2 Weeks Until Check In! | Change | Growth

Oh hey Disfam!

In exactly fourteen days, I will be checking into the Disney College Program in Anaheim. On one hand it’s kind of unbelievable that it’s actually so soon now, but on the other, I’ve basically been waiting for the entirety of 2015 since applications dropped. It’s officially crunch time now – time to schedule all of the various doctors’ appointments I’ve been putting off for months; to get fitted for a new contact lens prescription; to start stocking up on dishwasher pods and dryer sheets; to wonder what on earth happened to the safety net of money that I *should* have had saved by now; and, of course, to start packing!

The excitement is not entirely without sadness. After my last post, my bunny Gaia took his last breath in my arms. It was horrible and utterly heartbreaking, and my family and I are still in grieving. I had grown up with him, and he’d been my pet, family member, and emotional support animal for twelve years. But as hard as it is to let go of him, and as much as I miss him, there had been a part of me that knew that he was very old, and that this was coming soon. And as painful as it was to witness, I am still so grateful that I was here for his last days and that I got to be with him, holding him until the very end. My excitement over the past few months had been overshadowed by my guilt and fear over leaving him for four months. Now I will be leaving home knowing that I did everything I could for him, and spent his last night on earth snuggling and getting little bunny kisses from him. Although I wish he could have lived forever, and as heavy as it makes my heart to lose him – I’m relieved that I won’t be spending the next four months anxious and fearful, wondering how he’s doing and whether he’s okay each night.

I can’t think of a better place to heal than Disneyland. It’s gotten me through tough times before, but this no longer feels like a hard time – it just feels like a new beginning. I’m saying goodbye to my home and family for the first time, and setting off to surround myself with a new family of people who all share the same crazy passions and interests as me. I’m going to learn so many things, have experiences I can’t even fathom yet and, let’s be real – I’m going to be able to go to Disneyland whenever I want. And that is exactly what I need right now.

So I’m just going to keep blasting my (super extensive) Disney playlist at all times while I pack, finish up DIY decorations, and get waaay too excited planning IKEA trips with my amazing roommates. Soon enough we’ll all be in Anaheim living the dream, and I’ll get to write based on more than just speculation and wishful musings. Until then, thanks for reading and stay magical!


25 Days Till Check In! | DORMS Housing Registration | Choosing Roommates

Yesterday we received the link to register for housing with our roommates on the DORMS system. My roommate Amber noticed first, and after that it was a mad dash for us all to give her our roommate codes and do happy victory dances (or maybe that was just me.) I finished all of my housing registration, having already registered for classes, completed the new hire documents, and filled out my scheduling preferences. After submitting all of the housing forms, I just printed out the paperwork I need to bring to check in. The forms have barcodes, which I love, because bar codes are magical and awesome and if you say otherwise you’re lying.

Today we called State Farm to secure my renter’s insurance, which was incredibly easy since the Anaheim office works with the College Program kids all the time. That makes me officially set for check in! The agent already had all of the information Disney requires, and even said they will send it to the company themselves. I’m fairly certain that this means I am officially done with the business side of things that need to be done before check in day, and all there is left to do for housing is to get hyped about who’s bringing what appliances, and the insane amount of gaming consoles my roomies and I are bringing (Nintendo 64, Wii, Xbox 360, Game Cube, and Playstation 3, if I remember correctly.)

When I first received my acceptance, finding roommates was one of my biggest concerns. It’s hard to get an accurate understanding of someone from a short roommate survey, not to mention I just found the whole process of “courting” someone very daunting and awkward. I imagined it was like: “Hi, I see that you like the Lion King 2 and are sometimes messy but usually neat. I too like the Lion King 2 and am sometimes messy but usually neat. Wanna live with me for five months???” Homie don’t play that… if by “that” you mean “immediately proposing cohabitation to strangers based on one or two similar, but relatively trivial and insignificant characteristics.”

Thankfully, it all worked out and I ended up with an amazing ohana of really cool girls who just mesh together nicely. They are all incredibly sweet and chill, which is exactly what I was looking for. Our apartment is going to be Neverland themed, and we have entertained the idea of making matching Lost Boy onesies. One of the ladies, Joe, also lives in the Bay Area, so she and I are going to Ikea this week to get apartment stuff and then possibly do some crafting. I’ve already made a few Peter Pan coasters, but we’re probably going to make at least two thousand more, as well as some other decor items that look really cool on Pinterest but possibly won’t when we attempt them. Will report back with pictures and results.

