My 50th Birthday at Disneyland
by Janene, 54, Tollhouse, CA
My cousin treated me to a trip to Disneyland for my 50th birthday. Halfway through the day, we stopped by to get my birthday sticker so that I could wear it while we were there. We were in the Disney Store in Downtown Disney making souvenir purchases and I was in the checkout line. The telephone rang at the checkout counter and the cast member answered it. He handed me the phone and told me that I had a phone call. I was totally delighted to find out that Goofy was calling ME to wish me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! This year I am turning 55 and my two sisters and I are going back to Disneyland to celebrate! You can’t get any more special than that!
|Grand Californian Hotel|
Daughter’s First Trip to Disney
by Carey, 37, North Brunswick, NJ
My husband and I planned a trip to California and decided that this would be our daughter’s inaugural trip to introduce her to Mickey Mouse and all his friends. We booked with Disney Vacations and the woman on the phone was so helpful. She told me about the little beginnings brochure and the highlights and sent it to us in the mail prior to our trip. I was so excited… I’m an avid Disney fan and I wanted this to be perfect! I was not disappointed. We stayed at the Grand Californian and loved how the hotel was so close to both parks. We checked in and I was told I had a package waiting. The front desk brought the package to our room. Inside a large manila envelope was an autographed picture from all the Disney Princesses to my daughter, a Minnie Mouse coloring book, crayons, a First Visit pin and a note from our telephone rep saying she hoped we enjoyed our vacation. What a perfect start to a great week! Our baby girl was only 18 months; but she GOT it! She understood where she was, what she was doing, and who was who. Most importantly, in the mornings she ran over to the door of our room and tried opening the handle and kept saying, “Mickey, Minnie!” This by far was the most magical, beautiful, exciting and happiest trip we’ve ever been on with Disney!
Andrea, 34, Columbus, OH — A gift from Mickey
After having our usual character breakfast at the Chef Mickey’s with our three sons, we discovered our one and a half year old had an accident and needed changing. After cleaning up the huge mess and not wanting to head back all the way to the hotel we checked in the gift shop at the Contemporary for a replacement outfit. There were no pants available but we did get him a new t-shirt. I headed over to Magic Kingdom to find new bottoms with all three boys, while my husband took our van to the transportation center to park. I went into the children’s clothes store on Main Street searching for some shorts. After chasing the boys out of the toy section all I came up with was an entire sweat suit outfit. Not what we needed, but it would work. The wonderful Cast Member asked if I was getting ready to bundle the little one up for tonight’s fireworks and I explained to her what happened. She told me she would be right back and disappeared for a second. I assumed I had picked up the only outfit without a tag, as usual. When she returned and I handed her my Key to the World she told me “No, this was a gift from Mickey.” An outfit for my baby was the most thoughtful and best gift I ever received from any of the Parks. Thanks, Mickey!
Kevin, 42, Marstons Mills, MA — A Magical Birthday
I just returned from another fantastic Disney vacation with my family. It was a trip we had been planning for a while because my daughter would be turning 16. When she was 5, she celebrated her birthday at Disney World as well. Before the parade at the Magic Kingdom a Cast Member heard that it was her birthday and brought her into the middle of Main Street USA. How exciting it was for a 5 year old have about a thousand people sing “Happy Birthday” to her! Well, on her sixteenth birthday we were back in the Magic Kingdom. My oldest daughter who is now 20 thought it would be fun to repeat the experience and mentioned it to a Cast Member. It was so funny when the Cast Member started calling out in the crowd that she was looking for a lost child named Alexis … She took her out into the street, right in front of Cinderella’s Castle, and repeated the experience by having everyone sing to her again. Blushing as much as she did when she was 5, she smiled from ear to ear as she walked back to us. Thank you, Disney, for creating memories my family and I will cherish for a lifetime!
Roger, 45, Gilbert, AZ — Healed at Disneyworld
While running around Disneyworld with my wife and another couple, I somehow pinched a nerve in my back. Time is too precious while at Disneyworld, so I decided to just suffer and press on. The next day we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and went on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. When the first drop occurred, I felt a pop in my back. I was all better. The ride took the pressure off my spine and it popped back into place!
Dave, 58, Springville, UT — He called her “Princess” and won her heart.
I was there for Disneyland’s opening year (I was a little boy then). In all the years and visits since, my best visit by far was when I took my daughters and my grandchildren a few years ago. My little granddaughter’s nickname was “Boo” and we so wanted to get her photos next to Mickey and the entire Disney family. Alas, that was not to be — When Captain Hook jokingly grabbed her big brother around the neck with his giant claw, she decided she’d seen enough! From that point on she was afraid of every character — from Mickey to Donald to every magical princess there was! Even the parade made her hide her eyes! Then we went to Goofy’s Kitchen. All of the children (my wife and I included) were having a great time … except for “Boo.” Until Aladdin came up to her. “Hello little Princess,” he said to her. Instantly a smile shot across her face! She posed for a picture, and kept telling everyone “Aladdin called me a princess!” She even posed with Jasmine! The follow-up to the story is even better. A year or so later my daughter returned with her family to Disneyland. “Boo” by now was older and was no longer afraid. But when she saw Aladdin, she remembered. A quick whisper to Aladdin about what had happened the year before … and this time he said, “Well, Princess! My, how much you’ve grown!” Little “Boo” looked wide-eyed at her mother and exclaimed “Mom! He remembers me!” Thank you Disneyland and Disney Cast Members, for more than fifty years of great memories!
Lauren, 18, Cape Cod, MA — Minnie, Lock Your Door!
I have only been to Disney World twice, but the first time I ever went (I was about three) was my most memorable. I remember running into Minnie Mouse’s house and being fascinated with everything inside. Unfortunately, my mother was as fascinated as I was and totally left me to wander throughout the house! As I was looking at Minnie’s fridge in awe, I tried opening it, and the handle ripped right off into my hand! When my mother found me she could only stare at me in horror. I remember someone reassuring us (I can only imagine it was a cast member) and making light of the situation. For a child, not getting into trouble was the greatest relief. I still think back on that day and have a good laugh. I hope Minnie got her fridge fixed, and I hope to see her again soon!
Elisa, 35, Staten Island, NY — A Pin Promise
I was staying at the Boardwalk with my husband and son when my son spotted about three or four pins lying on the ground. He wanted to bring them to the lost and found, where a DVC Cast Member told us that if the pins were not claimed he would mail them to us. I, not always believing in magic, thought this would not happen. A week or two later a package arrived, containing the pins that were found and a few extra added for good measure, along with a quote from Walt Disney. That day is something my family and I will never forget. Magic does exist!
To Minnie, Love Ariel
by Jackee, 27, Seattle, WI
When I was 5 years old my family took our first trip to Disneyland. I was having the time of my life running around in my new Minnie Mouse costume, exploring Tom Sawyer’s Island and riding the Tea Cups. But my favorite part was meeting all of the characters from my favorite Disney movies. The one character I will never forget was Ariel. I waited in line for what seemed hours and finally reached the front. I was so excited!! Ariel talked to me as if I was really Minnie, saying things like “Oh, you and I should go out to lunch today with Eric and Mickey!!” She even signed my book, “To Minnie, Love Ariel.” To this day she is my favorite Princess and I will never forget the time we met.
The Joy of this Magical Place
by Vance, 58, Long Beach, CA
We’ve only been annual passholders for two years but I grew up with Disney and watched those wonderful stop motion films of the Park being built. I was always enthralled by the details of this venture and loved the experiences I’ve had throughout my life at Walt’s place. Having been retired for almost two years now, my biggest thrill is still Disneyland. We park in the enormous parking structure then take the tram, usually before opening time. Standing with other eager visitors, the faces have “waiting-in-line” looks until the gates open. My favorite part of the day is when everyone files in. Seeing all the sleepy little faces suddenly start to sparkle and jump up and down is just about the most invigorating and joyful experience I’ve ever known. It truly is the happiest place on Earth … for all ages. Thanks Walt!
First Time at Disney
by Sandy, 40, Plainfield, IL
My husband and I had never been to Florida in our lives. We had always hoped to someday go to Disney World. Last December I booked a trip for my husband, my daughter, and myself for the first week in October 2007. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and went to a few of the parks. I am not certain which one of us had the most fun. Our best memory was having lunch at the Cinderella’s Castle and our daughter was dressed up as Sleeping Beauty. Our daughter was so happy when Sleeping Beauty called her “her twin” and kissed her on the cheek. Then she started walking up the stairs and turned around and blew our daughter a kiss. Our daughter then smiled and blew her a kiss back. I understand now why they call it the “Magic Kingdom.” Dreams really come true. Thanks so much, Disney World for making all of our dreams come true!
Oma remembers her grandson’s birthday at Disneyland …
by Oma, 59, Irvine, CA
Wyatt was turning 3 and getting his very own Disneyland pass. After buying the pass and having his picture taken, he received a Birthday Badge. For a little guy that doesn’t even have a television at home, he was mesmerized and slightly overwhelmed by the large, bustling crowds. As we neared the end of Main Street and approached Sleeping Beauty Castle, his eyes became fixed upon a beautiful lady in pink. Through the swarm, this lovely lady stopped what she was doing and looked through the people at Wyatt. Their eyes stayed on each other for several seconds until she noticed the birthday badge that said “WYATT” in bold letters. What happened next will be remembered forever. She blew him a kiss through the crowd and whispered “Happy birthday, Wyatt.” He suddenly relaxed as a large grin came across his face. The moment was over but will never be forgotten … we had the most wonderful day!
|A Happy Birthday from Mickey|
A Very Mickey Birthday
by Amanda, 25 – Topeka, KS
It began with my son’s wish to spend his fifth birthday with Mickey Mouse. After having a “Mickey it’s my 5th birthday” shirt made, we decided to go meet the big man himself! The minute we walked into the gate we were greeted with “Happy Birthday.” My son was wearing his birthday shirt with the biggest smile I have ever seen him have. After walking around we finally found Mickey, and my son ran up to him arms wide open, and told him ” Mickey, I came all the way from Kansas to see you.” That’s a moment I will never forget. The pure happiness in his eyes made me tear up. On top of all this, my son got to help turn off all of the lights for the night parade! This was one unforgettable experience and I just want to thank everyone at Disney, you have all truly touched my family. We are already planning our next trip for next year. Thank you again!
|Magic made me better|
“Magic” made me better!
by Diane, 54 – Ottawa, IL
A couple of years ago while staying at Disney’s Boardwalk with my family, I came down with the flu. I visited the bakery for a cup of coffee to “perk” me up. The clerk asked how my day was going, and I responded that I was not feeling well and was going to bed and would miss Epcot with my family. A short time later there was a knock at my door. There stood a red-vested Disney castmember with a basket for me containing juice, fruit and a stuffed Mickey doll. The card simply said “Get well soon from your Disney friends. Remember the Magic.” Even though I was sick, that was one of the best Disney memories of my life!
by Ken, 52, Moraga, CA
My family went to Disneyland to celebrate my 12th birthday in August 1967. Pirates of the Caribbean had opened, but the Haunted Mansion wasn’t open yet. We were very disappointed because we had heard all about it on the “Wonderful World of Color” on TV. I even bought a Haunted Mansion puzzle box which I still have today.Fast-forward 18 years to the summer of 1985. I was in Anaheim on a business trip and I had some free time one afternoon so I rushed over to Disneyland. It was only about 90 minutes to closing but I bought a ticket anyway. I told the cast member in the ticket booth I’d been waiting a long time for this. I hurried over to the Haunted Mansion and visited the 999 ghosts who had been waiting patiently for 18 years to entertain me. What a blast! I rode Pirates of the Caribbean (my favorite ride) and Big Thunder Mountain and then it was time to go.
As luck would have it I won a free admission ticket to Disneyland (good any time) as part of the 30th anniversary celebration. I’m saving it for my 60th Birthday for you see I’m the same age as Disneyland.
See you in 2015!
Eeyore Saves the Day
by Steve, 34, Hamilton, Ontario
I was in the third day of my dream Disney vacation when disaster struck. My 5-year-old princess had lost her Eeyore doll, the one that helps her sleep.
