I used to work at Disney World, and now I live just five minutes away from the theme parks.
I prioritize meeting characters around the parks, but I usually make time for at least one ride.
Ice cream is my go-to treat, and I like to say visit any of my friends who are working that day.
After moving to Florida from New York City, I live only five minutes away from Magic Kingdom — I can hear the fireworks out my window and could walk to the employee parking lot if I still worked there.
I go several times a week, and regardless of which park I'm at for the day, there are a few things I always do.
Swapping out my FuelRod is usually the first thing on my list.
I know this isn't the most exciting thing, but I'd argue it's the most important. Pretty much everything at Disney World operates through the My Disney Experience app, so if my phone dies, I'm out of luck.
As soon as I walk into the park, I go right to the nearest FuelRod station. Disney has kiosks for the reusable portable chargers throughout the parks, so I swap for a fully charged one to ensure I have enough battery power to check wait times, take photos, make Lightning Lane reservations, and order food throughout the day.
I won't leave without meeting at least one character.
On a good day, I probably meet between four and five characters at the parks, but I make sure to always visit with at least one.
Depending on which park I'm in, I'll go meet characters like Belle in her cottage at Magic Kingdom or Doc McStuffins in the Disney Jr. Courtyard at Hollywood Studios.
I'm not too picky about who I see because I love them all. I just want to have a fun conversation and take a cute picture that I can add to my scrapbook.
Having an ice cream is a must-do at the Disney parks.
I try to plan my ice-cream stop after I've already met characters so I don't go up to the meet and greet with chocolate on my face or hands.
My go-to is Mickey's premium ice-cream bar unless I'm craving an ice-cream sandwich.
I like to visit any friends working in the parks.
It's been over four years since I worked at Disney World, but many of my friends are still employees, so I make it a priority to visit them.
Whether they're working merchandise at the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot (like I did) or as a character attendant in Princess Fairytale Hall at Magic Kingdom, they'll always see a familiar face when I'm at the park.
I remember how much I used to like it when my friends came to visit me at work, so I love doing the same for them.
Even though rides aren't my priority, I try to make time for at least one.
I care more about meeting characters than riding attractions, but I usually make time for at least one ride.
This varies depending on the park I'm at and the mood I'm in that day. For example, if I'm at Magic Kingdom and seeking a thrill, I'll ride Space Mountain. But if I'm at Epcot and it's been a long day, I'll go on Frozen Ever After to rest my legs and see the tech-savvy animatronics.
If I'm at Magic Kingdom, I'll always make time for the "Festival of Fantasy" parade.
Whether I make it for the 12 p.m. or 3 p.m. showing, I always love to watch the "Festival of Fantasy" parade at Magic Kingdom.
There's something so magical about watching Mickey Mouse and his royal pals take a trip around the park to a catchy soundtrack. Plus, some of my friends are parade dancers, so I love waving at them as they make their way down Main Street USA.
I like to take pictures in front of the decorative walls at each park.
I'm not a Disney influencer by any stretch of the imagination, but I love to take pictures by the colorful walls in each park to post on Instagram.
The purple wall at Magic Kingdom is probably the most popular, but some of my other favorites include the bubblegum wall at Epcot and the popsicle-stick wall at Hollywood Studios.
If I can muster the energy, I always try to make it to the fireworks show.
After a long day at the parks, sometimes watching fireworks with a large crowd of people is the last thing I feel like doing. But it's also one of the things that makes Disney World stand apart from other amusement parks.
The fireworks are larger than life, breathtaking, and synchronized to a beautiful score filled with classic Disney songs.
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