Confessions of a Fan

Happy 2015 to all of you, devoted readers and fellow DisNerds! I realize it’s been too long since I wrote a post or shared anything here, and I would like to apologize for that. While I could blame the crazy time of year, work, or general business, the truth is, I think my time away consisted of something more.

I think, in a way, I forgot how to be a fan.

 

no-wrong-kind-ehghls

 

You see, I love Disney. I always have, even when the preteen in me was afraid to admit it. If a new movie came out, I had to see it right away. New CD collection? It didn’t matter if I had most of the songs elsewhere, this one had a few new ones – a must have! Trips to the park were always amazing, from rides on the newest rides to strolls through the shops to see all the new merchandise. If you knew me, you knew of my extensive love for all things Disney.

I also have a second passion: Writing.

Oh, how I love writing. While never formally educated to do so, I feel I’ve adopted a style that’s my own. Long winded sentences, dashes, ellipses, parentheses that allow me to stray off topic a bit.. They’re all very much a part of me as well, and I feel very much freed when I’m able to sit at a keyboard and type. To me, the written word is my chosen method of communication, and if I could find a way to make a living out of doing it, I would jump at the chance.

With that being said, Confessions of a DisNerd was pretty much a no-brainer for me. Write about my favorite subject? Of course! As you have seen, over the past (nearly) three years, I have poured out my heart on the subject of Disney, covering a range of everything from television shows to movies, from music to theme parks. And I have loved every minute of it. However, in the past year, I seemed too determined to focus on the News side, and less on the fan side. In searching for news on the company to report, I missed out on how excited I would get as a fan of all things Disney. And that’s never been who I am.

If I were to be honest, I’d say that experience drained me, maybe even slowed my passion for writing a bit. Never for Disney – just writing about it. I had stopped writing about the chills I felt in hearing “When You Wish Upon a Star.”  About the giddiness of seeing a castle at the end of a turn-of-the-century town. About the anticipation of a new film, and the joy of seeing it through a child’s eye. Instead, I looked for bits of news to share with you, the readers and fellow DisNerds, and report on it when possible. But the truth is, there are plenty of sites that do just that, and they do it well. I realize now a need to return to what I do best: Being a fan.

Does this mean that I’ll stop reporting on “News For DisNerds?” Not necessarily, but I think it will be reported from this fan’s point of view. I recently posed a question to friends of mine. What does it mean to be a fan? While the answers varied, I think the number one resounding  theme was one word: Passion. The more I thought about it, the more I realized a simple truth. If I’m going to report on something I find interesting or exciting, I need to let that interest and excitement show! If I feel something is newsworthy, I want to present it with the passion that hits me as I find out about it.

So what does this mean going forward? It means, that I’m hoping to invoke some of that passion and fun back into the blog; to truly approach things as the Disney fan I am. This year I’ll be experiencing a few firsts, such as my first ever RunDisney event, as well as the D23 Expo. My genuine hope is to be able to convey the experience as a first timer, and share that with you, the readers. As well, I hope to share more stories of some of my favorite things: Disney books, music, movies, and of course, trips to Disneyland. Also, Mrs. DisNerd is very eager to share some of the things that we as fans have done with birthday parties and projects that show off our true DisNerds!

I’m truly excited to see what the future has to offer, and want to give you my sincere thanks for sticking out this journey with me so far. Here’s looking forward to a Disney filled 2015!

Making Walt Proud

I was backstage at Disneyland, just behind the backstage entrance near “it’s a small world”. My high school marching band had just finished parading, marching down Main Street USA and beyond Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. With the gates now closed behind us, the band began setting down their instruments, taking off their uniforms, relaxing. I, however, was not. I was crying. I was happier than I had ever been in my entire life. I had just marched down Disneyland, an absolute dream come true. As I sat there backstage, alone and still crying, a hand patted my back, and a voice told me simply… “Walt would be proud.” (That certainly didn’t help stop the tears, if anything it brought on an onslaught of more, but only because it resonated so deeply in my sophomore-age heart.) Certainly, that sentiment seems fluffy and shallow, and if you were to think too much about it, you might be able to disqualify the statement entirely. But such meant so very much to me then, and still continues to mean so very much to me now.

