Disney World: 2004
The Disney World College Program is an internship that hires students from all over the world to work for Disney. My main motive for joining was because I wanted to liven the narrative of my life's story.
At Disney World (2004) was a music video I made about my experiences at Disney World. It won the best video of the year award at the Disney World Night of Stars Talent Show.
Fiction vs Reality
At Disney World, cast members (Employees) were encouraged to be creative with our work experience. We were allowed to invent stories about our interactions with characters. Inasmuch, at Disney World, sometimes it was difficult to differentiate fact from fiction.
One time, I got in a fight with Piglet and Pooh Bear. They broke my nose and took my wallet. On another occasion, Aladdin put a knife to my throat and threatened to kill me if I didn't stop flirting with Jasmine. Also, one time, me and Stitch made out with Tinkerbell and a Pocahontas. I had Tinkerbell. Stitch had Pocahontas. Then, we switched.
Of these three stories, two are true and one is false, but can you determine which is the lie? Probably not because differentiating fact from fiction can be difficult.
Me and Sulley at the ESPN Zone watching a baseball game
When I arrived at my assigned living quarters, I discovered that six of my seven roommates were gay. The boy who shared a room with me was Peter Pan. He was dating Prince Charming. I learned this fact late one night when I was awakened by repetitive thumping noises in the bed next to mine. That was when I realized that hidden beneath the costume of the G-rated Disney name was a much darker story
I liked my roommates, but at the time, I was fighting my own feelings of same-sex attraction, and I felt that I could not obey God's law while living in that environment. Therefore, I was accepted into a special housing unit that was exclusively for Christians.
I didn't know Peter Pan was gay until I worked at Disney World.
The Christian housing unit had a curfew and a dress code. Boys were not allowed in girls' bedrooms. No alcohol on the premise. These rules were in contrast to the rest of the campus, which was full of recent high school graduates who were living on their own for the first time and free from parental restrictions. The campus, itself, was strait out of Pinocchio's Pleasure island, but the Christian dorm was different. Our unit operated by a code of ethics.
Below are some adventures I had with my Christian friends.
Highlights from my adventures in the parks. Tbh, probably not interesting if you weren't there.
Me and my friends spending an entire day shopping. If I could go back and relive one day of my life, this day would be a contender. Tbh, probably not interesting if you weren't there.
I worked at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. It was hamburger restaurant from outer space. Also, It was the busiest fast-food restaurant in the world. My job was to squirt ketchup for 8,000 people a day. My boss was a purple dinosaur.
Sonny Eclipse was a dinosaur from outer space who owned the restaurant I worked at. Behind closed doors, he was an abusive alcoholic.
I worked in Tomorrowland. Buzz Lightyear was one of our regular costumers as was the chryogenically frozen Walt Disney.
Sword and the Stone
One day, I saw a crowd gathering by the merry-go-round. I approached to find Merlin, the magician, inviting guests to pull the sword from the stone. After many people tried, the sword was pulled by a young girl. She was given a medallion and was pronounced the Ruler of the Realm. Then, she was invited to be in the Main Street Parade while Merlin returned the sword to the stone.
After the show, I stayed to chat with Merlin. We talked for 45 minutes about the history of King Arthur (I’m a huge fan). At the end I asked what the real secret of the sword was. Then, he said:
"Every day people assume they can pull the sword because they are big or strong. But true nobility has little to do with the way a person looks. The true Ruler of the Realm is the one who has the ability to see with his heart, not his eyes. The true ruler is the one who has the power to see the sword and the stone for what it really is when no one else can."
Then, he told me to close my eyes, and he asked if I could see the sword. I nodded as I envisioned myself pulling it from the stone. As my eyes were closed, he placed a medallion in my hand. When I opened my eyes, the sword was laying next to the stone. I had done it.
Merlin told me that Arthur spent much of his life not knowing he was a prince. Likewise, many people live their lives not fully understanding who they really are.
Then Merlin said, "The reason you can see the sword pulled from the stone, is because you are the true prince. You, Jonathan, are the Ruler of the Realm.”
Cast members at Disney World get paid to make guests feel special, but this went beyond costumes and costumer satisfaction. To me, it was as though that man was not a Disney employee. He was Merlin. And that was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.
Later I tried telling my friends, but no one believed me cause my stories tend to get wild. However, this story was different because I had proof that it was true: the medallion. I really was the Ruler of the Realm.
This circle medallion was given to me as proof that I had pulled the sword from the stone. This authorized me as the temporary Ruler of the Realm.
