Happiest Job on Earth


After my life changing experience on the Disneyland Resort's Dream Squad I returned to my role at The Walt Disney Travel Co. My management team asked me to use the connections, skills, and knowledge I had developed to become our Magic Maker. This new role would make extra magic for guest with special circumstances booking with WDTC for a Disneyland or Aulani Vacation.

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OH BOY! There's a Mickey in my Coffee!


Those who know me know this: I love Walt Disney World, art and really good coffee. So imagine how thrilled I was to come upon one of the coolest things at Disney Springs, Mickey Mouse latte art!

You can find this marvelous Mickey art (and other designs) at Tea Traders Cafe by Joffrey's at Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company has served delicious brews since 1984; you can find their coffee and tea throughout Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts and parks. Their latte art is fairly unique; it is not available at most of the places that serve Joffrey's coffee, but you can count on finding it at Disney Springs!

Whether you prefer coffee or tea, here are just a handful of reasons why you should stop by Tea Traders Cafe:


I have found the Baristas to be consistently kind and courteous, which adds to the enjoyable experience when visiting Tea Traders. You will most likely be served a cheerful smile with your cup of tea here; be sure to share one back with these friendly Cast Members!


Tea Traders is located in the always festive Disney Springs across from the Boathouse Restaurant. There are so many things to appreciate about Disney Springs...the shops, food, entertainment, free parking, people watching and more! You can park for no charge at one of the easy-to-navigate parking garages, enjoy the music or other live entertainment as you walk about, then treat yourself to a chai latte or other frothy delight.


If you are a Walt Disney World passholder, you will get a discount for your purchase. There is a small charge for the design art, so the discount makes a difference. Disney Visa cardholders may also get a discount.

Coffee, Tea and Treats

Even if you opt out of the Mickey art, the coffee and tea at Tea Trader's is well worth enjoying. The company claims to use the world's best beans and I am tempted to believe it! I prefer a dark roast, but there is something for every coffee or tea drinker there, from flavored to organic blends. They offer a handful of fun snacks, too.


Yes, that's right. Walt Disney said, "All you need is a bit of magic." Stopping in to Tea Traders for a delicious Mickey latte is a perfect way to add a sprinkling of magic to your day!

I hope you get a chance to experience the friendly smiles and a steamy brew at Tea Traders Cafe. 

Have a magical day - and a Mickey in your latte!

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Dream Squad Days


The highlight of my working life occurred while I was working at the Disneyland Resort for Walt Disney Travel Co. (I began working for the company in 2007). The promotion for that year was "The Year of a Million Dreams." This marketing bonanza came on the heels of the very successful Golden 50th Anniversary of Disneyland. Guests could be randomly awarded one of a million prizes being distributed at both North American resorts. The prizes ranged from collectable ears made especially for the occasion (not available for sale), to world-wide trips to all (then) 5 resorts. As a national sweepstakes ran from the state of California this process was highly regulated. To manage the day-to-day operations on the ground, an all-star team would be created from existing Cast Members called "The Dream Squad."

"Dream Makers", as they were called, would spend about a quarter of the day awarding these prizes and following the state and federal guidelines. To give the 125,000 domestic Cast Members more of an opportunity to serve, there would be "Tracks" of teams that would serve several months at a time. The interview process started approximately 6 months prior to each Track. They were looking for Cast Members for whom Disney Magic was more than just a job. The Squad was to be made of people for whom Guest Service was a way of life, and had extensive knowledge of there park/resort.

In late December after just 3 months as a Cast Member I saw the notice. The resort was hiring for "Track 7" which would run April through August of 2008. I wanted this!  I had come to Disney specifically to share my love and knowledge of the Disneyland Resort, and to work with the best in customer service. I filled out the long paperwork, chased down my Operations Manager for his approval, and took a cab to TDA (Team Disney Anaheim) to drop of the paper work an hour before the dead-line.

I received an email the first week of January, they wanted to interview me!  I was so excited and happy, but that feeling was soon replaced with heartbreak. As I explained in my reply email I wanted this role more than almost anything but my family and future was my priority. I was in my first week of training for a promotion I had accepted at The Walt Disney Travel Co. and could not afford to jeopardize that. I was thrilled when the answer came that anyone taking the position on this all-star team would have their current role protected. My interview was set for the next week.

I am not usually nervous in interviews but I REALLY wanted this. It would prove to me I made the right decision moving to SoCal and working for Disney. As I entered the room that at one time had actually been Uncle Walt's office, I notice that the other 4 Cast Member present for the group interview all had at least 10 years of service, one had 20, and 1 had 40! The interview went well they were amazing people I was sure I would not get the role but I was grateful for the opportunity to meet some of the best. However two days later I received the amazing call I would start training for Dream Squad on March 4th.

