Cory and Ashley – Happily Ever After

Some of the best Disney stories are stories about how much Disney is just a part of our lives, and looking back on how significant of a role it plays throughout. Today’s story comes from Cory, who tells us of how a connection started with Disney being just one of the aspects, but played a very important role as a relationship progressed.

“Though my wife Ashley and I don’t live and breathe Disney like so many wonderful super-fans, Disney has had an important place in every major step in our relationship.

We met through our workplace. I am an educator in a museum and she began at the same museum as a member of the security team. That was when I first took notice of this beautiful, curly-haired girl who looked like she just stepped out of a Medieval painting. She moved on to the education team, and we discovered in the course of our first conversation that we both had a lot of love for the Middle Ages, fantasy and fairy tales, and for Disney films in particular.

After a year of resisting my charms, she condescended to date me. A few months thereafter, we took our first trip together, to Disneyland U.S.A. I had been to Disneyland twice before, as well as Paris and Tokyo, and she had been to Disneyland Paris herself. This, however, was her first trip to the first Disneyland and her birthday, so we pulled out all the stops. There wasn’t a tour or a dessert party we didn’t do. We even finagled a trip to the Disney Studios! Most importantly, it proved that we were able to travel together and further cemented what a good match we were.


Another year and a bit later, we took a trip together to Paris which, naturally, included Disneyland. At one point, Disneyland Paris even came to our rescue: we accidentally boarded the wrong train in the city of Tours, and could have ended up at either Bordeaux or Disneyland Paris. Thankfully it was headed in the right direction! More importantly, it was at the end of our full, planned day in Disneyland that we got engaged.

I planned to propose to Ashley at some point during our trip, as everyone including herself guessed I might. I just didn’t know when that would be! But after the evening performance of Disney Dreams, as the crowds filtered out and we sat on the edge of a fountain, admiring the castle, the conversation turned and I knew that was the moment. I presented her with a ring inside of a tiny pumpkin carriage, slipped to one knee, proclaimed her my fairy tale princess come true, and asked for her hand. She replied with ‘hold on a second’… and then presented me with a ring of her own!


Of course, some of our friends and family thought it odd that, with all of France at our disposal, we would have gotten engaged at Disneyland. Those who really knew us knew better. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Besides, you couldn’t visit the Eiffel Tower without tripping over a couple getting engaged. There wasn’t enough room for us!

Our wedding just over another year later was fairy tale themed. We didn’t have the money for a Disney destination wedding, and would have balked at the idea anyways. Instead we “settled” for a meadow overlooking a valley in the Canadian Rocky Mountains near our home and a fairy tale themed reception. Each table had a centerpiece themed to a different story like Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Little Mermaid, Wizard of Oz, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and guests first had to figure out their table from the page of the story they were given. Then, each table had to guess when it was time to head to the buffet when the song associated with their story was played. “The Unbirthday Song” and “Heigh Ho” were easy… I was frankly surprised that anyone knew “Whale of a Tale”! The song for our first dance was “Beauty and the Beast”, though I’m not sure what that says about me.



Our honeymoon was spent at Walt Disney World, in our first trip there for either one of us. That we went at the beginning of September was a climatic oversight for a pair of Canadians, but we still had a wonderful time!”


13875016_10157342603260454_1453763255_nCommon bonds. Magical destinations. True love.

Cory, you and Ashley are living your own fairy tale, and we at Confessions wish you a very wonderful “Happily Ever After.”

Cory is the author of the wonderful blogs, Voyages Extraordinaires: Scientific Romances in a Bygone Age, and Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy: An Unofficial Guide to the World Beyond Disney (co-authored with his lovely wife, Ashley!). Make sure to visit these sites for hours of fascinating and highly recommended reading.

Do you have a “Disney story” you’d like to share? Confessions of a DisNerd would like to hear from you! For more information, please contact us at or send a direct message through our Facebook page.