After a huge search of all the bags/drawers in the room, I reluctantly took her down to the lobby in her PJ’s at 11:35 p.m. in the hopes that the store would be open by some miracle. When I got to the store I saw the sign that said that the store had closed at 11 p.m. After I explained that the store was closed more crying ensued. A manager ended up coming over and, having pity on the situation, opened the store for us and let her get another Eeyore.
After I had paid for Eeyore I offered the manager a tip, as he surely had gone over and above his normal call of duty for my princess and I. He would not accept a dime — instead he suggested making a donation to the Animal Foundation instead. What a selfless individual. That is true Disney magic!
|Cinderella – The Perfect Princess|
The Perfect Princess
by De, 38, Naperville, IL
This past September we took our first family trip to Disney World. I had been there several times, but my children, ages 7, 4, and 2, had not.
We booked a character dinner the first night we arrived with Cinderella. It was held at the Park Cafe at the Floridian. Our plane was delayed and we ended up being late checking in. We weren’t going to make the dinner in time due to the travel time with buses, etc. The concierge had a cast member drive our party over to the Floridian so we could be there on time.
As we ordered and waited for some characters, my eyes welled up as I caught sight of Cinderella and her Prince. I glanced at my daughter, Robyn, who is four. To her, Cinderella is the perfect Princess, and I had booked this dinner especially for her to meet Cinderella. Finally it was our turn to meet Cinderella. When Robyn caught sight of her, she immediately ran into her arms. She pulled back and looked at Cinderella as if she was making sure she was really there. She was laughing and I have never seen such a big grin on her face.
After making sure this wasn’t a dream, my daughter gave Cinderella another huge hug. I was crying because I knew this was a very special moment for my daughter. I will never forget the look on her face or on the faces of other diners as they witnessed this dream come true for my daughter.
A Fairytale Proposal
by Jennifer, 25, Newfoundland, Canada
This past August, my boyfriend and I visited Walt Disney World in Florida. We had booked the trip back in January and were so excited when the time finally came. The first day we got there, we went to the Magic Kingdom Park. It was absolutely beautiful that day – so warm and sunny. My boyfriend wanted a picture of me standing by Cinderella Castle where there weren’t a whole lot of people. He led me around the side of the castle and I walked towards Cinderella’s Wishing Well. When I turned to see if he was behind me, he was standing there with an engagement ring in his hand! Just as I accepted, a Disney PhotoPass photographer came and took our picture by the well with the castle in the background. It was beautiful! What a perfectly magical place to get engaged… in fact, we are planning our wedding there in 2010!
|Disney Silhouette Portrait|
A Special Disney Portrait
by Nashua, 32, Stafford, VA
When I was six, I visited my grandparents in California for the summer. While there, they took me to Disneyland for the first time. I loved it and left with a very special memento, a silhouette portrait of myself.
When my daughter turned six, we took our family vacation to Disney World and I was surprised to see that the silhouette artists were still doing portraits. We had my daughter sit for them, and they did a great job on her silhouette. Later that year when we were visiting my grandparents, I stumbled across the original portrait of myself that was done over 26 years ago. I took it home and compared it to my daughters. The resemblance was striking. Now, we have framed both portraits together and have them hanging in our family room.
Thank you, Disney, for the very special mementos. The silhouette portraits are a priceless piece of our family history.
|Chip ‘n’ Dale|
My Sister and Chip ‘n’ Dale
by Ellen, 61, Pittsburgh, PA
My sister, mother, and I went to WDW for the first time when I was in my late 20s. My sister is five years younger than I. We were both law students.
We had a great time at the Magic Kingdom, which was the only park at that time. Once, as we were sitting down for a few minutes to rest up for our next ride, we saw Chip ‘n’ Dale in the distance. My sister jumped up and shouted, “Oh! It’s Chip ‘n’ Dale!” and dashed off to meet them. I followed behind, trying to catch up with her.
We’ve been back to WDW many times since then, but I never see Chip ‘n’ Dale without thinking about my 20-something, law student sister running after them like a little kid. WDW really is magical at any age.
|Disney World Main Street Parade|
“That’s How You Make a Memory”
by John, 45, Crestview, FL
On our recent trip to Disney World, my son made me the proudest I could have ever been. He is on active duty in the Air Force, stationed in Germany, and lives in my wife’s home town. He brought some friends and family members with him and we all went to Disney World for our third family vacation there.
We were approached by a Cast Member and asked if we wanted to ride in a parade. A young gentleman looked at him and said, “You are so lucky — I have always wanted to do that.” My son then looked at the Cast Member and then asked if it would be all right for the gentleman and his family to take his place? She replied, “No problem, if that is what you want to do.”
We stayed for the parade and you should have seen the smile on that kid’s face. My son then told me, “Dad, that’s how you make a memory.” It warms my heart every time I think of that moment and his selfless act.
|Raven-Symoné — Disney Fan!|
Raven-Symoné — Disney Fan!
This week, we have a very special fan story. All our fan stories are special — but this one comes from a young woman who has become almost synonymous with Disney family entertainment — Raven-Symoné. Now her first Disney feature film, “College Road Trip,” is newly in theaters. The family comedy deals with a father (Martin Lawrence) facing his feelings about his little girl (Raven-Symoné) growing up and preparing for her next adventure — college away from home. We thought it was a great time to talk to Raven- Symoné about her Disney career, and what it’s like to “grow up Disney.”
“I’ve been a part of Disney Channel since ‘Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century,’ and I think I was 13 on there. I’ve definitely had my fair share of growing on Disney Channel,” she laughs.
Shows and Disney Channel movies like “Zenon,” “That’s So Raven,” and the “Cheetah Girls” series have made Raven-Symoné a tween icon, but her message to her fans is simple. “Girls come up to me and say ‘I want to be just like you,’ and I say ‘No, you don’t! You want to be just like YOU. I can never be you and you can never be me, and that’s not a bad thing,'” she says. “I’m flattered. I think sometimes people watch and they do think you’re your character.”
After years of working on the Disney Lot and with Disney people, Raven-Symoné found the “College Road Trip” shoot to be almost like a family reunion — there were many familiar faces. “I already knew Kym Whitley, who played my mother — she was on ‘That’s So Raven’ and we’ve been friends then. Brenda Song filmed ‘The Suite Life with Zach and Cody’ right next door to ‘That’s So Raven,’ and Margo [Harshman] I’ve known because of different Disney Channel events,” she explains. And soon enough, her movie dad Martin Lawrence and on-screen little brother Eshaya Draper were just part of the family. “It was definitely fun for me. Everybody was professional and came to the set prepared — there was no drama, which is always a blessing.”
With her first starring film role in theaters, and some exciting projects lined up, Raven-Symoné is spreading her wings.
|Family vacation at Walt Disney World Resort.|
Lost in the World
by Jenifer, 30, Upper Sandusky, OH
I was five years old when we went to Disney World. My mom had bought me some new sandals that I loved and could not stop looking at. My family and I were all standing around deciding where we were going to go to next — in the meantime I was staring at my new shoes as if someone was going to steal them right off of my feet. They started walking away without me. When I looked up I did not see them anywhere. I started walking, thinking that I would find them somewhere. I finally got in line at the Haunted Mansion, thinking, as a five year old would, maybe they are in line here — not realizing if they were, I would not catch up with them. Shortly after I got in line a woman asked me if I was lost. I said yes, so she picked me up and set me on the ledge and found a Cast Member to help.
The next thing I remember is sitting on a desk in an office and the security guard was calling somebody to find my mom. Finally they got a hold of each other and we planned to meet at the Haunted Mansion. When we got there my mom was not there yet, so we went on the ride and as soon as we got off my mom was there waiting for me.
Twenty-five years later my family and I are planning a trip to Disney this Christmas, including my mom, grandparents, and in-laws. I have three kids of my own — 12, 6, and 3 years old. I have read so many tips online for ways to keep track of your kids. I am so afraid of one of them getting lost. After having kids of my own, I can only imagine what my mom was thinking when her daughter was not with the rest of the family.
|Jenifer’s portrait now graces the Pirates of the Caribbean.|
A Pirate’s Life for Me
by Jenifer, St. Petersburg, FL
On January 29, 2008, Jenifer Greenwell became a swashbuckling pirate queen, thanks to her win in the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest DVD” sweepstakes. Her portrait now graces the boarding area of Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction — she’s the only Guest to ever be so honored.
We caught up with Jenifer the day of the unveiling and got her impressions of the big day.
“It’s still sinking in! It’s still sort of unreal to me. I think the high point was when the artist, Jim Crouch, presented the original portrait to me. And also seeing the artwork on the wall of Pirates of Caribbean! About six months ago I bought a home, and I just finished painting it, and the portrait will go in a place of honor.
“To create the portrait, I posed for Jim — he took photographs at Imagineering in Glendale, and he also did some quick sketches and video. I was there posing for about an hour. Visiting Imagineering was incredible! I had no idea that was how all the Parks were put together.
“I almost forgot I had entered the sweepstakes, because it was a few months before they chose the winner. They notified me through FedEx and I thought it was a joke possibly, but then I talked to someone from Disney and it was the real thing. So people really do win these things.”
And, she concludes, “I’ve got to tell you, I get the Insider newsletter and I think that might be how I learned about the contest. So thanks!”
And we want to thank and congratulate Jenifer on winning a truly unique experience — and a permanent place at Disneyland Park.
|Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings|
Every Little Girl’s Dream
by Sherri, 33, Detroit, MI
I have always been a huge Disney fan. I am totally in love with the mouse and have had many of dreams about me being a princess and a handsome prince would come and save me from my brothers.
Well, a couple of years ago my boyfriend surprised me with my first visit to Walt Disney World. I instantly went back to being a child. My first encounter with Mickey, I was pretty much speechless and (of course) cried. Everything seemed so surreal. I couldn’t believe that I was actually there.
What I didn’t know was that reason I had been taken there was so that my boyfriend could propose. He caught me totally off guard when he got down on one knee during the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and asked me to be his wife. I cried and cried. I never thought that anything like that actually happens in real life.
After all my years of dreaming about being a princess with my handsome prince, I am happy to say that in December ’07 I got to be a real princess for a day, when we exchanged vows at Walt Disney World! See dreams do come true — I must have one amazing Fairy Godmother!
Minnie Mouse Is My Heroine
by Kim, 50, Fort Collins, CO
My husband and I took our daughter Mallory on vacation to Disneyland when she was three years old. Her very favorite Disney character had always been (and still is 20 years later) Minnie Mouse.
We spent two days having fun, riding rides and taking in shows, but always keeping an eye out in hopes of seeing Minnie Mouse somewhere in the park. As our second and final day of Disney fun came to a close, we had yet to see Minnie. Our daughter was heartbroken but the day was over and it was time to leave.
As we walked to the exit, hand in hand, wondering if maybe Minnie Mouse was ill and unable to be at the park, we rounded one more corner. There, coming through a back gate, was Minnie Mouse. Mallory stopped, gasped and without saying a word, walked straight to Minnie Mouse with her arms outstretched. Minnie greeted her with open arms and a hug. I think I fell in love with Minnie Mouse at that moment too. It was a dream come true for our little girl! And a happy ending for all of us!
I Was Also in Love with Aurora!
by Humberto, 53, Coral Gables, FL
I just read the Fan Story by Ava about her little brother Tyler falling in LOVE with Princess Aurora. I was also six years old when I saw Disney’s animated film “Sleeping Beauty” for the first time in 1959. I was growing up in Cuba and this was the last Disney film to come into the island before Castro’s regime deemed everything American as forbidden. I saw the film three times before it came out of the theaters, but remained deeply infatuated with Aurora.
As a grown man living in Florida, I saw the film again when it was reissued in theaters during the late 1980s, and still felt the enchantment, so much so that I asked my wife, if we ever had a daughter, we would name her Aurora. To this day, she remains my favorite Disney princess, and “Sleeping Beauty” my favorite all-time Disney classic. So Tyler, I know exactly how you feel. Keep dreaming big!!!
|Disney Princess Fantasy Faire|
Dancing with a Prince
by Marci, 33, Napa, CA
We love the Princess Faire at Disneyland. My 4-year-old daughter Martina loved it so much that we stayed through two storytelling sessions and two coronation ceremonies. The second time through, we were at the edge of the stage where the attendants dance and show us all how to be knights and princesses. Martina had seen the choreography a number of times, and before I knew it, she had walked up to one of the male dancers and was dancing with him hand-in-hand! I walked over to their area, ready to take her back, but to my pleasant surprise, he let her dance with him the whole number. She loved it.