How to Stay a Virgin
At first, us Christians found strength in each other. But staying true to the regulations was difficult because everyone around us was breaking the rules. But really, they weren’t breaking the rules because sexual abstinence was a Christian regulation. It did not apply to outsiders. That made us Christians wonder: Why can't we have sex before marriage? Why do we have a curfew? Why do we have a dress code? Why are our rules different from the rules of other communities?
Furthermore, because we were unsupervised, there seemed to be no incentive for obeying God's laws and no punishment for breaking them. Therefore, midway into the program, many of my Christian friends began breaking the rules. By the end of the internship, there was no way to differentiate Christians from everyone else.
In this video I'm discussing some of the challenges that were unique to Christians in the program.
As part of my quest to convince myself that I was straight, I got engaged to a female (Elisha).
But the engagement was a sham.
One day, while working in Disney's secret underground tunnels, the power went out while I was in an elevator. I was with two female co-workers and several crates of ice cream. Because the air conditioners were down, the ice cream was melting and we were hot. We were told it would be a while until maintenance could save us. Therefore, to prevent the ice cream from going to waste, we ate it and also made out with each other. That's when I realized I was, definitely, gay.
Melissa was my best friend in the program. One reason we clicked was because I loved making movies and she loved being in them (she was a model). Because of this common love, we spent a lot of time together.
However, Melissa was not a Christian, and rumors suggested that her sex life was hyper-active. My Christian friends criticized me for spending time with her. I argued that it did not matter who I hung out with because none of the Christians were keeping the rules. Therefore, the only real difference between the Christians and the non-Christians is that when non-Christians have sex they are not breaking any rules.
At that time, I started realizing that there is a difference between what a person seems to be on the surface and what they really are inside. On the surface, Melissa seemed to be a biblical harlot. But when I got to know her, she was one of the most Christ-like people I had ever met.
Because of our different backgrounds, we had many wonderful debates about God and religion. But our discussions were not like those I have had with other people. Her arguments were sincere and well thought out. She asked questions like:
Why does God seem to ignore people's prayers?
Why are some girls born in safe environments and other girls are not?
Why does God seem to care more about some people and less about others?
If God is real, why does he allow rape?
Melissa was different from me, but rather than contradicting each other, our differences complimented one another. Our conversations were driven by the search for truth rather than the desire to win the argument. In her company, I felt like I was free to be myself.
The Jonny and Melissa show: A date to Dinoland.
The Adventures of Jonny Lekrib
In my quest to make my life a story worth watching, I had many adventures at Disney World. I was caught in the middle of a hurricane and almost died. I went sky diving. But my most memorable adventures were those spent in the park after hours.
Back in 2004, the park never, really, shut down. After the guests left for the night and all the employees went home, the rides continued their loops until the parks reopened in the morning. When me and my friends discovered this, we created a secret after hours club that explored the dark corners of Disney World...
Below are some of the adventures that we had.
Breaking into the Haunted Mansion
One night, we broke into the haunted mansion ride. It was scary because everything was operating even though no one was there. Rather than riding the ride, we explored the mansion by foot. About half way through, we tripped an alarm and were chased by security.
Breaking into the Pirates of the Caribbean
One night, we broke into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and explored the facility on foot. We ended at the treasure trove and stole some gold coins.
The stolen golden coin
According to the Pirates of the Caribbean legend, a pirate named Jack (and in some versions, John) steals a golden coin from the Aztecs. However, the Aztecs placed a curse on the treasure so anyone who possessed it would not be given the relief of death.
That said, if the legend is true, when I stole the coin from the ride, I became cursed with immortality.
TPing the castle
On the last week of the program, me and my friends (Callie, Jasmine, Piglet and Stitch) toilet Papered the Disney World Castle. Later, Stitch was arrested for it. Because he refused to identify his accomplices, he want to jail. But then he made a great escape.
On the last night of the program, I planned a party at my apartment in the Christian complex. But earlier that day I went on a date with Melissa to see Christmas lights.
When it was time for the party, Melissa asked me to stay with her instead of returning to my Christian friends. I told her I liked her, but I was afraid that if I stayed, I might do something I would regret. Then, she made me a promise. She said that if I spent the night with her, in the morning, I would have no regrets. I agreed.
That night, everyone wondered where I was. They felt abandoned. They accused me of breaking the rules. But I didn't break any rules because Melissa kept her promise.
At the close of 2004, the Disney internship had come to an end. I felt that it was a worthy chapter of my story for God. I spent much time contemplating the difference between fiction and reality. I pondered the nature of camouflage and deception.
I also realized, as much as I love Disney, I didn't want to work for a mouse for the rest of my life. Therefore, in 2005, I left Florida to spend the next few years gaining a college education at a Christian University.
To read the next chapter, click here.