Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Magic Is NOT Just for Kids!

Pam, 45, Powell, TN
The Magic Is NOT Just for Kids!

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.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Very Disney Tribute

Marleine, 34, Los Angeles, CA
Fireworks light the sky behind Cinderella's Castle.

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.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

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.

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.
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