It’s moments like these that make the Disney experience so special. We can’t wait to make more memories on our next trip.
|Walt Disney World Resort|
Lost Purse Finally Returns
by Ellen, 59, Sacramento, CA
When my daughter was a sophomore in high school she went to Orlando for a youth leadership convention. After the convention, they went to Disney World for two days. She was visiting the Human Body Pavilion when she lost her small purse. She returned to the pavilion with her friends to search, but they did not find it.
In September 2007 we received a Fed-Ex package at our door. My daughter is now married and has children of her own, but the package had her maiden name with our address on it. I called her to ask if she knew what it was and she did not, but said to open it up. Inside was her small purse that she had lost over 16 years ago. It had her wallet, traveler’s checks, student body card, lipstick, etc. With it was a note from the Epcot Park Duty Manager saying they had found her wallet when they were renovating a building at Epcot Center, and he wanted to get it back to her. To make it extra funny, we had just gotten back from a visit to Disneyland with my daughter and her family that day.
|Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams|
Cast Member Magic
by Jim, 36, Los Angeles, CA
Recently my nephew and niece came down from Northern California with their parents to use the Disneyland tickets my wife and I bought them for Christmas. We were all happily watching an afternoon parade on Main Street and snacking on some treats, and my nephew (4) was happily shaking his balloon to the music and dancing, when the balloon detached from its holder and floated away. Not more than 15 seconds passed before a cast member wandered up and told us he’d be right back, and then a few minutes later, returned with a replacement balloon! My nephew was visibly relieved and what might otherwise have been a disappointment was no big deal at all, and I couldn’t help but think that it’s this kind of treatment and involvement by absolutely everyone there that makes Disneyland such a special place.
|Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular!|
Star for a Day
by Stephan, 37, Lemoyne, PA
About two years ago, I was at Walt Disney World with seven family members. We all decided to do the MGM Studios Park for a day and see The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. I was picked to be an “extra” for that performance so, I was separated from the rest of my family for a while. The show went on and I had the time of my life being close to Indiana and Marion.
When the show ended, I rejoined my family until I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was another family standing with their autograph booklets that you can buy at the Parks. They were from somewhere from South America, like from Peru or Chile, and actually asked me to sign their books because I was in the show. Me! A mere nobody in real life!
I told them that I was picked and I wasn’t actually in the show as a cast member. They said that since I was in that show they still wanted me to sign their books. I was very flabbergasted and honored to sign my first autographs in my life. So, there I was … signing autographs like a movie star and I got to sign my name right next to Minnie Mouse in their books. Pretty cool, huh?
During this, I was re-separated from my family members and I had some catching up to do to rejoin them once again. My family asked where I was and I told them that I was signing autographs. They said that that could only happen to me and only at Walt Disney World. It was a memory that me and my family still talk about to this day.
|Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!|
Most Magical Christmas Ever!
by Bernadette, 51, Southold, NY
My husband, daughter Rachel and I attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party held in the Magic Kingdom. Main Street was dressed up as magical as ever and when the snow began to fall we felt like we were back home in New York celebrating the holidays. My daughter was at the age of whether or not she believed there was a Santa Claus.
We debated if we would stay and watch the entire Christmas parade or “beat the crowds” and begin leaving before Santa actually passed by. The parade was so fantastic, our feet were glued to the sidewalk. We watched as each character passed by, waving and greeting the smiling faces of the spectators. Finally, the moment came when Santa himself appeared waving and greeting the wide-eyed children and parents. As he came down the street he yelled “Merry Christmas…” stating various names as he passed by. Much to the surprise of my husband, daughter Rachel and myself, he looked straight at my daughter and yelled “Merry Christmas Rachel.” The look on all three of our faces was incredible. Our mouths hit the sidewalk, our eyes opened wide and we looked at one another in disbelief. I looked at Rachel and thought she must have her name somewhere on her hat or jacket – somewhere visible that Santa could have seen it – but it was nowhere to be seen. Needless to say, Rachel was convinced that Santa was real, knew her personally and she better behave so that he would bring her the gifts she wanted Christmas morning.
We know that it was just coincidence that he looked at Rachel and said “Merry Christmas Rachel” that night, but it was the most magical Christmas that I ever can or will remember. Walt Disney World is truly a magical adventure.
|Main Street and Cinderella Castle|
The Special That Started It All
by Wayne, 49, Franklin Park, NJ
As I was reading the recent Disney Insider, THIS WEEK IN DISNEY HISTORY piece about the October 29, 1971 TV special, “The Grand Opening of Walt Disney World,” I was struck by the vivid memory of seeing the original broadcast as a child. My brother and I sat enthralled watching and thinking how lucky the people in the crowds were. Little did we know, behind the smug looks on our parents’ faces, they were already planning to take us to Disney World the next summer!
That trip remains one of my happiest childhood memories. I snapped a shot of my brother shaking hands with Goofy (that picture won me an “Honorable Mention” in a photo competition back home), and I still have the “Haunted Mansion Puzzle Box” that I bought the last day we were there.
I’ve been back a few times over the years. Orlando has changed and grown. Walt Disney World has certainly changed and grown. But each time I step through the main gate at the Magic Kingdom and see the Cinderella Castle rising at the end of Main Street, deep down I feel the thrill I felt the first time I saw it so many years ago. And I remember the TV special that first presented the magic to me.
Belle Never Forgets
by Ed, 62, Stoughton, MA
We went to a character breakfast when my grandaughter was 3 1/2 years old and she got an autograph from Belle. Two years later we were at the same character breakfast and she was now 5 1/2. When she asked Belle for an autograph she still had the same autograph book with her name, Michaela, on the book. Belle noticed that she had signed the book two years earlier. She said “Oh my Michaela, you sure have gotten big since the last time I saw you! Wasn’t that about two years ago?” Well, Michaela talked about how Belle remembered her out of all the kids she meets for the rest of the week. It was another case of a cast member going the extra mile to make a little girl’s day. I know I was impressed!
|It’s a Small World|
Good Samaritans at the Magic Kingdom
by Marcie, 47, Port Saint Lucie, FL
When I was somewhere between 8 and 10, my mother and father asked my sisters and me if we wanted to go for a ride. Of course we all said yes (well, those of us who were old enough to speak). We drove to Orlando and when we got there, there was nothing but a building. When we asked Mom and Dad where we were, they said, “Disney World.” To our surprise, we went into the building and in the middle of the room, there we saw a miniature version of what Disney World was going to look like! We were all disappointed, but also excited to see that there would soon be an amusement park opening and it was with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck!!
A few years later, after the GREAT park was built, my dad took my three sisters and me to see Mickey! Mom couldn’t go because she had trouble walking. We had A, B, C, D and E tickets along with our transportation ticket and entrance ticket. All of us were having a great time — this was something we’ve never done before.
It was around 5 p.m. and we were standing in the line for “It’s A Small World” when Dad told us that this was our last ride, we were out of tickets. My sisters and I were so sad — we did not want to go home. Then magic happened. There was a couple from England standing next to us and they saw how sad we were because we were out of tickets and had to leave. They tapped my dad’s shoulder. He turned around, and the couple handed my dad five full books of tickets. They said their vacation was over and they were headed back to England and would not be needing the tickets. My sisters and I gave them big hugs and lots of thanks! We stayed that night to the very end and had the most wonderful time in our lives!
|Future World at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT|
Disney Dreams Come True
by Dee, 41, Atascosa, TX
From the time my daughter was born we have celebrated her birthday with a Disney theme. My grandparents were at the opening of the Walt Disney World Theme Park in 1971. So, I guess you can say it’s in our blood.
Well, from the time my daughter Ashlee was 10 she has dreamed of working for the Walt Disney Company. When she began college studying graphic design she knew that she wanted to be an Imagineer, creating park signs and maps for Walt Disney World. While in college she found out about Disney’s College Program. She applied, then anxiously waited the three to five weeks to find out if she was accepted. When she received her acceptance letter and her job she was ecstatic, to say the least. She just sat and began to squeal in the backseat of the truck.
She ended up having her job changed two weeks before she left for Florida to where she is now – working in Operations at Epcot, which has been her favorite place since she was three. Her eyes would light up every time we came to Epcot and when she found out she would be working there, let’s just say there was a lot more squealing in the back of my truck. Yes, again she got the news while we were going to get her things that she was going to need in Florida.
Well, she’s been there now for almost two months. She’s had moments of being homesick. However, most of what we hear about is how much she LOVES working at Epcot and how much she LOVES the Disney Company. Her favorite part of her job is making other people’s dreams come true. She has decided to change her major to a business degree because now she wants to work in Operations for Disney. Thank you Disney, you have made our dreams come true.
|Tower of Terror|
A “Terrifying” Proposal
by Amanda, 22, Leominster, MA
This past Christmas, my family, my boyfriend, and I took a trip to Disney World. Two days into the trip we spent the day in MGM. We had been in the park for an hour, rode the Rockin’ Rollercoaster, and strapped into the Tower of Terror.
As soon as the lights went out and the twinkle lights came up, my boyfriend slipped a ring on my finger and asked me to be his wife. I accepted and soon after plummeted down the tower. We got off the ride to congratulations from the crew, and even have the photo snapped in the ride to remember the proposal.
|The Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom|
A Family Surprise
by Jennifer, 34, Westford, MA
In 2002 my entire family traveled to Disney World. Twelve adults and eleven children began our adventure at the Magic Kingdom. My husband and I knew we were expecting our second child but nobody else knew. So my husband slipped away from the group and bought a pair of Mickey Mouse ears for our one-year-old daughter and had the cast member print “Future Big Sister” on the back.
For our first ride as a group we went on The Haunted Mansion. My husband and I arranged it so we were the first ones out of the ride. We put the Mickey Ears on my daughter so everyone could see them when they came out of the ride. My niece Emily was the first to see them and she said, “Oh look, Lauren got Mickey ears!” I told her and my other nieces and nephews that a ghost gave them to her. Some of the kids were young and backed away thinking a ghost really followed them out of the ride — their eyes were as big as saucers. But my sister-in-law read the back and said, “Future big sister? What does that mean?” and then it finally clicked that we were expecting.
Fast forward to this past summer, when we were vacationing again with the family. When we passed the Haunted Mansion, my niece Emily saw that it was closed for refurbishment. She sadly said, “I guess no ghost is going to give Aunt Jen a baby this year.”
|Cinderella Castle and Wishes Nighttime Spectacular|
A Parent’s Dream Comes True
by Felicia, 37, Crosby, TX
I’ve been to Disney as a child with my parents, as a thrillseeking teenager and as a single adult. Each trip has its special memories etched in my mind, from my first trip at age 10 to the first year I rode Tower of Terror. But the memory that pulls at my heartstrings the most occurred in 2006 as I experienced a dream coming true. It had taken seven years of pleading and persuasion to bring my husband into the World. Our first night in the Magic Kingdom, I stood on the Tomorrowland bridge and watched Wishes with my husband and six-year-old daughter. I knew at that moment my wish and my dream was unfolding. I watched the fireworks for the first time as a parent — sharing the breathtaking moment with my family.
Moved to Tears at the Magic Kingdom
by Kim, 34, Vermillion, OH
My family and myself set out from Ohio on a trip of a lifetime. I have always wanted to go to Walt Disney World, ever since I was a small child. So when my parents decided to take me, my sister and her husband and my niece and nephew, I was overjoyed. I could hardly contain myself. We left on April 7, 2007 and drove from Ohio to Florida.
My favorite park was the Magic Kingdom. I watched all the parades, the fireworks were awesome, and the kindness from every staff member you met was amazing. My second dream came true when I saw the Magic Kingdom Castle. Every time I saw it on TV or in a Movie I would say to myself, I’m going to go there someday. Well, I had finally made it. I went inside and saw the gift shop and the beautiful artistry on the walls, then I came outside and just sat and stared at that castle, and cried, not because I was sad, but because I was so happy.
As we were walking to get our souvenirs and leave one of your photopass photographers stopped me and asked why I was crying. I told him that I was so happy and that my dreams came true being there that day. He asked if I would like to have my picture taken in front of the castle with Walt and Mickey, and the castle in the background, and of course I did. So, he took the picture and then said I was the type of person that employees like him liked to see, that I got that much out of my day at the Magic Kingdom and if I stuck around him too long that he was going to cry too. I can’t remember his name, but he was a very nice man, thank you.