Riding the Train With Jake


Jake loved trains.  As his mother Patty put it, “Thomas the Tank Engine was his right hand man. He was a train fanatic.” The trains at Walt Disney World were no exception. “They were his jam,“ said Patty. “He loved to ride the trains there.” It was this love of trains that would later provide Patty comfort during a trying time of life.

Patty was born in southern California, and has early memories of frequenting Disneyland. When friends or family came into town, she noted, Disneyland was often the destination, as it still is for many SoCal tourists. When the family moved to Texas, the frequent Disney trips stopped, but Patty was still a “Disney girl” at heart. As fate would have it, Patty met and married a fellow Disney fan, and after ten years in the Army, her husband was choosing between two different civilian jobs: one in Pennsylvania, and the other in Orlando. As Patty put it, “Disney World… or snow?” The answer was an easy one. Patty had always dreamed of being able to visit Walt Disney World on any given day; this move would give her the opportunity to do so with her two young boys, Jacob and Luke.

Patty took the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World often, many times meeting up with friends for playdates in the park. As stated before, Jake was a huge fan of the train, riding it every opportunity he got. In addition to the train, they spent a lot of their time in Fantasyland, with one notable exception: Jake hated the Winnie the Pooh ride. “Absolutely hated it,” recalls Patty. “The Heffalumps and Woozles were just too much for him.” Obviously, the Pooh ride was one they didn’t ride as much. Nonetheless, they all enjoyed their many playdates at Walt Disney World.

Jake was also a heart transplant recipient; sadly, he passed away at the very young age of four. After his passing, Patty and her family moved back to Texas to be nearer to family, namely her mom, as they recovered from the heartbreaking loss of their oldest child. The chance for daily visits to Walt Disney World were no longer an option, but Patty still remembered those opportunities with great fondness, and the park remained very dear to her.

A year after their move, Patty and her family decided it was time to take a family trip back to Orlando and visit Disney World once again. Patty recalls, “Everyone talks about how they get overwhelmed and overcome with emotion when you walk down Main Street. I was okay,” she continued. “I held it together. It was excitement, it was happiness… until the train went by.” As the whistle blew, the tears started. “My husband and I looked at each other, holding each other in the middle of Main Street. I just knew Jacob was there with us. It was in that moment I knew I was home. This was where my entire family could be together, even though we were missing one member of the family.”

Another significant moment for Patty was when her family rode Winnie the Pooh. Luke, who was about a year younger than Jake turned to his mom and asked, “Mom, why are we riding Jake’s least favorite ride? He hated this ride!”

Said Patty, “It was really cool, because Luke had memories of Jacob. He was really young when Jacob passed. I thought he wouldn’t have many memories of Jacob, but he remembered his brother from being at Walt Disney World.”

After this trip, Patty started running. She became very involved in participating in RunDisney races, as this was a way to get back to Walt Disney World on a regular basis; to visit a place where she felt home, where she could remember Jake. Over ten years later, “I still have that same feeling every time I walk into the park. I have that feeling every single time I get on the train, and I always get on the train at Disney World and take a trip around, and think about him.” She rides for Jake. She rides with him.


That’s the beauty of Disney. So many memories are created in visits to a Disney resort, through singing along with a favorite Disney song, in watching the latest animated feature release with the family. These memories last a lifetime, and many last beyond that. They help us to remember with fondness the people we love – even after they have left us.

Thank you, Patty, for the honor of allowing Confessions to share your story.

Patty is a mom, wife and blogger. Make sure to visit her wonderful and inspiring blog, No Guilt Life for great posts on wellness, running, being a mom, and of course, Disney!

Do you have a “Disney story” you’d like to share? Confessions of a DisNerd would like to hear from you! For more information, please contact us at or send a direct message through our Facebook page.

Fond Memories of the Past – Promise of the Future

Jake has always been a Disneyland devotee. “Disneyland has always been that ‘second home’ to me. As a native Californian, it’s been basically my backyard wonderland to go to,” he told me. “I’ve celebrated most of my birthdays there, many family events, and most recently, wrapped up my honeymoon there. The Happiest Place on Earth has always been there, changing slightly through the years, but always remaining magical.”