Today is Walt Disney’s birthday, and in honor of such, I simply wanted to share a bit of what this man has done for me in my life, much of which I am certain you will heartedly agree with. I have never met Walt Disney. I will never meet Walt Disney. My knowledge of him only extends so far as the knowledge his closest associates have shared. Yet in learning more of this “man behind the mouse,” I found a man who helped to create my dreams, and then taught me how to make them come true. He taught me, and still teaches me, of imagination, optimism, spirit, and ingenuity. Walt Disney has inspired me and will continue to inspire me.
At the end of each and every trip to Disneyland, I sit myself on a bench near “Partners”, the commemorative statue of Walt with Mickey Mouse. I sit under the twinkling lights in the trees, with tired guests walking past me for one last photo of the castle. Many families stop and look at Walt and Mickey, and many small kids have turned to their folks to ask, “Mom, who was Walt Disney?” Their answers never fail to bring tears to my eyes. “He was a magical man who made Disneyland,” some say. “He was remarkable, he had so many dreams.” “He’s who you have to thank for the wonderful time we’ve had at Disneyland.” I stay on that bench until security asks me to leave, but until they do, I have little conversations with Walt. I report back on my dreams. It’s a tradition of mine I’ve been doing since I was 12. I make sure I am doing him proud. And to all of us dreamers, hoping to carry on ol’ Uncle Walt’s legacy, I’m sure we’re doing him proud.

Thankful For You!

Note: During the months of November and December, I will be posting something I am thankful for within the spectrum of Disney. With so much negativity in the world, I encourage everyone to be thankful and count their blessings.

This may not be the most Disney-centered thankful post, but nonetheless, I’m thankful and this needs to be said.

Today marks post number 100 on Confessions of a DisNerd. A year and a half ago I started this journey as an exercise in not just writing, not just writing about Disney, but writing about Disney in a positive manner. Today, I look back at the blog, feeling proud of what I’ve been able to do so far. Yes, there were times I stumbled through a bit of writer’s block. But I also had enough of a love and appreciation of Disney that I knew inspiration would strike again. As I continue this “Thankful For Disney” series, I  realize there’s so much more I’ve yet to talk about – this gives me inspiration to keep going!

But what gives me even more inspiration to keep going is you, the readers. While I’m not doing Confessions for popularity or notoriety, it still warms my heart to see your “likes,” your shares, your page views and your comments. Seeing readers react and comment with their own stories and thoughts gives one an awesome feeling of community. Knowing there are people out there that are getting something out of the words I write truly means a lot to this blogger.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading. I hope you’re all still around for post number 200, and beyond. I love sharing these thoughts with all of you – thanks for coming along on the ride!

Thankful For “When You Wish Upon a Star”

Note: During the months of November and December, I will be posting something I am thankful for within the spectrum of Disney. With so much negativity in the world, I encourage everyone to be thankful and count their blessings.

Sometimes a song can take you away to another place, or help you believe that dreams come true. I know I’m thankful for songs like these.

There are memorable songs from movies – you know, the songs that you find yourself humming long after the film ended – and then there are songs that transcend movies. Leigh Harline and Ned Washington’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” goes far beyond the film it was written for. This is not in anyway a knock on Pinocchio. No, the movie is among my favorite Disney animated movies – quite possibly my favorite, depending on the day! It’s just that the song itself is so much more. It’s become not only a theme song for the Walt Disney Company in general, but one to dreamers everywhere as well.

Like a bolt out of the blue...

Like a bolt out of the blue…

The notion of wishing upon a star may seem silly, but the idea of dreams coming true? Well, this is something we all long for. Now, in the “real world” we realize we can’t sit back and wait for things to come to us. If Walt had simply wished upon a star without actively pursuing that dream…. well, I don’t think that would have turned out very well. However, the notion of dreams coming true if we have the courage to pursue them (hmmm… now THAT sounds catchy!) is a noble one. Throw in a wish on the evening star as well? Believe in your dreams, and you never know.

Every time my family goes to Disneyland, we always pause underneath Sleeping Beauty’s Castle to here Jiminy Cricket sing his anthem to passers by. Combined with the magical feeling that the park brings, that song means even more there. And I’m certainly thankful for the feeling it brings.

I feel it only fitting to close out this thankful post with the song itself – perhaps my favorite cover of “When You Wish…” Take it away, Pops….

Thankful for Disney Friends

Note: During the months of November and December, I will be posting something I am thankful for within the spectrum of Disney. With so much negativity in the world, I encourage everyone to be thankful and count their blessings.

We all have those special friends who “get” us, and in the Disney community, we’re thankful for that.

Say “Mickey Mouse” or “Disneyland” to people, and generally, you’ll get a positive reaction. However, say you’re going on your fourth trip to Disneyland in a year, and you may get, “Again? Don’t you ever get tired of that place?” from many. However, there are the friends who go, “Awesome! I Can’t wait for my next trip!” Those are the Disney friends. The ones who just get it. They’re the people I talk about when I post articles like “DisNerds, and Proud Of It.”

