Disney superfan and ArrangeMY Escape agent Ryan Sowney was thrilled to return to his favourite holiday destination for a VIP experience. Josie Klein reports.
Q. Had you been to Walt Disney World Resort before?
A. I am a huge Disney fan and I’ve been 15 times so I know the parks really well. I was so excited when I got told I had won the competition and could go again because I just love it. It’s my absolute favourite holiday.
Q. What did you think of Star Wars: Galaxy Edge®?
A. I wasn’t a big Star Wars fan before I went so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was impressive and I was blown away. It felt like I had been transported to another planet and the level of detail was incredible. Since coming back, I have watched all the Star Wars films as well as the newer Disney spin off programmes Obi Wan Kenobi and The Mandalorian. I think most people are fans before they go to the theme park and the ride makes them love it even more, but for me it was the reverse experience. I am definitely a Star Wars fan now.
I think most people are fans before they go to the theme park and the ride makes them love it even more, but for me it was the reverse experience
Q. What was your favourite theme park?
A. EPCOT is my favourite because of the food and wine festival. We were given a money gift card and we walked round to all the different booths and ordered whatever we wanted, which was so much fun. Most people say they love Magic Kingdom Park the most, which I totally understand. Walking down Main Street, U.S.A and seeing the castle is iconic, but for me I preferred being in EPCOT and seeing all the gorgeous pavilions from countries around the world.
Q. What did you think of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park?
A. I really love Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it is so different to any of the other parks. The way Disney looks after the animals and all the sustainable projects it has going on makes it really special.
I had never done a spa treatment at Disney before as they are quite expensive, but having had one I would definitely recommend it to my clients
Q. How was your spa treatment at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa?
A. It was so good and well needed as it was an exhausting trip. I had never done a spa treatment at Disney before as they are quite expensive, but having had one I would definitely recommend it to my clients. The spa shows another side of Disney and it gets you away from the busy parks. It also gave us some much-needed downtime.
Q. What was the highlight of your trip?
A. The highlight was walking away with new best friend Demi-Jade McGee; the two of us have become as thick as thieves. We met on the trip and have continued to talk all the time. I live in Birmingham and she lives in Cumbria so we are quite far apart, but each of us will visit the other three times a year so we see each other fairly often. I even went on her hen do last year, which was a Disney cruise so we got to do Disney together again, which was amazing!
Q. Why did you enter the Cover Stars competition?
A. I had wanted to enter the previous year as it’s an amazing opportunity, but one of my colleagues also wanted to apply and we didn’t want to compete against each other so we agreed she would enter first and I would do it the year after. I couldn’t believe it when I found I’d be applying for a trip to Walt Disney World Resort – it felt like fate. It made me even more determined to win as although I had already been so many times, I had never been able to stay on site or do the experience as a VIP so I really wanted to win. I spent loads of time on my profile and then campaigned as hard as I could. I was absolutely over the moon when I found out I had won – as soon as I put the phone down I screamed!
I was given the complete celeb treatment by the hair and make-up artists and I felt like such a diva. The park was open and I was in a cordoned off section
Q. What was your photoshoot like?
A. It was the most amazing morning of my life. I was the last person in the group to have my photoshoot. I had seen everyone else have theirs, which made me so excited for mine. What made it even better was that it was in the Italian pavilion in EPCOT. I was given the complete celeb treatment by the hair and make-up artists and I felt like such a diva. The park was open and I was in a cordoned off section. I could hear people asking who I was and some of them even started taking pictures of me! I felt like such a star.
Ryan on… the pandemic
I was furloughed like a lot of other people, which was hard but I wanted to look at it in a positive way. When I realised it wasn’t just going to be a couple of weeks off and was going to last quite a long time, I felt strongly that I wanted to do something productive as I really didn’t want to sit around doing nothing. I also wanted to do something I could feel proud of so I looked at what I could do to help the business. I took on an apprenticeship in content production and I’m just about to finish my Level 3 qualification which I’m so happy about. I didn’t do very well in my English and maths GCSEs the first time around so I have had to resit those, which has taken a lot of work. The qualification has been so useful in the agency as I now design all of ArrangeMY Escape’s digital marketing, come up with campaigns, create social media posts and manage our podcasts and video content, which I would never have been able to do prior to the pandemic. It 100% helps us generate business, which is amazing.