Jake recalled one of his most vivid Disneyland memories from the summer of 1998. “I was six; my dad had just turned 30. My mom surprised him by flying his dad, stepmom, and step brothers out from Pennsylvania. We did a whole tour of California: central coast, Sea World, the mountains, and of course, Disneyland. Even at six, I was a seasoned local, dragging my grannie all over the park, knowing exactly where Pirates of the Caribbean was, and what time we could meet Belle and The Beast (her favorite characters from her favorite film). I still have a photo of us with them.”

On this trip, Jake had a realization. “I think for the first time I started to see what impact the park could have on people. I still vividly remember their faces as they walked around the magic kingdom,” he reflected. “My grandma was a kid again, in constant awe of what Walt’s original park was. I started to understand that this place has an effect on people. It entrances them, spellbound by the worlds of fantasy, frontier and adventure.”

As time went by, he continued to frequent the park as often as he could. However, on his most recent visit, things were a little different. “Usually, this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for us, however this time, we were waddling around the park pregnant.” They continued enjoying the park as usual; of course, this time Jake’s wife Hailey wouldn’t be able to ride every attraction as she had been used to. But aside from that, this was another regular Disneyland trip for the two of them.


Toward the end of their last night at the park, Jake came to a realization. “As we were watching Disneyland Forever, it struck me that this was the last time I was going to be there without being a dad. Then, when the show ended, hearing that beautifully written Richard Sherman song, ‘Kiss Goodnight’ as we were walking down Main Street, I started crying. Not out of sadness,” he continued, “but because this was the closing of just me and my wife going to Disneyland, and the opening of our family of three now going to the park. The dynamic of the two of us, or even our families coming with us was now added by one. I get to take my son to Disneyland now! I get to be a dad and show him my love of a place that’s been a part of my life for so long.” But that wasn’t all of it, Jake said. “I get to experience a place I’ve so dearly loved in a whole new way. I get to experience Disneyland by seeing his reaction when we meet Mickey Mouse on Main Street.  As Paint the Night rolls down the parade route, I get to see his eyes light up with wonder. Or hear him giggle as he rides his favorite attraction, whatever that may be.”

Jake had the realization that so many parents have already seen. “I have what I love about the park, but now I have the honor of seeing what he may love about the same place. It’s humbling and absolutely amazing that this is a new experience for all of us. As time goes on, I can only imagine what memories will be made, what experiences will become of our expanding family, and just how magical this place will be!”

I agree with you, Jake. Seeing Disneyland through another’s eyes, whether it be a child or a child at heart, definitely helps you experience the place in a brand new way. When we took my daughter to Disneyland for the first time, I watched her more than I did attractions at times. It definitely made me see everything in a new light, and appreciate the simple wonders of a leisurely stroll through the park, or even riding the same 4 rides over and over! Here’s to many happy trips with your new family!

On Monday morning, July 11th, Jake and Hailey welcomed their son into this world. Here’s wishing them the best on a new adventure as a family!

Do you have a “Disney story” you’d like to share? Confessions of a DisNerd would like to hear from you! For more information, please contact us at or send a direct message through our Facebook page.

Dear Walt

If You Can Dream

It’s a beautiful quote, isn’t it? What a great notion. It goes hand in hand with the idea of wishing on a star and just believing.

Only… you never actually said that, did you? This quote, often attributed to you – it was never actually yours, was it?

Sure, the notion of such is a great one – after all, we are supposed to follow our dreams. But Walt, the myth of you as a dreamer and magician, a man who never gave up and had a magic touch in everything he did… I know there’s a lot more to it.

In all honesty, the myth side was what drew me to you initially. You created Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, amazing feature films, and made so many people worldwide happy with your special touch. There definitely IS a magic to that! However, to many (myself included), it can be quite disheartening when we don’t always see our dreams come true like we hope they would; at least not in the ways we expected.

