Saturday, April 30, 2011

Magic with Family

One Magical Night
Charity, 32, Canada, FL

A Parent's Dream Comes True
I was excited when my family and I decided to visit Walt Disney World Resort for the first time – our vacation was truly magical. We spent two fabulous weeks in Disney World and enjoyed every minute of it! On the last day, we returned to our favorite spot, the Magic Kingdom. As the "Wishes" show was about to start, a Cast Member suggested that we watch the show from Fantasyland. We took his advice and all I can say is "WOW!" ... what a beautiful spot to enjoy such a truly magical show! As the show ended, I became so emotional that the tears just started to flow. When in Disney World, it's impossible not to feel the magic!

All Kids Again
Ellen, 62, Clinton, IA

My Magical Proposal
I am from a family of six children and my parents loved Disney. One year they took all of their adult children to Disney World as a retirement celebration. All of the little ones stayed home.

Mom and Dad had just one request when we arrived, as they knew that we couldn't all stay together all the time. We were to meet at Frontierland across from Country Bear Jamboree at 8:45, no later. My dad was a colonel in the National Guard, so you knew to be prompt!

Their goal was to have everyone together when we watched the Electric Light Parade for the first time. Of course he pulled it off – we were all there together, their six grown children and their spouses. At the end of the parade he said, "We got just what we wanted – you were all kids again during that parade." To this day those few minutes in time bring tears to my eyes.

Now that our own children are grown and we have little grandchildren we can relate to this feeling. It is one of the reasons we have bought points with the Disney Vacation Club. We love it!

My Star Wars Birthday
Erica, 34, Jacksonville, FL

Star Wars™ Weekends at Walt Disney World®
I've been visiting Walt Disney World since I was young and am a huge Disney Fan. On May 21, 2010, I celebrated my 34th birthday along with the 30th anniversary of "The Empire Strikes Back." I've been to Disney's Hollywood Studios many times over the years, but this was very different. For starters, there were Tatooine Storm Troopers on top of the welcome gate, acting like they did in the movies. Walking through the Park was also very exciting, and I was just as thrilled as my seven and 11 year-old daughters to see "Star Wars" characters everywhere! Jedi and Imperial troops were walking down the streets ... we even saw Jawas! The parade featured an incredible collection of characters including the 501st Legion. It was amazing! My girls got lightsabers and battled with Cast Members and anyone passing by in costume. My seven year-old refused to leave the Park until she found the perfect "Star Wars" trading pin – Darth Goofy! When I got the tickets a few months prior to our visit, I never imagined that my birthday could be so special. My girls are still humming the music they heard in the Park that incredible day. We'll never forget it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

School's In for Disney Interns

Students can get valuable experience through the various internship programs offered by Disney.It's that time of year – all over America, school bells are beginning to ring again, kids are gathering their brand-new school supplies, and college students are preparing to move into the dorms. It's time to start learning. But for some lucky and talented students, the learning never stopped. In fact, this summer, they might have done some of the most meaningful learning of their lives ... as Disney interns. Interns, usually paid, get immersed in a real office environment, doing real work related to their career and educational goals, plus they have a chance to meet like-minded students from across the country.

There are opportunities for Disney Internships all over the company, doing all kinds of things – from accounting to sprinkling a little graphic pixie dust in Pixie Hollow – in addition to the Disney College Program at the Theme Parks and Resorts. Current internships, both summer and year-round, are always listed at and offer a unique chance for students to combine real-world experience directly related to their studies with a chance to learn from one of the most innovative companies In the world. We talked to two current interns to see what their summers of work, learning, and Disney magic have been like.

Art student Alexandra Vay found her niche working on the Pixie Hollow online game, using her fine-arts skills to help beautify the Fairies' world. Alexandra is an old hand, interning for her second year. Returning for a second summer was an easy decision since, as she enthuses, "It's much more gratifying than anything in school. We're making a product that goes out to millions of people, so it's really gratifying when you see your work in the game."

