A Running DisNerd, Part Two: A Walking DisNerd?

This is part two of a series – A Running DisNerd, in which I discuss my desire to prep and run in a RunDisney event. In this case, it’s the Never Land 5k, in conjunction with the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend. Being my first 5k of any kind, I’m going in not really knowing what to expect, but sharing with you, friends and fellow DisNerds, as I go. You can read A Running DisNerd, Part 1: I Don’t Run, here.

Well, the past month has crept on me, and I still feel as though preparations have not gone as well as planned. Now, this isn’t to say I’m not doing the Never Land 5K. I promise you, I will be there on Friday, May 8th, and I will give it my all. I don’t give up. But, I may be walking a bit more than running.

But I’m actually okay with this. You see, this is my first running event anywhere. It’s a push to a personal realization that I do need to be in much better shape than what I currently am. I’m using this realization to keep me going forward and doing this 5k, even if I’m going to do a portion of it walking.

Because it beats sitting still.

And what better way to do this than with the aid of Disney? I’ve already been supported by friends and fellow DisNerds – your words of encouragement have definitely inspired me! I have also talked to others who have run in these RunDisney races, and have heard that, for a starter, there’s no better race to run for support and fun. I’m definitely approaching with the fun factor in mind, as is the rest of my family. In fact, the Little DisNerd (7 years old), the dancer in the family, has informed us that she plans on sashaying through the entire run, unless she sees Peter or Wendy, because, you know, Peter and Wendy. Speaking of, we’ll also be doing a little bit of dressing up. What’s the fun of running a Never Land 5k if you’re not being part of Never Land in the process? I’m definitely focusing on the fun – I’m running through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, so that will help! I will finish the race. If nothing else, I plan on starting by running and crossing the finish line running. There aren’t many opportunities to run through Disneyland without security asking you to walk safely, so we might as well take advantage of the opportunity! If I walk more than run, so be it. I will still be taking those first steps to getting in better shape, and enjoying the magic of Disney in the process!

 

If you're going to run, might as well run through the Happiest Place on Earth!

If you’re going to run, why not run through the Happiest Place on Earth?

 

I’m just a few days away, friends. I appreciate the well wishes and support. Over the weekend, I plan on posting and sharing pictures of not only the 5k experience, but of the parks and goings on as well. Make sure you’re “liking” Confessions on Facebook, as well as following on Twitter and Instagram. You never know where something may show up! Once I’ve returned, I’ll be blogging my views on the entire RunDisney experience – I look forward to sharing more with you!

A Running DisNerd, Part 1: I Don’t Run.

RunDisney Logo Copyright The Walt Disney Company

RunDisney Logo Copyright The Walt Disney Company

If you frequent Disney Parks or follow the Disney Parks Blog (or many other blogs for that matter) online, I’m sure you’ve heard of RunDisney. In case you haven’t, RunDisney is Disney’s, you guessed it, running division. If you’ve heard of a marathon, half-marathon, 10k, or 5k taking place within the confines of Disney-owned property, it’s a RunDisney event. Countless numbers sign up for these events many months in advance to run different themed competitive and non-competitive races throughout the parks. The races have been known to sell out in days, sometimes even hours! At any RunDisney event, you will see all types of runners, including many costumed runners, depending on the theme of the particular run they’re participating in. These races seem to be the perfect type of events for Disney fans, young and old, who are into running as well. And I’ve always thought to myself, “Well, that’s nice for them.”

But not for me. I’ve never been a runner.

Okay, there was that one fifty-yard dash in fifth grade, where I managed to come in fifth place, and actually got a ribbon. However, my running days pretty much began and ended there. I’ll admit, I’m out of shape. I’ve been meaning to do something about that. But running has never been one of my preferred methods. Do I run? Maybe when chased, but that’s about it. Therefore, is RunDisney for me? Had you asked me previously, I would tell you it was not in the cards. At least, this was the case up until last summer, when Mrs. DisNerd mentioned that registration was going to be opening up for the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon weekend in May 2015. The event that specifically caught our attention was the Never Land 5k. If you’ve been reading Confessions for any amount of time, you know through posts such as “Still Living In Never Land” and “Real Character (Or, How Peter and Jake Made Wendy’s Day Perfectly Darling)” exactly how much Peter Pan and his Never Land family mean to us. With that being said, if there were a RunDisney event I was willing to participate in, the Never Land 5k would be the one.So, on that August morning, as registration opened, I registered our family to run in this event, with full intent of getting in shape for the run.