I’ve been there. I’ve had opportunities dangled in front of me, only to see them plucked away at the last moment. I’ve wanted these opportunities so badly, as part of my dreams to reach an ultimate goal. But the timing was not right, and I often have found myself questioning my desire and drive. I had a moment like this a couple years ago, and believe me when I say, it was a picture of you that snapped me out of my funk.


Why this picture? For one, it’s just a great picture. You were telling the story of Pinocchio the way only you could, and pouring all of your energy into it. It showed someone that was working hard and letting his talents shine through. Someone that was having fun but giving all he had to tell his story. It was a refresher of sorts for me – I remembered that you were human – so much more than myth.

This was the Walt that interested me more. The man who had to fight his way to get where he was. The man who was faced with struggles and adversity. The family man who had quite the personality that was often unseen by rolling cameras and the public eye.

A person can look at a legend and be in awe, but to look at the person behind the legend and see what was accomplished as a real person – well, that is where real inspiration is found for me.



This all came to a head when I finally had a chance to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. This was a place I’d wanted to visit for quite a while, but never had the opportunity to do so. I couldn’t wait to explore and revisit so much history, both of you and the history of the Walt Disney Company when it was in your hands.

The first thing I would like to say, Walt, is this museum was gorgeous. It is every Disney fan’s dream. History came alive in so many fantastic ways, from storyboards, to the famed multi-plane camera, to an amazing miniature scale model of your masterpiece known as Disneyland.


Animator's Desk, displaying sketches from Walt Disney's Pinocchio.

Animator’s Desk, displaying sketches from Walt Disney’s Pinocchio.


A view from above - the Multiplane Camera, first used in Walt Disney's Silly Symphony: The Old Mill

A view from above – the Multiplane Camera, first used in Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony: The Old Mill.


Miniature scale model of Disneyland, as seen during Walt's lifetime.

Miniature scale model of Disneyland, as seen during Walt’s lifetime.


The history was rich, and really came alive for me here, but what really stood out for me once again were the parts that showed you as a family man:

Walt Disney, family man. Throughout the museum, the Disney "Family Story" is displayed, rich with family history, Walt's personal hobbies & tastes, making sure the public gets a great insight of the man beyond company history.

Walt Disney, family man. Throughout the museum, the Disney “Family Story” is displayed, rich with family history, Walt’s hobbies, and personal stories. This ensures the public gets a great insight of the man beyond company history.



A “goofball” at times:


Fooling around on the set of an Alice Comedy. Pictures like this are some of my favorites of Walt.

Fooling around on the set of an Alice Comedy. Pictures like this are some of my favorites of Walt.


A traveler:


On a Hawaiian vacation with wife Lillian, and daughters Sharon and Diane. Walt the traveler: A man after my own heart!

On a Hawaiian vacation with wife Lillian, and daughters Sharon and Diane. Walt the traveler: A man after my own heart!



A Patriot:


Detailing Walt and the studio's many contributions to the effort during WWII.

Detailing Walt and the studio’s many contributions to the effort during WWII.


I took the opportunity to pose for a picture on the Griffith Park bench placed in the museum. To reflect on you and all you had done. To think that, as a daddy, you sat on perhaps that very bench and began to think of a place that families could enjoy together – now THAT is inspiring!


My lovely family and I on "Walt's Bench."

My lovely family and I on “Walt’s Bench.”



The closer I got to the end of the exhibit, the more melancholy I felt myself getting. I knew what was coming, Walt. And it was breaking my heart. Of course, you didn’t know. You were turning your attention to different projects, looking to the future. Your vision of Epcot – what an amazing finished product that could have been! But we’ll never know, as you passed before it could come to fruition. I entered that last room with a true sadness. The man who I was fully realizing as an extraordinary human being left the world too soon.




