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home : features : people of faith

2/1/2018 9:00:00 AM
TRAVELERS' AIDE
Catholic's retirement calling: Disney-themed business
THE PARISIS MEET FRIENDS AT DISNEY
THE PARISIS MEET FRIENDS AT DISNEY
BY EMILY BENSON
STAFF WRITER

Colleen Parisi is a Disney enthusiast, to say the least. After her first trip to Disney at 19 years old, she has been to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida 26 times. She's always loved Disney for providing visitors with a feeling of warmth and happiness.

"To me, Disney is magical," she explained. "My husband says he loves watching me when we're in Disney because I'm like a child again."

Now, after years of planning her own trips with friends and family, the parishioner of St. Peter's Church in Saratoga Springs wants to help other busy families in the Albany Diocese plan their perfect Disney trip with her travel business, "A Walk in the Park with Colleen."

"I just believe that everyone should have a good time at Disney," she told The Evangelist. "And people are busy! They don't have time to plan [a trip], and people get frustrated when planning it."

Mrs. Parisi always hoped to start her Disney-themed service once she retired. After downsizing at her job at Liberty Mutual Insurance, retirement came early, so A Walk in the Park with Colleen was created in fall 2016.

Better for you
The inspiration came from a less-than-perfect Disney trip she had with her nephew more than 21 years ago: Even with all her research, her experience at Disney was good, but not great. The lines were long and the park was packed by the time they arrived.

Since then, she has made it her mission to ensure that no family would have a subpar trip to "the most magical place on Earth."

Mrs. Parisi's business is similar to that of a travel agent. She books dining reservations and takes care of ride and attraction reservations for the parks. But, with her Disney expertise and knowledge of the parks and rides, she can help plan out a family's trip in other ways, too.

For instance, Mrs. Parisi knows the height requirement of certain rides, so she can advise families with young children on which ones to ignore. She knows that Epcot is never busy on Mondays, but the Magic Kingdom is always packed. She knows how to get families extra FastPass tickets, which let attendees skip ride lines.

Lots of help
"Your travel agent will get you to the gates, but I do [from] the gates in," she explained.

Since its inception, A Walk in the Park with Colleen has helped 18 families plan trips to Disney. Mrs. Parisi is currently planning several more for 2018. Depending on the amount of help a family needs, the cost of her services can range from $150 to $1,000.

Mrs. Parisi and her husband, John, or a friend travel to Walt Disney World once or twice each year to keep updated on new rides and attractions, or new changes in park procedures.

As added comfort, Mrs. Parisi meets face-to-face with her clients at their homes to plan their itinerary. She even encourages clients to call her while they're in the park if they have questions.

She said some families have called her before and, no matter the time of day, she's happy to help.

In their spare time, the Parisis enjoy reading, Disney movies and nature walks. They also love spending time with all nine of their nieces and nephews. They even began a tradition of taking each one on a trip of their choice anywhere in the U.S. as a high-school graduation gift.

Five out of the nine have gotten to go on a trip with the Parisis so far-and they all chose to go to Walt Disney World. That makes their aunt happy.

"I just want to keep helping more people go to Disney," Mrs. Parisi said. "You hit the alarm in the morning, get up, and you just know you're going to do some good. I'm so happy."

(For more information, contact cparisi1@nycap.rr.com or visit http://awalkintheparkwithcolleen.net.)





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