DisNerds, and Proud Of It!

I’ve struggled to write this article for a while now, because I was unsure of the tone I’d be setting in writing it. See, many of us get picked on for our love of things others just don’t have that much passion for. The constant teasing of, “You’re going to Disneyland AGAIN?” and, “Don’t you ever do anything that isn’t related to Disney?” can get to us, even if to others it’s just good natured teasing. However, I didn’t want to turn this into a “woe is me” type of article; not when there are so many “real world issues” that make hurt feelings over Disney seem so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Sometimes however, people do experience real hurt over being belittled for their fandom. It’s not easy to brush off when what you’re passionate about gets mocked. Or worse, you get mocked for it.

Take Confessions reader Kristen for example. Kristen met her future husband through a Disney fan site. Due to their love of Disney, as well as where many of their friends and family were located and able to travel to, she and her fiancee planned their wedding at the Disneyland Resort. Kristen says, “Even when the plans originally had nothing to do with Disney, I was still hounded about how I was being selfish, making everyone travel to OC and I better not do a ‘baby’ wedding with everything being Mickey themed. Ultimately it was going to be the same price to do the wedding everyone else wanted or to do a smaller wedding at Disney, which is what Jeff and I wanted. So that’s what we decided to do. I thought we could possible have a mini family reunion and spend some time together in the Parks, since it had been over 10 years since we were last all their together. My siblings freaked. At that point, I wanted to just elope because I was so tired of hearing, ‘If you want to get married at Disney, you are not old enough to get married.’ ”

Then there’s (Confessions contributor) Hayden. Hayden had a rough time in high school, being “that Disney guy.” Hayden shares this story:

“In high school, there was this one hour where I was a lone sophomore in a class full of seniors. I had a single friend, hardly any acquaintances; most of my classmates were complete strangers to me. It wasn’t uncommon that I’d wear a Disney-related t-shirt to school, and if there was downtime in class, more than likely I’d be drawing various Disney characters. I’d hum or whistle Disney tunes in the halls to myself. It wasn’t something I was trying to hide, but I certainly didn’t feel like I was over-broadcasting my fandom.

The teacher was out, and a nasty kid turned quickly around and shot out a vulgar, ‘Hey Disney boy. Look at you.’ I was wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and had been drawing Mickey as well. ‘What a f**.’

His surrounding peers shot around to see who the kid was shouting at, and soon many eyes were on me. I had absolutely no interest in flattering him with a response. Such a crass remark wasn’t worth my energy. Yet his words hit with a sting. He was a complete stranger to me, and for the life of me I could not think of what I could possibly have done to him to get such a rise from him. I sat in the corner! I never spoke! I kept to myself! I’ve never said ANYTHING to this boy, let alone rub my WED-lovin’ in his face. He kept coming with some pretty vulgar bites, and I stood my ground. I said, ‘Stop,’ as firmly as I could. He did stop.

I was more grateful, though, for what occurred immediately after. A friend of the assaulter stood up and said very matter-of-factly, ‘Dude, you rail on him now, but you wait. You give him 7 years and you’ll be paying to see what he comes up with.’ I’ve made it a mission in my life to prove that brave young man’s point.”

More times than not, however, what we fans of all things Disney hear is more along the lines of, “You’re going to Disney AGAIN!?!? (Side note: Let’s be honest, when someone says “Going to Disney” instead of being more specific with the destination, we realize we’re dealing with someone who just doesn’t understand…) Don’t you ever do anything else?” Or we hear, “Wait, you’re going to a Disney movie – without kids? WHY????”

Reader Chelsea finds she’s seeing more and more of the teasing happening as she gets older. “I’ve been known to bust out fun facts and my knowledge of Disney history and some may smirk or look at me as if to say, ‘Is this chick for real?’ The area I most get ridiculed is with the Disney Princess franchise. Some accuse me of thinking I’m actually a princess, tell me that I really am, or possess characteristics or the appearance of one.”