A world mourned when you died, Walt. But those of us who were too young to be around in your time mourn, too. We feel the loss of someone who, it seems, had much more left to give. You were working till the end. Dreaming? Yes. But working, brimming with ideas. Your dreams became reality because you were dedicated, thoughtful, and saw projects through. It wasn’t always easy, I know. In fact, one of the most inspiring quotes from the museum, for me anyway, came from one of the hardest times of your life. It wasn’t about making the impossible happen. It wasn’t about life being magical. No, it refers to a time your animators went on strike at the studio:



Why this quote? Because it shows even someone as revered as you had moments of hardship. Times when you were ready to give up – to walk away. Of course, you didn’t, for which many are eternally grateful. But you were willing to admit that you had that type of moment.  And for someone who has felt that feeling far too often, it’s beyond inspiring to know the power of forging ahead even in dark times.

So thank you, Walt. Thank you for all you did. Your hard work. Your determination. For making countless children of all ages happy. For being yourself through the entire process. For being a good family man.

For being human.


An Admirer

(Note to readers: I realized I barely touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum. I would encourage each and every one of you to try to visit this amazing place should the opportunity arise. It was so wonderfully put together, and truly tells the story of Walt Disney in a way that only family and those closest to him could tell it. For more information, visit the Walt Disney Family Museum website. All pictures from the museum itself were taken by the author upon his visit to the WDFM.)


Mr. DisNerd Goes To Anaheim: A Fan’s Experience at the D23 Expo

Hello, dear readers! As many of you know, especially if you’ve been following Confessions on Facebook, I recently experienced my first D23 Expo. When I initially purchased my 3 day ticket last year, I had grand hopes in covering the Expo in detail. However, as time grew nearer, I changed my plans a bit. Having never experienced the Expo and having the opportunity to go with friends, I decided I wanted to experience everything as the fan that I am. This meant seeing panels and presentations I wanted to see, but maybe missing out on a few things that might be happening at the same time. After all, I do pride myself on being a fan first and foremost! So with this decision made, I made the journey to Anaheim to experience, have fun, and hopefully not be overwhelmed. (Note: My friends over at Disney Darlings did a great job of covering the Expo. Where I was able, I’ve provided links to their news coverage for those looking for more detailed reports.) With that being said, here’s this nerd’s report and opinions from the 2015 D23 Expo.

Welcome to the 2015 D23 Expo!

The signs certainly looked welcoming enough! However, the lines were daunting that first morning. There was definitely miscommunication between Disney, Expo staff, and Anaheim Convention Center Staff. Many were told one line was for the Disney Legends ceremony as well as gold and silver D23 members (who were allowed entry to the show floor an hour before general admission), while a second line was for general admission entry. However, many found out there was actually a separate line for the Legends; it depends on who you asked. Although I am a gold-level D23 member, I chose to stand in the general admission with a friend who was not. The first morning’s entry line was, in all honesty, a mess. Gold and silver members kept piling into that line, well past 10 AM, with a line wrapping around the convention center.

Don’t be fooled by the line. It’s much longer.

Any frustrations that may have come from that line, however, dissipated as I entered the show floor to encounter a world of Disney wonder. With no real game plan for the first morning, we wandered the floor, visiting vendors, and checking out a few displays, such as John Lassetter’s studio shirts, the famed Pizza Planet Truck, and much more!

John Lassetter’s Hawaiian Shirt Collection!


Unlike in some Pixar movies, the Pizza Planet truck was pretty easy to find at the Expo!

Production maquettes from Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out” bring about so many feelings!


From the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts area: “Voyage to the Crystal Grotto” at Shanghai Disney Resort looks amazingly beautiful! Read Disney Darlings’ coverage of the Shanghai Disney and Pandora Exhibit here!