Sweet on Sleeping Beauty
by Ava, 25, Palos Verdes Estates, CA
My whole family was visiting Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We were invited to the princess breakfast and that is when my brother, Tyler (6 years old) saw Sleeping Beauty. He was in LOVE. Well, Sleeping Beauty came over to my table and my brother couldn’t speak. After we left, my brother was upset he didn’t talk to Sleeping Beauty.
Well, later that day, while visiting Epcot, we met Sleeping Beauty behind the country France. It was such a huge surprise that my brother would not go talk to her AGAIN. I went up to Sleeping Beauty and told her that my brother was shy and really liked her. Sleeping Beauty came over and introduced herself to Tyler. She said she was Princess Aurora and asked my brother his name. They talked for a little while longer and she blew Tyler a kiss when it was time to leave. Ever since then, Tyler loves talking to girls he thinks are “cute” and whenever he becomes shy we just say “remember Princess Aurora” and he knows that means not to act shy or he could miss out on his chance of finding his true love.
|Carousel of Progress|
Stuck on the Carousel of Progress
by Annmarie, 43, Jacksonville, FL
When my sister and I were teenagers, we rode the Carousel of Progress together (this was when they had the song that started off “Now is the time, now is the best time….”). After the first segment about spring and the robins, the ride got stuck. The Cast Member apologized that we would have to sit through that segment again.
Well, after the fifth time, you would think that everyone on the ride would have gotten irritable. Instead, the whole audience was singing along and speaking the script word for word along with the characters, laughing, and having a great time. My sister and I (living in different states now) still call each other and sing the song, word for word, and have fond memories of the ride. She even got me a Disney trading pin for the Carousel of Progress for Christmas a few years ago.
And during this year’s visit, I discovered that this attraction actually opened at the New York World’s Fair the day I was born, April 22, 1964!
|My Disneyland Birthday|
Disneyland Resort Birthdays
by Daya, 29, Valley Village, CA
I was in Disneyland with about four of my friends for my birthday and I had the birthday sticker on so everyone would know. Well, we had lunch in New Orleans Square and this mime comes over to me and makes a big deal about my birthday. He took us up to the gallery upstairs, where he got us all candy and a printed copy of the words from ‘A Pirate’s Life for Me,’ then he took me to the balcony and got everyone below to sing “Happy Birthday.” It was absolutely the most memorable day/birthday/Disneyland experience!!!!
A Brother Named Disney World
by Amber, 33, Laughlin, NV
I was just about to turn 5 when my brother was born, and my parents had planned to take me to Disney World on vacation. I was so excited that when my mother called me from the hospital to ask what I wanted to name my new baby brother, my response was “How about Disney World?”
Twenty-four years later when I called my brother to tell him I was having a baby, his response was “Are you going to name him Disney World?” Now that we are taking my son this summer, I wonder what other special “names” we will come up with.
|Fireworks Over Walt Disney World|
The Look in a Two-Year-Old’s Eyes
by Rene, 35, Papillion, NE
I wanted to go somewhere for my husband and my three-year wedding anniversary, but I still wasn’t too comfortable leaving my son with a sitter just yet. So I mentioned Disney World to my husband. He felt our two-year-old son was too young to go. He kept saying that “he is not going to remember a thing.” You know, he may not — but the look on my son’s face the first time he saw Mickey was priceless. And the night he saw the fireworks over the castle was the best — seeing his face light up was worth every penny!!! I had never seen him so excited or smiling that big!!! It was truly amazing to see my son that happy!!!
He may not remember that visit but I will. We will definitely take him back and probably more than once. He may not remember his first visit to the Magic Kingdom, but his mom will never forget!
|Fireworks over Epcot|
All Our Precious Memories Involve Disney!
by Courtney, 29, Wantaugh, NY
My mother took my older sister and me to Disney World when I was little. I grew up loving Disney from an early age because of this. I even went on to try for a career as a traditional animator for Disney (though, by the time I graduated college, they’d gone digital).
Every summer we looked forward to our annual drive down (from New York). It was sort of neat that my dad never wanted to join us (he hates, hates, hates long lines and doesn’t ‘do’ rides) because the trips took on a girls’ club kind of vibe. At night, my sister and I would beg my mom to take us to Epcot Center so we could go to ‘England’ and see the theater street performers. They were one of those great little details Disney likes to add to the mix (any Disney lover knows the staple Disney Things, like Space Mountain, but it takes a real devotee to know the smaller happenings within the parks over the years!) Some nights we’d be picked to be part of the show and it was so much fun.
Years passed and I grew up on the outside, but not on the inside. Any one of my friends that had never been taken to Disney as a kid got brought there by me eventually (I still go on vacation there every year) and I got to relive that thrill of seeing all Disney has to offer through their eyes. When I took my boyfriend some years back it was such fun to see his face when we walked through the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. To this day he’ll deny it, but I know I saw his eyes well up along with that big-kid smile he wore!
Well, when it came time to propose marriage to me he knew just how to do it — while on vacation (our second time there together), in Epcot, in ‘England,’ in the spot I’d pointed out to him where those wonderful actors did their nightly shows. I stood where my former kid self stood as he bended down on one knee, the fireworks of IllumiNations bursting in the night sky behind us.
And I’m proud to say that we are married (did so back in 2004) and we’re gearing up to take our firstborn to my favorite place on earth! He’s only 10 weeks old but we’ve already told him fantastic stories of what awaits him in Orlando, Florida. Now my husband gets to see Disney through our little boy’s eyes, and in that moment recapture his first time in Disney. Thanks for making a place that we all can be a kid again, Walt. And God bless all the people who make the magic happen day after day in Disney World!
An Unexpected Meeting With Mickey
by Natassia, 49, Davie, FL
We first took my daughter to Disney World when she was 3. She was a huge Disney movie fan and was already quite familiar with Mickey, so naturally we let her know that this trip was to see “Mickey at his house.”
While my husband was at guest services, checking us into the Contemporary, I was trying to keep her entertained by walking her around the lobby. She kept asking “Where’s Mickey?, Where’s Mickey?” I let her know that he wasn’t there right then but he would be around later. As I turned her toward the back of the lobby (under the escalators where it was nice and quiet), she suddenly stopped in her tracks. I followed her star struck gaze right into Mickey’s eyes.
They were both still for a moment, then Mickey got down on one knee and open his arms. Sure enough, she ran right to him and jumped into his arms … she had him all to herself for a moment. I still cry when I tell that story or think about that moment. Truly a magical experience!
|Disney Pin Trading|
Scoop Sanderson Personifies Disney Ideals
by Patrick, 43, Katy, TX
The first year of Disney Pin Trading I was on the Disney World Trolley and a gentleman jumped aboard who caught my interest. This fellow was right out of the past and it turns out he was a newspaper reporter. I could tell by the “PRESS” ticket stuck in his hat.
This kindly fellow introduced himself as none other than Scoop Sanderson! He filled me in on the local “scoop” and going-ons for the day when he noticed a few pins I had begun to collect. We chatted about this and other things for a while when we got off the trolley by the Exhibition Hall. He asked me if I was looking for any special pins and I told him which I was looking for. He said “Stay put! I’ll be right back” and ran into the hall, only to return with the pin I had been searching high and low for. He made my day!
I always enjoyed looking up Scoop on future visits, catching up on the goings-on about Disney and pin talk. I had gotten married and introduced him to my wife. Much to my surprise, he graced me with a Scoop Sanderson pin trading pin — #737 of 750! Wow! Fast forward a few visits to our recent 4th anniversary. We had stopped by Scoop’s pin talk to say hello. During the talk, he presented me with a prototype of the Scoop Sanderson Pin Trading Pin — unbeknownst to me, my wife had purchased the pin and arranged for Scoop to present it to me for our anniversary. Wow again!
As thrilled as I was, I remembered what Scoop had taught me that first day. Pin trading is not about what you have, but about what you give and how you can use something as simple as a little metal pin to bring a bit of joy and friendship into others’ lives. So many times I have seen Scoop carrying on his duties as Gazette Reporter and as Pin Ambassador putting a little light into people’s days big and small. He may not realize it, but these little seeds of happiness he plants grow and spread. To me Scoop represents the best of what Disney is about. Having fun, making new friends, and leaving your cares behind. By a chance meeting on the Trolley he has become a wonderful ray of light in our lives.
|The Magic Kingdom|
My Cast Member Guardian Angels
by Jaimee, 18, Woodstock, GA
In April I attended Festival Disney with my high school choir. The first day in the Magic Kingdom was great. I spent the whole day goofing off and bonding with my best friend, but the next day I woke up with a horrible migraine. I was hundreds of miles from home, and I was not allowed to bring anything with me for the headache because I was on a school field trip. That afternoon I was going to have to perform twice with my high school’s two choir entries.
I made it through the first set of songs, but during the second set I began to cry uncontrollably from the unbearable pain. After we finished the songs, I ran offstage. I was met by the assistant stage manager, Megan, and she immediately found one of the chaperones and had my mother called. She got me coffee to help the pain, and she closed off the backstage area and turned all the lights off for me. She also put people at all the entrances to the room backstage so no one could get in.
She went and got the stage manager, Dave, and together they tried to find me a ride back to the hotel. They called me a cab, but he drove away when Dave turned his back. They tried to get the Sarasota Springs Hotel’s bus, but it had just left. They came backstage every few minutes to check on me and to give me a heads-up on what was going on. Finally, after more than an hour, they were able to find another cab to come get me. They led me out the back entrance to the stage, and they gave the cab driver the hotel name.
They took time during a busy hectic time for them to help me! I have always believed in guardian angels, but Dave and Megan showed me that people can be them, too. I do not know what I would have done if these two heroes had not helped me. It was like one of the fairy tales Disney has made into a movie, but this time the happily ever after was mine and not a princess’. Thank you so much Megan and Dave! I do not know what I would have done if you had not been there for me!
|Mad Hatter and March Hare|
Grandma Meets the Mad Hatter
by Shari, 58, Mission Viejo, CA
One of my fondest memories of Disneyland was the day my Grandma was visiting from Texas and was able to come along with us for her first visit to Disneyland. As she exited the restroom, the Mad Hatter was just coming out of the gate (where all the characters get ready for work). The Mad Hatter pinned Grandma against the wall with his big nose. She was laughing so hard, she could hardly stand and it was just at that moment my dad caught a picture of her giggling like a child there with the Mad Hatter. Grandma’s gone now, but that photo … that photo still makes me smile and proves that Disneyland IS the Happiest Place on Earth!
Eeyore is my son’s buddy
by Sandy, 42, Hermitage, PA
We visited WDW for the first time in March 2006. After that we were all hooked on Disney and have since returned twice already. My youngest son, Steven age 9, began exploring everything Disney related and discovered Eeyore. He instantly knew he had found a character he could bond with. He began collecting everything Eeyore. He has nine different stuffed Eeyores who reside in his bed. His favorite comes downstairs with him in the morning, accompanies him through his morning routine then sits on the couch, waiting for his return home from school. On the weekends, Eeyore is his constant buddy — he eats at the table with us, rides in the car with his seatbelt on, and watches movies with us. Steven is quiet and reserved. Eeyore has helped Steven find his way through this in-between age where he’s finding his self esteem. He is more courageous and happy with the support of his gloomy friend.
The highlight of our last trip was our dinner at Crystal Palace. Steven traced his buddy’s every move around the room, anxiously awaiting his turn. When Eeyore finally came up to our table, the look on his face almost made me cry. He hugged Eeyore endlessly. Steven floated back to our room that night! Now every trip to WDW must include at least one dinner at Crystal Palace. If he could, Steven would spend the day at Crystal Palace hanging out with his buddy.
I Almost Caught Mickey Mouse
by Joe, 36, Greenville, PA
Back in 1981, I was ten years old and the family packed our bags and flew to Disney World. On the first day I remember walking through the gates onto Main Street. My eyes were darting everywhere trying to take everything in at once, when I noticed none other than Mickey Mouse standing over by a corner. I quickly tugged on my mom’s shirt and begged her to let me go to meet Mickey in person. She said “Yes.”
