I've been going to Disney World since I was 4 years old. I have a summer birthday, so every other year my family and I would go to Magic Kingdom to celebrate. Even before that, I was obsessed with Disney movies; I was convinced that I was Cinderella spinning in a ballgown, Ariel singing on a rock or Wendy flying through the sky with Peter Pan. At the parks, I got to ride my first roller coaster, meet the princesses I looked up to, and see the castle that I was “going to live in someday.” From that first trip on, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say a princess; and to be honest with you, the dream hasn't changed.
As I've gotten older, I've had the privilege of watching my little sisters' faces light up when they saw the castle for the first time, or when Elsa complimented their shoes, and I decided I was going to have to make that dream a reality.
After talking to some amazing cast members in high school, I learned that Disney World offers a program to college students that allows them to move down to Orlando and work for a semester. As soon as I could apply to the program, I did. I made it through all the interviews and was on cloud nine when I was accepted in January 2020! I went to performer auditions, bought stuff for my room, started a journal, and then a few short months later, COVID-19 came and ruined everything.
To say I was devastated would be the understatement of the century. The first few weeks after the program was canceled were full of self-doubt, stressing out over the future and trying to figure out what was gonna happen next. All the concerts were canceled, school was online and my dream job was ripped away from me. After taking some time to allow myself to be sad, I reminded myself that everything happens for a reason. I worked during the pandemic, grew my platform on TikTok and tried my best to focus on school... but really, all I wanted was to be in Florida at the happiest place on Earth.
After over a year of waiting, Disney finally sent an email back to all of us that had our programs canceled, and within a week I was accepted into the Disney College Program for the Fall 2021 semester! I had so many emotions at first; I was so excited to have my dream job back, scared to leave my family, nervous about money, sad about passing up opportunities at UK, but the one emotion that stuck out more than any other was pure joy. Instead of focusing on what I was going to miss, I had to focus on everything that I would be gaining.
My official move-in date is July 19 and I cannot wait! I get to stay in brand new apartments, work in the parks with some of my best friends and make so many memories for not only ourselves but for guests too! If you wanna keep up with my crazy DCP adventure, feel free to follow my Instagram @raegannbaldwin or look here on the KRNL website for updates! I don't have a role, and I have no idea what park I'll be working in; all I know is I have dreamed about this day for years, and, like Cinderella says, “If you dream something more than once, it’s sure to come true!"