As one learns quickly when attending the Expo, decisions must be made as to which panels are “must sees,” and which may have to be skipped over, as one simply cannot do everything the Expo has to offer. Thus, my friends and I made the decision to attend the “Imagineering 60 Years of Disneyland” panel hosted by documentarian Leslie Iwerks, leaving no room to attend the Disney/Pixar Animation presentation (For Disney Darlings’ coverage of the animation presentation, click here). The Imagineering panel was a great choice for me, as I got to hear former and current Imagineers such as Charita Carter, Kevin Rafferty, Kim Irvine, Tony Baxter, Marty Sklar, and one of my personal heroes, Richard Sherman discuss the world of Imagineering, driven by Walt and his ideals, even long after he had passed. It was also a great look at Iwerks’ upcoming 2016  documentary, “The Imagineering Story.”

Disney Legend Richard Sherman reflects on Walt Disney’s influence during the “Imagineering 60 Years of Disneyland” panel.

Day two of the Expo presented more tough decisions and more lines, but on a more organized level, I felt. However, to attend the “Worlds, Galaxies and Universes: Life Action at The Walt Disney Studios” presentation, an early lineup was necessary. My cohorts and I joined the line at 5:30 am (for a 10:30 am presentation), and were some of the last to receive wristbands for entry, while others who arrived later waited in the standby line. (Side note: Many waiting in the standby line received entry to the presentation: Hall D23 held 7500 people.)

The queue for the “Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios” presentation. The crowd to the right is the standby queue.


Of course, it was a magnificent presentation, complete with movie trailers, sizzle reels and celebrity appearances. I will admit, the ten year old in me leapt out of my seat when Harrison Ford took the stage with the freshman cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Unfortunately, cameras were sealed in plastic bags as photography and video were prohibited. Of course, there was also a tiny announcement about a Star Wars land coming to Disney Parks in the future that shook things up quite a bit. All of these elements made this a highly entertaining presentation to be at – well worth camping out for! (Disney Darlings once again, has provided more information on the Star Wars land coverage here.)

Perhaps the biggest show floor highlight for me was “Walt Disney Archives Presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit.” Given the geekery of many Disney fans, I’m surprised they weren’t handing out bibs at the exhibit entrance to catch the collective drool as we all walked past various pieces of history from Disneyland’s first 60 years. Below are just a few highlights from the amazing exhibit:


From “Walt Disney Archives Presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit:” Disneyland ticket #000001, purchased by Roy O. Disney.


From “Walt Disney Archives Presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit:” A collection of souvenir merchandise from Disneyland. I have a couple of these items, but I wouldn’t mind owning it all!


From “Walt Disney Archives Presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit:” Definitely makes me want to fly to Never Land!


From “Walt Disney Archives Presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit.” Why, hello, Harold! One of the original Abominable Snowmen from the Matterhorn.



From “Walt Disney Archives Presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit.” From the “I Want” File: A collection of souvenir guides, maps and tickets from Disneyland.


From “Walt Disney Archives Presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit.” A Nightmare Fantasmic!


I realize I’m leaving out a lot of other things that I happened to see at the Expo. From time with friends, to meeting some amazing people, to other panels and presentations, there is just so much to talk about from this amazing weekend! However, for space constraints (I know, I’ve already kept you reading this long!), I wanted to take the last portion of this post to address a bit of what you may have been reading on the internet from other blogs and sites.

First off, you will find many complaining the Expo was horribly disorganized. Now, as I stated at the outset, the lines on opening day were confusing and frustrating. I’ll agree to that. But that was really my only issue with organization all weekend long. I camped out for major presentations, attended a panel with stage pass, and a few Walt Disney Archive panels with no pass required. In fact, those panels were surprisingly not full, and contained some of the best history lessons of the weekend. If I have one regret from the Expo (besides not being able to see The Originals: Disney on Broadway concert), it would be not attending more of these Archive panels and presentations. “Sounds Delightful! An Illustrated Audio Adventure with Stacia Martin” was a true highlight for this Disney Vinyl collecting nut, as Stacia played us some great vinyl tracks while leading us through Disneyland and the 60th anniversary of the Mickey Mouse Club (Another panel I regretfully missed!).


