We had the good fortune of connecting with Helynn Hallock and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Helynn, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Sometimes to follow your dreams, you’ve first gotta risk it all, and jump in with both feet.
I was never the best student – I cared too much about drawing, graphics, and anything artistic I could get my hands on. All I’ve ever wanted to do was graphic design. When it was time to choose where I wanted to go to college, I had to tell my UCF alum parents that I wanted to go to a private school called Full Sail University. I would be taking classes on graphic design from day 1, and I’d graduate with my bachelor’s degree in 21 months. It was a huge risk because it was expected for me to go to a state college; I mean, I wasn’t going to be able to afford my bachelor’s degree had the University not granted me a scholarship!
After attending Full Sail, I created a post-it note that had a list of companies I wanted to work for – the first on the list was Nike. I packed my things and moved from Orlando, Florida to Portland, Oregon – almost the furthest move I could’ve possibly done. I reached out to every company that would give me the time of day, asking for informational interviews, portfolio reviews, and their time. Gallagher Designs saw my potential, they loved my portfolio, and created an internship role. Three months later I was working on Nike projects, and to this day, I am still the 1 and only intern that Gallagher has ever had.
Fast forward to three years later: I’m back in Orlando designing at Dixon Ticonderoga, the #2 pencil company, and a recruiter contacts me on LinkedIn to ask if I’d like to interview for a contract role at the Walt Disney Company. But how do I leave a permanent job for a contract role? Well, luckily my family supported me and told me to jump at the opportunity, and I got the job! I was always early, super positive, always helped, and worked my ass off. 9 months later I became a permanent Cast Member, and now I have the privilege to make magic every day.
Remember: risk is scary, but follow your gut, make the most of your opportunities, work hard, be kind, and everything will work out.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career so far has been fast-paced, well decorated, and most importantly, one heck of a ride! I have had the privilege of working on legacy brands such as Nike, Sports Authority, Bob Ross, Dixon Ticonderoga, and Disney.
Just a reminder: It has only been 7 years.
Lately, my career has been busy, busy, busy! I’ve recently wrapped my projects on the Vault Collection for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration. What an honor to be part of this moment in Disney history! All this while trying to keep up network connections during a global pandemic, picking up freelance on the side, and making time to stop and smell the roses.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Listen, I love Disney and I work for the company, so if you’re coming to Orlando, we’d hit the parks and resorts.
Sure, you can do the most important things in 5 days, but to truly experience and enjoy the parks, I’d recommend a 7-day trip.
Magic Kingdom- 2 days
EPCOT – 1 day and 1 evening
Disney’s Animal Kingdom- 1 morning and 1 day
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 1 day
1 full resort day
**BONUS: Date day/night suggestion
Also, you’re welcome for a Free Disney trip Itinerary.
You need two days because staying all day from park open to park close is miserable, and I promise you’ll thank me. Go back to your hotel at like 1 pm for a nap and head to the park again at 5 pm. Florida gets very hot, and a nap is always a good idea.
Has the best food on property, so a romantic dinner one night is a must! But you need to enjoy the park too, so 1.5 days is necessary.
Disney’s Animal kingdom
Morning safaris are the best thing to experience, so start your day there! You need 1.5 days to enjoy Animal Kingdom, so on your 2nd day you should start at the safari again and end your day at EPCOT. (Yes, you do need to do the safari twice, no safari experience is ever the same: that’s live animals for you.)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Get there early and enjoy Star Wars – Imagineering went above and beyond to truly immerse guests in the Star Wars universe! I know you’re going for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, but don’t skip out on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
1 full day enjoying your resort
You pay good money to stay inside the action, so enjoy the pool, the amazing food, the Cast, and just wander. Heck, maybe even take a nap! (If you’re counting, that’s nap suggestion #2. You’ll thank me, I promise.)
**BONUS: Date day/night suggestion
You do not need to be staying on property to enjoy what Disney resorts have to offer. If you’re looking for a fun day/night out, or a great dining experience, go see all the incredible resort lobbies and enjoy the amazing restaurants! Each resort is different, and each tells their own story. My favorite is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Full Sail University: You saved my life, gave me an opportunity to follow my dreams, and most importantly you gave me a community of people I love. Thank you.
Shout out to all of my Full Sail family – your names could fill this entire page.
My incredible team, we may be a small team, but we’ve got big responsibilities. After all, “It takes people to make dreams a reality.”
My family and friends.
My wife, Robyn – thanks for always being the best adventure buddy, and biggest support system.