Loyalty is something that seems to be less common nowadays. People are on a constant search for something new, instead of enjoying what they already have. While I do believe in enjoying the best things that life has to offer, I am also a very loyal person. I tend to be picky, and don’t want to “waste” my time on something I don’t absolutely love. When I do find something that I think is really great, I am very loyal for a long time.
Some people may feel that the life I live is boring, because I tend to spend my time in the same places, and I do the same things most of the time. But, I look at things in a different way. I don’t see it as repetitive and boring. When I find something I really love, I want as much of it as possible. Since I do tend to be picky, when I find something that I really enjoy, it is something that I know for a fact I will not get sick of quickly or easily.
I am a big believer that everyone should find a place that they really love, and they should become a regular visitor/customer of that place.
When I turned 21 and was finally able to go to bars, I started going to different places to hang out, and I had a lot of fun, but I had a hard time finding a place where I wanted to go regularly. Over the next couple of years, I ended up finding two places that were an absolute blast. They were the kinds of places where I felt comfortable.
For me, people always make the biggest difference in any situation. I was incredibly fortunate to meet some amazing people at both of these places over the next several years who became my friends. I still keep in touch with many of them to this day, and am still good friends with a lot of them.
Shortly after my 22nd birthday, I went to a local Buffalo Wild Wings location with some friends for some food and a couple of beers. While we were there, we noticed a trivia game on some of the TV screens throughout the restaurant/bar. We were curious what it was and how we could play, so we asked our server about it. This was an unexpected life-changing moment for all of us.
For the next eight years, until I moved away, I became a regular. Although the group of friends that joined me wasn’t the same every time, a few of my friends became regulars also. We planned our BWW nights around the food and drink specials (mostly the drink specials, to be perfectly honest), and we also planned our visits based on the days and times of our favorite trivia games. This led to countless fun, drunken nights, and it also led to me meeting some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my life. I still keep in touch with several of the people I was fortunate to meet and become friends with throughout those years. One of them is somebody that I now consider to be one of my best friends.
About a year later, a new entertainment complex, called The Hub, opened in Fargo. The Hub was a big building with 6-7 different bars. Each bar had a different theme and drew a different crowd. There was something for pretty much everyone. I have always loved country music, so I started hanging out in the country bar, Cadillac Ranch, on the nights that my friends and I weren’t at BWW playing trivia.
By the end of my first night at Cadillac Ranch, thanks to my friends, I had met most of the staff. They were all awesome people, and I knew I would be back again soon. Over the next few weeks and months, I became a regular there, as well. I rarely visited the other bars in The Hub, but I could go into Cadillac Ranch and, without saying a word, my usual drink would be served to me.
After I had already become a regular at Cadillac Ranch, I ended up starting to travel with a local band that played the concert venue in The Hub a couple of times a year. My life changed quite a bit at this time, and this also changed how I decided whether I would spend a night at BWW, or Cadillac Ranch. BWW was my place to hang out and quietly relax. Cadillac Ranch was a guaranteed party. At the time, it was nice to have two different options like that so I could choose a place based on my mood.
After a few years, The Hub closed down, and I was back to having one regular hangout. To be honest, for me, things probably worked out for the best. While I still enjoyed the party lifestyle, I was reminded frequently that I wasn’t 21 anymore.
Trivia nights at BWW started turning into more frequent nights that only occasionally involved trivia. My friends and I knew most of the staff by this time, and just enjoyed getting to see our friends while they were working. Trivia was still fun, but we were now going there for the people who made that place so welcoming and so much fun for us.
I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people on a personal level. I don’t care who the person is or what they do for a living, I’ve always wanted to get to know them personally. When you go to a restaurant and the server sits down at your table so you can talk as friends, instead of just server-customer, that is something I really love. It makes the whole experience more enjoyable for me, and hopefully it’s more enjoyable for the server, too.
When we started getting to know the staff well enough that they would come in on a day off or stay after their shift ended and join us for some drinks, I knew we had made the right decision years ago when we decided to make this our regular hangout place. So many people throughout the years took such great care of my friends and me, and I hope they all knew how much we appreciated them and everything they did for us.
When I moved to Orlando, I knew that I would have to find a new place where I would become a regular. My life was changing significantly, and I knew that I would need to find something completely different. I didn’t quit drinking, but I cut back, and knew that hanging out in bars would no longer be my first choice for entertainment.
Between being constantly busy with going back to school, and some other issues I had to deal with shortly after I moved, I didn’t really leave home much, unless I was going to school. A few months later, I bought an annual pass for Walt Disney World. Once again, this was a life-changing moment for me.