Thrilled with the idea of being able to meet the most famous mouse of all, I spun around only to find that suddenly Mickey had disappeared! I ran over to the spot that I had just seen him, I scanned the street very carefully wondering how a mouse that big could simply disappear, but Mickey wasn’t in the street. It was then that I noticed part of the fence in the corner was closing ever so slowly. This hidden door blended so well with the fence that I would have never noticed if it hadn’t been moving. Aha! Mickey’s escape route!
I quickly pulled on the door and peeked my head around the corner. To my dismay, I saw that Mickey was very far along a “secret” walkway that went behind the fence and buildings. He was much too far for me to catch up to him, and I was sure that if I stayed at that doorway too long that I’d get in trouble, so I had to abandon my Mouse hunt. When I finally get to go back to Disney World next year, I plan to stay long enough to “catch” this mouse, and actually get a picture with him.
Tea with Minnie and Ryann
by Kat, 49, Orinda, CA
When my daughter Ryann was 6 years old she was a Minnie Mouse girl all the way. One early morning in the Park she was dressed head to toe in MinnieWear, including ears. We had just gotten off the Jolly Trolley in Toontown when the real Minnie Mouse spotted Ryann and came over and took her by the hand and led her to Minnie’s house. My husband and I followed behind, taking pictures and video taping, but not one of us spoke a word. Minnie took Ryann through the little house, pointing out details. In the kitchen Minnie invited Ryann to sit at the little table and they pretended to have tea. It was the most adorable thing I had ever seen. Minnie then led the way out to the wishing well, where Ryann and Minnie made wishes together. Ryann still talks about that meeting with Minnie Mouse, even though she is a teenager and would like to have tea with Orlando Bloom or Johnny Depp now!!! She will always be a Minnie Mouse fan and so will I.
|Snow White and the Queen|
Snow White and the Queen
by Kathie, 40, Willits, CA
I was around two years old when I first encountered the evil queen in the Snow White ride at Disneyland. She popped up and I became terribly afraid — I refused to ride another ride for the rest of the day.
Fast forward about 37 years. My best friend and adopted niece and I spent a week at Disneyland. One morning we were at the gate right when the Park opened. We decided to hit the fantasy area first before all of the little kids arrived, so that we wouldn’t get in their way of having a good time. We rode the teacups, Small World, and the Peter Pan ride.
I had told my traveling partners about the scary Snow White ride, and what it did to me as a child. They thought the whole incident was really funny, so I wanted to go on the ride and see what had scared me. Once on the ride, I kept waiting for the scary event to happen, the one where the witch would frighten me away from all remaining rides. There were happy dwarfs, cute animals, a handsome prince, and beautiful Snow White. I saw the wicked queen a few times, but no scary moment. I was teased quite a bit when we got off of the ride, but I knew what I remember was real. I was thankful to find out recently that the Snow White ride was changed due to it scaring little kids. It did not take long for me to share my new information with those who gave me such a hard time!
College Roomies Bond Over Disney!
by Allie, 23, Mill Creek, WA
When I moved away for college I was lucky enough to move in with a friend from high school. We had known each other since elementary school but always hung out in groups. Now it was just us! We soon became the best of friends. But while most kids were running around tasting that first taste of freedom we would spend many an afternoon sitting in our dorm room coloring Disney pages and pasting them on our walls. By the end of the year our tiny hole in the wall was a Disney cartoon-covered hole in the wall. Maybe it was the experience of living together, maybe it was just meant to be, OR maybe it was the magic of Disney that brought us so close together. We should have known it was going to be a year to remember when we found name tags with Tinker Bell on our door that very first day!
|Alice in Wonderland|
A Kiss from Alice
by Barbara, 62, St. Louis, MO
I have been a Disney fan my entire life and dreamed of someday being a Mouseketeer just like Annette. Of course that dream never came true, but the first time I took my three daughters to WDW in 1976 I felt like a Mouseketeer, ears and all. We were the Robinson Family as we climbed the tree house, we fought with Davy Crockett at the fort, we flew to Neverland with Peter Pan and danced with Mickey and the gang. It was the beginning of many magical memories for my entire family.
However, one of my favorite memories was in 1994 when my granddaughter, Sarah, was four years old and we had breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle. Sarah never touched her food because she was far too excited to see all the Princesses. But it was Alice who made the magic happen. She took extra time with Sarah, talking and posing for lots of photos because she said Sarah looked just like her with her long blonde hair, blue eyes, and her lovely blue, apron dress. Before she left she told Sarah that she would look for her at the parade that evening. We just finished riding Splash Mountain in time to catch the last parade and Sarah had changed from her pretty dress and loose hair into shorts and a ponytail. To our joy and amazement, Alice called out Sarah’s name, blew her a kiss, and said she looked pretty. We could not believe with all the little girls she sees each day, that she would remember Sarah. Sarah went to bed that night feeling so special because Alice was truly her friend. I don’t know if all the Cast Members realize what magic they bring to young and old alike that keeps us looking forward to our next visit to Walt Disney World. “Bye now, see ya soon!”
|Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse having lunch together|
Lunch Box Buddies
by Allison, 22, Chandler, AZ
When I was 6 years old, my family had just moved across the country to Arizona. I was starting the first grade at a new school and didn’t know anyone. At lunchtime, I was all alone, not knowing where to sit. To my surprise, a little girl came up to me holding the very same pink Mickey and Minnie lunch box as I had. She sat down and we instantly bonded. We were best friends from that moment. To to this day we still joke about our Disney lunch boxes — “The Friend Maker!”
|Who doesn’t love Disney? The Rock is a big fan.|
Actor, Athlete, Disney Fan
by The Rock
You might know Dwayne “the Rock” Douglas Johnson as a wrestler, and action-film star, or as the lead in Disney’s new family comedy “The Game Plan,” which opens this week — but you probably don’t know him as a Disney fan. Surprise! Here is his story.
I’m a big Disney fan! In my household, it’s Disney 24/7.
I’ve got a little six-year-old girl, who is so excited for the movie to come out. She saw the movie last week and absolutely loved it. For me it was a great joy and incredibly rewarding, because for the first time I was able to take her to see one of my movies. Taking my little girl to see “Daddy’s movie” for the first time was great — and that’s coupled with the fact that it’s a big Disney comedy. When she sees the Disney logo at the beginning of a movie, she gets all excited!
Making “The Game Plan” was the greatest film experience I’ve ever had. Disney is one of a kind — it has the power to reach such a wide array of ages. I loved working with director Andy Fickman — he has a great comic sensibility and great sweetness.
What attracted me to “Game Plan” was the opportunity to work with Disney. I loved the idea of this movie, and everything fell into place. Disney understands family comedies, and their films always have a great powerful message about family. That’s one thing that you can always count on with a Disney film. And I love happy endings!
Madison Pettis, who plays the little girl in the film, was a wonderful pro — she’s a regular on “Cory in the House,” so I guess that’s not surprising. And she and my daughter have become good friends! My little girl came up to the set in Boston and they had playdates there, and they had a great time. We’ve had Madison over to our house in California to play with my daughter. It’s wonderful and I’m incredibly proud of both of them.
|Walt Disney and Mickey|
My Buddy Walt!
by Nancy, 53, Moreno Valley, CA
When I was young, around 7 or 8 years old, I was visiting Disneyland with my family. My mother gave me money to stop in to the Disney Silhouette Portrait Studio, which was on Main Street. After the artist cut out my picture on black paper and mounted it into a frame… all of a sudden Mr. Disney appeared out from the back of the store. I was just getting my picture from the clerk when he took a look at my portrait and said to me “What a pretty girl you are!” To this day I will always remember that wonderful moment when Walt Disney spoke to me! I have always told my story to all my family and friends.
|Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs|
by Paul, 46, Camarillo, CA
Friday the 13th can be the luckiest day – it certainly has been for Paul and Patti. May 13, 1983, we had the privilege of attending a screening of the theatrical release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at the Disney Studios in Burbank, California. We were college students at the time and that became our first date. We are both huge Disney enthusiasts and shared many great memories as Disneyland Annual Passholders and several trips to WDW in Orlando. Married now, with two lovely daughters, we continue to keep our nearly 25-year relationship alive by celebrating our anniversary every single month – that’s 288 times so far. Thanks to the pin-trading craze and the abundance of Snow White designs, I have been giving my wife a new pin every month for the past four years – with over 300 Snow White pins available, I think we can keep this tradition alive for many years to come.
Patti may say that her prince has come, but I think I’m probably a little too Dopey to be a real prince.
|Mickey Mouse welcomes you to the Magic Kingdom|
by Ann, 53, Hanover, PA
We’ve always been a Disney family. We first brought our older son Peyton, whom we had adopted from Korea, to Disney World when he was three–actually a little too young, we thought–but my husband’s mother, Grandma Mary, was ill, and we wanted them to share a vacation while she was able to go. Naturally, it was spectacular, and one of our son Peyton’s favorite photos is of him sitting on Grandma’s lap in her wheelchair, sharing secrets.
Some years later, we experienced another in our long chain of Disney adventures. My husband Jim and I had just returned from Russia with our newly adopted three-year-old son, Sasha. Our best friend Fran had adopted Sasha’s best friend, three-year-old Petr. We had been warned by the adoption agency to be careful not to “overstimulate” the children, so, of course, we took everyone to Disney World! Those two little boys had the time of their lives. They were like sponges, taking in everything, including “Icky Mouska” — three-year-old Russian for Mickey Mouse.
We’ve been back to Disney World five or six times since then, and each time is better than the time before. The kids are 15 and 11 now, and now it’s my mother, Grammy Bernie, who rides in the wheelchair. From the accommodations to the rides to the shows to the food–we never have been disappointed. Jim and Peyton and Sasha and I have always said that we just love “being” at Disney World–walking the streets and enjoying our time together–and when we come home, we begin to plan our next adventure.
|Goofy and Mickey Mouse|
My First Run-In with Goofy
by Aaron, 18, Las Vegas, NV
When I was four years old, my family took one of our usual outings to Disneyland like we do three or four times a year. My favorite character was always Goofy. All I wanted to do was hug him and say hi, but I couldn’t find him.
Finally we were walking back to Toon Town and I happened to see Goofy out of the corner of my eye. I was so excited i couldn’t hold still. My grandpa was holding my hand, but I broke free and started running as fast as I could toward Goofy. I was approaching him rapidly with no signs of slowing up. Finally when I got a good vantage point, I leaped on top of a table and jumped toward Goofy, I was moving so fast, I accidentally tackled him.
I was so scared of what to do afterwards, but as soon as Goofy regained his posture, he got up and gave me a hug. It was like heaven for me and I will never forget the first time I had a run-in with Goofy — literally!
|Elizabeth Swann and Jack Sparrow|
A Pirate Surprise
by Jennifer A., 39, Costa Mesa, CA
My friends all know me as being a little “pirate crazy.” As a kid, Pirates of the Caribbean was my favorite thing at Disney World, and “Peter Pan” was my favorite movie. Needless to say, I love the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies!
When the second movie came out, some friends and I decided to go see the very first show in our town, at midnight of opening day. We were standing in line when we heard people around us laughing and clapping. Coming along the sidewalk was “Captain Jack Sparrow.” His costume were great, and as he got closer I realized that he looked familiar. “Jack” was actually my boyfriend! When he got to us, Captain Jack gave me a kiss, knelt down, and gave me a little treasure box with a ring in it. Needless to say, I was swept off my feet and agreed to join his crew. Then he came and watched the movie with us.
We married last fall, and I still joke that I am “Mrs. Jack Sparrow”!
|Pirates of the Caribbean|
Peril with Pirates
by Jo Ellen 49, Champaign, IL
When my redheaded daughter, Kristen, was about 3 or 4 years old, we were on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World. At one point, the pirates yell “We want the REDHEAD.” Kristen ducked down inside our boat and whispered, “Mommy!! They said ‘We want the Redhead.'” I thought she was playing a game, so I simply said, “Yes, honey, they did say that … you’d better hide.” I only found out years later that she had thought it was all for real and that she was really scared that they wanted HER. Now every time we ride the Pirates of the Caribbean together, we have a little giggle when the pirates yell “We want the Redhead.”
|Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle|
Starting the Magic Early!
by William, 50, Tustin, CA
When our second daughter was born, her elder sister, then 3, visited her for the first time in the hospital, she insisted Daddy take her directly to Disneyland to tell Mickey Mouse about her new sister. We left the hospital and drove to Disneyland.
