disney key

Things I Didn’t Know Were on My Bucket List: Volume 1

I don’t really believe in keeping a bucket list for myself. Due to my aforementioned tendency to make insane goals and then feel disappointed when I don’t achieve them, the thought of a bucket list absolutely terrifies me. What if I don’t complete everything I want to during my lifetime and lay on my deathbed feeling disappointed in myself? That’s not how I want to live my last minutes on earth! Plus, that is just a recipe for a ghost, and none of us want me here haunting them for the rest of eternity, trust me.

That being said, I’ve done some things in my life during which I realized what was happening was a crazy once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, or even simply a weird thing that happened. Even though I don’t keep a bucket list, these are definitely awesome things that have made my life extraordinary, and that’s kinda what a bucket list is about, right?


Going on A Surprise Vacation

Planning a vacation is such a challenge for me. I hate making decisions, I hate planning, I hate all of it. Because of this, when I heard about surprise travel, I was elated and relieved. You mean I won’t have to choose where to go or book anything or look up anything to do? 


I immediately considered surprise travel to be a special, bucket-list sort of opportunity, and as soon as I learned about it, my goal became finding someone as crazy as I was to try it out. When it comes to surprise travel, I feel like there are two types of people: those who like to have control over their lives and think it’s an awful idea, and those who would prefer to relinquish all control and find it really intriguing. I am obviously the latter.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of surprise travel, the idea is that you give them your budget and your interests and they book everything for you. You don’t even find out where you’re going until you get to the airport. Doesn’t that sound like a dream? My friend Stephanie agreed to take the plunge and go with me, so like an impatient Renata do, I insisted that we decide when to go and book it as soon as possible. I just couldn’t wait to get going.

When we finally got to the airport and found out that we were going to Chicago, I was excited! We hadn’t been to Chicago before and we were ready to explore. The company we used, Pack Up + Go, booked us several activities and gave us plenty of suggestions for other activities to do. We didn’t have to do anything but show up and transport ourselves from place to place. It was awesome, so awesome that we decided that we would have to make surprise trips an annual thing. Even though we knew that we’d be doing this every year for the foreseeable future, I still consider surprise travel to be a bucket list item. It’s just one of those things that is so much cooler than everyday life. Plus, at this point, who knows when we’ll be able to travel again?

Last year, they sent us to San Francisco, another place that was totally new to us. And let me tell you, that’s the best way to travel across the country…to not know that you’re taking a five-hour plane ride until you get to the airport…


Survivor Watch Parties

Like most families in the US, my family watched Survivor together until about 2005 and then lost interest. As I got closer to my high school friend Rachel (who could probably recite every Survivor winner in order at record speed) and heard her talking about how much she still enjoys it, I decided to start watching again. Around 2013, I started watching Survivor again, and I’ve only missed a few seasons since. I even watched the season that happened when I was studying abroad in France. That’s how dedicated I am.

A few years ago, we had a local competitor in the ring (or should I say “on the island”), Wendell Holland. Wendell, being the awesome guy that he is, started inviting everyone following him on Instagram to local watch parties at a bar in Philly. I’m not sure how common Survivor watch parties are, but it just felt so cool. Our first watch party, Wendell gladly chatted and took pictures with us. We were totally starstruck and swore to make it to as many watch parties as possible that season. It was as different as it could be from watching the show at home on our couches. Surrounded by a bunch of people and watching the show on the big screen, the energy at the bar every Wednesday night was crazy. Like true fans, we bought Survivor buffs that were the same color that Wendell wore in the show and got them signed.

We went as many nights during the season as we could, watching him dodge votes and elimination week after week. The watch parties got more and more crowded as more people heard about them and Wendell made it further into the game. Finally, we were at the final week of the show, but there was no watch party since Wendell would have to be in (NY or LA?) for the live shooting. Those of us who had attended the watch parties were glued to our TVs, invested now in the outcome more than ever. Our new friend Wendell had to win! In the first win in Survivor history that ended with a tie, the suspense was drawn out even further as we waited for the tie breaking vote.

Wendell won. We hadn’t just partied with a Survivor player, but a Survivor champion. He competed again this past season, but now that everyone knows about the watch parties, they were a lot more crowded. Plus, for the last couple of months, we couldn’t exactly all convene in a bar. While we didn’t make it to one this season, I’m glad that we had the chance to go while it was relatively unknown and intimate.



The Key to the Most Magical Place on Earth

As you all know, I have some obsessive tendencies, especially when there’s something like, oh I don’t know, a giant Disney key on display in a store, I become determined to know what it is…and possibly feel strongly like I need it in my life.

My dad and I were at the Disney Store at a local mall getting a present for someone when I saw a giant Disney key behind the register. I simply had to know what it was and ask how much a giant Disney key would set me back. Then I could imagine it on display in the foyer of my house one day…

When I asked the cast member what the key was all about, she explained that they use that key during their opening ceremonies every morning when they open the store. They allow someone who is standing by to help them use the key to open the store then give them a miniature version to keep. Well, I knew what I was doing for the next several mornings.

I immediately gathered a group of friends to go to the mall for the next few mornings to open the store and get our own Disney keys. The first morning went off without a hitch. We got to the mall early, walked around a bit, and waited in front of the Disney store. When the time came to open the store, we all held the key together and “unlocked” the store. My friends decided that I should get the first key since this whole crazy plan was mine. We explained our plan to the cast member who we opened the store with. We would be seeing her for at least the next week, we might as well introduce ourselves!

The next morning, when we went, there were children waiting around the store, so of course they had to let the kid help instead. We knew that was a risk we were taking, so whatever. Nothing like getting up early to go stand in a mall and not get a magic key. After the ceremony was over, the cast member who we had talked to the day before discreetly called us over. Even though she couldn’t give us the miniature key for opening the store, she did have an old miniature key that she could give us. We marveled at the vintage Disney key. So cool!

While this ritual happens at Disney stores around the world, it was still a cool thing to be a part of, and definitely part of my ex post facto bucket list.


As you can see from the title, I’m just getting started with Bucket List items! This was the first of many posts that I’m going to do about the cool things that I’ve been a part of. I hope that you enjoy and that they inspire you to go back and revel in the awesome stuff that you’ve done, too!


12 thoughts on “Things I Didn’t Know Were on My Bucket List: Volume 1

    1. We really enjoyed it! With Pack Up + Go at least, there’s an option to do a road trip instead of a trip far away, if you just want to test them out and do a smaller, less expensive surprise!


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