From the Walt Disney Archives Stage: “Sounds Delightful! An Illustrated Audio Adventure with Stacia Martin.” Truly a DisNerd’s dream presentation!


I do believe many of the complaints of organization stemmed from the shopping experiences on the Expo show floor. While I did manage to get into the Dream Store with relative ease, most of the the items I wanted to purchase were sold out by Friday afternoon. As for the Disney Store line, I didn’t hear of anyone spending less than three hours in line for limited edition merchandise, so I didn’t even bother.

Which brings me to my second point. I believe for some, the Expo was pretty much a shopping event. And if that was the case, that was absolutely fine for them, but the long lines and agitation that came with them could make for a pretty crazy show floor at times, not to mention hordes of collectors and re-sellers camping out for the Expo floor every morning. The mood among many seemed to stem from these lines and lack of availability of merchandise. I don’t know what can really be done about this other than perhaps a separate building for the major retail stores (not individual vendors), but it made me a little sad. See, for me, what made the Expo so enjoyable was the celebration of Disney: like-minded fans, Disney celebrities, amazing exhibits and shows. Sure, there was some merchandise I would have liked to get – the Expo themed Mickey ears come to mind – but, overall, that’s not why I was there. My weekend was made by spending time with my friends, seeing all I could see, and having amazing experiences that will last a lifetime.

And would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I might do a couple things different, but overall, I would say it’s a great experience I wouldn’t miss for the world.

Bright Like a Diamond, Or… Happy Birthday, Disneyland!

A friend of mine posed the following question last night, on the eve of Disneyland’s 60th anniversary:

“Can you imagine what might’ve and must’ve been going through Walt’s mind 60 years ago, the evening before his Disneyland park would open?”

While many would probably answer that he was nervous, perhaps questioning what he had gotten himself into, I can’t help but think a bit differently.

I think Walt had complete confidence in his park. He was a man used to taking new risks, building on new experiences. So this new idea of a theme park? I’m sure in his mind there was little to no doubt. Sure, there were nerves at play – I mean who wouldn’t have butterflies on the eve of such a grand unveiling? However, I liken him to being more like the boy (or husband, for that matter) in this classic Disney commercial:



I can’t help but think he was giddy with anticipation. He couldn’t wait to show his park to the public. To prove the doubters wrong (mind you, after headlines declared a disastrous opening day, this one would take a while longer!). To tell everyone who came to that happy place, “Welcome.”


He certainly looks excited to show off his park!

He certainly looks excited to show off his park!


Disneyland was a dream, yes. But it was a product of hard work and determination. It came from the mind of a man who knew the public in ways other analysts and business insiders today can only dream of. It was built by people who believed in this man’s vision and insight. It was visited by throngs of tourists, locals, and dignitaries, who all wanted to see what Walt had built.

60 years later, Disneyland is still going strong. People are still traveling from all over the globe to visit Walt’s original park. Attractions and events come and go, but Walt’s vision still remains, as does his presence. I see it as I exit Fantasyland at Sleeping Beauty’s castle, as the “Partners” look out over the guests pouring in down Main Street USA. I feel it as I ride “It’s a Small World,” Walt’s anthem to the world and our likenesses. I sense it as I’m leaving the park at night, turning to see the light in his old apartment over the Fire Station, still shining brightly, knowing he’s still there in many different ways.

Today, we wish Disneyland a happy birthday. You’re shining bright like a diamond, and continue to be a source of happiness for many generations. We thank not only Walt Disney, but countless Imagineers, construction workers, and Cast Members, who have worked tirelessly both behind the scenes and onstage to bring us Walt’s vision. Here’s to many more anniversaries to come!


Walt, We Are Forever Grateful.

Walt, We Are Forever Grateful.


Why Tomorrowland Matters, Part 3: Does It Matter?


Tomorrowland fan-art poster courtesy of Joseph Marsh. Check out more of his amazing artwork on Behance!