29 Days Before Check In! Reflections and Musings.

Something hit me this week. Or last week. Or maybe last month. But some time in the very recent past, I guess it finally became real for me: I’m about to leave home for the first time ever to work at Disneyland for the remainder of the year.

It’s hard to identify all of the thoughts and feelings that have come from this experience, even before it’s begun. I only learned about the Disney College Program late last year, but when I did, it instantly became a permanent fixture in my mind, consuming more of my attention than I’d like to admit (considering that at the time I was a full time student preparing a recital.) Nights were spent binge watched DCP vlogs, class time was spent drawing up rough drafts of interview answers, and hidden Mickeys began mysteriously appearing in the margins of my class notes. I even began to have recurring dreams about living at Disneyland (not that I’m obsessed or anything, I mean, what?)

When applications dropped in January, I hadn’t really been planning to apply yet. But I saw the notification email and I thought… why not? I applied that evening, and completed the web based interview at midnight in a psychotic daze of high pitched squealing and frantically trying to use my laptop’s trackpad with super sweaty hands calmly and gracefully, and before I knew it, I had scheduled my phone interview for the following week.

“I’m so glad I’m not one of those people who over prepares for their phone interview,” I thought as I observed the nine typed, highlighted, and decorated note sheets scotch taped across my wall. I did use the notes, but mostly I spent the entirety of the interview pacing, jumping up and down, and laughing (Nervously? Maniacally? It’s hard to say.) Something must have worked, though, because exactly two weeks later, on February 20th, I woke up to the most exciting email of my life: my acceptance.

It is now less than a month until I check in. The past few months have been ultimately defined by what might be the most intense excitement and anticipation I have ever felt… but the whole thing still felt, somehow, fantastical. Surreal. Now, suddenly, it feels maybe even a little too real.

It’s hard for me to fathom what the rest of the year will be like. I anticipate euphoria, exhaustion, joy, stress, sleep deprivation, laughter, tears, and overstimulation. I anticipate making deep, lasting friendships and learning things about myself and my career goals that I can’t even imagine yet. I anticipate curling up in bed each night with sore, achy feet and waking up each morning bleary eyed and ready to make magic at my favorite place in the universe.

There are several harsh realities that I’ve been shoving away because they’re just too hard to think about. I’ll be leaving my twelve year old bunny, Gaia, who is disabled and whom I love very, very much. I don’t know for certain if he will still be here to greet me when I get home, and I still can’t think about the moment I’ll say goodbye to him without getting choked up. I still have one semester of school left, and in it I will have to prepare an entire senior recital (which is usually done over the course of a whole year.) Sometimes I fear that my anxiety and depression will get the best of me, even after I’ve come so far in treating them.

But, painful as they may be, these fears just solidify how important this journey will be for me. What an amazing opportunity I have been fortunate enough to receive. How incredibly overdue I am to open a new chapter in my life and, for the first time in years, stray from the path laid out for me and follow my own dreams.

And, when it comes down to it, I couldn’t be happier.

DCP Meet Up | Walt Disney Family Museum

Yesterday I met up with six other members of my upcoming program at the Walt Disney Family museum in San Francisco. We had such a great time and I hope this isn’t the only Bay Area meet up before we go to Anaheim in August!

We sat in the cafe for a while while those of us who ran into traffic gradually trickled in, and we spent the first few minutes just basking in the delightful weirdness of meeting internet friends for the first time in real life.

The museum is beautiful. There are a lot of interactive displays where you get to do things like match musical cues to a cartoon or turn a crank to flip through stills and make a moving image. My favorite parts are the unexpected history lessons. There’s a display about a big animators’ strike and Walt Disney’s remarks on Communism, and a whole room dedicated to illustrations and films that Disney released during war time, including topless pinup girls and a picture of Donald Duck throwing a tomato at Adolf Hitler’s face (seriously!)


I also love the pictures of Walt with his family and cast members, and quotes from the people who knew and worked with him. Even in old, faded pictures you can almost feel the warmth and joy he eminated.

Walt Wedding

The crown jewel of the museum is, without a doubt, the 13 foot scale model of Disneyland. It’s gorgeous and meticulously detailed, with moving dolls dancing at It’s A Small World, green ghosts glowing at the Haunted Mansion, and Tinkerbell suspended over Sleeping Beauty Castle. One of the docents working the area told me that the model was created to show the park the way it was when Walt died, but with the projects that were incomplete during his life finished – like Pirates and Space Mountain. We all got magical and misty feeling overlooking our future home (what is this, a kingdom for ANTS??) and it was hard to tear ourselves away.

