It’s been over a week since we arrived back to Toronto from Florida, and I’m already reminiscing and yearning to go back. You should know that this is my first real family getaway, it’s been 15 years since I was last on a plane, we went to Vancouver. Now I’m 22, working full time as a freelance Art Director, living in Toronto while completing my BA in Advertising and I was in desperate need of a vacation.

Since I’ve never left Canada before, Florida was a huge deal to me, I’ve never exchanged currency, never had the pleasure of meeting border police or airport security officers, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect when we arrived at Disney World.

The amount of detail put into every ride and theme shocked me every time we stepped in line. I tend to pay attention to detail no matter where I am and at first it was overwhelming to be in a place where everything is so tediously preplanned and designed, it’s clear that nothing has been overlooked. I was particularly impressed with the tree of life at Animal Kingdom. The gigantic carved tree spans the whole park and it’s entirely made up of animal carvings of every shape, size and species. It’s impossible not to get lost in the details of the artists’ work.

tree at animal kingdom

Looking back on it now I’ve realized that out of our entire trip there’s a few choice memories that remain top of mind. First was the overwhelming amount of detail and the overall cleanliness of the park (seriously, try to find a piece of trash out of place or gum on the ground, it’s impossible). Second was our interaction with the cast members at both Disney and Universal Studios.


Every cast member has a job to do, but they’re all conversationalists who seem to have found their perfect position at the park. Wherever you are in Florida whether it’s Disney World or Universal Studios it’s a part of the experience to talk to the cast members as they are every bit as magical as the rides and attractions. You would never believe their knowledge about the park and the part they play in it. The safari tour leader at Animal Kingdom clearly had a passion for the animals she spoke about and soon after we left the tour we were pulled in to dance with the tribal men from Africa.

It’s important to let yourself go beyond your comfort zone and experience the most of what the parks have to offer. At Universal Studios there are wonderful animatronic characters that you can actually talk to. Some of them are obvious and some are meant to be discovered by those who look for them. Here’s a few that we found during our trip:

  • The shrunken head from the Knight Bus in Harry Potter
  • The Gringotts goblin from Harry Potter
  • a 500 year old fountain

Talking with these characters was definitely a highlight of the trip, I mean… where else will you ever get to experience such a thing?! We were able to talk to the Goblin from Gringotts and play a game with a very sassy rock fountain. These are the memories that will last and they are the ones that make the best stories. So it’s important to get out of your comfort zone while on vacation, dance with tribal men, allow yourself to get rejected by a goblin, and let a crowd of people watch while you’re being quizzed by a rock, you only get a certain amount of vacation time so make it worth while.

Jayme Fairbridge
Jayme is a 22 year old freelance Art Director, living in Toronto while completing her BA in Advertising.
Jayme Fairbridge