The best way to get to know someone is sharing a common interest or hobby, that is why I choose to introduce myself to our DE family by telling you about my love for Disney. I am sure you will see yourself in much of what I write, and I would love to learn more from all of you on your passion for the mouse.
I was born before the Eisner era so we could not make a run to the Disney Store to pick up merchandise. In fact the Walt Disney Company back then had not licensed many products at all. What we had were the movies, both the new ones in the early 1970's, and the re-leases of the classics that the studio presented to us every seven years. There were a few collectibles available such as my miniature set of hard plastic characters that I carried everywhere. They were each about an inch tall, and ranged from The Fab Five to obscure movie characters. My set was a few dozen strong and I cherished them all. There was of course the Disney Classic Little Golden Books, and I was lucky enough to have the complete library which rested in a blue plastic rack with Mickey Mouse head bookends. To this day I love showing visitors of a certain age the home of The Little Man from Disneyland tucked away deep in the heart of Adventureland. Oh how I loved that book about a little person lucky enough to live in my favorite place on earth! I did of course have a Mickey Mouse watch, and the first birthday cake I remember was in the shape of Mickey ears as well. Most of my treasures were loving brought to me, in Salt Lake City, by friends and relatives visiting Disneyland, or my own trips as a very lucky child.
So many of my good memories are tied to Disneyland. From my first trip sitting on the curb of Main Street U.S.A. wearing my brand new Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, having the lights dim, and clapping to the music of the Main Street Electrical Parade. The first day time parade I truly remember was America on Parade. I have always been VERY patriotic and seeing Disney tell the history of the country during the nations 200th year celebration is something I will never forget. My favorite trips in my youth were family reunions with my mother's side of the family. We were like a small army invading Fantasyland. Nothing however tops taking your own child to Disneyland for the first time. Seeing him on the attractions you marveled at as a child. Sharing the best corn dog in the world and carrying him on your shoulders as you watch "Magic in the Stars!" When I took my fiance, now husband, for the first time he really got it! If there were any doubts he was the one they were no more. Maybe the most special trip of all was during the 50th anniversary one of our 5 trips from Colorado during the celebration. My husband, son, and I took my new in-laws to "earn their ears." While mom and dad may not recall much from that first whirl wind tour they did eventually fall in love with the resort. They became Annual Pass Holders while still living outside of Denver. The most magical part of that vacation happened while sharing front row seats for "Remember Dreams Come True." My husband and son turned to me and announced we could move to SoCal so I could be part of the magic every day!
In the spring of 2007 we advised our family, friends, and co-workers I was moving to Orange County at the end of the summer. On August 30th I left our office and joined my husband in a rental car that was loaded down with everything I would need to survive for a few months. After a stop over in Las Vegas to celebrate our anniversary we pulled in the drive way of a nice home in Anaheim. Lucky the gentleman renting out a room in his home took a liking to me because I honestly didn't have a back up plan. A week later I kissed my husband good by at John Wayne Airport, dried my tears, and went to what was then the Casting Center for The Disneyland Resort. Since I did not have a position lined up I was prepared to happily sweep the horse droppings off Main Street U.S.A.. Because of my travel background they sent me to work at the Walt Disney Travel Company where i would spend the majority of the next 10 years.
The following January my husband was finally able to move down and we found a place 8 blocks from the resort. It was an amazing time for us. I worked in my Laughing Place, my husband got to live near the ocean, our son eventually joined us, we made many dear friends, and no more winter! In future entries I will take you through my extraordinary time as a Disneylander, Lost Boy, and Cast Member. My roles there spanned from planning families vacations to supporting others doing that work, from working the hotel front desk to being on the opening team of Aulani a Disney Resort and Spa, and the highlight of my working life being part of the Disneyland Dream Squad! But all that will have to wait until future blogs. I do not want the mystery between us to vanish on the first date.
I wish I could say I left the resort under better circumstances, but most of it was health related. The important thing to me is, whether as a child, a parent, a guest, a Cast Member, or an Annual Passholder that the magic is still there. It feels different depending on the role, but as I walk through those gates I am a happy child again. No matter how often I walk under the train tracks I still get goosebumps. After all these years when I walk by the fire house I still have a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat as I say
"good night Uncle Walt."