I’m ashamed to admit, this hasn’t happened yet for yours truly, and I’m running out of time. A little more than a month out, and this DisNerd is nowhere near ready. I could blame injury (not the best knee in the world, a sprained ankle at one point), I could blame allergies and sickness, but in all honesty, what I blame most of all is me. Between everything else, there still should have been time to train and prep. It just hasn’t happen, and I can only point the finger at myself.

With that realization out of the way, I feel there is still time to ready myself for a 5k without killing myself. I know I could walk at a brisk pace even. But this is RUNDisney, and now I have something to prove to myself. So begins a month and a half of training, to get into a decent running/jogging shape, and cross the finish line to earn my first 5k medal.

Will winning this make me an honorary Lost Boy? Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

Will winning this make me an honorary Lost Boy?
Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

I plan on posting an occasional update on my progress here, as well as sharing my overall experience with a RunDisney event. I’d like to ask you to join me on this journey. I’d also like to hear from you, fellow DisNerds. Any other RunDisney participants out there? I’d love to know your stories or experiences – maybe we can inspire each other! Can’t wait to share with you all at the finish line!

Diamonds and Surprises – A DisNerd’s Thoughts on #Disneyland60

I’m sure like me, many of you were up last night glued to Twitter feeds or various Disney news sites, looking for updates on the media event and announcements for Disneyland’s upcoming Diamond Celebration for its 60th anniversary. As I scrolled through the Twitter feed searching for the latest news using #Disneyland60, I noticed a common theme amongst other users: excitement. Rumors had been swirling for months now, and after an event last year that revealed the Diamond Celebration logo, fans were hungry for more. When Tom Staggs took the stage and introduced Steve Davison, boy, did we ever get some exciting news!

We get a new World of Color Show with “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney.”

World of Color, Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

World of Color, Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

Both Sleeping Beauty Castle and Carthay Circle Theatre will be decked out with a diamond touch!

Sleeping Beauty Castle 60th Anniversary Concept Art, Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

Sleeping Beauty Castle 60th Anniversary Concept Art, Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

 

Carthay Circle Theatre 60th Anniversary Concept Art, Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

Carthay Circle Theatre 60th Anniversary Concept Art, Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

 

We’ll see a new nighttime light parade in the form of “Paint the Night.”

 

Tinker Bell in "Paint the Night." Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

Tinker Bell in “Paint the Night.” Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company

 

And we’ll also get a new firework extravaganza, complete with digital mapping projections and experiences throughout the park with “Disneyland Forever!”

 

"Disneyland Forever" Concept Art. Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company.

“Disneyland Forever” Concept Art. Picture copyright The Walt Disney Company.

I have to say, this all looks amazing, and I can’t wait to see it in person. Add on the fact that “Disneyland Forever” will feature a brand new song – “Kiss Goodnight” – by legend and one of my Disney heroes Richard Sherman, and I am in DisNerd heaven!

However, the most exciting news of the night for yours truly came from Tom Staggs (Chairman of Disney’s Parks and Resorts division), who said, “Of course we want to leave a few surprises…”

Why was this my favorite part? Glad you asked.

I feel in this internet age of instant gratification, we sometimes feel as though we need to know everything, and know it as soon as we possibly can. We’re four months away from the 60th anniversary kickoff, and we find ourselves wanting to know what shows will be added, whether there will be any special promotions or merchandise, if there will be changes to rides with long refurbishments. I do get the fact that many of us will be planning our trips based on this information,  and it’s good to know we definitely have new things to look forward to. Of course, one of Walt’s favorite words to use was “things,” and when he said it, it was more in reference to what cards he had yet to show. He would talk about Pirates of the Caribbean and say, “Of course there’ll be pirates and things…” Of course there would be pirates in a pirate attraction. But what other “things” was he talking about? Well, these were the “things” that made the attraction magical. The surprises around every corner. The amazing technology of audio animatronics. X Atencio’s rollicking “Yo Ho, a Pirate’s Life For Me.” Things that were meant to be experienced, not just talked and written about. If you ask me, we need more of these little “things,” surprises we’re not expecting.