I was 23 years old the first time I ever visited WDW. I had always loved Disney, but had never had the opportunity to visit the Disney parks until that time. The magic of that first time I was in the parks is something I have never forgotten. Now that I am an annual passholder and have become a Disney regular, I can happily say that every visit to the parks is just as exciting and magical as that first visit, almost nine years ago. In fact, I think it’s even more magical now!!
When I tried to figure out where I could find to become a regular in Orlando, Disney never even crossed my mind. It’s too big and there are too many people. Coming from a small town, I just didn’t see how I could possibly feel as comfortable at Disney as I had at BWW and Cadillac Ranch back home.
I bought my annual pass at the beginning of January 2016. At the time, I had family down here with me for a few months, and we went to the parks together. My favorite park has always been Magic Kingdom, while they tend to prefer Epcot. We visited Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom occasionally, too, but Magic Kingdom and Epcot were our go-to parks.
Our nightly routine when we visited Magic Kingdom was to try to get in a couple of attractions, and then watch the “Wishes” fireworks show and Main Street Electrical Parade right before the park closed. We started watching the parade in the same spot in front of the Main Street train station every night so we could leave quickly after the parade ended to avoid the rush of people trying to exit the park at the same time.
After watching the parade from the same spot several times, I started to notice that a couple of the characters and a few of the other performers were starting to wave to me every time. Since I was there so often and was usually in the same spot, they seemed to recognize me. With all of the thousands of people who visit that park every day, I never in a million years would have guessed anyone would ever start to recognize me or remember me, so that just added to the magic of the whole experience. I started looking forward to that 2 or 3 seconds where somebody remembered me, made eye contact, smiled, and waved or said “hello”. As small as those things are, they meant a lot to me. They still do every time I watch a parade to this day.
After my family left and I was, once again, all alone 1,500 miles from home, I started to spend more and more time in the parks, especially Magic Kingdom. Although I was alone in a place where I really didn’t know anybody, my nightly Disney visits became my opportunity to see some familiar faces, outside of school. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t know anybody, I was just happy to see familiar faces and be in a place that made me happy. It made life in a new city feel somewhat more normal for me. Once again, I looked forward all day long to the 2 or 3 seconds where I could make eye contact with someone who was familiar to me, smile, and wave or say “hello”. As pathetic as it may sound to some people, that brief interaction was the highlight of my entire day most days. I hope that doesn’t sound depressing, because I don’t mean it in that way. Most of my days were good, but having a nice little moment like that at Disney to end my night was just a great way to end the night. It was something that still makes me smile thinking about it now.
The Main Street Electrical Parade ended in October 2016. I was sad to see that parade end, because it helped me to get through a time when I would have been homesick every night if I hadn’t been able to see some familiar faces.
My school schedule changed at around that time, as well, and I started to have more free time in the afternoons. Instead of doing homework in the afternoon, and then spending the night at Disney, I started going to Disney in the afternoons after class, and then went home to study and do homework.
I hadn’t really spent much time in the parks in the afternoons before this time, because of my school schedule, so it was fun to see the things I had been missing. Although there was no longer a nighttime parade to watch, my schedule allowed me to make it to Magic Kingdom a few afternoons each week in time for the Festival of Fantasy Parade. I, once again, was able to see a lot of the familiar faces I had looked forward to seeing every night for the past several months.
By this time, more of the cast members throughout the park started to recognize me as a regular visitor, and always gave me a warm welcome. Although I had lived in Orlando for over a year at this point, most things still felt new to me, so it was nice to have a place I could go to that was comfortable. I could just relax and enjoy living in the moment. While I do enjoy experiencing new places and new things, I think everybody really loves having a place they can go back to that feels comfortable.
I finished school in December 2016. My last day of school was the last day I was able to use my Disney annual pass before Christmas/New Year blockout dates began. My dad was in town for my graduation and isn’t a fan of big crowds, so he told me to go enjoy my last day in the parks for the year by myself. I went briefly, but didn’t want to leave my dad sitting by himself at my place for long, so I did a couple of laps around Magic Kingdom and then went home. While I was there, I took some time to do something that I do at the end of every year. I found a quiet place away from the crowds and took some time to reflect on all of the memories I’d created throughout the year. I think that may have been the moment that it really hit me that I had become a Disney regular. It was a pretty awesome realization!
Since I was now done with school and wasn’t working anywhere yet, I decided in January 2017 that I would spend as much time in the Disney parks as possible. After two weeks of blockout dates, I received a warm greeting as I entered Magic Kingdom for the first time in 2017. The security cast member working at bag check remembered me and said he was happy to see me again. What a great way to start off a new year!
Many of the familiar faces I had looked forward to seeing all the time in 2016 were still there as 2017 began. Since I now had even more free time than I’d had at any point since I moved to Orlando, I looked forward to seeing those people every day even more than I had in the past.
