An Interview with Lexie
February 12, 2019
In part two of our interview series*, we sat down with regualr contributor, Lexie, to see how much of a role Disney and its Parks has played and continues to play in her life. Hope you enjoy!
First off Lexie, how did you come to love all things Disney?
Oh gosh. Would you like the long or the short answer? Ha! The short answer is that I have loved Disney for as long as I can remember, it is just who I am. The slightly longer answer is that over the past 20 years, my love for Disney has developed into an ongoing and complex research obsession.
As a kid, I was really lucky. My parents, particularly my Mum, had a strong affinity with American culture and we even lived in America for a few years. It was then that I was first properly exposed to the magic that is Disney. As a six year old, I visited Disneyland for the first time. It was nothing short of magical. Since then, I have continued to develop my interest in all things Disney.
I began to research Walt Disney and was naturally fascinated. From there, I developed a passion for learning about the inner workings of the company. I have always been interested in an eclectic mix of research, from international politics, to golden age hollywood and just learning more about different cultures in general. My research into Disney seemed to cover all of those subjects. A perfect fit! (Glass slipper, anyone?)
“I began to research Walt Disney and was naturally fascinated. From there, I developed a passion for learning about the inner workings of the company.”
While studying, I decided I needed another hobby. An opportunity to volunteer for an American Disney fan radio show came my way and I had found my new hobby! From there, my interest in researching all things Disney really flourished. Throughout this time, there had also been a few more trips to Disneyland and WDW in between. It became very clear that I couldn’t get enough of Disney! My friends all thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care haha!
In 2014 I decided to undertake an honours course at Sydney University. I somehow managed to blend my degree in politics with Disney… Magic. After that, I was all in and haven’t stopped learning since!
You seem to have been fully immersed in Disney even before you worked at Walt Disney World for 6 months. What was that like and what were the benefits?
I spent the better half of 2015 working at WDW. This really was a dream for me. However, in hindsight, it was more like a rollercoaster. The highs were very high and the lows were equally as intense. In saying that, the biggest benefit was truly personal. I was thrown into a dream environment and was forced to discover a lot about myself. Was it all worth it? Sure was. I grew up at WDW. How special is that?! I got to learn about myself as a young woman in a place that most people can only dream of visiting.
Outside of self-discovery, a huge benefit was the freedom to enjoy the parks everyday. We were able to get to know the ins and outs of each park. There were often times that we had access to the parks when no one else did. Walking down Main Street USA at 2am, with not a guest in sight, was pretty damn unforgettable.
Another benefit was also the gift of being part of someone’s holiday, becoming a memory of a cherished time that they will always take with them. My experience working at Cinderella’s Royal Table allowed me to do that every day. Having little kids run up to me and ask if I were a princess (to which I would kindly answer “not yet”) and then love my Australian accent was pretty cool!
So, I’d say that outside of the free park entry and enjoying all of the attractions daily, the main benefits were emotional and sentimental. I’ll keep them with me always.
Did you have a favourite park and attraction at Walt Disney World while you were there?
That is like asking if I have a favourite food ha! All of the parks and attractions at WDW have their time and place and I think they are all pretty wonderful. In saying that, if I only had 10 mins to spend at WDW, I wouldn’t be able to go past the Carousel of Progress. Surprising, I know!
Again, this is a sentimental experience for me. While living at WDW, I promised myself that I would ride at least one attraction everyday. I did! It just so happened that the Carousel of Progress was one that featured a lot haha. Initially this was a matter of convenience. It was just behind Main Street USA (one of my favourite places in the whole world), never had a long line up and only took about 10 minutes total. Those factors made the carousel the perfect pre-work attraction. Beyond convenience, I felt an affinity to the old fashioned theme and the connection to Walt and his passion for progress. That is, knowing that Walt had truly loved the carousel himself made me feel that I was connecting with him and a time gone by each time. I know it’s silly, but the Carousel of Progress always made me smile.
Can’t fault your reasoning there. What other parks have you experienced?
Disneyland and California Adventure will always be amazing for me. My childhood memories of family holidays there are awesome. I will keep going back for more ha! On the other side of the world, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are honestly amazing. If you are ever in Tokyo, please please please check them out. The blend of Japanese culture and Disney magic is truly incredible.
Well then, three parks down and three to go. What is it, do you think, that makes a Disney Park different from any other theme park (particularly those in Australia)?
I could talk all day about this! To keep it simple, I’d say that the biggest difference is the attention to detail. From the moment that you step out of your “real world transport”, you quite literally step into an entire world of fantasy. Every sense is looked after. From the optical illusions making you feel that the shop front facades are full buildings, and the different scents in each land bringing the immersion full circle, you really don’t remember any outside worries. It is the minor details like that that are nowhere else and boy, are they nice.
You’re going to be spending the next year or so based in Paris, with plenty of Disneyland trips planned. What are you most looking forward to?
Sounds a little odd, but I have purposefully not researched Disneyland Paris. I know very little about it! That excites me. I cannot wait to discover a new Disney experience and keep going back for more.
You have a blog called Magical Moments: Disney Inspired. What’s it all about and why did you start it? (Here’s your chance to do a bit of a plug.)
Ha! Well, last year my Magical Moments blog started in a similar way to my other Disney hobbies. I was feeling like I really needed a new way to express my Disney love. Being in Sydney, and working in a fast paced advertising environment, I was searching for a personal creative outlet. At the same time, I had received some challenging personal news. This was a really eye-opening and empowering situation for me. There were a lot of feelings reaching their boiling point and I was ready to let off some steam. Hey presto, why don’t I write about it?
“Working in a fast paced advertising environment, [in Sydney], I was searching for a personal creative outlet.”
My first blog post ‘How Disney is helping me come to terms with my diagnosis’ was something I wrote for myself. Not thinking that anyone would read it, I just shared it on my personal social media. Turns out that people did read it and a few actually found it helpful. That unexpected response inspired me to keep going. Very much a work in progress, the blog touches on different ways to experience “magical moments” and keep the Disney ethos of dreaming and doing in the everyday. I write about how Disney influences my life, little lessons we can all learn from various characters and am hoping to continue to express my understanding of Disney as it grows. Over the past few months, I have scaled back my writing to make room for the craziness that was the end of year. Now, moving to Paris will surely boost the blog’s evolution. If people read it, that’s great ha!
It’s definitely well worth a read! Do you have a message for people wondering whether they should visit a Disney Park?
Well, to quote Walt Disney, “the best way to get things done is to stop talking and start doing”. There is no doubt about it, a Disney Park experience will not disappoint. In saying that, make sure you go in with a strong game plan, eat all of the Mickey shaped snacks, and stay for the fireworks.
Thanks for your time Lexie and good luck for your time in France. Is there anything else you would like to add?
No, thank you. It’s been fun! I suppose one thing I should say is that people ask me why I love Disney and how I can continue to love it after working at WDW etc. It’s always a question that I struggle to answer outside of “I just do”. If I could boil my relationship with Disney down to one inspiration, it’s “dream it, do it”. The fact that one man had a dream, drew a mouse and then changed the world, is something that I will never not love.
We thank Lexie for not only this interview but also the brilliant articles she has produced over the past six months, giving us great insight into Disney Parks. She will continue to contribute to Down Under Disney and will be a roving reporter for us all the way from Disneyland Paris. We look forward to seeing what she gets up to!