Ken K., NDH 63, shares his story about having a Disney dream & making it a reality. Read about his dream & journey across the country. What makes you an NDP? Have a story to share? Have your own Disney Fan Site or Podcast you want to share with the community? Send it to ndm130 AT thedisneydrivenlife DOT com. We just might feature your story here on Sharing Saturdays.
When I was in my early 20’s (*cough *cough, some 20 years ago) I was enjoying another Disneyland vacation, and I remember sitting alone along the curb on Main Street to watch the parade that was scheduled to start in about 45 minutes. I think the parade that year was the Light Magic “Streetacular”. A woman came up with her eight-year-old son and asked if there was room for them. Of course I made room, and we struck up a conversation. I asked her if it was the end of her visit to Disney (assuming of course that she had travelled here from some very long distance) and she said, “Oh, no. I live here. I brought my son to see the show because he hasn’t seen it yet. I come two or three times a week.” She must have noticed my eyes bugging out of my head before I pulled it back together and asked her what that was like; to be an annual passholder. Her answer could not have better formed the foundation of my yet-to-be-realized “Move to Disney” philosophy. She replied, “I love it. Sometimes I will come and sit on a bench for lunch and then go home to pick up my son from school, or we will come in the evening, just to see the parade.” Can you imagine having the opportunity to be able to drop by the Happiest Place On Earth just for lunch or to see a show?!? That is the life that I wanted.
However, Life kind of got in the way. My partner Mark(NDH 64) and I lived in Phoenix, Arizona and we had our commitments; work for me, school for Mark. I owned a house there as well. Actually relocating to another state seemed insurmountable. It remained a pleasant thought that I would recall fondly whenever we made our two or three trips a year to our Happy Place to recharge our Mouse batteries.
One lazy weekend afternoon about four years ago I was idly fantasizing about how many residents of Central Florida had moved there for the express purpose of being near Disney. It led me to ponder on those lucky people and how often they might take advantage of the Annual Passes they would certainly have purchased. Friends have told me that if I lived close enough to Disney, it would get very old very fast, but I never agreed with them. I certainly didn’t think that I would go every day, but I knew how much I loved the parks, and how many times I had taken ten minutes to sit on a bench and just people- and park-watch, really longing for the chance to “get to know” the park like an old friend. I wanted to familiarize myself with its operations, the architecture, the landscaping, the hidden areas not meant for my eyes as a “guest”, and I wanted to find all of the tiny, artful details that the Disney Artists and Imagineers have left hidden for me to find like so many Easter Eggs.
Another ” hobby” of mine is finding the differences in the park from the last time that I was there, or from previous visits. Design, decoration, even slight adjustments entertain me to no end.
I don’t think that I would ever grow tired of going back because after a 3-day park-hopping vacation I am always longing to return within a week of getting back home.
Mark? He tells me just wants to ride every roller coaster in every possible seat, to systematically determine the ideal spot to ride them in.
No, we would never grow tired of visiting the parks if we lived near Disney.
The idea to “move to Disney” came the following weekend, and it felt like a real “duh” moment. We were at a point in our lives in that we both wanted a change of scenery and a fresh start in a new location; we were both “done” with Phoenix, Arizona, as it were. For a solid year Mark and I had been talking about Colorado being the place to relocate to because I have a life-long friend who lives near Colorado Springs who loves the area and was willing to show us the town. She suggested we visit sometime when the winter snow had cleared away.
I was looking forward to seeing my friend. However, the next day at work I was sitting idle at my desk before the busy part of the day was to begin. As I have done so many times in the past, I was dreaming about the notion of being able to go to the park every day if I so chose. Sigh… if only I lived near the park.
It didn’t come yet…
On my lunch break that afternoon, I was web surfing through a very informative website called www.city-data.com. This site compiles a great deal of information about whatever city you might be interested in researching. I decided to dig a bit into Denver, Colorado, since Mark and I were considering it as a place to live, and compare the stats to Phoenix. While I was surfing through various links, it occurred to me to look up the area of Florida that Disney World is in just for fun. Click. Click. Click…
Duh! There was my moment. Can you smell the wood burning?
Suddenly everything on my mind was Orlando, Orlando, Orlando, and a key thought continued to play in my head like the Small World theme song: “If we are going to start over by moving to a new state, why are we not moving closer to Disney? Denver looks nice, but moving there would be like moving to Phoenix all over again.”
Fast forward through three years of discussion, planning, arguing and compromise and we finally landed in Central Florida in December of 2013. We aren’t going to the parks EVERY day, but we sure have been visiting a LOT, and no… we’re not tired of them yet! The cherry on top of the cake (as if there wasn’t enough icing) is that I received an official offer to become a Cast Member in the Walt Disney World Guest Services Call Center beginning September 1st. This adventure is only just beginning for both of us!
We have documented the entire process of moving at our blog page http://livingadisneylife.blogspot.com/ and we take our followers on “virtual vacay” through our Facebook page www.facebook.com/LivingADisneyLife (until they can get to the park themselves). We chose the term Living a Disney Life because we define it this way: “Finding or creating something either on purpose or by chance that brings back the feeling of being in the Happiest Place on Earth, i.e. stumbling across a hidden Mickey in your home, reading a non-Disney book that surprises you by mentioning Cinderella, watching a Disney movie or finding a Disney treasure at a thrift store. It can be something big (like moving to Florida!) or very small (like making Mickey head shaped pancakes).” What have you done today to show that you are Living a Disney Life?