It was very detailed involving mostly the legal structure of a national sweepstakes. A computer operated by a third party would produce a location such as; Mad Tea Party, cup 2, far left seat. A couple of us would have to be there by the exact time the prize was to be awarded. If anything did not go perfect Disney would be fined a large some by the government. There would be one time my favorite partner and I had to go from ToonTown in Disneyland Park to The (then) Sun Wheel at Disney's California Adventure Park in 7 minutes. This is difficult under any circumstance but with my health problems I walk with a severe limp, and my partner suffers from CP so we looked very funny running through two parks, but we made it!

The most thrilling job to be chosen for every day was to award the Dream Family of the Day. The computer generated a time and location. Two of us would be there to award the prize, which was much harder than it sounds. First you had to make sure they were of legal age or had a legal guardian present. Then you had to verify they were from a qualifying state or country. Some countries such as Canada required an extra step, some could not participate at all. Then you had to convince them it was worth their while to walk with you from where ever they were to an office at the top of Main Street U.S.A.. All this while not telling them what they had won until all their information was verified back at our office. But it was definitely worth it! The awarded family/group received a Dream FastPass for both parks so no waiting the rest of the day for the most popular attractions. They were made Grand Marshall of that days Parade of Dreams. A dinner was provided at the Blue Bayou as well as Breakfast with Minnie and Friends at The Plaza Inn. Plus the lucky family received a beautiful engraved crystal bowl from Crystal Arts on Main Street U.S.A.. The most coveted part of this prize was staying the night in The Disneyland Dream Suite in New Orleans Square. The suite included an incredible balcony from which to watch Fantasmic!, and an after hours tour of the park. One of the families I awarded the prize to was from Atlanta, GA. John was a Marine on leave from Iraq and had brought his mother and girlfriend to his favorite childhood destination. During our afternoon together he told me he had brought a ring to propose to his lucky girlfriend. So I arranged a private boat for them on Storybook Canal with a PhotoPass photographer, a private guide, and a saxophonist. It was so magical and luckily she said yes!

I was able to award prizes including cruises and visits to parks around the world. But the biggest commotion came while presenting pins. These collector sets were not available to purchase. The computer had sent us to a location that placed us in a corner surrounded by shrubbery. The appointed time arrived and we began to distribute. Within moments guests were jumping over shrubs and each other to get the pins. As safety is always the resorts number one concern, I had to stop the event and return to "the cloud" our base of operations.

One of my favorite memories was awarding a private party. We invited 10 lucky families to an empty theatre and offered refreshments, music, and 20 characters. The ratio of guest-to-characters was amazing! As I watched a group of children and characters play, I spotted a mother in the corner crying. Concerned that we had made some sort of mistake, I sat next to her and asked if there was anything we could do for her. "You've given me everything," she said pointing to a cute little girl of about 6. "I haven't seen her smile in 2 years, and now she is laughing." The mother explained to me the family home had burned down a couple of years earlier. They lost everything including her dad and the lady's husband. Due to challenges with the insurance they had even been homeless for a time. Once the insurance finally came through she booked the least expensive package she could find to get her princess to Disneyland. The girl was playing with Princess Aurora as if her life was full of sunshine. I discovered she had booked her package through my home area, Walt Disney Travel Co., and through my connections we were able to upgrade the pair to the Disneyland Hotel, and extend their 2 day to a 5 day ticket!

My favorite times on Dream Squad were not related to awarding prizes. The other 90% of our time was spent walking the resort, visiting with guests, and making random "Acts of Magic". I was visiting Paradise Pier when I heard a 13 year old boy say "that is ok I understand."  Having a son myself I know that was not usual so I stopped to investigate. The boy was visiting with his grandparents who did not feel they could handle riding California Screamin' and did not want him riding alone. I was impressed by the boys attitude so I began giving him some small magic I was carrying with me. He started to recite for me the speed at which the ride moved, the tech that was part of the attraction, even how much steel was used! I couldn't let this kid miss his chance to ride so I offered to take him. Now, dear reader, you need to understand I REALLY don't like roller coasters! The grandparents agreed and I escorted my new friend, Vance, through the exit. I explained to the lead on duty the situation and they happily sat Vance and I in the front seat of the next train. My heart was pumping, and I was sweating up a storm. The look on this boys face as we blasted off made all my trepidation disappear. Although it was a good thing I ran into Vance prior to lunch, hearing him laugh and scream was amazing.  As we pulled back into the loading zone I remember thinking 1 time around wasn't so bad to help him with a magical memory. I saw the lead looking at me with her thumb in the air, and let her know how well it went by giving her a thumbs up. To my horror she looked at the Cast Member manning the console and gave him the sign to send our train once more! After the second stomach-churning ride Vance was presented with an artist rendering of the attraction signed by all the Cast Members working it that day. I have a thousand such stories that I will share with you some day

There are things I will never forget from my time as a Dream Maker; such as getting through the parks blindfolded, doing yoga in the Dream Suite, and being awarded the Guest Service Trophy. My experiences and contacts would help me greatly in the years to come back at WDTC. What I remember most of all, is the magic I experienced while bringing it to the guest!