I know many of us (myself included) tend to search for and scour over every piece of news regarding changes at the parks as much as we can. But some things need to be seen with the eyes, to be heard with the ears, to be taken in from every angle that words on a website can’t describe. For a long time, it’s been rumored that the much elusive Hatbox Ghost will be making a return to the Haunted Mansion. We’ve begged Disney for an announcement on the matter. But how amazing would it be if it were to just be put back into the attraction without notice? That a guest could be on the ride, and just… see him standing there, head in hatbox and all? “Did we just see….?” Imagine the surprise! I realize the word would spread fast, but what an awesome way to experience it!

When it comes to the 60th, I’m glad to know plans are being made. I’m genuinely excited for what’s been announced. But what I’m most excited for is being able to be there and see things for myself. I want surprise when I step through the gates. I want to be wowed by something I haven’t read about.

As my friend and fellow DisNerd Debi told me, it’s definitely a balancing act. “What is announced has to be big enough to draw the crowds (not a critique – Disneyland is an expensive park to run) while saving enough to keep us surprised, delighted and satisfied with our experience.” Disney, if you’re reading this, I’m sure I can speak for more than just myself when I say, we would be more than delighted for these surprises you have yet to reveal!

How about you, fellow DisNerds? What are you looking most forward to? Do you want to be surprised by some “things” as well? Sound off below, and feel free to share!

 

Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Park

 

Happy Halloween, all! This week, we’ve got a treat for you as Confessions reader and fellow DisNerd Crystal so graciously shared a few pictures she took while attending Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Park!

 

 

 

 

Looks like a fun party with just a few of your closest friends!

 

Crystal (Jessie) and her parents, dressed up for the occasion!

 

Thanks for the pictures, Crystal. Looks like you and your family had a blast!

I’ve never been to one of these events myself, but it looks like a lot of fun. What about you, dear readers? Have you attended a Halloween party, either at Disneyland or Walt Disney World? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Why Our #DisneySide is Still Showing… And Always Will

It’s been over a year since Disney started their #DisneySide social media campaign, and with the “Haunt Your Disney Side” contest recently announced, it looks as though it will be continuing for a while.

And that’s just fine with me.

If you’re unsure as to what “Disney Side” means, exactly, it’s defined by Disney as follows: “It’s the side you simply can’t wait to share. It’s the side of you that laughs more, screams more, and just plain lives life to the fullest. It’s the side of you that comes out to play the moment you and your family step through the gates of a Disney theme park.” I think as fans of Disney, many of us can relate to that statement and agree we definitely DO have a Disney Side. At the same time, I think there’s even more to it than that.

To me, a Disney Side isn’t JUST about the parks. It’s about Disney, and how different aspects of it are brought out through our personalities in daily life. It’s that side of us that causes us to find “hidden Mickeys” in the clouds. It’s the part that has to burst out singing, “To defeat… the Huns!” anytime someone says, “Let’s get down to business.” It’s that lump in your throat any time you hear the familiar strains of “When You Wish Upon a Star.” It’s the fact that while Disney may not rule our lives, it’s such a part that if it was no longer there, we’d feel as though something was missing.

So when this campaign first launched, I knew it was something I could definitely get into. Little did I know how into it I’d be getting.

Shortly after it was announced, Disney also launched a “Show Your Disney Side” Vine contest, challenging fans to show their Disney Side through a roughly six second video. Although I had heard of Vine, it was not an app I was familiar with using. This was soon to change. Over the course of about two weeks, the DisNerd family started brainstorming, scripting, and executing ideas for the sake of showing off our Disney Side selves.

Our ideas ranged from simple….

 

 

… to paying tribute to favorite films…

 

 

…or theme park attractions….

…. and just outright punny.