There are certain people in my life, consisting of friends and family that I can sit and talk to Disney for a long period of time to. Now, we’re not just discussing how much we love the mouse. Instead, we’re going in depth about new projects in film, stage, or theme park. We’re discussing the latest book, the newest Disney Legend inductees, what Disney Imagineering got right on the latest in park attraction, what needs work, what we’d like to see next. Others may look at us and shake their heads. We’re not exclusionary, just kindred spirits. Throughout my life, I’ve met quite a few who I feel I can talk to and share this Disneyfied feeling with. Some true friendships have developed from this that go beyond Disney as well. I feel blessed to be married to a kindred spirit in this sense (and many others), and seem to be raising one as well!

disney again

Of course, we should be thankful for all of our friends, even if we don’t understand why they don’t appreciate Disney the way we do.

As I’ve hit on in other posts, while I write on Disney, I believe we all have passions or fandoms that we embrace. When we find others we can share that with, we have reason to be thankful indeed.

Thankful For Disney

Greetings, dear readers and fellow DisNerds!

Last year, I took up a “15 Day Disneyland Challenge.” To this day, it remains one of the most read categories on Confessions. I’ve been wanting to do a new challenge for a while now, and found one to do, revolving around the wonderful world of Disney movies. However, upon a couple extra days of reflection and planning, I’ve decided to delay that challenge to the beginning of next year in exchange for a different kind of challenge – one that I don’t find all that challenging, but am extremely excited to share.

One thing that I’ve always tried to pride myself on is keeping Confessions of a DisNerd positive and original. There are so many Disney bloggers out there with a negative slant – not that I have any arguments with criticism (it’s necessary to help improve and inform), but one can only read so much “watchdog” material before either joining in or getting in a fighting mood themselves. Confessions is about the positive side of Disney, and there is plenty to be positive and thankful for!

Donald may just be thankful he's not a turkey!

Donald may just be thankful he’s not a turkey!

This got me to thinking about the month of November and the holiday of Thanksgiving. During the month, many friends post daily on Facebook what they are thankful for: friends, family, circumstances and opportunities… whatever may strike them as a reason to be thankful. And there really are so many reasons to be thankful in life, aren’t there? If you’re online and reading this blog post, you’re doing better than many. I realize by being able to share this with all of my readers how blessed I am as well. So much to be thankful for!

But I digress.

Likewise, as stated above, there is so much within the Disney universe to be thankful for. Therefore, over the month of November, I will take up the task of posting each day one thing I am grateful for within the world of Disney. Be it movies, theme parks, people who have worked for the company or the man itself, I will share not only what I’m thankful for, but why. I’ve asked Confessions contributor Hayden to share a post or two as well along the way and can’t wait to see what he shares as well! I hope you’ll check back with me on this journey that starts November 1st. I’m looking forward to sharing my thankfulness with all of you, as well as finding out what you all are thankful for. I also hope this encourages you to count your blessings and remember what you are thankful for, Disney-wise and beyond!

It Only Takes A Moment

Hello, DisNerds! It’s as great now as it has ever been to be talking with you all today. Midterm-week has tried its mightiest to swallow me up Monstro-style, but this little wooden boy and his water-logged conscience are trying their darned-est to stay on top of it all.

I have hopes to someday write up something a little more historical for you all. That day is not today. No, I’ve been impressed lately by the true genesis of my Disney experience, a topic rather emotionally-driven, less intellectually satisfying. Bear with me, folks, please, as what I’m about to discuss is certainly something we can all relate to.

An experience I had with a professor of mine is going to provide the central theme for today’s article. Most days I’m pretty easy to identify in the midst of the college-crowd; look for the tall kid with his Mickey Mouse backpack. Unless I haven’t done laundry in some time, (which I need to do as soon I finish this up, actually) chances are good I’ll be in some Disney-related wear, Disneyland t-shirts tend to be the weapon of choice. A professor kept me behind after class one day to comment on my shirt, which featured the attraction poster for Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds. She mentioned how she had just returned from a visit to the Magic Kingdom in Florida, and that her major souvenir purchase was ‘Poster Art of the Disney Parks’, a gorgeous coffee-table book that showcases hundreds of iconic Disney Park attractions’ posters. I asked if she had a favorite poster. She said she loved the early Fantasyland designs, and was hoping of purchasing smaller versions of such to decorate her soon-to-be newborn child’s bedroom with. She asked if I knew anywhere she could find them.