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Arribas Brothers - The Glass Artisans of Disney

IMG_8756Arribas Brothers Glass Ornaments
Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. It produces works that are to be appreciated for their beauty or sometimes their emotional power. Walt Disney was not only a great artist, but he was a huge advocate for celebrating all types of art—as well as the artist. Once Walt founded his own studio, he made it a point to have the artists within his company enroll in art school to further enhance their skills. When that proved to be unsatisfactory due to the curriculum, he created an art school of his own which eventually became the California Institute of the Arts.

"If I can help provide a place to develop the talent of the future, I think I will have accomplished something."

Walt Disney
Beauty and the Beast Glass Rose
The Disney Parks hire a variety of talents—those behind the scenes creating the magical world that we see surrounding us; and those who dance, sing, sketch, and who decorate the delicious treats we see on display. One talent in particular is the art of glass blowing and cutting done by the Arribas Brothers shop. It was at the 1964 World's Fair that Tomas and Alfonso Arribas, who were representing Spain, met Walt Disney. Walt was immensely impressed with their handcrafted works of art. Three years later, in 1967, the Arribas Brothers created magic in their own small shop inside Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Disneyland. Now their art can be found in 19 Disney park locations around the world.
As with most Disney's Cast Members, the Arribas Brothers bring in artisans from around the world to create glass works of art for you to take home or as gifts. To witness this craft first hand is absolutely amazing. You can watch Cast Members shape glass figures, exquisite jewelry, delicate ornaments, and unique decor. Another great feature is personalizing your glass with custom engraving or etching. If you have an item in mind you'd like to create, Arribas Brothers will work with you designing pieces to your specifications.
I had the opportunity to witness one of the Cast Members making glass ornaments in their shop while visiting the Magic Kingdom. I was mesmerized watching each step of the process. The artisan moved with ease as he opened one of the oven doors (which appeared to house the heat of the sun) to pull out what looked like a small round flame. It easily attached to a long metal tube where it stayed until the ornament was complete. He rolled it in some tiny, sparkling gold beads before returning it to the oven, keeping it on the pole as he rotated the glass to heat it up again. This step was used to create the various colors of the ornaments. He repeated the process a couple of times with other colors before he sat down, attaching a blowing tube to the opposite end of the pole. He then began blowing into the mouth piece, turning the glass slowly. I watched with utter fascination as the ornament began to take shape. Afterwards, he attached another small piece of flaming glass to create a hook for the top and used a pair of shears to cut the ornament from pole. From start to finish, the Cast Member created the ornament in about ten minutes. I highly recommend adding this demonstration to your park schedule. The store has a schedule of when the artists demonstrate their techniques for glass design. You can walk around and watch many of the artisans as they create these extraordinary works of art.

If you want to know more about the Arribas Brothers and their art, click here. You may also purchase items on their website by clicking their SHOP link. 

Glass Octopus
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DLR UPdate 9




  • Sailing Ship Columbia <attraction/Frontierland> closed Nov 27th to 30th.


  • Haunted Mansion <attraction/New Orleans Square> closes Jan 8th to remove holiday overlay.  Re-open date TBA.

Disney California Adventure

  • Goofy's Sky School <attraction/Paradise Pier> closed through Dec 20th.


  • California Screamin' – closes Jan 8th as part of the Pixar Pier retheme. Will re-open as Incred-a-Coaster date TBA.
  • Mickey's Fun Wheel – closes Jan 8th as part of the Pixar Pier retheme. Re-open date TBA.
  • Ariel's Grotto – closes Jan 8th as part of the Pixar Pier re-theme.
  • Cove Bar – closes Jan 8th as part of the Pixar Pier retheme. Re-opening during Spring Break.
  • Games of the Boardwalk – closes Jan 8th as part of the Pixar Pier retheme. No re-opening date is available at this time.
  • Sideshow Shirts – closes Jan 8th as part of the Pixar Pier re-theme.

Downtown Disney

  • Ridemakerz – Reduced operating hours.