In addition, her work on Pixie Hollow has kept her art skills sharp over the summer, preparing her for a demanding class schedule in the fall. "It helped me a lot, it kept me painting all summer, and helped me refine my skills. You don't think of practicing drawing and painting so much over the summer because you get distracted, so I'm so grateful that I draw and paint every single day!"

Graduate student Kathleen Reilly traveled from New York to California for her internship, helping to create original video content for She's found that her work experience has been key in helping her decide her course as a student. "As a graduate student about to go into my thesis year, I'm keeping my eyes open and trying to figure out what I want to explore. Being here in a real setting took me out of my academic bubble. I got to see how all the things I'm learning in school relate to the real world," she explains. "As a student, you're trying to figure out what you want to do and how it's going to relate to the real world. The great thing about being here is that I've gotten a taste of that."

Both interns agree that Disney has offered an experience they could never had had anywhere else – truly a "Disney difference." Says Kathleen, "The great thing about working for Disney is that innovation is the number-one priority. That's really conducive to the environment I want to be in – I love experimenting." The advantages have extended beyond the workday as well. "I never expected to be involved in as many intern events! They want us to learn about different aspects of the company. They really do think it's important for the interns to learn and grow. We aren't just here to work, we're here to learn."

Alexandra adds, "Here you're part of a family – everyone is really good with each other. Disney tries to get the interns to meet and socialize with each other, and become friends." Both interns have made friends both with fellow interns and staffers and memories that will last long after the summer ends.

Would the interns consider a Disney career after school? In both cases, the answer is an emphatic "Yes!" Kathleen explains, "Disney has always been a company where you think 'I'd love to work for them!' but you never think it's going to happen. I've grown up with Disney and been a fan forever, and I can't believe I'm here! My life has changed so much in the past year, because of Disney."

Soon it will be back to school – but come next spring, a fresh group of Disney interns will be wrapping up their final exams, packing their books and getting ready ... to learn.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Magic of Cast Members and The Little City

The Magic of Cast Members
Rita, 52, Albuquerque, NM

Classic Disney Characters
For those growing up in Los Angeles, Disneyland visits might be commonplace. Coming from a very poor family though, trips to the Park were a major event ... and only occurred three times during my childhood. The one thing I vividly remember about Disneyland were the Mickey Mouse balloons. Being on a tight budget, my parents couldn't really buy balloons. So when my husband and I returned to Disneyland for the first time as adults, I told him that the only item I wanted was a Mickey Mouse balloon to take home with me.

That made for interesting conversation since we flew to California from New Mexico. On our second day at the Magic Kingdom, my husband stopped a Cast Member who was selling balloons and explained my lifelong wish. The Cast Member whispered something to him and as we left the Park later that day, he made a quick stop at Guest Services. We were presented with Mickey Mouse balloons that hadn't been inflated so I could take them on the flight home. To top it off, Guest Services wouldn't let him pay for them! They said they were very happy to make someone's wish come true. Needless to say (after all these years), the thrill of having my own Mickey Mouse balloons from Disneyland was worth the wait. Disney seems to make everything magical ... no matter what your age!

The Little City
Ben, 44, Upland, CA

A Walt Disney Sighting I was four years old when my father took my family to Disneyland in 1969. Sadly, he passed away in 1975. Many years passed and I always remembered my father and me together on a ride that looked down at a little city on that fine day long ago.

I returned to Disneyland in 1994 with my future wife, and we got on Peter Pan's Flight. As I looked down I was amazed – right below us was the little city I had seen with my father 23 years ago! Since then we've been to Disneyland countless times and with all my heart I thank Walt Disney for allowing me to soar through the sky with my father whenever I want on Peter Pan's Flight, looking down at the little city I had remembered for all those years.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Many Visits to Disneyland / Walt Disney World

Disney CruisesMy mother took my cousin and I to Disneyland in the summer of 1955, not long after it opened. We were 14 at the time and our favorite ride was the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups. I've made a total of 12 trips to Disneyland, the last four all by myself. I have no worries about being alone at the Park, and always stay at the Grand Californian Hotel.