When we arrived, we went directly to Toontown, where Mickey Mouse patiently listened to our daughter Nicole tell him about her sister having been born that morning and how her newborn sister, Brittney, cried when she held her for the first time … because she had a dirty diaper.
Dreams Really Do Come True
by Stephanie, 36, Chicago IL
When I took my 7-year-old son Alex to Walt Disney World last October, we dressed up for the Halloween Party. We were watching the Fantastic Fireworks show and the theme was “Disney World, Where All Your Dreams Come True.”
Well, my son wished that he was a “Cool Kid.” When the fireworks were over and we were walking out of the Park, a man looked at my son and said “Cool costume, kid!….you’re cool.” My son looked up at me and said “I guess dreams really do come true at Walt Disney World!”
|Parade of Dreams|
Marching to the Disney Tune
by James, 38, Manahawkin, NJ
My first trip to Disney World was during my freshman year of high school. I was in a marching band from Pennsylvania, and we were marching in the Orange Bowl Parade. On the way to Miami, we stopped over in Orlando. It was a magical time. The cast members were so friendly, and it was an awesome experience. I will always remember marching in the parade through the park with all the people lining up on the street. I also got to experience Disneyland with the same marching band when we marched in the Rose Bowl. Between us, my family members have been part of that marching band for 18 years and have marched in Disney World, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.
I am now a DVC member and get to experience Disney World on a more regular basis. Every time I come into the Magic Kingdom, I feel like a little kid! Seeing my four-year-old daughter and one-year-old son show such awe and enthusiasm makes going to Disney so worth it. We came over for Halloween recently, and the characters and cast were the best. My son just loved them. Our next trip will be on my daughter’s fifth birthday. I’ve seen how the cast members honor the “Birthday” kids by announcing the birthday, and letting them be part of the experience. It’s amazing that they can do that for one child when they deal with so many every day. If Walt was alive, and I could meet him, I’d shake his hand and thank him for having the vision for the Disney parks, and making that dream come true.
|Winnie the Pooh|
I’m a Disney Child
by Maggie, 36, Los Angeles, CA
When people ask me why I love Disneyland so much, I have to explain (is an explanation necessary?) that I am a Disney child. I was practically born and raised at Disneyland.
My family lived just 15 minutes away from the park – I could see the fireworks from my backyard each night. I realize now that we were not well-off, but back then we could pack up the car and head to Disneyland with our Magic Kingdom card and a few leftover ticketbooks, and have a marvelous time just being there. There are pictures of my mom on King Arthur’s Carousel pregnant with me, pictures of toddler me with my favorite, Pooh bear (when he still had the honeypot on his head), school-age me in Small World. Our fridge always had half-a-dozen partially eaten giant swirly lollipops, carefully rewrapped and long forgotten. There has never been a time in my life when I have not owned a pair of Pooh bear pajamas.
So when I get to the park nowadays, it’s like going to my best friend’s house. Everything in the park reminds me of some happy day I spent there before. As first-timers and world travelers race from line to line with their fastpasses and maps, I just soak up the comforts of coming home.
Royal Service at King Stefan’s Table
by Karen, 37, Princeton, NJ
My husband (at the time, my boyfriend/dance partner) and I took a trip to Disney World for the first time in 1998. We had everything mapped out – when to catch the rides and when to eat – even when to make reservations for restaurants. We planned to “Storm the Parks.”
We went everywhere and thought we saw everything. About midway through our trip (day 4/7), I pooped out one afternoon and my stomach wasn’t feeling well. We were supposed to dine at King Stefan’s castle in a couple of hours and I wasn’t sure what to do since it took us 3 days to get the reservation and we didn’t want to “mess up” our schedule by rescheduling, assuming we could. I bit the bullet and we went anyway. We were grateful for our reservations when we saw the line at the front desk. We were both excited and enchanted by the wonderful decor of the castle and marveled at attention to detail and the elegant feel of the dining room. I was expecting another decent meal with ok service.
That night, our server, Jay, set the standard to which all other servers are now compared. Jay welcomed us with graciousness and warmth. When I explained about my mutinous stomach and asked for a recommendation, he suggested a light vegetable medley, which was a side on the menu. It looked just right. It tasted heavenly and put me back on my feet. I found out on a trip one year later that Jay had made a special request and that the chef had made up that mouth-watering dish just for me. He served us with a light touch and frequency so that we knew he was there to take care of us, but without intrusive interruption. We never had to request refills on sodas or water. He paid us so much attention, he made us feel like he had only our needs to attend to. I have never felt like royalty before, but I imagine that King Stefan and his queen couldn’t have been served better. He left me with a special treat after we paid our bills. I had raved about the chocolates at the end of the meal and he had prepared a special “doggie bag” with a few extra and special princess confetti. What a special treat! We tried to request his table again over the years that we went back, but either we missed his work days or he left. Thank you Jay, wherever you are, for making us feel like a king and queen for a night!
|Mickey & Friends|
We Opened the Magic Kingdom Park
by Debbie, 39, Parkville, MD
Our family took our vacation this year from September 9 through September 17. My birthday is September 13. We had plans that Wednesday to eat in the castle. As we entered the Park, I asked the ticket taker (Delores) where I should go to get a birthday button, because I could not remember. She asked me to wait and she would check at the desk to see if she had any. She walked back and asked my youngest, Tabitha (3 years old), if it was her birthday – she shook her head no. She then asked Sabrina (8 years old) if it was her birthday – she replied “No — it’s my mom’s birthday.” Delores gave me the birthday button with much laughter, then asked fellow Cast Members to guess whose birthday it was.
We talked with Delores for 15 minutes – she asked us many questions like how long we were staying, what hotel, where we were from, who our favorite princess was, and many more. She was so friendly that it was like we had known her for years. She adored the girls and “pinned” them with a trading pin. She also gave one to me and my husband. I told her we were on our way for our birthday lunch at the castle. She said “I have one more question for you. How would you like to open the Magic Kingdom Park on Saturday?” I think I was dazed. Did she just ask me to open the park? OH MY!! Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo — of course I will open the Park!
The wait ‘til Saturday morning took forever. We arrived at Magic Kingdom on Saturday at 7:35 a.m. and spoke with Delores. She told us what was going to happen and we waited for our “ride” to Toontown. Once there, Mickey, Minnie, Alice, Chip, Goofy, and many more friends, came out to greet us. We spent 40 minutes with them, just dancing around, playing hide and seek, and talking with Mickey. Then it was off to the train for the ride to the front of the Park for our magical moment. We got off the train, they introduced us, Mickey said his Good Morning to the crowd, we did the countdown and threw pixie dust to make it official. How exciting!!!! The cast videotaped and took pictures for us. It definitely was a MAGICAL DAY and an experience my family will always cherish. Disney is delightful and we can’t wait to return.
A Cinderella Story
by Dan, 54, Lafayette, IN
A few years ago, we accompanied our two granddaughters and their parents to Disney World for their first time. Carly was six and Brylie was three. The vacation was wonderful, and all through the week Brylie became convinced that when she grows up, she is going to live in the castle and be Cinderella. A magic moment at Magic Kingdom. It was a rare cool January day and we were walking behind the castle toward the ramp on the Adventureland side of the castle. All of a sudden, Cinderella appeared on the balcony and blew the girls a kiss. We have been to Disney World 19 times and I had never seen Cinderella outside on the back side of the castle before.
We returned home, and for the next two months Brylie continued to insist she was Cinderella. It cumulated in a Sunday morning breakfast at a local restaurant. The establishment has three levels and a tree grows up through the center. We asked to sit at the highest level and the girls were dressed in their Sunday best. As the girls walked up the stairs ahead of me, Brylie was holding her skirt out with one hand — very princess-like. About halfway up the stairs, Brylie’s shoe came off. She turned to me and said, “Grandpa – my shoe fell off just like Cinderella’s!” I scooped up the shoe and as I was preparing to place it back on her foot I said, “Maybe you really are Cinderella,” to which my now 3 1/2 year old granddaughter replied, with her little hands on her hips, “I am Grandpa, I really am!” Well, with that my heart melted and I am now convinced she really is Cinderella.
In looking over our Disney pictures, we found one that is of Cinderella and Brylie, and they even look like mother/daughter. As a result, we scraped up some more vacation money and sent Grandma, our daughter, and both granddaughters back just a few weeks later for a return trip. We have returned a few times since and hope to make it a yearly event until such time as Brylie moves into the Castle and becomes Cinderella.
Why I Love Disney
by Joanne, 48, Henderson, NV
People always ask me why I love Disneyland so much. I always reply “It’s because I used to go with my family as a child.” But I guess I never grew up, because I still have those same feelings today at 48 years young!
One of my favorite stories of going to Disneyland (I have many) was when I went to your fine park on Catholic School Day in March, 1968. I was in the 6th grade and had saved up $7 for spending money. When our class arrived I had realized that I had forgotten my money at my girlfriend’s house, but it was still the best day ever! I rode the Haunted Mansion for the first time that day. I didn’t get to buy anything like the other students, but I had a great time. We had Jiminy Cricket tickets, so we could go on as many E-ticket rides as we wanted. On the back of the tickets was an entry form to win prizes. I filled mine out and said “I never win anything” as I put my ticket in the beautiful colored box.
Weeks later I found out that I was one of the first-prize winners of a 10-speed bike — what a souvenir! I was a Disney winner even before I got my prize because I found out you can have just as much fun at Disneyland without money, because you don’t need to buy memories. They just come, it is like magic!
|Main Street Electrical Parade|
My Magical Proposal
by Kathryn, 29, Suwanee, GA
On Valentine’s Day 1999, my then-boyfriend took me on a weekend trip to Walt Disney World. I have always loved Disney and the parks, so naturally I was thrilled — but little did I know that this would prove to be the most memorable trip of my life!
After spending a whole day enjoying the Magic Kingdom, my boyfriend suggested we go and get a spot to watch the fireworks. He suggested a spot near the castle so we wouldn’t have far to go to get a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade later that evening. After a few minutes of scouting around we decided on a bench next to the wishing well right next to the castle.
While we waited he gave me a penny and told me to make a wish in the wishing well. Then, right before the fireworks show started, all the park lights went down and he dropped down on one knee and started his proposal. Just as he finished, Tinker Bell came down the zip line from the top of the castle, and as I tearfully accepted and kissed him the fireworks show began! It was absolutely perfect and a magical night that I will always treasure.
|Walt Disney World|
Saved by Duct Tape
by Jean, 52, Jasper, IN
A few years ago my family rented a very old RV and drove to Disney World. We arrived during the rainy season. What we didn’t know until we got there was that the RV roof leaked. We tried to buy some tape but we couldn’t find a store that carried it anywhere. My now ex-husband went to guest registration in the camping area and asked if there was someplace we could buy some tape without leaving the park. (We didn’t want to drive the RV any more than we had to.)
About 30 minutes later, some Disney maintenance men showed up and gave us a large roll of duct tape. We were able to duct tape shopping bags all over the ceiling to catch the rain as it came into the RV. It wasn’t funny when it happened — but is now to think about it. We couldn’t believe they just gave us that big roll!
A Cast Member Saves the Day
by Scotte, 33, Lincoln, NE
My wife and I took our first big vacation together to Walt Disney World. This was her very first trip and she has been a Mickey Mouse fan her whole life, so it was like she was coming home to the mothership. Needless to say she was a 30-year-old three year old on the plane all the way down.
When we arrived, we found out our travel agent had made a mistake and not even ordered our Park tickets that were supposed to be waiting for us when we arrived. Since it was Sunday, the agent was closed, and my wife was crushed. Here we were at Disney World and with no Park tickets to get in. Our counter attendant sensed all of this and told us to hold on. He disappeared to the back, came out after grabbing his parka and a set of keys, printed us complimentary Park passes, closed his station, led us to a golf cart, and personally drove us to our room.
What mattered to me is how much he showed he cared for my wife. He made us feel that we were the only Guests there that day. We have been annual Guests from that year on, because there is no where else you can go and be treated like we were. Thanks, Disney!