Crowd Impacting Events


  • Holidays at the Disneyland Resort – through Jan 7th, 2018.
  • Candlelight Processional/Ceremony – Dec 2nd and 3rd, with two events nightly.
  • Candy Cane dates:
    • Disneyland Candy Palace – Nov 24th, 29th; Dec 1st, 4th, 6th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 15th, 18th, 20th, 24th
    • Disney California Adventure Trolley Treats – Nov 25th, 28th; Dec 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 21st, 25th


  • Pixar Fest – Apr 13th, 2018. Debut of the new "Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular" fireworks
  • Dapper Day Spring Soiree - Apr 22nd. event website.
  • 2018 Grad Nites: May 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 29th, 30th; Jun 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9.

The Happiest NEWS on Earth!

Holiday Parking

Downtown Disney's parking rate structure has changed just in time for holiday shopping, but this time to the benefit of guests! This summer Disney ended free parking for Downtown Disney, but allowed guests to receive two or four hours of complimentary parking with validation from eligible stores, restaurants and the AMC movie theater. This time frame made it impossible to enjoy dinner and a movie without paying for parking.

Guests now receive three hours of complimentary parking in the lot when they spend at least $20 in one transaction at any Downtown Disney shop, kiosk, or quick-service restaurant.

As before, only one validation is accepted per ticket, and the stores and restaurants at the three Disneyland Resort Hotels do not offer validation for the Downtown Disney lot.

Now it's Christmas

After a three-year absence, the wreaths once again cross Main Street, U.S.A.. The decorations were not hung in recent years because many units from Paint the Night and Main Street Electrical parades were too tall. With neither parade scheduled this season, Disney was able to hang the garlands once again. For me the Christmas season begins when I walk onto Main Street U.S.A. and see the tree, the wreaths and Sleeping Beauty's Enchanted Winter Castle.

Shake Mecca Coming to DTD

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer is coming to California in 2018, opening their first West Coast location in Downtown Disney. The New York based company announced last week, saying, "Black Tap is creating a customized concept for its Downtown Disney District location, which will feature indoor and outdoor seating".

The restaurant serves a high end diner menu of burgers, fries and shakes with a twist, the burgers are also available as salads. The chicken wings are tossed in Korean BBQ sauce, and the milkshakes come topped and decorated with over the top garnishes like pop tarts, cotton candy, pretzel rods, and even a slice of birthday cake.

The Disney Parks Blog posted the restaurant will be located across from Catal Restaurant, which means the building occupied by Build-a-Bear and Ridemakerz. We had previously announced both retailers are to close after the holidays to make room for dining offerings. Disney says construction will begin soon. We do not know how much of the two story building will be converted for the diner. 

The Belle is Back!

The River Belle Terrace restaurant reopened last week in Frontierland after an extensive refurbishment to finalize the transformation from a buffeteria to a table service restaurant. The serving line has been removed entirely, with a new wall between the expanded dining room and kitchen

The restaurant has a new entrance, host stand and waiting area on the Frontierland side. The former Adventureland entrance is now used only as an emergency exit. Indoors, the original seating area is as lovely as ever, full of light from the wrap-around windows, and decorated in a colorful motif. The new area reminds me of the kids table at Thanksgiving dinner, It's as if there wasn't enough room at the "real" table in the formal room, and so Grandma set up an extra table in the living room.

The outdoor seating area was also expanded, with a new railing separating the River Belle Terrace dining area from the adjacent Stage Door Cafe patio area. There are also two new service areas outdoors, keeping the bus station and computer terminals out of guests view.

I had hoped that this remodel might mean the return of breakfast service at River Belle Terrace, but the restaurant is open only for lunch and dinner. The menu remains the same all day, and features southern barbecue and sides. The location also offers a Fantasmic! dining package.

Disneyland for Xmas

One of my favorite times as a Cast Member at the Walt Disney Travel Co. was the week after Thanksgiving. Families all around the country had come together for a holiday dinner and decided they all needed a trip to the "Happiest Place on Earth".

Disney's holiday marketing theme is all about giving a Disney Vacation to your family for the holidays, and this is the last week to book a special "Enchanting Escape" package. The 2-night, 3-day package includes accommodations at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels, theme park tickets including MaxPass, Disneyland dining certificates, and collectables.

The package starts at $1724 per day, plus tax, for a family of four staying at the Paradise Pier Hotel; other hotels and longer stays can be booked at a higher cost  The package is valid for arrivals most Sunday through Thursday nights from January 7 through February 1, 2018, and must be booked by Sunday, November 27. You can call your favorite travel agent to book, call Disney at (866) 903-7872, or click disneyland.com.

Date Night at Disneyland

You could pay $100 or more to be among a few thousand people to enjoy three hours inside a Disney park after it closes to the general public. 

WDW has toyed with this concept for years, and has finally made it work. Now it's Disneyland's turn to see if guests will pay for an exclusive, after-hours experience. The first Disneyland After Dark event is scheduled for Thursday, January 18th, and has a theme  Throwback Nite.

