sweated and lost our voices to Mickeys Move It Shake It MouskeDance Party. Queued and waited, then waited some more for the new Pepperoni Pizza Springrolls in Adventureland. We rode Space Mountain, did Pirates, taking pictures and capturing memories as we went, not forgetting the classic, Carousel of Progress. We caught the end of Festival of Fantasy and screamed our love to Flynn Rider.

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We met up with Sammy and Katie and ate at The Crystal Palace until our bellies were satisfied, our hearts were full, our purses felt lighter, and we had had too much air con we  were complaining about the cold. We stepped outside in time to catch another round of Move It Shake It and ended another dance party complaining about the heat again.

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Joe left us for work so we headed round to Fantasyland where we rode Winnie the Pooh once again and Dumbo for the first time this visit, stopping in the middle to pick up a new phone charger for Kateyln. We ended the night by visiting Pirates and walking out of The Magic Kingdom swirling around and singing along to Happily Ever After.

It was the most magical and memory filled day. To have such close friends already that I can experience all the Disney magic with makes everything so much more memorable. Katelyn and I made sure we got a picture together in front of the castle. She told me 40 weeks ago when we met at our first Disney interview that we’d make it, that we would be in Disneyworld together before I knew it. I didn’t want to believe it, I had been disappointed before, my dream having not come true the previous year. But she was right, we did make it, and we celebrated it together in the most perfect way.

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“All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to peruse them”

Rachel x

Earning My Ears | Rachel Cerys

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Hey look mum, I made it. I’ve been in Walt Disney World almost three whole weeks now and I’m loving every second. I’ve made it to five out of the six parks and I’m making memories I will cherish forever; including my friend falling into a group of cast members on the bus and a security guard saying “I’m surprised you aren’t a princess”.  I survived traditions and three days of training and therefore I’m proud to announce I am officially a Walt Disney World cast member. I’ve earnt my ears and I’m now a member of the Mickey Mouse Club and get to make magic everyday. But where do I make magic? *drum roll*

Disney Animal Kingdom as a Quick Service Food & Beverage Cast Member in Flame Tree Barbecue.

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I get to call Animal Kingdom, a park that Walt Disney always envisioned of creating because of his love of animals, my home for two months. Being placed in my location was like traveling full circle. Animal Kingdom wasn’t even part of the Walt Disney World Resort when my parents first came to visit, but it has hands down become one of my families favourite parks over the years and Flame Tree Barbecue has been our favourite Quick Service location for as long as I can remember.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom does so much to help the environment and the animals that live among us. During my park orientation day I learnt so much more about the two campaigns they involve their guests in. One being Disney’s Conservation Fund where guests can donate as little or as much as possible when purchasing any Disney merchandise within the park which then goes towards helping endangered species, and the  “Protect he Pride” project where all the money raised goes towards helping the lions. A great cause and very prominent at the minute with The Lion King’s anniversary and the new live action film coming out. The Mickey Ears I’m wearing in the photo above were created to help guests celebrate the anniversary of The Lion King while at the same time donating $5 of each purchase to Protect the Pride. Of course I had to purchase some as Animal Kingdom is my new home after all.

It’s been a hectic but amazing time here at Walt Disney World earning and playing. I’ve barely slept, eaten so much yet walked a thousand miles, or at least it feels like it, and I’m continuing to create magical moments for guests and myself alike.

Here’s to another week of adventures and hopefully a blog post talking about my first few weeks soon.

Rachel x

It’s Been A Crazy One | Rachel Cerys

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I stepped foot in Orlando just four days ago yet I already feel like I’ve been here for months. I’ve settled in really well, made some amazing friends, and already spent a shit ton of money but I’m happy, because who wouldn’t be if they were spending their summer in Walt Disney World. However, that being said, it wasn’t the smoothest of journeys to get where I’m sat now; in my new room, on a somewhat comfy bed, having just used my apartment’s fancy gym.

Saturday the 15th of June started off as well as it could. I woke up around 6am, of course singing “7am the usual morning line-up…“, I finished packing, making sure I had all the important documents; my medication and of course safely securing Winnie the Pooh and Bolt into my hand luggage.

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Flying from Gatwick meant my family and I had to set off pretty early. We left around 7:15am and arrived at Gatwick within plenty of time to meet my friends, Katie and Sammy, who I was flying with, for our 12.35pm flight. Everything was going just fine, my luggage was all under the required weight and I safely got through security without any questions about my medication, one thing I was pretty worried about.

Being the 22 year olds we are, Katie, Sammy and I headed straight to Starbucks to settle ourselves and wait for our gate. All was well until the departure boards informed us of a two hour delay. My exact words were “well I hate plane food, so at least we can have lunch in the airport before we board”. Spoiler alert, that came to bite me in the bum. Only half an hour later, looking at the boards once again, our plane was no longer delayed and we were set to board and take off at our original time. At this point, we didn’t know that once boarded we would have to sit and wait two hours, taking off at the original delayed time of 2:30pm.

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Sammy – Katie – Me

The reason for the delay…someone had stolen one of the emergency exit signs. Yup, that’s right, something as little as that caused us a two hour delay. The flight was decent, I’m never one to fuss about a plane as long as it gets me to my desired destination. However, flying with Thomas Cook for nine hours with only six films and six episodes of different tv shows was a tad annoying. But what can you do when you paid less than £400 for a direct flight to Orlando.

We landed in Orlando around 6:30pm (US time) but didn’t make it to our hotel until 10:30pm. With a two hour immigration line and another 20 minute delay which was caused by broken sliding doors, everything that could go wrong did. We had all been up almost 24 hours and we just wanted to eat and sleep by this time. Luckily for us, Disney’s Magical Express was waiting for us to take us to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, where we were staying for two nights prior to starting our program.

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Me – Katelyn – Sammy – Katie

Jet lag didn’t hit me too bad and on Sunday 16th of June I woke up around 7am eagerly anticipating our Character Breakfast at Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The breakfast was delicious, it was an all you could eat buffet but the food was brought to you, including the famous Mickey waffles. We got to meet our soon-to-be boss, Mickey Mouse, as well as my personal fav, Stitch.

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I officially felt like I was in Walt Disney World but I still have to pinch myself sometimes. We spent the rest of the day exploring our resort, getting to know each other and making memories, before heading out to Disney Springs for dinner and watching Happily Ever After from the Polynesian Resort Beach at night. Overall, it was the most perfect first day but I can’t lie it was hard walking past the Magic Kingdom and not being able to go in; two days and I will. Bring on Traditions.

Make sure to follow me along on Instagram to see constant pictures of my Disney adventure.

Rachel x