A Walt Disney Sighting
by Jill, 57, San Jose, CA
It was the summer of 1956. Disneyland had only been open for a year. I was six years old. We were an average American family of five, but a trip to Disneyland was very special indeed.
My dad loved to document our family events so he purchased an 8mm movie camera on which to capture our family adventures. Of course this was before cameras had sound capability, therefore our father directed me and my older sister and brother to be very animated while he shot the footage. Now in those days, attending special events called for dressing in our Sunday best. My sister and I often were dressed alike and this was no exception. We were in matching frilly dresses, white patent leather shoes, and matching white purses. My brother was equally outfitted in his smart dress jacket and slacks. As my father was filming us waving to the camera in all our fancy regalia and happiest of faces, there he was–WALT DISNEY! Just as he often did in those early years, he was strolling the streets, greeting fans and observing Park visitors enjoying his Disneyland. My father was so excited and surprised by this Walt Disney sighting that he stopped filming, but not before Walt Disney was caught ever so briefly on our family film, our first visit to Disneyland!
We take great joy in viewing our family life preserved for us by our father and, in a small way, we feel as though Walt Disney became an honorary member of our family not only because he is among us on our family movies, but also because Disneyland has remained a favorite family destination. Though I have moved from Southern California to San Jose, my husband and I made certain we took our daughters to Disneyland and even once to Disney World. When my husband and I became grandparents, we began a new tradition: Each time a grandchild has his/her third birthday we take the family to Disneyland to celebrate. In February of 2007 we will be making our fifth trip for this special occasion. Happy Birthday Cameron! Here we come, Disneyland!
Alexandra’s first Disney trip!
by Stacey, 24, Buxton, ME
My 5-year-old daughter wanted so badly to go to Disney World. I decided to take her but not tell her. I packed our suitcases the night before and set them by the door after she was asleep. She wore her Snow White dress to bed. I woke her at 5:00 a.m. and escorted her out the door to an awaiting crystal white limousine. Her eyes wide and curious, she asked where we were going. I, along with the driver, was not ready to tell, so he told her we were going to Dunkin’ Donuts. After we stopped for our breakfast we continued on to the airport, to “watch the planes take off.” She didn’t know where we were going until we were over Georgia (we left from Boston) and the stewardess asked if she was taking a trip to Disney in her beautiful Snow White dress.
We stayed at the Contemporary Resort, where I had requested a wake-up call. The next morning the phone rang and rang. Alexandra, half asleep, answered the phone, and I watched as her eyes sparkled when she asked “Mickey, is that you? I would love to come play with you, see you in a few minutes!” And we jumped out of bed and had a wonderful 8 days!
Thank you for helping build those memories. Alexandra now has two sisters, 5 and 10. Alexandra turned 11 this year and we look forward to our next Disney family adventure.
Learning from Mrs. Disney
by Khris, 50, Quartz Hill, CA
I attended Thomas A. Edison Elementary School in Glendale, California during the late ’50s and early ’60s. Mrs. Disney was my first-grade teacher and she provided my first memory of Disneyland (the first time I visited Disneyland was when I had just turned one and my parents took me to the Tinkerbell shop in the castle to buy my first dress — but I don’t remember that!).
When I moved from the bottom reading level to the top, Mrs. Disney was proud of me and purchased a teacup from Disneyland as my reward. It was a cherished keepsake — unfortunately, I lost it in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.
I just want to say that the Disney family were special even without Disneyland!
|Walt Disney World|
Tribute to Walt
by Eric, 34, Winter Park, FL
I’ve been more fortunate than most kids in the simple fact that I lived within minutes of Walt’s dream. I remember my first time going through those gates with my family and seeing that castle at the end of Main Street USA. I can still hear the sounds of the penny arcade. I can still see the people everywhere smiling, laughing. I can still smell the sweet shop and the hot dogs on the corner.
Fast forward 6 years. I’m 11 and I’m at the end of Main Street USA looking at Cinderella’s castle. It’s about 8:45 in the morning. My best friend and I are on our first day of summer vacation. We’re standing behind a rope, which is the only thing between us and a full day of excitement. The rope drops and we’re off! Screaming at the top of our lungs “Pirates!!!” and racing for our favorite ride.
Fast forward again, 12 years. I’m in Crystal Palace, just off Main Street USA. Eeyore is at our table, tapping my girlfriend on her shoulder. She turns to see him holding a small box in his hands. Eeyore slowly opens the box and she begins to cry. She turns back to me and I’m down on one knee, asking her to spend the rest of her life with me. She says yes.
Today, I’m 34 years old. I’m still the kid I was on that hot summer day when I walked into the Park for the first time. Even now when I walk through those gates with my family, I get misty eyed. There are so many memories for me here. So many good times. The best part is that I get to see Disney as Walt intended it, through my children’s eyes, all over again. I’ve studied the man that made all these dreams come true, for myself and so many others. So much, in fact, that I feel like I knew him. He was an inspiration to those around him and he continues to be an inspiration to this very day. He’s been a role model for me in both life and business, but most of all, he helped me to stay a kid.
Thanks, Walt. For everything. “Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” – Walt Disney
|Walt Disney World Map|
My First “Magical Moment”
by John, 65, Leo, IN
In the history of Walt Disney World (1971-72), my family and I had stopped in at “Town Hall” to pick up a map. The young lady at the counter looked everywhere for the one we asked for, but couldn’t find any. She asked if we could come back the next day and said she would have one for us. The following day, we returned and sure enough, another young lady gave us one. She said the map had been left “just for us.” That was nice but it wasn’t the real “Magic.”
Later as we walked near the Tiki Birds, I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned and saw a Cast Member who stood on a raised pedestal. She smiled and asked “Did you stop at City Hall and pick up your map I left for you?” In my total shock I could only ask how she knew about the map. She said she was the girl I had spoken to the day before at City Hall and she remembered my face. How, with the thousands of people in the Magic Kingdom, did she remember me?
That’s real Magic I will never forget!!!
|Mickey & Minnie|
First Date — But Not the Last
by Cynthia, 28, Long Beach, CA
On Valentine’s Day in 1998, I went on a first date with a guy I had known for a short time, and we decided to go to Disneyland Park. Well, to our surprise, it rained all day, and we were stuck under a small Mickey umbrella. Huddled under the umbrella, we were able to do a lot of talking and getting to know each other better.
By the end of the trip he had asked me to be his girlfriend. We have now been married a little over 2 1/2 years and Disneyland holds a very special place in both our hearts.
The Magic Is NOT Just for Kids!
by Pam, 45, Powell, TN
I have been to Disney World many times in my life but the magic is always the same … just like the first time. Maybe it is because it takes me back to a time when life was more innocent and carefree … the feeling I get when I see that castle on the horizon is like no other.
Well, something happened to me during my trip in 2001. Sixty days before our trip, I got up extremely early and started dialing the number to book the Cinderella character breakfast for me and my daughters. I knew the chances of getting through to an operator were slim but my daughter and I were each trying on different phone lines. She was able to get through and we booked the reservation. I was as excited (if not more) as they were. Cinderella has always been my favorite Disney Character. I remember going to see the movie with my grandmother and aunt at the Tennessee Theater in downtown Knoxville when I was just a girl. They are both deceased but that memory is alive and well in my heart. I am still a huge believer in fairy tales and the concept of Prince Charming.
We went to the parks and both of my daughters cheered at the UCA competition there. I believe it was a Friday morning that we were scheduled to eat. In the lobby of the castle, the Fairy Godmother came down and got her picture made with all the children. For some reason, I felt very emotional during that time, but contained myself.
Soon it was time for us to be seated. We went upstairs and were seated at a table in the center of the room. We were served the fabulous meal and then we saw the Characters. First Prince Charming came to our table but soon, there she was — Cinderella. When she came to our table, I don’t know what happened to me but I lost it. Big tears started running down my face. I felt like a fool. Here I was, a grown woman, crying in the presence of Cinderella.
Everyone at our table laughed at me but I think they all felt something too. My mom was with us and she had me get up and took my picture with Cinderella. I couldn’t stop the tears. I was laughing and crying at the same time. I can only imagine what the girl representing Cinderella was thinking. That was such a wonderful and magical moment for me.
Disney’s Caring: Meeting Mickey
by Kaitlyn, 21, Winder, GA
While visiting the Animal Kingdom three years ago, we were stopped by a Disney Rep right as we were at the front of the line to see Mickey. I didn’t understand why they had stopped us and was a little disappointed that I would have to wait. My disappointment soon changed to an overwhelming sense of gratitude to Disney and its caring staff. Coming up the walkway was a special needs child. She didn’t look different, but I knew something was unusual.
The Disney staff person whispered to Mickey and Mickey reached for the child’s hand and knelt down. Then Mickey proceeded to guide the child’s hands over his entire face. I then realized that this special child was blind. It almost brought me to tears. I was so touched by this Disney moment which I will never forget. Thank you, Disney, for being so caring
|Disney World Marathon|
A “Marathon Weekend”
by Mickey, 29, Sigel, PA
As an avid runner and sports enthusiast, the thought of participating in a marathon was very exciting. I knew that this was a goal that I wanted to accomplish, but I wanted the venue to be just right. So, after doing a great deal of research about marathons across the country, my choice became clear as I signed up to participate in the 2004 Disney World Marathon. My mother and four of my girlfriends accompanied me on the journey and our adventure from beginning to end was wonderful. After being the first ones in line to pick up my race packet, we proceeded to the Magic Kingdom and MGM.
This was the first time that any of us had been to Disney World as adults and after two days of rides and characters, shows and parades, fireworks and shopping, laughs and smiles, we were certainly all kids at heart. The morning of the race, I was so nervous as I marched with thousands of others to the start. Why did I want to run 26 miles? I kept asking myself that question over and over again, but as Mickey and Minnie greeted the participants and the fireworks exploded, I knew why I was there. Mile by mile there was always something new to experience and admire. From cheering fans, to waving characters, from enthusiastic volunteers to the crowded streets of the theme parks, every step was a magical journey.
As I came to the finish, I saw my mother and four friends cheering in the stands. At that moment, I knew that the Disney Marathon was certainly an experience that I had to do again, despite the severe amount of pain I was feeling at the time. That evening as we dined in Downtown Disney, my finisher’s medal hanging proudly around my neck, it was decided that we would be back next year, only this time we would all be participating. Somehow the magic of Disney had stirred up something inside and we wanted to experience the joy again. So, as soon as it was possible, we all registered to participate in the 2005 Disney World Half-Marathon.
Again, it was another wonderful adventure full of challenge, excitement, friendship, and rewards beyond what any of us could have imagined. To set goals, to accomplish them with your friends, and to be in such a magical place is difficult to describe. All I can say is that we enjoyed our experience so much, that we all came back for a third year and participated in the 2006 Half-Marathon. Due to unforseen circumstances, our tradition will now be broken this year, but our thoughts and our hearts will certainly be with those who will be running the streets of Disney in 2007.
While the thousands of participants all have their own unique stories for why they are there to push themselves mile after mile, each and every one of them is connected by the Disney spirit, and I wish them all the best of luck.
Meeting Walt Disney
by Penny, 59, Garden Grove, CA
I love Disneyland! In the early ’60s I was visiting the Park and was one of the last people to leave. As I was walking down Main Street USA, I spotted an older gentleman walking and looking around like he was in heaven. As I got closer, to my great surprise, it was Mr. Disney!
He was so nice and polite and I still have this memory every time I visit. Of course I’ve shared it with my grandchildren. I now live about 1 mile from Disneyland and have a season pass. My mom told me whenever you are afraid, to think of something happy. My happy thought was Disneyland and still is today!
A Goofy Encounter
by Gretchen, 67, Denver, CO
In the 1970s we took our three small children to Disneyland for a “Day of fun” several days before the wedding of our godson, who lived in Southern California. We lived in Denver, Colorado — subsequently, we’d not been to Disneyland many times before.We were waiting in a long line at one of the kiddy rides in Fantasyland when Goofy came lumbering up to us… He danced around, as Goofy always does — then suddenly, Goofy peered closely at my husband, who was holding our nine-year-old son. Goofy said, “Well, gooolly, what do you know? And what is your name, young man?” Not sure who he was addressing, both Gary and David gave their names.