"Step back in time to the '50s and '60s for a taste of the classic after dark experience at Disneyland. Come dressed in your best to enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth under a million twinkling lights, swinging to the tune of the bands and enjoying your favorite rides in the cool moonlight 'till the clock strikes 1 a.m.!"

This event will even include an exclusive showing of the "Fantasy in The Sky" fireworks. Disney has not said how much this event will cost, or what is included beyond Photopass downloads. Pricing and ticket information will be released before tickets go on sale to Disneyland annual passholders on November 30th, and to the general public on December 7th.

Disney says each event in the series will have a different theme, though no details were available. I will share information as it is released. So what do we think Disneylanders, how much would you pat for this experience based on what you know now?

Light speed to Crait!

An update to Star Tours - The Adventure Continues launched last week introducing passengers to two new destinations in the Star Wars galaxy. The first is a planet called Crait, from the upcoming 8th episode Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We don't learn much about the planet from the sequence, but the visuals are exciting!

The second world is Buuth the name of the "remote outpost on the galaxy's edge" now being constructed at Disneyland Park. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi set to open in theaters in just a few weeks, Disney's marketing machine is working to fuel the anticipation. When the new Star Tours scenes debuted Friday at Disneyland, Star Wars actor Mark Hamill (Jedi Luke Skywalker) surprised one cabin of guests with a special appearance.


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Chapter 4


Here I was again...Casting. It had been two years since my first visit to Team Disney Anaheim (TDA). This whimsical building along Interstate 5 whose magical paint changes tones as you pass by. It was a Monday in September, and my husband had flown home the day before. I was excited to be back here, once more ready to start my Disneyland journey.

As I checked in at the Center's front desk I was mesmerized by the CCTV they were showing a rerun of the latest Legacy Award ceremony. While I can not recall who the recipients were that year, I do remember thinking, how wonderful to be awarded the Walt Disney Company's highest honor. I took my seat on the blue velvet bench and waited for the interviewer. I was nervous but at this point I would have swept the horse droppings off Main Street U.S.A.! A very nice man took me back to his office and we began talking about what I was looking for. I was not a fan of unions due to my experience with the airlines, that coupled with my decades of travel experience of course meant he was again sending me to The Walt Disney Travel Co.. 

He asked only one interview question What is your favorite Disneyland memory. There had been so many over 35 years of visiting my favorite place on earth. The one I chose to share with him was holding my two year old son on my shoulders for his first Disney firework show "Magic in the Stars" There was no feeling to compare with hearing him react to the incredible sight and sounds above Sleeping Beauty Castle, then carrying him down Main Street U.S.A. while he fell asleep. The interview was scheduled for the next day.

I really felt like a local! I was able to take an OCTA bus to my interview at WDTC. Last time i was in this call center my loving husband was physically by my side. He was with me again, this time in spirit, as I waited for what I hoped would be the last interview to become a Cast Member. We took a tour of the center and eight of us sat in a training room for a group interview. 

I never leave interviews feeling like i nailed it. So the next two weeks waiting to find out if my gamble had paid off were terrible. I kept myself busy getting to know the area and applying for other jobs. My husband even managed a visit, and I had a great time showing him the treasures I had discovered in our new home town. I even took a large leap of faith and turned down a job offer with a financial company..

Then one day the phone rang I could tell by the prefix it was the resort. The young lady on the other line advised that I would be working at Disneyland! As she gave me the details I realized I was going to be a CM! I immediately called my husband and told him the news. I then took a deep breathe and thanked god that this crazy idea may have worked. 

What excitement and adventure lay ahead? Would it be everything I hoped for? I was about to find out.

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Chapter 3 The Master Plan


Easter Sunday, it was my favorite holiday. One full of tradition and family, and this year an announcement!

Per usual we attended service in Denver's fantastic St. John's in the Wilderness Cathedral. A beautiful 100 year old stone structure, with an amazing choir and orchestra. Followed by dinner at The White Fenced Farm. This old farm turned family style restaurant was always busy but especially so at Easter. With an almost fair like atmosphere to celebrate the end of winter and coming of spring.

Spring being a time of renewal and change, my husband, son, and I had decide to share our future with the larger family. We had created what we lovingly referred to as The Master Plan. It was a strategy that would have me in Southern California by the fall, to be followed as quickly as possible by my husband and son. Given that I was almost 39 years old this was going to be the last time i purposely started a new career. The Goal was "The Happiest Place on Earth". Orange County was also ideal weather for some health challenges we faced, and my husband had always wanted to live near the ocean. My son was going to miss Denver and the people there, but it was good timing as he would be leaving Jr High for High School. 

