When the world shut down in March 2020 I had just returned from vacation. We had just done the Pixie Dust Fan cruise plus some time at Walt Disney World. I had plans to return in May, because I normally would visit 3 or 4 times per year.
As I settled in to life in ‘quarantine’ I discovered that it didn’t really bother me much in my everyday life. I had zoom calls with friends, I already did all of my grocery shopping via delivery services anyway and I was quite happy to have a built in excuse to avoid the outings I didn’t want to go to. The fact that my unmagical job went 100% “work from home” was amazing – I could have my corporate meetings on video from my house in my track pants! No commute and endless cups of tea that I got to make myself. If it wasn’t for the actual pandemic – I was ok with some of these changes.
As the months passed I missed Walt Disney World more and more. With all of the horrible things going on in the world I couldn’t get back to the place that really gave me joy. I didn’t like watching videos from people in the parks and I really struggled to stay positive and produce content on social media and the podcast. The only reason I kept going was that I knew people were counting on ME to share some Disney joy and positivity so I couldn’t lose hope. All I knew for sure was that when things opened up, I would NEVER take it for granted again.
I knew that once I got back to Walt Disney World my normal “week” vacation was not going to be enough, I would need to make up for lost time. I had to figure out how to stay longer.
I debated using all of my vacation days, but could I leave my responsiblities at work for that long? That really wouldn’t be fair to my team. Then it hit me:
Why can’t I work remote from Walt Disney World?
It was like all of a sudden things made sense. I had heard of people working from their cottages during the pandemic. I don’t have a cottage but we could consider Disney my home away from home right?
As I started to formulate my plan, a 4 day cruise popped up with my friend that happened to align with the dates of my trip so why not? Let’s do it ALL! And after 562 days, I finally returned to Walt Disney World.
The itinerary was:
Week 1 – Vacation at Bay Lake Tower
Week 2 – Work from Disney’s Gran Destino Tower
Week 3 – Work from Disney’s Saratoga Springs
Week 4 – A few days at the park with my friend before a 4 day Disney cruise
Many of you had questions about how this worked and the logistics, so I have tried to answer the most common questions below. Who knows, maybe you can figure out how to do something similar in the future!
How was the Disney resort WiFi?
This was actually one of my biggest worries about working from Disney. I spend a good portion of my day on video calls so a strong connection was critical.
I was VERY happy I was not trying to work from Bay Lake Tower the first week. The WiFi in my room was non existent. I have stayed here multiple times but I guess I never noticed how bad the WiFi was.
For my first week of working at Disney I strategically booked the Grand Destino Tower at Coronado Springs. I figured that since Coronado Springs was a convention hotel that they SHOULD have decent WiFi and I was right. The WiFi was incredibly strong and I never lost connection. In fact one day I went to do laundry and worked from there – no issues at all, I even kept the connection in the elevator on the way to the laundry room!
At Saratoga Springs I was pleasantly surprised by the connection as well – I had no issues with any of my video calls. It was strong and consistent and worked perfectly!
Did you go to the parks at night after work?
Most nights – yes. While I was at the Gran Destino I went to the parks in the evenings. I used Lyft a lot to avoid wasting time waiting for a bus. When I was at Saratoga Springs I spent a lot of those nights at Disney Springs since it’s a quick walk over the bridge. I took advantage of the time browsing and shopping and I tried a few different dinner spots!
Did you feel you were as productive working at Disney as you are working at home?
100% yes, in fact maybe more productive. There were a few reasons I felt that way.
1. I had no distractions. Other than mousekeeping coming to change the towels, it was really just me in the room with my kettle making tea all day. I didn’t have a dishwasher to load, my home phone ringing or any of the other “I should be doing” things at home. In this room there was really just me, my computer and my kettle.
2. I think because I was away from home I felt a responsiblity and obligation to be extra focused. I concentrated on my deliverables much more clearly.
3. This was the most important reason – I was HAPPY. It’s amazing how being really happy can change the way you work. I refer to it as my ‘unmagical’ job because it does not bring me joy – it’s purpose is to pay my bills. Somehow it just seemed like a much more pleasant day at work when you’re genuinely happy! Seriously-this was my Instagram story!
How did you afford to stay in Disney for a month?