Just for fun, I started keeping track of the number of times I visited each Disney park in 2016, and I have done that in 2017, as well, with the goal of visiting the parks more times this year. Even if I only have an hour to spend in a park, it counts as a visit. When I think back and realize that it took me 23 years to visit WDW for the first time, I am proud of the fact that I have now visited the parks well over 100 times, just in 2017 alone. I am getting close to 200 total lifetime park visits. That may sound crazy to some people, but it just never gets old for me. Every time, I still remember the first time I was there. I love it even more now than I did back then. I have now started to get to know a few of the people who have become familiar faces to me over the past couple of years. Like I said earlier, WDW is a huge place with a lot of people, and I never in a million years would have expected anyone there to ever recognize me or remember me, but I am reminded constantly just how small that place can be sometimes.
Things have been especially different over the past week and a half since Hurricane Irma hit Orlando. The connection I had made with Disney starting to feel like home for me has gone to a whole new level. When I arrived at Magic Kingdom for the first time after the hurricane, the security cast member at bag check hugged me and said he was happy to see me. He was happy I was safe. When I boarded the ferryboat just minutes later, the ferryboat captain stopped me and introduced himself to me. He said he had seen me over 100 times (literally) and always wanted to say hello. He said he thought of me as the hurricane was hitting and hoped I had a safe place to ride out the storm. He told me about the damage to his home from the storm, which was minimal thankfully. We now speak to each other every time I am on the boat, and we now know each other by name.
When I got inside the park that first time back, I went to my regular spot for the parade. Within about 30 seconds, I had a group of five cast members walk up to me and welcome me back. They all said they were happy to see that I was safe, and I said the same to them. We all talked for about 15 minutes about our storm experiences. They were all people who had been familiar faces to me for over a year and a half, but we had never actually spoken before that day. I now speak with these people almost every time I am in the park.
Disney employees are called “cast members”, because they’re all part of the magic… part of the show. When they are any place where guests can see them, they are “on stage”, and have a role to play. In a place like that where everything is about fantasy and getting away from the real world for a while, it’s nice to be able to connect with some of those people on a personal level. I would guess it’s maybe nice for them, too, to have an occasional conversation with someone they see all the time. It might be a nice break for them from a typical interaction they would have with a typical guest. For me, once again, it’s like the “server sitting down at my table” situation. I think it’s really cool if I can have a great conversation with someone while waiting for a parade to start or while waiting in line for an attraction.
Everyone has their own interests and their own places they like to spend their free time. Everyone enjoys different kinds of entertainment. While the place will be different for everyone, I think everyone should find a place that is special to them… a place they love where they can become a regular. It’s natural for people to enjoy familiarity and comfort. Even thrill seekers who enjoy doing and seeing new things and new places eventually go home. They go back to a place of comfort. I think everyone enjoys feeling that same kind of comfort once in a while when they’re away from home, too.
Being a regular allows you to see things from a different perspective. You can slow down and enjoy the moment. You can see things that most people would never notice. If you’re a regular at a bar, restaurant, theme park, etc., you can get to know the people who work there. You can see things from their point of view and start to understand the things they do and have to deal with on a daily basis. You gain a whole new respect and appreciation for what they do. That is my favorite part of being a regular. I like to see things in a way that most people wouldn’t. I like to feel like I have some kind of personal connection with the people who are paid to be there, whether I actually know them or not. I always try my best to make the day a little brighter for those people. I try to let them know, in some way, that I appreciate what they do. I hope I am able to get that message across.
In my experience, if you can make someone’s day a little better, they will return the favor. It has not been uncommon for me to receive special treatment from people when I have shown them respect, kindness, and generosity over a period of time, but I would never expect or ask for any kind of special treatment. I treat everyone I meet the way I would want to be treated if we were in opposite positions. I believe in treating everyone equally well. Seeing a smile on someone’s face is reward enough. If you end up being the recipient of a free drink or are lucky enough to get to skip a line on a slow day, that is a great perk of being a regular and knowing people, but receiving that kind of special treatment should never be something you expect. It’s a gift. Enjoy it and be grateful for it! Most importantly, be happy that you have found some way to have a positive impact on someone’s life! If they are doing something special for you, you can feel good knowing that it is likely the result of you treating them well in the first place.
I know that this is REALLY long, so I would like to thank those of you who actually took the time to read the whole thing. I hope you enjoyed it!! If you did enjoy it, please “like” it. Please feel free to leave a comment if you’d like. I love hearing from people if they have any feedback or any comments they would like to share with me. If you’d like to read more of my posts in the future, feel free to follow my blog. I honestly never thought anyone would care to read the things I write, so it’s exciting that I have followers from around the world. It means a lot to me! Thank you all!