Our loved ones were excited for us, but concerned. How could I head off to La La Land, even if I had not yet found a place to live and a job? While I did spend the next 4 months looking for an apartment, I could not apply for most positions at the Disneyland Resort without being a local. Picking an apartment near the right school, a good distance between the resort and the beach, and in an ok neighborhood is not easy long distance! Needless to say it was August 1st I had no job or place to live.

We decided to take the suitcase and a dream attitude and I gave my notice at work. It was a great job, and I was good at it. I worked with incredible people, made a good living, and was able to work at the same location as my husband. Still this was a chance that had to be taken, something we had to try or regret for a lifetime.

On August 30th 2007 my staff threw me a great going away party.  My husband and I left the office in a small rental car full of anything we believed I would need for a six month stay. We spent the night in Grand Junction before I said goodbye to my adopted home state. We spent the next night, our anniversary, in Las Vegas. While relaxing at the pool I found a guy on-line with a room to rent in Anaheim. We made arrangements to meet at his home the following afternoon. That night's dinner was spectacular I was celebrating with the love of my life, this fantastic man who was making it possible for me to chase my dreams after all these years. 

I didn't sleep that night partly because of excitement, partly because of nerves. What am I doing? We had some savings but we were by no means rich! I was up rooting my family, moving with no job and not sure where my husband and I were sleeping tomorrow night. It was true that this would improve our health, and that we were sick of winter. However there was no denying a large part of this was being done because of what a theme park meant to me, meant to my family, to me and my husband.

The next day we pulled up to a nice ranch house about 8 blocks south of the resort. We got out of the car and I managed to make the butterflies in my stomach fly in formation. I am not usually nervous dealing with new people, but I needed my husband to head home knowing I was ok, and staying at this house would go a long way toward that comfort. The house was spacious with a pool, can't live in SoCal without a pool. It was close enough to the resort to walk, yet near a bus route as well. It had plenty of room for my husband and son to visit, and have our own bathroom. The homeowner, my husband, and I sat at the table and made small talk for about 10 minutes, which felt like an hour. After hearing my story he decided I was crazy, but not in dangerous way. He finally saw I wasn't going to kill him or his son in the middle of the night and invited me to move in!

We spent a great few days in the park and then the day I was dreading came. My husband and I were at John Wayne Airport waiting for his flight home to Denver. He kissed me goodbye and disappeared through security. I will admit it here, I had a bit of a breakdown. I sat on a bench in the baggage claim area and quietly let some tears run down my face. I was alone now, well physically anyway. The enormity of this life change hit me. Although I had the support and spirit of family and friends, especially my son and husband, I felt alone  I looked up and saw a family, mom dad, and a little girl in a Minnie Mouse dress. The girl's eyes were beaming as she was telling everyone she was going to Disneyland. She explained to me that for the last 3 years Santa had brought her Disney gift cards, they had also been her birthday gifts for as long as she could remember. Now she was here! Well in the right county anyway. She was going to have a trip most people in the world dream of, and her family had saved for years to make it happen. God willing I will soon be playing a role in these fantasies come true for millions. I wiped my tears got very excited about my new life and boarded the Disneyland Express to my new home.

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DLR UPdate 4




  • River Belle Terrace <Frontierland/eatery> closed through Nov 21st.
  • Indiana Jones Adventure <Adventureland/attraction> closed Nov 6th – 9th
  • "it's a small world" <Fantasyland/attraction> closed Oct 23rd to Nov 9th to install the holiday overlay. Reopens Nov 10th.
  • Space Mountain <Tomorrowland/attraction> closed Nov 1st to remove the holiday overlay.
  • Haunted Mansion <New Orleans Square/attraction> closed Jan 8th, 2018 to remove the holiday overlay. Reopening TBA

Disney's California Adventure

  • Goofy's Sky School <Paradise Pier/attraction> Reopening Dec19th.
  • "it's tough to be a bug" <bug's land/attraction> closed Oct 23rd to Nov 2nd opens Nov 3rd to host a preview of "Coco"

Crowd-Impacting Events


  • Halloween Time: Through October 31.
  • Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland – Oct 17, 20, 24, 27 and 31. sold out.
  • Dapper Day/Fall Outing to Disneyland – Nov 5th event website.
  • Holidays at the Disneyland Resort: Nov 10th to Jan 7th, 2018.


  • Dapper Day/Spring Soiree – Apr 22nd event website.
  • 2018 Grad Nites: May 4, 5, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, 29 and 30; June 1, 2, 5, 6, 8 and 9



Due to the start of construction on the fourth Disneyland Hotel property and the Paradise Pier renovation, runDisney races may not be held as planned in 2018..

This has been both expected and actually feared for quite some time now, and seem inevitable given the event was scheduled to take place in just two months.