Goofy bent down took the hand of my other, younger son, and started dancing around a bit with him. Then he motioned to my son David and all three of them danced around. Goofy started laughing a Goofy laugh, patted our little daughter on the head, then again took David and Steven by the hand and led them to the front of the line of the ride. “Well, here ya go,” he said. And he was off, Waving a Goofy wave at us all. The next day was a party before the wedding day for all close family and friends. Not soon after that event began, someone entered the room wearing a strange costume…with big flapping feet. He had on a Halloween mask and was smiling wide; he came up and took David and Steven and Genifer’s hand and led them right over to the bride, saying, “Well, here you are!”
Everyone laughed. He took off his mask to reveal that he was my godson — the “Goofy” we had encountered the day before. I took my godson and hugged him. He told us he couldn’t believe that it was us the day before — he wasn’t allowed to “give away” his identity on the job. That was definitely the best adventure we ever had at Disneyland.
|Walt Disney World|
Disney Really Is Magical for All Ages!
by Kathryn, Austin, TX, 39
My first trip to Walt Disney World was with a boyfriend in 1988, and I was not very excited … I simply didn’t see what business “grown-ups” had going to a children’s theme park. Needless to say, I was completely and thoroughly hooked 5 minutes into the Park. It was like going to a different planet — everyone was kind and helpful, everything was spotless, nothing was cheap or fake looking, the rides were exhilarating, the landscaping was breathtaking, etc. It was incredible.
Then, 3 or so years later, I won a magnificent trip to Disney World playing Monopoly at McDonald’s. This second trip with one of my very best friends was top of the line, white glove, completely incredible. I didn’t think I could have more fun than the first time I went, but I did! It seemed like destiny (magic?) that I would win this trip, after my grand Disney conversion. I had become a walking mouthpiece for all things Disney World, and then to win a trip?! MAGICAL, indeed!
My last and most recent trip was in 2004, following the three hurricanes that hit Florida in quick succession. My husband had been working out of state for 18 months, and we’d only been seeing him 6 or 8 days a month. His contract was ending and he was finally coming home, so we decided to splurge and celebrate by going to Disney World! We brought our 6-year-old daughter and although the grounds were a little rough, and the view from the monorail was of the devastation the trees sustained, everything else was completely perfect. On our Goldplan vacation, we enjoyed character breakfasts each and every day, and my daughter was personally addressed and entertained by so many of her favorites that it almost seemed unreal. No one rushed her as she told them stories of her excitement. After breakfast at Cinderella’s castle on our first morning, we attended a parade, and the parade leader took my daughter by the hand and led her to the front of the parade and did a little dance with her. The pictures we took were incredible, the memories are indelibly printed on our minds.
We can’t wait to return…I can’t think of any vacations I’ve ever enjoyed more than those to Disney World. The place is simply otherwordly and truly MAGICAL!
My First Mickey Mouse Sighting on My Sixth Birthday!
by Marie, Hawthorne, CA, 47
Forty-one years ago, my parents took me to Disneyland for what would be my first yearly birthday visit to Disneyland. I was so happy (I still enjoy it so much) and could not wait to meet “My Mouse” aka Mickey Mouse. I liked Minnie too but Mick was my guy! I met him in Tomorrowland right after going on the Submarine ride. I gave him a big hug and he returned one to me. I was in seventh heaven and was ready for my favorite ride even to this day: the Matterhorn. I asked Mickey to go with me on the ride. Of course, he was busy making other kids as happy as he made me.
On May 22, 1998 (I think that was the year), my husband and I took our daughter to Disneyland and we have pictures of her first meeting with Mickey Mouse. The new Tomorrowland was opening that day and it was my daughter’s fourth birthday. I saw her happiness and joy and I remembered mine. Disneyland is the happiest place in the world … forever. My husband and I turn into kids and that feels really good. It is great that, if only for a while, we can forget about our jobs, chores, money problems, or anything weighing us down. I thank Walt Disney for Disneyland. It is nice to be able to pass down the love, fun, fantasy, and the rides of my childhood to my child. If I could, I would be there every month with my family!!!!
Tim Allen — Disney Legend, Disney Fan
“I love the people and the spirit of Disney. I love the Parks, there’s so much I love. But it’s the people mostly. With every project I do, it’s like working with family.”
So says Tim Allen. He’s a movie and television star who’s had a long and successful partnership with Disney, from his groundbreaking TV show “Home Improvement” to films like “The Shaggy Dog,” both “Toy Story” films, and the “Santa Clause” trilogy — including the newest installment, “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” in theaters November 3.
He’s also a lifelong Disney fan. “My favorite Disney movie was ‘The Shaggy Dog’ — it was the first movie my mom let us go to by ourselves, so doing the remake was special to me. I absolutely loved ‘The Swiss Family Robinson’ and ‘Fantasia.’ I’ve been a fan of Mickey Mouse ever since I was a kid.”
Maybe it’s not surprising that he’s never lost that fondness for Disney magic — since, as he laughingly confesses, “I’m basically a child myself!” He claims that’s the secret to his incredible success as a family entertainer, in fact. “The stuff I like is the stuff kids like. I start with things that are funny to me — the first ‘Santa Clause’ made me laugh so hard. I love the North Pole, I love Christmas, and I love the idea of discovering what goes on there. That was pretty easy for me to do.”
The ultimate thrill for any Disney-loving creative artist was bestowed on Tim in 1999 — he was inducted as a Disney Legend. He recalls that day: “That was quite an honor! I had no idea how important that would make me feel when they announced that I would be a Disney Legend. I was so proud. I put my handprints in cement and I was surprised at how choked up I got.”
That legendary career is far from over, as Tim takes to the screen as Scott Calvin — aka Santa Claus — once again.
Fans Find New Dimensions in “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Since it first hit the movie theaters in 1993, Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has become a holiday tradition — one that spans two holidays! As animation legend Don Hahn describes it, it truly is a “cult classic.”
Now that beloved classic is returning to the theater, in a way you’ve never seen it before. Don told about the process of turning “The Nightmare Before Christmas” into a 3D spectacular, and how the unique charm of the movie was preserved.
As he describes it, audiences will not be seeing your grandfather’s 3D. Instead of red-and-blue lensed glasses, “Nightmare” will be shown with special polarized lenses — no blurry picture, no headaches, just scenes that seem to leap off the screen. How’d they do it? “I don’t know how to explain it in simplified terms, but basically we used a computer to make a three-dimensional model of every scene, and then we ‘projected’ the movie onto it,” he says. The process took six months — first creating a computerized colorless image of every scene modeled in three dimensions, than combining it with the original frames of the film.
And the original frames are exactly what you’ll see on the screen — nothing was added or cut. “This is a movie that people really love — they know every frame almost,” Don explains. “We really wanted to respect the connection fans feel to this film.”
Director Tim Burton, composer Danny Elfman, and many more of the creative team who brought “Nightmare” to life were heavily involved in the restoration (which also included remastering the soundtrack so that it sounds clearer and better than ever). The result is a “Nightmare Before Christmas” that’s even more magical.
Multigenerational Disney Magic
by Marlene, 59, Cheltenham, PA
When my first granddaughter was born in 1999, I held her in my arms — which were covered by one of my Disney World T-shirts — and told this 30-minute-old beautiful baby that we were going to Disney World. Four years later, my dream came true. As we went under the Main Street Railroad Station and came out into the January sunlight, the look on her face when she saw the Castle is one I will never forget. With her dad (who had never been there), her mom (who hadn’t been there in over 10 years), her little sister, and her “Mom-Mom” walking next to the stroller, she started pointing to this and that — “Mom-Mom, you have this in your house. You have that in your house.” And finally, “Mom-Mom, this looks like your house.”
We have returned each year. She is now big enough to ride the “grown up” rides — we had a blast on SOARIN’, TEST TRACK, BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN, THE HAUNTED MANSION, and THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE. Her little sister fell in love with GOOFY’S BARNSTORMER and we could barely pry her off. Her delight, her little sister’s delight, her parents’ enjoyment — it is everything that Mr. Disney dreamt of when he planned Disneyland. The fact that Mr. Disney has been gone 40 years and my children and grandchildren KNOW WHO HE IS is a tribute to his forward vision and his love of families.
I share my birthday with Mr. Disney — December 5. I will be 60 this year. However, whenever I walk down Main Street, stand under the EPCOT ball, ride Expedition Everest, plunge in the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, I am a “kid” again. We are already making plans for 2007. The older one is dreaming of her first ride on Splash Mountain and the younger one is drooling at the thought of being back on Goofy’s Barnstormer. There is absolutely nothing compared to sharing the magic of Disney with your children — and then your grandchildren. I hope I live long enough to share it with my great-grandchildren. But I know that if I am not around, they will be as familiar with all things Disney as I am — thanks to a concept that is timeless.
|Alice in Wonderland|
Lost (and Found) at Disneyland
by Laura, 42, Thousand Oaks, CA
When I was 8, my family visited Disneyland and I became separated from them. I soon found myself waiting outside the Snow White ride for my mother and sister to exit the ride — unfortunately they were not on the ride. My mother found me and all ended well.
When I became a mother, naturally I was sure that I would never lose one of MY children at Disneyland. So, the first time I took my 4-year-old son Adam to Disneyland, you can guess what happened! We were visiting the Park with my parents, my sister and her four kids, my brother and his daughter, and myself and my three kids. We had just finished breakfast with Alice and the Mad Hatter and were in a hurry to catch the train. On our way to the train we started to count heads, and found that Adam was missing.
We retraced our steps and what did we see — Adam holding Alice’s hand, with the Mad Hatter standing guard. He never even knew he was lost! Alice was not going to let him out of her sight and gave him a purple balloon to keep him happy. Alice saved the day –that is until we got to the train. My 4-year-old niece KariAnne was so excited by the train that she ran ahead of our group and somehow slipped onto the train. As the train was leaving the station, we hear KariAnne yelling bye and see her waving to us. They could not stop the train, but security assured us that they would be with her and not let her go anywhere until she came back to the station. Looking back at it all, getting lost at Disneyland is not as bad as it may seem. Thanks to the wonderful training of the Cast Members, what could have been a scary experience was turned into a funny family memory.
A Special Time with Ariel
by Wade, 44, Calgary, TX
We were in Florida with my 9-year-old daughter and she was getting signatures from the Princesses for her book. We were kind of in a hurry, but appreciate all the work these actors put into their signatures. While we waited we noticed a Downs Syndrome boy ahead of us. He was not a little boy in stature, but Ariel got him to sit next to her and she signed his book. He was flabbergasted that she was talking to him. She paid him a lot of attention. As he walked away he kept looking back and bumped into a fence (he was “in love” my daughter said). Ariel then blew him a kiss (even though she was on to the next person) and he just stopped, even though his dad was trying to go on to the next attraction. I was very touched by that, as was my daughter. She said she was glad she did not miss that. Good job to that Ariel actor, I will not forget that.
A Very Disney Tribute
by Marleine, 34, Los Angeles, CA
My dear friend Christopher Lango was, without exception, the proudest and most endearing Disney fan I believe I have ever met. He first rode the Disneyland Railroad when he was just a little boy. From that magic moment, he set his sights on becoming a part of the Disney experience as soon as he was able.
His first job with Disney was, in fact, as the conductor on the very same train he rode as a child. A prominent singer in his church choir, Chris eventually performed in various Park shows, his dreams reaching ever higher with each new achievement within the Disney family. Chris’ most notable fantasy was to design his own Disney Park attraction — something he was working toward when he passed away unexpectedly at the age of 41.
Given Chris’ unyielding enthusiasm for life and infectiously childlike belief in magic, the people who loved him could find no better way to honor his memory than to host a memorial at his favorite place on Earth. So, in August of 2006, Chris’ family and friends gathered at Disneyland Park for a day of celebration — some of them enjoying the Park for the first time — and despite the sorrow of the occasion, none of us could escape the inherent joy in the experience.
Undeniably, Chris made his presence known, from the glorious weather, to our inexplicable desire for his favorite cinnamon candies from the sweet shop on Main Street, to the spectacular fireworks display that sealed the night. No other tribute could have delivered the bittersweet closure we all felt at the end of the day.
As a final gesture, we contributed a commemorative brick in Chris’ name, now paved with scores of others at the entrance of Disneyland Park, to ensure that Chris would become an indelible part of Disney’s magical history as he had always hoped. We know he would have loved it.
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