In 1999 my husband and I enjoyed our first trip to Walt Disney World, including a cruise on the Disney Magic cruise ship ... what a wonderful memory. Since then my son and I took a trip to Walt Disney World and enjoyed playing golf. I'll be celebrating my 70th birthday in June, 2011, and my son will be taking me to Walt Disney World to celebrate ... I can't wait!

by: Mary, 69, Hood River, OR  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Magical Memories from the Guests

View view from Main Street USA in Disneyland. 

Walt Disney truly had a genius for creating Disney magic but, based on the countless stories the Insider receives each week, our fans keep it alive. Your memories are heartfelt, poignant, and filled with fun. The only problem is, there's not enough space to publish them all. This week it's all about you, our readers ... your vacation highlights, milestone celebrations, and tales of pixie-dust-filled moments. Grab your Mickey ears and enjoy!

Nelia, 58, Corvallis, OR – Disney Volunteers
As the Art Director for the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis, Oregon, thank you for your volunteer incentive programs. Each spring, my art center is responsible for the annual fund-raiser decorations – it's a big job and the projects are pretty complex. A large number of people volunteered their time this year in order to earn a free Disney Theme Park ticket. It was great because we were able to handle lots of details without a hitch, making everything much easier for me. Because of all the wonderful volunteers and interns who helped, we achieved everything I envisioned (26 12-inch embellished houses, 50 detailed paper dolls, and 160 blocks that featured the kids' pictures) AND an enormous level of stress was avoided. Kudos for such a great program ... and a very big thank you to all the people who took time out of their busy schedules to volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club!

Anne Marie, 43, Burnsville, MN – When Pirates Took Over the Jungle Cruise!
Our all-time favorite memory is from our Walt Disney World vacation four years ago. Our daughters were six and three at the time and loved "Pirates of the Caribbean." We bought them Mickey Mouse ears with pink pirate bandanas and plastic swords before riding the Jungle Cruise. The cruise guide pretended to be scared of "pirates" and asked if they planned on stealing his boat. He then let Emily steer if she promised not to hijack it. Imagine her delight when she was at the helm of the Jungle Cruise boat. It was the highlight of her trip – and ours!

Deborah, 55, Los Angeles, CA – Little Pocahontas
In 1996, we planned a summer vacation at Disneyland with our seven-year-old daughter, Camille, and had an unforgettable week! Pocahontas was Camille's heroine at the time, and she only wanted to wear a one-shoulder dress, moccasins, necklace, and arm bracelet just like her favorite Disney Princess. On day three, Camille was decked out in her Pocahontas costume when we saw the actual Indian Princess in Adventureland. We waited for her autograph but, as luck would have it, Pocahontas' break time arrived just as Camille was next in line. Camille began to tear up, but Daddy came to the rescue. He quietly approached Pocahontas and Meeko before they left and asked if they could stay a minute longer for our daughter. They took one look at Camille (who shyly gave them the "Wingapo" hand sign) and embraced her. Pocahontas asked her name, and then both she and Meeko spent a full five minutes letting us take photos, clowning with Camille, and signing her autograph book. Pocahontas hugged Camille and waved "Annah" ... our little Indian princess looked absolutely awestruck. This was the highlight of our entire vacation! Camille's now a student at musical theater college and pledges to become a Disney Princess someday so she can help others have their "best day ever" at Disneyland.

Robert, 60, Lake Worth, FL – A Magical 82nd Birthday!
We've visited Walt Disney World since it opened in 1971, so it came as no surprise that my mother wanted to celebrate her 82nd birthday at Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival as well as the Magic Kingdom. Each visit to Epcot has always surpassed our last, but this time the Magic Kingdom was the highlight of the trip. From the Dapper Dans' Barber Shop Serenade to Mom dancing with her walker in the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! parade, she was treated like a queen. Mom cried in Pixie Hollow when Tink and the Fairies celebrated her special day. We've always known that dreams come true here, but this weekend was our most magical yet!