After multiple videos, we realized how much fun we were having showing off our Disney Sides. It brought out creativity, playfulness, and family togetherness, creating memories that will last a lifetime. However, we had an idea for one more Vine. One that pretty much encapsulated how we felt about taking trips to Disneyland. With that in mind, we scripted out our idea, with input from all three of us, coming up with the following:

It’s a little hard to explain why, but when we finished with this Vine, we just looked at each other and said, “This is it. This is the one. If we have a chance of winning in the contest, it’s this one.” And with that, our Vine entries were done. Sure enough, over a week later, I was contacted that “Dreaming of Disney” had indeed won the daily contest! And while that was a grand accomplishment, the bigger one was this creative flow that had come from it all – one that had inspired us to have fun and bond over something we truly loved.

If we felt our Disney Side had shown before, it definitely seems to be showing even more now! We have done more Vine videos for fun, we have encouraged ourselves to try new things (such as a Run Disney event next year), and just embrace our love for the company started by Walt even more than we already did!

Another way we show our Disney Side? Disney Bounding - Dapperly, of course!

Another way we show our Disney Side? Disney Bounding – Dapperly, of course!

 So thank you, Disney. Thank you for introducing the #DisneySide campaign. For inspiring us and countless others to be able to share our individual Disney Sides with a like minded group! What about you, fellow DisNerds? Have you participated in any official #DisneySide promotions? Or, how do you show your Disney Side elsewhere? I’d love to hear!

After All…Or, Happy 50th, Small World!

“There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware… It’s a small world after all.”  – Richard and Robert Sherman

 

small world

“it’s a small world” at Disneyland

It’s the ride and song people love to mock and say they hate. It’s the valley of the dolls in the Happiest Place on Earth. It’s the attraction people most fear getting stuck on. So much so, in fact, that many refuse to ride it. It’s the song that has at times been used as a punchline in Disney movies itself.

It’s also the first attraction we took our daughter on when she visited Disneyland for the first time. It’s the ride that I find myself wanting to do at least once every day of my trip. It’s a song that has shaped not just my philosophy on why I love to write about Disney, but thoughts on life itself.

Yes, we have our differences. But we all have hopes and fears, excitements and disappointments. And I believe in lifting each other up, encouraging, and helping others to smile within the darkness we feel at times. We’re human, and need to treat each other accordingly. I feel that in reaching out to our fellow human beings, we’re helping ourselves as much as each other. Be positive. Learn to look past our differences to love each other. We may not agree on things, but perhaps…there’s some common ground. The mountains may divide us; the oceans may separate us. But in this day and age especially, the world is getting smaller and smaller in terms of communicating and reaching our fellow human beings.  When I think of the song in those terms, when I ride a boat through various countries and see smiling, happy children… I believe the world CAN be better.

There’s a video that I love watching to this day of songwriter Richard Sherman, beginning the song as originally intended – as a ballad. It really drives home the lyrics for me, and many times brings a tear to my eye:

This, to me, is the perfect example of the mastery of the Sherman Brothers’ music in score and lyric. As the story goes, the original concept was for the children of each country to sing their own national anthem. However, on a boat ride, the overlapping songs made for a jumbled, Tower of Babel-esque mess. How beautiful and symbolic for these two to come up with a melody and infusion of lyrics that would carry from room to room regardless of the language in which it was delivered!

A couple years back, upon the passing of Robert Sherman, his son (and co-director of “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story”) wrote the following in memoriam of his father:

“From the time the ride opened, it was a tradition for the Bob Sherman family to always go on “It’s a Small World,” every time we visited Disneyland. Dad would be on the boat, but he never took in the ride. He’d watch the children’s faces. Dad studied their awe and wonder and loved that, by the end of the ride, these kids would know the words and be singing along. He’d always tear up.

Dad told me he wished he could just stand at the end of that ride and shake everyone’s hand as they stepped off the boat. He wanted to thank each person for listening, for taking to heart his deceptively simple message of peace and brotherhood….

….It warms my heart to know Dad’s messages of peace and love, brotherhood, charity and humility, hope — and family — are there forever in his and my Uncle’s songs. And I know that somewhere in the world right this very moment, some child is learning and singing out Dad’s lovely words and Dick’s gorgeous melodies — “It’s a Small World” or one of the Sherman Brothers’ thousand other beloved songs. Simple, sing-able and sincere. And these children will, in turn, pass them onto their own. And my Dad is right there with them, smiling through a tear. As I am now.