In March runDisney announced registration for the races had been "temporarily postponed," and that details would be available at a later date. Even without availability of space for the Light Side event, many runners signed up for Walt Disney World's companion Dark Side event when registration opened in May. In prior years, runners who completed the half marathon distance at both events qualified for an additional Kessel Run Challenge medal, though there was mention of that added challenge in the 2018.

Would be participants became concerned in June, when runDisney deleted race dates and registration information for the 2018 Tinker Bell Half Marathon from the official website, and replaced it with a message saying, "Stay tuned for registration and event information for the 2018 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at runDisney.com" .Seven months later, runDisney has yet to provide any updates, or to address the concerns of those runners who already paid to participate in the Light Side event.

Cast members staffing the runDisney booth at the Disneyland Half Marathon race expo in September would only refer runners to the runDisney website for future announcements.

Cancelling runDisney events in Anaheim will also impact their partners in runDisney Charity Groups Program, which includes groups like Autism Speaks, City of Hope, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. 

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire GRAND OPENING

Tickets are on sale for Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, an hyper-reality experience being built in Downtown Disney. The new venue opens Friday, January 5, 2018

From the Disney Parks blog:

A galaxy far, far away needs your help. In teams of four, be transported with family and friends in a brand new hyper-reality experience from Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB and The VOID. Under the orders of the budding rebellion, your team will travel to the molten planet of Mustafar. Your mission is to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion's survival. Alongside the pragmatic droid K-2S0, your team must navigate through an enemy facility walking into danger at every turn. Disguised as stormtroopers, grab your blaster, solve puzzles, and fight giant lava monsters in an effort to fulfill your team's orders.

The 30-minute experience is $29.95, plus a payment processing fee of $2.85. Tickets are available online. No discounts are currently offered to Annual Passholders or Disney cast members.

There is a height requirement of 48 inches, and The Void recommends that participants be at least 10 years or older, "due to the weight of the gear and some intense content." Participants under age 18 must have a parent or guardian sign a waiver.

Time, tickets are currently available through March 6, 2018. The first 5 days are sold out, as are most weekends. Disney has not said how long the experience will remain open.

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Chapter 2 "Remember When"

 During Disneyland's Golden 50th anniversary my husband and I had traveled from Denver to the resort 5 times. We were both in the travel industry and back then the resorts discounts were much more generous. We decided our 6th and final trip of 2006 would be a great opportunity to have a family vacation with our teenage son. My husband's parents would join us and  celebrating their first visit. We flew into LAX on Memorial Day for a week's stay. With a package of 4 days in the parks, and a stay at The Best Western Park Place Inn. Over the years my son and I have grown very close to my husband's family. So I was very excited to share my favorite place in the world with my new parents! It was also a chance for my husband to see there was more to the Southland than 300 acres in Anaheim. We took a guided tour of Orange County and a combination tour of Hollywood and Universal Studios.

On day 2 we were visiting the Paradise Pier area of Disney's California Adventure. While my father in-law was checking out the view of Paradise Bay my son approached him and advised he was getting FastPasses for an attraction and asked if he'd like to join in. The older man replied yes and handed the boy his ticket. As my son walked away my father in-law looked at me and asked what he had agreed to go on. I turned him around and pointed to California Screamin' the longest roller coaster in California with a loop around a silhouette of Mickey's head. I give him credit for going through with the thrill, but unfortunately it took him out of commission for a great deal of the visit. So the last night was special for many reasons, one of which was he was able to join us for "Remember Dreams Come True" Firework Spectacular and he LOVES fireworks!

We had planned well so we were in the Plaza in front of the forecourt of Sleeping Beauty Castle. It was such an emotional night for me having my loved ones there watching this amazing show pay tribute to my favorite place in the world. The show is based on the feeling one gets taking "the grand circle tour of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom" on the Disneyland Railroad. Traveling through each land and all the major attractions through the years. After each performance as the lights slowly came up the resort played a song written by Richard Marx and performed by LeAnn Rimes. I still cry every time I hear "Remember When"  Not only does it put words and music to the exact way I feel about this magical place, but musically it is an incredible song. Now when I hear it I flash back immediately to that night. With my arms around the two most important  people  in the entire world, my son and husband. The tears were streaming down my face as always. My husband looked at me as never before. "We need to move here!" His words rang in my ears as I saw the smile on our sons face. He explained that we all needed to be part of the magic everyday, and that Southern California would be better for our health.  He of course also knew my dream has always been to work at the resort. Well of course my water works increased.  The three of us stood in front of the most beautiful building in the world holding each other and crying.

At the end of that visit there I was again beside this wishing well quarter in hand. Full of gratitude and switching up the customary wish yet again. This time the safe return we were wishing for was as Cast Members, Californians, and  happy and healthy transplants. We knew we had a lot of work and planning ahead, but with any luck we were about to start our last winter in Denver.

