"If you can dream it, you can do it." | My Disney Fairytale

"When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable." - Walt Disney

Once upon a time, there was a young woman in a hospitality program at a four year university who was a little lost. She wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do with her life when a school counselor suggested Disney could be the perfect place to start her career. She decided to make it happen then never looked back, and even started telling everyone she was leaving New Hampshire for California in six months, well before she had even applied for the job. And guess what!? That young woman was me! And, surprise - I got the job! I was accepted to the Spring/Summer 2009 Disney College Program. When I chose the position of a Photopass Photographer, I had no idea how much my life was about to change. 

Honestly, before my first day of training, I knew next to nothing about photography. Over the years, I had a few little point-and-shoot cameras, but had never picked up a DSLR or had any idea what ISO, aperture, or even megapixels were. There was definitely interest in the subject, but I was just excited about being in the Magic Kingdom everyday. Once I started to learn more, I couldn't wait to be out in the parks with thousands of opportunities to capture once in a lifetime moments - children meeting Mickey for the first time, twirling with their favorite princess or learning how to defeat Darth Vader, couples getting engaged at Sleeping Beauty Castle (I cried every time), families creating memories that would last forever. Each day was a new adventure and I felt so lucky to be a part of something so meaningful to so many people. 

The best thing for me about working at Disneyland is how it helped me fall in love with all the most important parts of life. I found passion in photography, snapping colorful, candid moments. I met the love of my life while lightsabers battled on the stage in front of us. I made lifelong friends with the most amazing people at the Happiest Place on Earth. 

When Olivia and I decided to leave Disney for NYC, we were very emotional. Between us, we spent almost 15 years making magic. Our Characters & Imaging friends were more like family and it was hard thinking about leaving all that even though we knew it was time to move on.

It's been three whole years since our last shifts and I can't believe it! My special events team couldn't have shown more kindness that day, at my favorite location (Disney Performing Arts) complete with party cake and a journal full of handwritten notes from my closest friends and photos that still makes me cry happy tears when I flip through it. Olivia's last session at the Jedi Training Academy was extra special (and emotional) too. 

Not trying to sound cliché, but "magical" is absolutely the best word to describe my Disney experience. It was such an amazing company to work for and set the bar for all future endeavors very high. I am so grateful for every memory I helped make, every smile on a child's face, every firework show, every single moment. Thank you to the mentors and friends who have shaped my career, my life, and who I've become. Disneyland will always have a very special place in my heart and be the biggest part of my own fairytale story. 

"See ya real soon!" - Mickey Mouse

(Yes, I wore that fleece jacket 99.9% of the time, even in the summer. Yes, people thought I was crazy.)

Kate Bancroft

Kate Alison Photography, New York, New York