Jordan, 23, Langhorne, PA – Engaged in Disneyland!
I've been to Walt Disney World too often to count, but never Disneyland. My boyfriend and I travelled to California for our first Disneyland visit over Valentine's Day. We had an amazing experience – he surprised me with dinner at the Blue Bayou, a Cast Member sent us on a trivia hunt and then gave us VIP parade-viewing passes and a Fastpass for Storybookland's Canal Boats. Later that evening, we rode in a boat all by ourselves. When it stopped for the fireworks, my boyfriend got down on one knee, pulled a ring out of his pocket, and proposed. Immediately after I said yes, the fireworks started! As the boat docked, the crowd welcomed us with ringing bells and cheers. I was flabbergasted. I hadn't suspected a thing the entire day ... it just seemed like the usual Disney magic. Disneyland made my engagement the most special and perfect day – one I'll never forget!

David, 46, Valencia, CA – Disney Dreams
When our three kids were young, we'd plan special trips to Walt Disney World Resort each year to escape the cold Chicago weather and experience some famous Disney magic. We currently live in Los Angeles and our kids are now in high school/college. Even though we have annual passes to Disneyland, we still make the trip to Disney World every other year and the entire family always agrees on what we should see while we're there. Though pineapple ice cream at the Tiki Room and laughing at the Jungle Cruise jokes are two Disneyland favorites, nothing tops the coconut broom races at Disney World's Polynesian Resort. My wife and I hope to retire and work at Disney World one day ... our grandkids will love visiting, and we'll share the same happiness we love so much with others.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thankful at Walt Disney World

Lucinda, 35, Spring, TX

Thankful at Walt Disney WorldMy family and I went to Disney World during Thanksgiving. It was the most beautiful place! Every corner of the Parks, every worker, and every exhibit we encountered helped us forget the world outside and love the world we were in. We needed to be thankful for something and to run away from the world of sickness. My husband had just finished six rounds of chemotherapy, and my son who had a major stroke at birth was experiencing seizures, which could only be fixed with surgery. Disney gave us a reason to laugh and smile during a time in our lives when we could not feel joy.

My son has just had his eleventh birthday, and my husband is still fighting the good fight. My little girl and I still remember that we have so much to be thankful for. Thanks Disney for the magic! We hope to see you again soon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From Guest to Entertainer

Michelle, 42, Yorba Linda, CA

As a child, I made my first trip to Disneyland when I was just four years old. I can't even count the number of times I've visited since then. Even as an adult, I get goosebumps from all the shows and parades at the Park. More so, I always think about the performers and how lucky they are to be doing what they love in a place everyone loves. I took my own daughter to the Park for the first time when she was two and, again, she's been there more times than I can count.

When she was in 7th grade and first on her colorguard squad, you can imagine how thrilled I was when she told me that her band (and guard) had been invited to march down Main Street. The kids practiced hard and I even took the day off so I could be there to watch my child perform. It was opening night for the 2009 Holiday Season and I lined up with thousands of other Guests who grabbed spots along Main Street to see the Christmas Parade.

Suddenly the Park announcer introduced Bernardo Yorba Middle School and they began marching. Everyone clapped and cheered for the kids as they performed their hearts out. I'll never forget the beaming smile on my daughter's face as she walked the route with her team ... it was evident she knew everyone was excited and cheering for them. She later told me she couldn't wait for the following season, as she hoped that Disneyland would invite them back. Thank you Disneyland for giving the kids an opportunity to showcase their talent and letting them be "stars for a day" in the happiest place on Earth.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Guess Where We're Going, Kids?

Jill, 36, Philadelphia, PA

Our family is fortunate enough to have visited Disney several times, mostly right before Christmas. This year we weren't sure that any trip was in the cards. However, in early September we started looking into things and found great airfare and accommodation prices during Halloween. We booked the trip and were going to leave on my son's ninth birthday.

We didn't tell the kids, letting family know and working with their teachers to get their assignments done in advance. We told my son we had to have his birthday party a few days early because I had a business trip to go on. We had our family over and got a cake that simply said "You're Going to Disney." When we sang to him and showed him his cake, he read it several times and didn't quite get it Then all of sudden it dawned on him and my daughter – they went crazy! They got to leave bright and early Wednesday morning and had the best time on Halloween, trick or treating at Mickey's party.
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