Tomorrowland fan-art poster courtesy of Joseph Marsh. Check out more of his amazing artwork on Behance!

In Part One of the Why Tomorrowland Matters series, I spoke of my speculation of the upcoming movie, and my hopes of what it really was. In Part Two, I spoke of why the idea of Tomorrowland was so important, especially in a hardened and cynical world. Now, upon seeing the movie this past weekend, it’s time to ask the big question: did the movie live up to it’s expectations? Does Tomorrowland matter?

Short answer: Yes, it really does.

Of course, I have a longer reply as well, but it really comes down to the above statement. I’m reluctant to go too far into the movie plot, as many have not seen the movie yet, and I have no intentions to spoil it for those who intend to. What I will say it that, after viewing it, I definitely walked out of the theater with a feeling of optimism, which is exactly what the filmmakers intended. After seeing many mixed reviews, part of me truly believes how this movie is received depends on how much the viewer is willing to buy into this message. I, for one, am enamored with the idea of a place where people work together, toward a better and brighter future. Away from the distractions and discouragements that this world tends to offer, who knows what can happen? And that, my friends, is what Tomorrowland (The place within the movie) was meant to be. But is it? Can a brighter tomorrow be accomplished? These are the questions that linger as Casey (Britt Robertson), an intelligent and optimistic teenager who receives the mysterious Tomorrowland pin, and Frank (George Clooney), a cynical ex-resident banished from Tomorrowland, attempt to find this alternate-dimension locale.

While this movie is more about the journey than the destination, the destination itself is pretty phenomenal. To explain the real reason behind the journey aside from Casey’s curiosity would be, once again, giving too much away. Let’s just say there is a problem that needs to be solved, urgently, and the answer lies in Tomorrowland, along with the overseer of Tomorrowland, Governor Nix.

Why it all really matters, what it ultimately comes down to is this: Tomorrowland is a movie with a positive message. Are we as a people really doomed, or can we fix it? That’s what it really asks, and dares us to imagine it’s the latter over the former. I realize to many, it may come across as preachy, but for me, it was a message that needs to be heard. I’ve also heard from many there are too many plot holes. I would dare to say, there are some lingering questions that I’d love to see answered (perhaps in the form of an extended cut Blu-ray release), but to me personally, it didn’t take away from the fun or tone of the movie. And believe me, it is a very fun movie if you allow it to be – great humor and surprisingly intense action, especially for a PG rated movie!


I would like to register a complaint, however. I wore this on Small World... and nothing happened!

I would like to register a complaint, however. I wore this on Small World… and nothing happened!


As far as performances go, as the leads, George Clooney and Britt Robertson are great in their parts and do the roles justice. Robertson exudes an optimism, even in the darkest moments, while Clooney portrays Frank as jaded, but still shows a possible (deeply buried) spark of hope when the time comes to do so. Hugh Laurie was wonderful as David, and gives a great speech – about what, you’ll just have to go see and find out. (I realize there’s a lot of ambiguity in this review, but it’s best to remain spoiler free, and see and decide for oneself.) The biggest surprise though, is the performance by young Raffey Cassidy, who plays Athena, the mysterious young visitor/messenger from Tomorrowland. Her performance is quite memorable, and a character that definitely stuck with me well after we left the theater.

So does Tomorrowland matter? Yes. As a movie, very much so, and even more as an idea and a place many of us long for. I encourage anyone on the fence about seeing this movie to not listen to the critics. Instead, buy a ticket, see it in theaters while you can (I saw it on a large screen with great sound, but have heard the IMAX version is amazing!), and decide for yourself. At the same time, as a side note, you’ll be supporting original, non sequel or rebooted movies, which is something we don’t get much of right now!

I’d love to hear from you, fellow DisNerds – have you seen the movie? What are your feelings on it? Please keep spoilers to a minimum, if not non-existent. If you would like to discuss plot details, I’d be happy to do so. Just message me through the Confessions Facebook page!

Are you ready to go to Tomorrowland? I know I am!