Catherine Ryan Howard in Mousetrapped: A Year in a Bit in Orlando, Florida documents her move from Cork, Ireland to Orlando for a year and a half to work in a hotel on Walt Disney World Resort property. Howard not attending school and without a steady position applied to a program that brings international applicants to work in the United States. Rejected by the Walt Disney World programs for international cast members, she was surprised to find herself offered a position in Orlando at the “Duck” and “Tuna” resort located on Walt Disney World property. She spent a year working the front desk of the “Duck” and “Tuna” and transitioned to housekeeping as a room inspector for the remainder of her time in the United States. Howard details why she chose to move to Orlando, the transition and obstacles in getting settled there, her work life, and how she passed the time while living in the United States. Her view of Orlando includes trips to the Walt Disney World Resort, the Kennedy Space Center, and the Holy Land Experience.
Let me just start by saying, I am not female and I am not in my 20s. If I was it is likely that emotionally I may have connected to this memoir more. As it is I imagine this is the type of memoir that ladies who enjoy Sex in the City like, though this memoir has a city with no sex. I on the other hand have ironically only seen Sex in the City on a grainy TV on a Disney Magical Express bus in the middle of the night; I’m still not sure how that happened! So, I’m pretty sure that I am not the target audience for this book.
Second, I was expecting a book that shared behind the scenes stories of Disney cast members. I was looking for something similar to Cast Member Confidential. But since Howard worked at the “Duck” and “Tuna” (her preferred code name for her prior employer) she did not have access off stage in the Walt Disney World Resort parks. So her stories within the Magic Kingdom may be similar to yours and lack behind the scenes details. And she spends a lot of time discussing other non-Disney experiences such as the Kennedy Space Center, for which she provides a lengthy history of. Often I am asked, “Is it on Disney transportation?” Kennedy is not so I have never been there and despite being a kid who loved the shuttle program, I really was not that interested in her visits to the NASA facility. In the end this is a book about living physically Disney Adjacent, but it’s really not strictly or even mostly a Disney book.
Now despite not connecting strongly to this memoir, Howard still makes some interesting points. One of the more profound observations is that Orlando and Walt Disney World attract adults who don’t want to grow up. This is a trend one also can see in Cast Member Confidential. It seems like some, but not all, of those who relocate to Orlando are trying to stall on the adult decisions of life as they enjoy a magical and fictional world in Orlando. So in many ways Howard’s book is a wake up call. I have dreamed with my wife while walking Main Street U.S.A about moving to Anaheim or Orlando. Everything seemed so prefect on those vacation nights with no whiny kids (at least my kids were not whining) and no workdays. Mousetrapped makes it clear that everything is not unicorns and puppies, unless you own unicorns or puppies, as everyone integrates into a new life in Orlando. Sometimes the dream is better than reality, even if you are having a wonderful time.
Overall, I personally did not connect to this memoir in the way that I hoped. It had a lot of content that was really outside of my own personal interests. I would recommend if you want to relax with this book order the cheaper eBook instead of picking up a physical copy from your Between Books Library.
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