A Magical Love Story
The cast of characters at Walt Disney World are known for giving guests happy memories that last a lifetime. One Leland couple who worked there years ago took their role as memory makers a bit further and ended up creating their own fairy tale ending.
Paul and Allison Homick are a typical suburban Brunswick County family. Paul is a public safety officer for the Village of Bald Head Island, and Allison is a full-time Mom and homeschooler for the couple’s two sons, 15-year-old Gabriel and 12-year-old Micah. The family is involved in a variety of theater projects in Wilmington and stays busy with rehearsals and shows, and making sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be.
But the story of how Paul and Allison met and fell in love is one of song, dance, fireworks, and maybe a little pixie dust thrown in for good measure.
Disney World’s amusement parks often feature stage shows, parades, meet and greets, and other live entertainment in addition to the attractions and rides. Paul and Allison were two of those entertainers.
Both actively pursued careers at Disney — Paul started performing at Disney through a high school program, and after completing the college program, Allison quickly returned after graduation to work at Disney full-time. She originally started working in food and beverage at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, one of the luxury resort properties near the Magic Kingdom. She was working there a few months after college in 1996 when she saw an ad for auditions, and since she had been dancing since she was three years old, she took the chance and tried out. Though auditions can be nerve-wracking, Allison said at Disney, it’s like auditioning for family. Once she became part of the magic-making, their Disney family ties grew even stronger.
As a dancer, Allison said she did up to 10 or 11 shows a day. Paul did three shows, a day parade, three more shows and a night parade. The two performed in a variety of roles, and they were even really good friends with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
They first partnered for a show in 2001, and they became inseparable that first day.
Once the guests have left the park for the day, the entertainment crews begin practice. They worked on their shows backstage, or course, but sometimes after park closing, they took blankets and coolers of food and spread out around Cinderella’s castle, waiting for their turn to practice their show.
“That was some of our favorite times together,” Allison recalled. “We could take a walk together, and it was quiet. The lights were twinkling.”
The two married in 2003. Paul said that Disney’s scheduling for shows is actually pretty tight, and it was difficult for both of them to get time of together, even for their wedding. Once Allison was granted the time off, Paul had to convince management that he needed to be off at the same time.
Allison continued working as a performer until September of 2003; when she wrapped her last show, she was pregnant with their first child. She kept her hand in the business though, working in the entertainment offices scheduling talent and helping with logistics. She worked in the offices above Casey’s Corner, a restaurant on Main Street in the Magic kingdom.
“I ate hot dogs every day,” she said.
She laughed when she recalled the time she accidentally ate some of Oprah Winfrey’s birthday cake. There was a celebration in honor of the famous talk-show host, and afterward, the cake was brought for safekeeping to the offices where Allison worked, except she didn’t know the cake wasn’t supposed to be eaten at that point. She jokes that they should never have put the cake in front of a pregnant woman anyway.
They say it was quite the adrenaline rush to be on stage in front of a Disney crowd, especially around the Christmas holiday.
“They’re just looking up at you, and you’re just making them happy,” Allison said.
Paul said it was really fun to see some of the famous people who visited Disney World, especially seeing how excited well-known stars were to meet some of the Disney characters. Allison said there were just too many wonderful moments with Disney guests to even describe them all. She especially loved seeing how happy children were, and said that she while looking through her pictures and mementos recently, she found a letter from a parent thanking her for a special experience her child had while visiting the parks. “When you see a precious little baby, and you can scoop them up and have a quiet moment, it’s so great,” she said.
In 2013, the Homicks moved back to the Cape Fear region to be closer to family. But their love of Disney is as strong as ever. Their oldest son already has his own dreams of becoming a performer, maybe on Broadway, maybe following in his parents’ footsteps at Disney. They family regularly vacations there, and Allison says their experiences are still magical. “We still get excited to see the characters when we visit,” Allison says. “The last time we went before we moved, I started sobbing when I saw Mickey.”