You’ve Got A “New” Friend In Me

Hey-there, Hi-there, Ho-there, DisNerds!

I cannot even begin to tell you how ecstatic I am to be featured here on this wonderful blog. English words fail to describe just how excited I am to see where this all goes. (Luckily we all love a world whose ridiculously imaginatory lexicon is only rivaled by Dr. Seuss, so I believe I can find some word to describe my feelings. Tigger-ific? Supercalifragilistexpealidocious? Point being: Disney is awesome and I’m infinitely-and-beyond happy to be on-board with this blog.)

So, I’m certain I’ll have the opportunity to explain more of my Disney-love (how I came to love it, how I live it, etc.) but I’ll just take this paragraph to at least introduce myself this much: I am Mouseketeer Hayden (“Hi, Hayden…”) I am 21 years old, and I’ve been a Disney geek for 10+ years now. (The first 11 or so was all training, mind you.) It’s interesting to see the variety of Disney geeks you stumble upon… Some can stump me on every single Mickey Mouse related trivia question we’d be asked, others seem to know an uncomfortable amount of information about Annette Funicello. Myself? Gosh, you’ll be hearing a lot from me about Disneyland, Disney Imagineering, Disney Animation, and the man Disney himself.

Craig spoke briefly of my life’s most recent grand adventure as he introduced me. In short, I returned this May from Seattle, Washington where I served as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ll spare you two years worth of stories (though I’d be happy to share with any who’d like to hear them via private conversations) and explain this much: I served this mission knowing full well that I’d be away from family and friends for two years, my only contact with them being occasional letters and weekly e-mails (and I was allotted only an hour’s worth of e-mailing, mind you). I understood that I’d be asked to forsake all forms of “worldly” entertainment, including, but not limited to: movies, music (excluding sacred hymns, of course), radio, iPods, iPhones, computers, newspapers, television, etc. I knew that I wouldn’t have any “vacation” time; certainly no time to even think about Disneyland, let alone go to Disneyland. Such is the life of a Mormon missionary!

From Mouseketeer to Missionary: Setting aside mouse ears for a clean-cut 'do, a pin lanyard for a necktie.

From Mouseketeer to Missionary: Setting aside mouse ears for a clean-cut ‘do, a pin lanyard for a necktie.

May 11th, 2013, I was reunited with my family. It was a wonderful moment. I can’t even begin to describe the emotion(s) of it all. Suffice it to say, I was with who I loved most. But I wasn’t “where” we needed to be quite yet.

May 28, 2013, I came “home”. Tears welled up in my eyes seeing the crest of the Matterhorn rise as we drove down the I-5. My heart was racing driving down Katella. There it was, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Disneyland was still there. Finally, my family was reunited with the place we loved most. They had gone a handful of times during my mission, but lamented the fact that the group was always an un-even 5. (I like to think they actually missed me, but I think they were more upset at the fact that 5 always meant someone was riding solo, missing the fact that 6 in a party leant itself to easier seating configurations… I jest.)

I felt absolutely spoiled; for the next 5 days I felt like Disneyland was putting on its best show just for me. The rides went smoother, the cast members were happier, the paint was fresher… I felt like it’d missed me, and that it was mighty happy to see me back. Thank goodness, too. I entertained the thought that perhaps I wasn’t as ready for Disneyland as perhaps I needed to be.

It was interesting to see the things that changed, yes, from major installments to minor details. Some sails and other various fabrics in Pirates of the Caribbean had been changed out. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye certainly had its share of enhancements.  California Adventure… I don’t think anything was the same there! A new entrance, Buena Vista Street, Cars Land, trolleys, shows, stores… What an experience that was, seeing for the first time! A water feature here had been repainted, a merchandise rack had been shifted there… But I was still walkin’ right down the middle of the same Main Street USA. I was still being followed home by the same pestering hitch-hiking ghosts. It’s just as small a world now as it was when those 2 years ago. Which was all sorts of wonderful. I found I needed to be at Disneyland for more reasons than to just satisfy a Disney geek’s cravings and yearnings. I needed to be there to remind myself of where I had come from, who I was, and where I’ve wanted to be going. It was here I felt a figurative “last piece of the puzzle” fall into place, solidifying all of the life lessons I had learned through my missionary service into my heart. I was I sure picked an eventful two years to take a hiatus from, I’ll tell you what! It was wonderful to feel that my two years away from the magic didn’t deplete me in anyway. It has very much so been a compounding experience; each passing moment finds me all the more prepared for the next. I was just as ready for Disneyland as I had ever been.

Friends at first, and friends at last. Disney hasn't stopped providing magical moments, and I certainly haven't stopped enjoying them!

Friends at first, and friends at last. Disney hasn’t stopped providing magical moments, and I certainly haven’t stopped enjoying them!

Now granted, that’s a very sappy and sentimental look at things. Perhaps another entry later I can provide a greater (and more factual) trip report. I’ll say this much:

Car’s Land? I watch a Youtube video of Radiator Springs Racers every day to remind myself that it was actually real. From Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree down the road to the Cadillac Range, it was nothing but extraordinarily delightful.

Buena Vista Street was far greater than I could have ever anticipated. I first saw it at nighttime, and I immediately fell in love. It provides such an incredibly immersive experience. It had me in awe the minute I scanned my pass and stepped in.

Ariel’s Undersea Adventure can be summed up in this question: Where can I get one of them Ursula audio-animatronics for my home? (I LOVE IT. I NEED IT.)

There are so many more stories to share, and yet today there is so little time. I hope you enjoyed this, and if anything I hope you take this from it all: I friggin’ missed Disneyland, I’m excited to be back, and I can’t wait to go again. And, if I might add… I am happy to be here, contributing to this blog! Have a Disney Day, folks!

9 thoughts on “You’ve Got A “New” Friend In Me

  1. What a great post from somebody who had ‘stepped’ away from the magic for such a worthy cause. I’m excited to read more and I too would like an animatronic Ursula for my home. Yay Hayden!

  2. Hayden, once again, Welcome! So glad to have you contributing here. Looking forward to where this wild and crazy blog takes us, and can’t wait to hear your unique perspectives on Disney. Your love for the mouse and beyond is infectious, and I can’t wait to hear more stories!

  3. It’s good to have you back Hayden, and fun to see your musings on this blog! I completely forgot you hadn’t been on Ariel yet! It’s hard to imagine my first ride, since my little Ella has probably ridden it close to 500 times by now haha! Can’t wait to see your future articles!
    How many more til you throw in the challenge for your audience to read the BOM? 🙂

  4. Hi Hayden! (: I love the whole DisNerd blog. And I think I belong to the group (; But I have one suggestion, get a East coast blogger, so you have a Disney World point of view on topics. Have a magical day! (:

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