Try to imagine the ideal career, one that keeps you busy doing exactly that you enjoy doing. How does writing about Disney, travel and eating at fine restaurants sound? That’s exactly what Rona Gindin, author of The Little Black Book of Walt Disney World is doing. “I am living my ideal when it comes to my professional goals. I write about restaurants, travel and Disney World, from the comfort of my home. I have amazing clients who care about quality as much as I do. I get to snoop behind the scenes at all kinds of attractions and in all kinds of restaurants. And I get to share my discoveries with like-minded readers. It’s a good gig.”
So naturally Rona must have grown up with a passion for all things Disney, right? “Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with Disney World at first. I’d heard about it as a kid. Fellow students returned from Florida vacations joyous at their experiences — oh, the talk when Space Mountain opened!” Unconvinced, Rona took a trip to find out what all the excitement was about. “I finally made it down to Magic Kingdom in my early 20s and spent the day with a friend who had visited many times. She squealed with glee over the Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World. I was underwhelmed. I suppose my expectations were unrealistically high so my response was disappointment.”
Trained in New York City and based in Orlando, Florida, Rona takes editorial projects from conception to finished product. She is the author of two travel guides, was the founding editor of three magazines, and is a respected restaurant critic. She hosts a popular local television show celebrating Central Florida restaurants.
So how did this skeptic go from disappointed in WDW to Disney author? “I felt the same way when I moved to Orlando 15 years ago, although I did go wild when one of my 3-year-old’s favorite characters glided by during a parade. Then, slowly, over the years, partly as a regular park guest, partly as a travel writer, I began to learn about and appreciate what Disney does. Every animal carved into Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life, the stern waitresses at Prime Time Cafe who “punish” mothers for not finishing their vegetables, the green army men costumes … Disney’s brilliance, its creativity, its attention to detail … I gained respect for it all gradually over the years.”
Who inspires Rona? “It’s my kids who are my personal heroes. I have marveled since they were infants at how creative they can be, how open to new ideas and now, how comfortable they are with technology. Their amazingly open brains inspire me.”