Dad and his dear, sweet heart and brilliant mind will live on forever. His ride may be over, but when you sing his words, know that Bob Sherman is smiling down on you — and wishing he could shake your hand. —– Thank you.”

Thanks for your words, Jeff. I have no doubt that he is and lives on, not only in this attraction, but in so many other works as well.

I would be remiss in not mentioning others who helped make “it’s a small world” what it is. Wonderful legends such as Mary Blair, Alice Davis, Harriet Burns, Rolly Crump. Their contributions to costuming, architecture and color design helped turn a boat ride in a show building into a beautiful work of art. And of course, the man who dreamed it up and really believed in the message he put forward, Walt Disney himself. Years from now, people will still be making fun of the song. They may still be debating whether Disney characters should have been added to the attraction, whether the outside facade should be colorful or white. Yet, I truly believe that even more people, young and old alike, will continue to ride and be amazed at the artistry and the message the attraction brings. Perhaps they will be able to forget their worries for 15 minutes as they listen to the lyrics, thinking about how wonderful life could be if we all found common ground. Maybe, for at least a moment, they really will realize that it truly IS a small world after all.

Happy birthday, “it’s a small world!” Thanks to all who made it the amazing attraction and song that it has become on a worldwide scale. Here’s to many more happy cruises!

Looking forward to setting sail again!

Looking forward to setting sail again!

 

 

A Bench in the Park

THE Bench. Or at least one of them. There were a few around the carousel at Griffith Park. Photo courtesy Mr. Twitchy

According to Walt, it’s important that we all remember one thing: that it was all started by a mouse. But when it comes to Disneyland, I also can’t help but think…. it was all started by a bench.

As has been repeated over the years, I’m sure by now we all know the story. Walt would occasionally take his daughters on a date to Griffith Park for a day together. As the girls would ride the carousel at the park, Walt would sit and watch, eating popcorn and thinking. Thinking about a park where parents could enjoy themselves as much as their children. Where entire families could have fun instead of someone being relegated to a bench. This bench proved to be a catalyst for Disneyland – a theme park that far exceeded those expectations.

Therefore, it was somewhat both fitting and ironic, when asked by a friend where my favorite spot in Disneyland to just “hang” was, that I responded with “a bench.” But not just any bench. While there are many places to take it easy and rest in the park, there’s one location in my opinion that has the others beat.

Simple, unassuming… and the perfect spot. Photo Courtesy of Mr. Twitchy

While not as exciting as an attraction, nor as appetite satisfying as a restaurant, there’s something incredibly amazing to me about sitting on a bench at the base of Main Street Station, looking out at Main Street toward Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. As one sits on one of these benches, especially later at night, one gets a true feeling of how amazing the park can really be.

Imagine sitting on a bench, listening to turn-of-the-century style music, hearing conversations between cast members and guests, seeing guests hurry into stores to make last minute purchases. Observing other guests as they leave the park for the day with children passed out in strollers. These same little ones who started the day with such energy and excitement are now reliving the adventure in their dreams. While sitting it that spot, you get a whiff of the popcorn from the nearby stand in Town Square, beginning to contemplate giving in and getting your own box. Keep a sharp eye out and you may see a feral cat scurry by amidst all the hustle and bustle, causing you wonder how it feels to be a small feline living in a land of over-sized mice.

If you look further down Main Street, you can see, against a backdrop of a European castle, the outline of a man and a mouse smiling at all the happy guests. At that moment, you turn to look to the fire station and see a light on – indicating that the same man’s spirit lives on…

Yes, that bench is the ultimate “just hang” spot for me. And perhaps that’s the ultimate beauty of Walt’s original Magic Kingdom. With so much to enjoy for the whole family, the benches placed throughout the park give us a view to such an amazing panorama of everything that makes it truly magical.

With that being said, now I ask, dear readers and fellow DisNerds – Do you have a favorite spot to just relax and enjoy within Disneyland or any of Disney’s theme parks for that matter? I’d love to hear from you as well!

On a side note – this weekend (Feb 21st-23rd), Confessions will once again be at Disneyland, including participating in Dapper Day festivites! Make sure you’re following on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates and pictures from the park!