Travel Tales: Less Than 24 Hours in Disney World

That time I jumped on a plane (or tried to) to Disney World in the middle of college finals

I was depressed my last month of college.

The boy I wanted to marry decided he didn’t want to date me. In a few weeks I would lose the ability to walk to the student center and hang out with my best friends until 2 am. I would also lose my 3 jobs, and my entire sense of purpose.

And to top it all off, instead of a sunny spring, which is usually the most beautiful time of the year on our campus, everyday was cloudy and rainy.

The best picture I have of IWU campus in bloom.

My big sister, who had loved finding colleges and majors for me, and probably would have applied for me if she could, was now having a ball sending me all sorts of potential future jobs.

Most of them I ignored, to be honest…

But she sent me a job opening for a photographer at Disney World! That one I applied for!

I expected the usual, apply to a job, don’t hear back for a few weeks, or EVER.

But with Disney, as soon as I filled out the application, I got sent to a test (the test was mostly about my personality and my work style, not like what is the intersecting point of these two equations sort of test).

I must have passed it with flying colors, because as soon as I finished the test I got another link to set up my in person interview in Orlando.

All in the course of an evening sitting in the student center the week before finals.

I was completely taken aback! And of course I couldn’t go.

I mean, I had final exams to prepare for (and take!). I had a job (3!). I had no car, and basically no money.

And I have never in my life been labeled spontaneous. I plan things. To a fault.

I always have a plan!

Thankfully, everyone I talked to said the same thing: Go for it.

Also thankfully, I had friends.

So as out of character as this was for me, I went a little crazy and bought a plane ticket to Florida. And then a return ticket for the next day.

My friends had agreed to drive me to the airport, so I booked my ticket around their schedule, which meant I had to miss my final college class (hopefully they didn’t have a party that day) before finals week. My flight didn’t leave till the afternoon, but I got to the airport around 11:00.

Before I went to the airport though, I had to arrange plans for the night. I had already bought my plane ticket when I called my aunt, who lives about an hour and a half south of Orlando.

But she was also taking care of my aging grandma, so I wasn’t sure if she would be able to leave her to come pick me up at the airport, and then drive me back to Disney for my interview the next day.

Heart pounding, I called my aunt (did I mention I don’t do things spontaneously?). I blurted out that I had an interview at Disney in like 2 days and would she possibly be able to drive up to Orlando to pick me up and then also drive up to Orlando for my interview, and then also drive me back to the airport???

I was not expecting her response.

Completely wrapped up in my own end-of-college drama, I hadn’t realized that it was her and my grandma’s birthday month. I also was not aware that my sister (a school teacher at the time) was on spring break.

I found out that my sister and my aunts from NY were flying into Orlando THE SAME DAY AS ME and meeting my FL aunt and grandma to go to Disney!!!

So no, it wasn’t a problem to come pick me up, also all your family including your sister who you hardly get to see anymore is going to be there, and hey, let’s just spend the night at Disney instead of driving back and forth!

Picture of all of us at Disney World eating Mickey head ice cream bars. Except me. Because I’m taking the photo…

I was ecstatic! This was amazing! I was leaving the gray rainy (and a little bit snowy) days of Indiana to go to Florida, interview for a job at Disney World, AND see my family, which was a complete surprise!

So my friends dropped me off at the airport at 11. I pulled out my laptop and sat down to catch up on my journaling. And then I caught up on my homework. And then I did more journaling.

And then I moved to a new gate because my flight got moved. And then the time got delayed. Meanwhile several other flights took off for the same destination (O’Hare) while I waited.

And waited.

The time of my second flight was getting closer and closer, but we still hadn’t boarded our flight to Chicago.

I don’t remember how this all went down exactly. I just remember standing at the Indianapolis Airport, hours after we were supposed to have taken off, surrounded by frustrated business people who were missing their connecting flights to London, people flocking the desk to change their flights, and an announcement that this flight simply could not take off because the crew had worked too many hours.

I was 22, completely naive, and basically in tears.

I was calling my mom, texting my family in Florida, being told to try to change to a flight to Charlotte…

Finally we boarded our flight, pretty much at the same time that my connecting flight was supposed to leave O’Hare (though they are an hour behind, so there was still a chance…)

I felt completely lost and overwhelmed in this great big confusing world of ours.

But as I took my seat on the plane, completely panicking about catching my next flight, about my job interview, about moving all alone to Florida, about graduating college and having to “adult"… I looked out the window and saw something I had never seen before.

I saw a rainbow.

Ok… I’ve seen a rainbow before! BUT, I’ve never seen a WHOLE rainbow. An entire rainbow circle.

I saw a rainbow in a perfect circle, and in the center of the rainbow, entirely enclosed in the bright colors, was the shadow of our plane.

I wish I had a picture! My phone at the time cost me $14 (seriously), and did not have a camera. Of course, I had my real camera, but I was too embarrassed to get it out and take a picture.

But there was the plane, completely encircled in a rainbow! I immediately thought of the rainbow in the flood, that God sent to Noah as a promise of protection. And I felt God whisper to me, “It’s ok, child. I’ve got this. I’ve got you. I’ve got you completely enclosed in my promises.”

If I moved to Florida by myself, I would never be fully alone, because God would go with me! And in this moment of panicking and missing my flight, I wasn’t alone because God was with me.

I don’t have a picture of the airplane shadow in the rainbow. But I DO have this picture of flying into a sunrise. And it also happens to be enroute to Disney!

So I landed in O’Hare, missed my flight by about 10 minutes, had to reschedule to another flight late that night, arrived in Disney World about midnight, got the job, didn’t take it (they put me on a waiting list, because I was just not prepared for the first question of the interview, which was “When are you moving to Florida???”), got a Mickey head ice cream with the fam, and then, less than 24 hours since I arrived at midnight, got on a flight home.


I still wonder sometimes how my life would be different if I had taken the (part-time) job and made the plunge to move all alone to Orlando.

But the important thing isn’t whether or not I took the job. It’s that I had the choice. That I didn’t miss out on the opportunity because of fear. Instead of being held back by my fear, I went for it, and I came back to the dreary, snowy Indiana much happier than I left.

Here’s a picture of a rainbow at Niagara Falls, to make up for not having a picture of the rainbow from the plane. And to remind you not to be afraid.

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