My Disney Story -The Article I Never Thought I’d Write
“If you believe in it, try it. At the very least, you can say you’ve done something that 98% of people have never done.”
That’s the simplest, yet perhaps most influential piece of advice I’ve ever received.
Two and a half years ago, those two sentences genuinely changed my life. Today’s story is how the journey that started that day slowly unfolded.
Honestly, this was an article I never thought I’d write. I never thought there would be a story to share or a lesson to be learned, but life has a way of changing your thoughts and your interpretations of what’s important and, frankly, what’s not. That’s inevitably where this story begins.
I’ve been blessed to grow up in a family where Disney trips are and where an important of our yearly routine. We went to the parks every year, and even as those $99 Caribbean Beach rates turned into $150 rates, and even $200+ rates, we always managed to find a way back to the parks. For us, the memories were more that worth the months of saving and preparing and cost cutting wherever possible. One of my earliest memories of Disney is packing up the mini van (we’ve all had one of those at some point lol) and finding a simple surprise coloring book or light-up fan, or unique toy hidden in the car to keep us occupied for at least a portion of the long drive down from Kentucky. We were hooked and our theme park trips became more and more frequent.
For some reason, I can distinctly remember rounding that corner on Main Street and seeing the castle at age 12 or so and deciding in my mind that this is what I wanted to do every day. I had no idea how it was going to happen or if I was going to work for Disney or something else, but I just knew something felt right. That trip was different that all the others.
Skip scene to college, and I had roughly 17 years of experience touring the parks. It was a weird point in life where I didn’t know what was next or what was the plan for the future. So many of us have been there and faced those same questions. I decided to become a business major with a focus in management. I was a Freshman in college and after a year of studies, I decided I wanted to do something else along the way.
I wanted to write a Disney Guide Book. I knew nothing about writing or publishing or really anything to do with the book making process. As a result, I reached out to a friend in a Disney community I’d recently started participating in with hopes of getting a piece of advice on where to begin. I knew I had an idea, and I knew I wanted to make something of that idea, but I didn’t know how. The advice convinced me to take take the first step.
Late one night, I just started writing. About six months later and a lot of incredibly late nights doing homework and then staying up to the early hours of the morning writing content, I started sending out emails to publishers. Looking back on it, that probably wasn’t my best decision, but I had one publisher interested in my book out of roughly 10-15 emails I sent out. They requested a copy of the work in progress guidebook, and then nothing happened. I heard absolutely nothing for upwards of five weeks and an option that seemed so hope filled at first started slipping away. I wanted a straight answer (yes or no), so I sent the publisher one more email. The reply I got back essentially stated that the book brought nothing new to the table and that they no longer had an interest in the title (and that’s the nice re-wording of their email response).
At that point I had no idea what to do. I reached back out to that same friend in the Disney community and got back an answer suggesting that I self publish the book and with that suggestion he shared, “If you believe in it, try it. At the very least, you can say you’ve done something that 98% of people have never done.” That small piece of advice stuck with me and a few months later I had generated a cover, put the pieces of the book into the right formats, and slowly but surely put together a self published book. The resulting book was “The Adventurer’s Guide to Walt Disney World.”
The somewhat bitter sweet fact of the matter was that I had no marketing budget, no social media following, and somehow failed to realize that unless I put out a new book every year, the content of the current book would be out of date immediately. I’m not ashamed to admit that the book wasn’t an incredible success like I had hoped. Looking back on it now, it’s easy to see why I had to make that step in the wrong direction. After I finally realized that a guidebook could never stay up to date, I had the idea to start a website. I started small and can vividly remember staring at the page view numbers of my first few articles and being thrilled when an article received over 100 views. It was mind blowing to me. Someone, somewhere in the world, potentially thousands of miles away could read what I typed here in Kentucky. While the site has grown in unbelievable ways since then, the conceptualization of thousands of people having any interest in what I type on a computer and post to the internet still exceeds even my wildest expectations.
I never was the “popular guy” growing up and honestly I never had a ton of friends, but now I get to share what I love talking about with thousands of people every month. If you told me that 4 years ago, I never would have believed you. If you would have went a step further and told me I would get to know complete strangers, meet up with them at a Disney park or resort, and have a conversation with them like a friend I’ve known for years, I would have laughed in your face. It’s a concept that I still cant wrap my mind around but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Today, I’m a senior in college finishing up a degree in Business Management, work a part time job, and truthfully have no idea what’s next. This site isn’t my full time job and it’s not my “career” at this point, but you never know what the future may hold. Am I one step closer to that goal I had as a kid walking down Main Street? I like to think so. Either way, the journey has been worth every hour put in, every late night, and every tough decision along the way. I’ve had the unique opportunity to help people each and every day for the last two and a half years. The feedback I get back and the kind comments that pop up from time to time make everything worth it and make me incredibly appreciative of all that this has become. It hasn’t all been a walk in the park, and inevitably I’m the Disney obsessed guy among friends and family, but you’d be surprised how many people support you when you take a small step towards doing what you enjoy and whatever goal you may have.
Why do I share this? Truthfully, I hope this encourages someone to take that first step. Your goal may not be to start a blog, or a website, or a new business, but whatever your dream is, take that first step today. I’m not an image of “success” and I certainly have a lot still to learn, but that’s the fun in all of this. Every day you get to try something new, and you get to meet new people, and potentially play a small role in sharing your passion with someone around you. It’s a feeling you can’t describe, and one that can truly change your life.
My one piece of advice out of all of this is simply a re-wording of that same piece of advice that was given to me. If you believe in something, give it a shot. Start today and you may be surprised what will unfold tomorrow. It wont be easy, it will take time, but remember first and foremost that even what looks like failure, may simply be the door you’ve been looking for waiting to be opened. Try something new today that could change your life tomorrow.
If you’re one of those people that have been here since the beginning, you may never know how much I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read even a few words of what I write. It means the world to me and I don’t say that lightly. If you’re one of the people that helped me get into Disney photography, I owe you an entirely different set of thatks. If you’re one of the people I’ve met up with in the parks, please recognize how much your friendship means to me. And even for those who I’ve never met, thatk you for being a friend and being a part of the readers that truly are like family to me.
Lou, if you happen to be reading this, I owe you a thatk you that I have no idea how to convey.
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
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Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or free-lance work at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. If you need a landscape or theme park photographer, feel free contact me with photo requests or contracts. All theme park writing and photos will be assessed on a case by case basis.
For anyone else looking to give me a shout or to have their questions answered by me, feel free to contact me anytime via that same email address! I never charge anyone to answer a question and I do answer all of my emails personally.
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A few short years ago, I was sitting in a college apartment trying to figure out what was "next" and came up with this idea to share my accumulated knowledge of the Disney Parks and Resorts with others. The end goal was to help others make the most of their Disney experience and it's been quite the journey!