“Disneyland and Walt Disney World sell them at varying sizes and quality all throughout the resorts. I remember the first time I bought one…”

*cue flashback*

I remembered sitting outside the ‘World of Disney’ store in Downtown Disney, waiting and waiting, with my dad right beside me. I couldn’t have been more than 13 years old. My family’s 5 days at Disneyland had come to an end, and per usual I had forgotten to make a souvenir purchase that could have and should have been made earlier. It gave me and my dad an excuse to lengthen our Disneyland experience just a little longer, though, and we welcomed gladly any reason to keep us from having to leave just yet.

I could sense it then that something had happened that week. Something changed with my family, and something had changed with me. It was palpable. It was tangible. Something was different. I knew then, in a very deep and abiding way, that Disneyland was something entirely special. I knew that the man behind it was a man I needed to know more about. My greatest dream now was to work for this place that had left such an indelible mark on my heart.

I had grown up in a Disney-lovin’ household. Trust me, this trip to Disneyland wasn’t my first exposure to it at all. Disneyland was a once-every-other-year experience. A good portion of our movies were Disney. The kids’ favorites were absolutely Disney. We had a good amount of Disney collectibles. We had Disney toys. We were a family that liked Disney. Ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was bout 7 years old? Not sure exactly what position I had in mind, but I would have told you I wanted to work for the Mouse.

So then what on earth had changed? What had I experienced that trip that I hadn’t before? Looking back on the years that have past since then, and what we’ve done in those years, you can’t help but wonder what went down. Disneyland trips at least 3 times a year (significant, for one of many reasons being it’s a 15 hour drive down from ol’ Idaho). I couldn’t stop reading about Walt Disney. We couldn’t stop day-dreaming about Disneyland. We couldn’t stop buying Disney collectibles. Disney music became to us as much background noise as our heartbeat. (My brother even claims his heart now beats to the bass-line of the Mickey Mouse Club March, a fact I’m only slightly suspicious of.)

There was so many magical moments that trip. I remember so many of them so vividly. When your life makes a definitive turn, you remember those moments, and you remember even the minutest of details. I share with you but a few.

I was about to walk out of the Main Street Opera House. Dusk was falling on Disneyland. Tears were still in my eyes, the lump still high in my throat, after having just watched “Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years”. At the end of the attraction’s exit corridor hangs a portrait of Walt Disney. I stood looking at it for who knows how long. I couldn’t believe how a man of such humble mind and heart could create a place so magical. I walked out of the room, and onto the sidewalk of a picturesque Main Street U.S.A. The popcorn lights were shining, Mickey was out greeting friends, the music was floating alongside wonderful smells in the air. I saw happy people. I saw my family, together, smiling. I saw then what I think Walt Disney saw in his park. (Though I’m sure he saw things much better than I did; my eyes were still watering, I was still a little ver-klempt, mind you.)

You can imagine the experience I had sitting next to Walt and Mickey on our last night, just moments before we would walk out beyond the gates. (I have always been one to wish on stars, and the stars had never been wished upon quite so intently as they were that night!) I couldn’t stop telling that statue “thank you”. This was probably the instant that meant the most. This was when I knew in my heart that this place had room for me, that I could live a life that would surround me with this magic. I could, if I worked for it courageously and faithfully, even get so far as to leave my handprint in its history right along Walt’s and every other great Imagineer’s. I left the park, sad, of course, that the week was over, but I don’t remember my feet touching the ground.

Such an experience couldn’t be left unremembered. My dad was by my side, and away we went to Downtown Disney, to the World of Disney. I spoke with a cast member, placed an order, paid, and was told I needed to wait for the order to process. My dad and I went outside, sat down on a concrete planter’s ledge, and waited. Hours later, the cast member I had met with before came out with a smile on her face to inform me that my order was ready to go. The store by then was practically empty. She led us to the counter, and there it lay, in all of its 36 x 48 glory.

Aye, here she be in all her glory. This was the purchase that set sail to my Disney adventure.

Aye, here she be in all her glory. This was the purchase that set sail to my Disney adventure.

It didn’t matter how much it cost to print. It didn’t matter how much the framing was going to cost. This poster, as silly as it may seem, represents to me the beginning of my dreams. It hangs in my room still. There are certainly hundreds of other merchandise that accompany it now, but this bad-boy remains the original. My moment will forever be materialized by this print.

I cannot imagine my life without ever having had that moment. It was a founding, a time upon which every passing day of my life only builds upon. I knew then that I loved Disney. Like, LOVED Disney. And so, DisNerds, I turn the time over to you: when was your moment? What finally, dare I say, converted you to the Disney side?