The last rooms of the museum are dedicated to Walt’s death and legacy. Illustrations of grieving Disney characters span the walls, and they are completely heartbreaking. There’s nothing as heart wrenching as seeing Mickey Mouse slumped over and crying. Walt was such an amazing man, and his departure shook the world of everyone whose life he touched. His spirit and memory live on in the realm of imagination that he brought to us all.

Walt castle minnie crying bye waltmourners plutocrywaltmemorial

On the walk to the museum exit, the walls are lined with video screens playing a montage of Walt playing with his kids, clips of Disney films, quotes about Walt, and modern day images of families gleefully walking through Disneyland.

walt never lost it  waltquote
We headed to the gift shop and got a bunch of postcards. We found a flip book called “The History of Bridges” (or something like that) which showed the stork from Dumbo carrying the bridge and dropping it into the bay.

After the museum we all went to Mel’s Diner for a late lunch, and drew Disney related doodles on our placemats. I had such a great time meeting part of my Disfam for the first time, and I can’t wait to meet the rest of them in August!

meet up selfie


Hi Disfam!

My name is Julianna, and I have been accepted to the Disneyland College Program for Fall 2015! I am beyond thrilled for this adventure, and so honored to be in one of three programs (including the summer alumni term) that will be working at Disneyland during its 60th Anniversary. Since I’m more eloquent over text than on video, I’ve decided to make this blog to supplement my fledgling YouTube channel. I also figure that this will be easier to keep up with during my program (though I am determined to get better at vlogging by my check-in date in August.)

Here are some random facts about me, so we can become official internet friends!

1. I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. I still live there (here?) with my family, and the College Program will be my first time ever living away from home. I am in love with my city, but the recent techie gentrification scene makes me sad.

2. I am a senior at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where I will be receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance. Basically, I sing classical art songs and opera. For my major we are required to take at least one year each of French, Italian, and German, so I’m pretty proficient at learning foreign languages!

3. I am diagnosed with a couple of anxiety and depressive disorders, which I thankfully now have regulated and under control to the point where they no longer hold me back. I am a huge advocate for reducing the stigma behind mental illness and its treatment, so I have gotten myself accustomed to sharing my stories with other people who struggle with anxiety or depression, or who just want to learn about them. Last year was a hard time for me as I was just becoming acquainted with my diagnoses, and that just makes this new journey even more meaningful and amazing to me.

4. I am a children’s party entertainer, and I think it’s pretty much the best job in the world. I get to make magic for kids every weekend, face paint and make balloon animals, perform magic, and sing! I will definitely miss it while I’m in Anaheim (but not too much).

5. It’s sort of impossible for me to name one favorite genre of music. Some of my absolute favorite artists are Radiohead, System of a Down, Kimya Dawson, Belle & Sebastian, Nirvana, The White Stripes, The Dresden Dolls, Matthew Santos, Muse, Lupe Fiasco, The Beatles, and OF COURSE Queen Bey! Plus classical, musical theater and, naturally, Disney music.

6. I love to read and write. My favorite authors are Chuck Palahniuk and Haruki Murakami, but I love me some young adult novels, too! Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events are the definition of my childhood (Daniel Handler a.k.a. Lemony Snicket went to my high school, ndb). I love The Hunger Games and the Uglies, Pretties, Specials trilogy.

7. My mom is from Poland, and she escaped communism by traveling on a work visa – IN THE CIRCUS. Yeah, she was in the circus as a dancer and elephant rider. Not exactly a fact about me, but it’s pretty amazing and at last I hopefully have a (potential) opportunity to make my twenties as exciting as hers were!

8. Disneyland is literally my favorite place in this universe. Maybe that’s a given for a lot of College Program participants, but I never get tired of saying it. My friends and family know that I (allegedly) will only accept a marriage proposal at the Happiest Place on Earth because any man who deserves to marry me should know me well enough to know that! Snow White’s wishing well and/or behind the castle on the Fantasyland side and/or by the Storybook Canals and/or while I’m sobbing through Fantasmic plz

9. I’m a little obsessive about things smelling good. I’d be lying if  I said that I weren’t upset about candles not being allowed in Disney housing, but I’m really excited to find room scents that my roommates and I all like, in the forms of reed diffusers or plug-ins or something (nerd alert?)

10. I can lick my elbow, shake my eyeballs, and put my legs behind my head but please don’t ask me to do that last one.

Thanks for reading everyone, and I can’t wait to post more about my journey to the DCP!
You can also check out my YouTube channel, Julianna’s DCP, or my Instagram @julianna.kochana.

Have a magical day! ❤