There are many times I fall in love with living in Orlando all over again. But, there are times when being an Orlando Native means challenge and heartbreak. The most emotionally challenging aspect of being an Orlando Native is the comings and goings of people.
Much like New York City, Nashville, Miami, or Hollywood, Orlando attracts dreamers. More often than not it attracts people who visited here as a child and fell in love with the theme parks. They pack up their worldly goods and head on down to the place “where dreams come true”, most of them participating in Walt Disney World’s College Program. After 6 months or so of making new friends and working and learning from the Mouse they decide they don’t want to go back home, they want to stay in the magic.
Many great opportunities are offered to the College Program alumni. During my time at Walt Disney World, I often regretted becoming a good ol’ fashioned regular Cast Member and wished I had started my career as a “CP”. But it is a tough world out there, kids. Walt Disney World alone employs 60,000+ Cast Members; that’s a mighty big sea for which an ambitious little “fish” to make it. It does happen, but it takes time and networking,… lots and lots of networking, experience, persistence, education, and more networking.
Other opportunities are offered with the other big theme parks as well as the world-class hotels and restaurants in Orlando. There are boundless opportunities for those interested in Hospitality. Offering a vacation destination and event planning mecca like no other is the backbone of our culture and our economy. It is possible to make a successful career here.
But, there are many, many times when the dreamers from other parts of the country, and the world, decide it’s time to pack it up and head back home. That’s when it gets heartbreaking to be a Native. I’ve made countless friends with people from someplace else. They share my love for the theme parks, we get to know each other, we bond… then months later they’re gone. We stay in touch through social media, but it’s not the same. Sometimes, they come back and give it another try, that’s when I am cautious and keep a little bit of distance. Such is the case for me now.
There is no secret formula on how to make it happen, and that’s true no matter where you live. I wish I could tell you exactly what you have to do in order to make a successful career here. From my 10 years of Hospitality experience so far I can say it takes insane optimism, willingness to grow and adapt, relationship skills, and an open mind. Sometimes you do not find exactly for what you are looking, but if you are open minded you may come across other opportunities that are equally rewarding.
And if you find yourself not where you want to be and ready to go back home, just know Orlando’s going to be here. So keep in touch and never stop dreaming.
- The Business Behind the Magic, an interview with Fmr. Disney EVP Lee Cockerell (cpanow.picpa.org)
- Become a Florida Lifer and Get Social (thisfloridalife.com)
- Farewell Friend: Endeavour’s Final Flight (thisfloridalife.com)
- Disney Cast Members Play Ball (thisfloridalife.com)