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Fort Wilderness Ponies: A Royal Ride for your Prince or Princess



Well howdy there, pardner! Do you have a pony lovin' child in your household? If you do, and you plan to be in the Central Florida region sometime in the future, I highly recommend you mosey on over to one of the best experiences the area has to offer to young cowgirls and cowboys everywhere: The Pony Rides at Walt Disney Resort's Tri-Circle-D Ranch.

I discovered this gem of a place years ago, when, before becoming a WDW Passholder, I was exploring the Fort Wilderness resort with my family. It was autumn (one of the best times to visit) and the place was bustling with fall fun activities, from guests decorating their campsites for Halloween to horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides. I learned pretty quick that this is THE place to enjoy a "high-spirited hootenanny" at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review or to roast marshmallows on a stick at Chip 'N Dale's Campfire Sing-A-Long. There's a barn open to visitors where you can stop in and see the various breeds of beautiful horses (no petting or feeding, of course). These are the very steeds and stallions that pull the trolleys down Main Street, U.S.A. and Cinderella's Coach. Near the barn are the petite ponies; this is where my little ones saddled up and had their very first pony ride! 

Now since that time I've done a little bit of research on this place, and ya know, there's a whole lotta good information online about Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Despite that, though, I am downright flabbergasted at how many locals 'round these parts still don't know about it!

So, this here article is for all you tenderfoots out there with a little one who is ready to ride!

About Tri-Circle-D Ranch

Where It Is:

  • The Tri-Circle-D Ranch is located near Pioneer Hall at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground in the Magic Kingdom resort area of Walt Disney World.
  • Here is a helpful map.
  • Visitors need to know that the Fort Wilderness Campground and the Wilderness Lodge are two separate areas.
  • The campground is a large complex; you can get there by bus from the lodge, by WDW boat transportation, or drive and park directly there at the complex. The campground parking lot is quite a ways from the farm; if you park on site, you may want to take a bus from the lot to the ranch area to save some time.

Pony Ride Times:

  • Generally, daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST
  • No reservations needed, but there may be a wait in line


  • Current cost is $8.00
  • Cash payments accepted only

Other Important Things to Know:

  • Riders must be-
    • At least 2 years old
    • Under 80 pounds (there is a scale present)
    • No taller than 48 inches
  • Children must be able to hold on by themselves
  • Children will wear protective gear provided by the Cast Member (helmet)
  • A parent or guardian must lead the pony at all times

Do's and Don'ts!

  • Nowadays we dotin' parents and guardians love snappin' shots of our little ones, but if you're leadin' and your child is ridin', ask somebody else to kindly hold your phone/camera and take the pics. The pony rides at Tri-Circle-D Ranch is hands-down a special experience, but it's one that warrants the full attention of an adult. Ya gotta watch yer kid and that pony at the same time, ya hear?
  • The Cast Members at the farm will give you and yours directions. They aren't complicated, but heed those instructions so y'all can have a fun ride.
  • Of course, respect those ponies. They are beautiful animals; show them kindness and a gentle lead during the ride.

One More Tidbit...

Before I wrangle up this here article...know that there are plenty of other recreational activities goin' on at the campground, just in case those pony rides don't work out, after all. My son was sadly turned away last year after he stepped on the scale, which was NOT a magical experience for us, to say the least!! So be ready for a backup plan if yer little pardner is too little or too big for those ponies. There is a playground nearby and a nice beach area. Fishing and archery could also be an option. But if y'all are set on a horse experience, wagon rides and carriage rides are available too, though they're a bit pricier. And for those older and bigger aspiring wranglers with a decent amount of change in their pockets, there is horseback riding. Visit the Walt Disney World's Sports & Recreation page for more details on activities, age requirements, cost, reservation information and more. 

Head 'em Up, Move 'em Out!

Well, looks like it's time for me to skedaddle, but if you're still hankerin' to learn more about the Fort Wilderness Pony Rides, just check out the links and articles below. But don't wait too long to visit Tri-Circle-D Ranch, pardnerGiddy up!


Disney World for Horse Lovers (Build a Better Mouse Trip)

Disney World 4 Le$: Pony Rides Under $10 (Amanda at Cheapskate Princess)

Lots of Fun Horsing Around at Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Walt Disney World Resort (Russ J. Stacey, Yellow Shoes Creative Group, Disney Parks Blog)

Saddle Up - Pony Rides at Fort Wilderness (Fancy Free Diva)

Recreation at Fort Wilderness Campsites (WDW Site)

Tri-Circle-D-Ranch (WDW Site)

Walt Disney World Pony Rides (WDW Site)

A Disney Cast Member kindly gets my little princess ready for her first pony ride.


This little city-slicker is ready to ride!


​Let's go, little cowgirl!


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