It’s always shocking to me that people ask me how I afford things – but they do! I wrote a blog on it before about how I go to Disney so often, but obviously this trip was different so I’ll provide a little more insight.
For Bay Lake Tower and Saratoga Springs I had my Disney Vacation Club points. Since I hadn’t been in a while, I had points to spare (which never happens!).
For the rest of the trip I have to say that I was financially irresponsible. I hadn’t been to Disney in 18 months and I didn’t care what anything cost. It was a “put it on the card and worry later” mentality. I didn’t go overboard with dining and extras, I ate quick service the majority of the time. I also ordered water and snacks to have in the room so I wasn’t buying 12 cups of tea a day! I did splurge on Lyfts a lot to avoid buses and waiting for transportation. It was all on the card waiting for me when I got home.
What did you eat during the day?
I have a terrible addiciton to tea. I drink a lot of it while I’m working so I actually brought a kettle with me. I bought a cheap one on Amazon and brought my own tea bags from home. For the most part during the day I didn’t eat – I would grab something for breakfast before I started and worked through lunch so I could be done just after 5.
I would ocassionaly have a treat though – a extra cupcake from dinner the night before always served as a good afternoon snack!
One of the great things though about being at Saratoga Springs was the proximity to Disney Springs. I was in a preferred studio but it was still a bit of a walk to the bridge.
One of the days I was really hungry at lunch time, I hadn’t eaten breakfast and I was famished. I decided I was going to see if I could get from my building to Disney Springs and back in an hour. I’m not a fast walker – but I was craving Earl of Sandwich.
I timed myself – I was on a mission, and what a fun one it was! Imagine ‘taking lunch’ from an unmagical job to go to Disney Springs? I was grinning from ear to ear as I walked over and even sent some selfies of myself to some of my closest work friends. They all commented at how happy I looked. I got my sandwich and was back at my desk in 45 minutes!
Was it comfortable to work there?
Yes and no. I mean lets face it, they definately weren’t ergonomic desks. At Gran Destino it was a full desk, but the chair was less than ideal to sit on for 9 hours per day. It was a good thing I had to get up and stretch a little when filling the kettle and making my tea.
The table at Saratoga was a lot more comfortable because it was in front of the couch.
But let’s be real, I’m not going to complain about comfort while at Disney. Am I right?
Were you lonely being in Walt Disney World alone?
Nope. Not at all. I have discovered that I am quite comfortable and happy being on my own.
Although – I wasn’t really alone the whole time. I spent some time with friends in the parks, for dinner and drinks and I spent my days on video calls with people from work. I was happy for the quiet time some days!
How many suitcases did you bring?
I am always a bit of an overpacker anyway – but I did bring two suitcases. I had brought down a bunch of stuff from Canada for my friends and knew I would need the room on the way home for any souvenirs I bought. It wasn’t all clothes, I did laundry twice while I was there.
Did your work know you did this?
I didn’t hide it. People who worked at the cottage didn’t, so I didn’t either. My team and close friends were happy for me and my boss never felt like I wasn’t pulling my weight. In fact one night I was on a call with her at 6pm and said “You know, I’d love if we could finish this tomorrow because there is a drink at Epcot with my name on it!”. She had forgotten I was there and encouraged me to hang up and get to the park.
Did you get bored?
Not at all – I still felt like I could have spent another month there! There were quick service meals I didn’t have, attractions I didn’t ride and pictures I didn’t take.
Would you go to Walt Disney World for a month again?
No question – ABSOLUTELY!
This was really a dream trip for me. I figured out how to work AND be in Disney at the same time so that I could stay longer. It was everything I could have imagined. I did things that I wanted to do when I wanted to do them. I experienced the parks in such a leisurely stroll that I can’t describe the pure JOY I felt there. It was honestly one of the happiest times I have had in a very long time.
As the ‘unmagical job’ starts discussions for us to return to the office, I worry about not getting this opportunity again. Then I remind myself that I know what my priorities are – and one of them is my OWN happiness. I will find a way to do this again! I don’t know when, but it WILL happen 🙂
Now that you’ve read how I did it – can you do it. Is this something you could see yourself doing?
Do you have any other questions that I didn’t cover? You can also listen to the podcast where I covered a lot of the trip starting on episode 110.