Hi! I'm Liz. Pleased to meet y'all. This is not my first trip, but it is my first trip report. Feel free to prod me if I'm not updating regularly. Sometimes I get distracted. A little bit about me: Out here in the real world, I have a tendency towards cynicism and snark. I came to liking WDW kind of late, after it came to my attention that there were things there for people older than 10. My favorite Disney movie is Lion King with Lilo & Stitch a close second, but Ive never been much of a fan of the classic princesses. My favorite thing about Disney World is that when Im there, I can completely suspend my disbelief and a lot of my cynicism, leave the worries and stress at home, and just relax. I tend to take things at face value while Im there, including a lot of the Magic. Prologue (I'll get down to the nuts/bolts in the next post) I decided to start doing reports with this trip because it's ...special. Let me tell you a story: (tl:dr version--3 years ago, a CM used a story to change my entire outlook on life, allowing me to accomplish things I never even dreamed were possible, including finding my true calling, and graduating from my college program.) About 3 years ago (Nov. 08) I was in a very ...lost... place in my life. Id mostly just been drifting up to that point, starting things and then quitting when it started to look too hard, and Id recently realized that I really should have figured out what Im doing with my life by that age (32). In this mindset, I fled to Disney World in hopes of forgetting for a few days that my life was kind of a disaster. I was there mostly for F&W, because Im kind of a foodie, but I also spent a lot of time in AK, because it is, hands down, my favorite park. This was also during the (second) Year of a Million Dreams promotion, so Id periodically see groups of people wandering the parks with dream fastpasses/lanyards/ears/etc. Eventually, as I was wandering up into Asia in AK I spotted an actual, live Dream Team CM. I went up to him and started a conversation. Im pretty sure my lost-ness was obvious to him, because when I said I intended to check out the trails around the Tree of Life since I hadnt seen them yet, he promptly offered a personal tour. Of course I agreed. The tour was fantastic, and he pointed out design and creatures that I might not have noticed on my own. As we came around to that little cave with the bench, he pointed to one of the little holes in the cave wall and told me to look through it. I did and it turned out to be a tiny telescope that focused on the carving of the ant on the Tree. He then told me the story of how the Tree came to be there, surrounded by water and lush gardens in a land that used to be desert. To summarize (since Im really not that good of a storyteller) it all started with the Ant, and his dream, and how, when he was given the literal seed to grow his dream, he worked hard to make it grow. This massive tree was here because of an ant, a seed, and a lot of determination. Then Justin (the CM) pulled out this little metal container, opened it to show me what looked like empty, and said that it was full of pure Dream, but Dream is useless until its given form. Then he handed me the container and said to think about what I want most in the world. I did, and when he took it back and opened it, it was now full of glitter. He said that was ok, but I needed to try harder. I needed to concentrate on my dream so hard I could feel it in my bones. So I did. When he opened the container again, there was a translucent orange acorn. He handed it to me and said This is your Dream Seed. Its not going to grow into a tree like this one, since that was the Ants dream and not yours, but if you care for it and nurture it, it will grow into your dream. Then he filled out a magical moment certificate, we finished the tour and we went our separate ways. This is my certificate. and this is my Dream Seed. Fast-forward 3 weeks. That story, in that place and at that time was apparently exactly the kick-in-the-pants that I needed. Id finished the vacation and come home, and that acorn had not been out of my sight for the entire time. Id been thinking about what I could do to nurture this dream, and I decided to go back to school, with the intent of becoming an architect: something Id been fascinated with since I was 4yo but never pursued because everyone always told me that the required calculus class was hard. A friend encouraged me to get tested for learning disabilities upon hearing of my math fears, and it turned out that I have a symbol-processing deficiency (like dyslexia, but weirder) that neatly explained my trouble with math and could be worked around. Once Id managed to pass the calculus class (B+!) at a nearby community college, I checked with the architecture school to see what else I could do to improve my chances when application time came around again. They said they were looking for folks with an art background, so the next quarter I took 3 studio art classes: Drawing, Ceramics, and Jewelry. Drawing will never be a favorite thing of mine. Ceramics was fun, but heavy. Jewelry and metalwork turned out to be my true calling. I love it even more than architecture. Ive since started my own jewelry/accessories/metalwork business and become the first person to graduate from Jewelry/Metals Certificate Program at my college (which required passing a class on business accounting, which is *another* math that Ive been terrified of my whole life). I love my life & where it's going, and I love what I do. My dream, BTW, was to find my place in the world. This trip is specifically in celebration of my graduation.