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Writing Around Disney World 2020: Epcot Festival of the Arts

Being a Disney Cast Member comes with many, many perks. Among them is access to the theme parks for most of the year. In 2020, I’m making the most of this privilege by organizing writing retreats for myself around the Walt Disney World Resort.

Just a couple of days before Christmas, I visited the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, and I fashioned for myself one of my all-time favorite Disney trips I’ve ever had.

This particular outing was something of a gift to myself. I knew I wouldn’t be able to visit and celebrate the season with my family, what with work and all, and my boyfriend had already left to visit his family in our hometown. I’ve never minded being alone, and I was never lonely, but I did get a little bored with my routines at home. I needed a little pick-me-up, and I wanted to get some writing done at the same time. So why not do something a little special, right?

You can watch a play-by-play of what I ended up doing by viewing the cleverly-named “Epcot” highlight on my Instagram profile, but to sum it up for you: I had an absolute blast walking around the Epcot World Showcase and writing a minimum of 250 words for my work in progress—itself about traveling across the world!—at each of the eleven countries.

Inspired by this trip and my local NaNoWriMo community‘s tradition of writing around Disney World hotels and Disney Springs during National Novel Writing Month, I decided I would make regular trips to Disney property to write.

This is my first attempt at doing so in 2020.

Changes to My Game Plan

My friend and fellow author Jessica Baker, being an Annual Passholder, decided to join me on this trip around the World Showcase during Epcot’s Festival of the Arts!

At her suggestion, we made a few improvements to my original strategy.

  • Instead of writing 250 words at each country, we’d write in 20-minute sprints.
  • In addition to those 20 minutes, we’d spend around 25 minutes or so browsing the countries and shopping, so we could take in all that the festival had to offer.
  • Speaking of, we’d actually participate in the festival by way of adding to the paint-by-number mural and taking advantage of the many photo ops throughout the park.

Sounds pretty swell, right?

Disaster Strikes

Due to circumstances beyond her control, Jessica couldn’t make it. That should’ve been my first clue that the day was cursed, but I let it roll off my shoulders, and—with her go-ahead—decided to proceed as planned, right down to my low-key Rapunzel DisneyBound.

But I lazed around my apartment for just a little too long, and didn’t get to the park until around eleven in the morning. No big deal. I got lunch at one of the “food studios” and turned right into Canada, and all was peachy.

Then I got to the United Kingdom, the next stop after Canada. I happened to take a closer look at the charges on my phone and laptop. Both of them were less than halfway full of juice.

Now, I pride myself on being prepared. I brought snacks with me. I had my handy-dandy Rocketbook and its special pens, my planner, my notes on the project I was working on, a book to read, and also even more pens.

But did I bring chargers? Nope.

At the rate I was going, I knew I would run out of battery before the day’s end. I wouldn’t make my goal of completing the draft of my work in progress. I certainly wouldn’t be able to document the whole day for Instagram like I’d planned. There were ten countries left to go. What the hell was I going to do?

What the Hell I Did

Well, I wasn’t about to go back to my car and go home. Quitting is for quitters! Sweating despite the winter chill, I continued around the World Showcase.

And you know what? Eventually, I focused less on the time crunch provided by my battery and focused more on my self-imposed time crunches. With the writing sprints, I was able to come just a couple hundred words shy of my previous record of 3,248 words despite my laptop dying minutes after reaching my penultimate stop, Norway! I know I would’ve surpassed it had my laptop survived through Mexico.

It was a little disappointing not to have written at every country, and I definitely didn’t come anywhere close to finishing that work in progress. I didn’t even write enough words to have earned a celebratory alcoholic beverage according to my own rules.

But then I remembered that I wrote over three thousand words, people! That is far more than I would’ve written at home, guaranteed. And I got to spend the day in Epcot during a truly underrated festival, glimpsing artwork from talented artists of every medium.

Lessons Learned

The next time I’m writing around Disney World, I think I’ll have a game plan that’s pretty much perfect thanks to the lessons learned on this occasion.

  • I need to charge my electronic devices before leaving the house. (Duh, Megan!)
  • Writing sprints, at least for me, are superior to word count minimums.
  • Taking pictures at every country eats up more battery than I’m willing to allow, and it prevents me from living in the moment. Pictures of food and drink and pretty things I buy, however? #worthit
  • Waking up early is hard, but also should be a thing I do when I plan to spend the day at Disney. Can’t have those FastPasses going to waste!

You can tap through my even-more-cleverly-named Instagram story Epcot 2 to see the precious few photos I was able to snap that day before I started cutting back my phone usage, or view them below.

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