Confessions reader Tia says she doesn’t really get teased, but definitely got some confused reactions when she recently told people she was planning a trip to Disneyland by herself. “When I told people about flying to LAX to go to Disneyland for the day,” she says,  “I’d get confused looks, and a ‘by yourself?’ Or ‘no kids?’ ‘You are not going to Disneyland alone!!’ ”

Here’s the awesome thing, though: These comments, the snide remarks, the eye rolls from those that don’t get it… they do nothing to shame or dissuade us. We have found a joy in life. A joy that comes from watching a black and white anthropomorphic mouse outsmart a peg-legged cat. An innocence that helps us to believe in fairies. That dreams really do come true. A joy from riding a horse drawn carriage down a dream of Americana we’ve never truly known. A giddiness over meeting a five foot five version of a childhood memory. A happiness of careening down a mountainside in a log. Nothing others say tends to dissuade us. We’re proud of who we are.

Many of us feel bad for those that just can’t understand. As Confessions reader Crystal puts it: “ It makes me sad actually, that they will never understand the butterflies in your stomach, so excited you could scream, anticipation of walking into the main gates of the happiest place on earth. To me, it’s their loss for not letting go of themselves enough to be a kid at heart in the most magical place in the world. And I secretly hope that one day, they will understand the true bliss of taking their children there because I think everyone deserves to be as happy as my family is at some point in their lives.”

Or as Chelsea puts it, “….several people ask me, ‘Why? Why do you love Disney so much?’ to which I usually reply, ‘Do you like being happy?’ “

We do like being happy. And we’ve found at least part of this happiness in Disney. To some it may seem to consume our lives. To us, it’s just that it’s a part of our lives, along with everything else. A part that brings us happiness and memories. Ultimately, what’s wrong with that? It inspires us and keeps us moving forward.

Kristen’s wedding went off beautifully. She still may get grief from some, but, “Despite those times I feel like a freak, I’m proud of my fandom. I have a place that makes me feel magic and happiness and I have fantastic friends (and a wonderful husband) who are happy to share that experience with me.”

DisNerds or not, still an awesome couple!

DisNerds or not, still an awesome couple!

Hayden took the insults and made the best of them to fuel him to be the best he could be. Count me in as one of those who can’t wait to see what he comes up next.

After seeing stuff like this, I really am excited to see what the future holds for Hayden!

After seeing stuff like this, I really am excited to see what the future holds for Hayden!

I’ll close this out with another comment from him, as it encapsulates what I believe many of us feel when we’re given a hard time. And perhaps, with a little rewording, in the world outside of Disney, it sums up what those with passions that others don’t understand feel as well:

“My love for Disney helps me. It has taught me everything about believing in myself and realizing seemingly impossible dreams. It provides me with a constant smile. It provides a safe-haven from the stress that builds in my life. It unites my family. It gives me hope in myself and in my world. What harm am I doing by loving such a company? Do you seriously have things figured out so much more than I do that you need to go out of your way to tell me that I spend too many of my personal resources on something I’m passionate for?

Ask me why I like going to Disneyland so much. Don’t ask me why I don’t spend more of my vacation time elsewhere. Ask me why I like the Disney films I do. Don’t tell me Cinderella is just for little girls. Ask me why I consider Walt Disney a personal hero. Don’t tell me I’m naive.”

Well said, Hayden. I know a lot of fellow Disney fans who would agree.

Once Upon a Time In Anaheim…

“Anaheim, California. There grew a grove of orange trees covering a lot of ground.

Once upon a time in Anaheim… Anaheim, California, a man beheld those orange groves wondering if he had found the answer to his special dream – his very special vision. He walked around… and looked around… and came to this decision:

(The man’s name was Walt Disney. And as he stood in that orange grove 25 years ago, he saw in his mind’s eye a magic kingdom the likes of which never, NEVER existed anywhere on Earth.)

And he said, “I will build my dream in Anaheim – Anaheim, California! And everything I build will be the grandest sort of fantasy – imagination is the key to Disneyland!” – Danny Kaye, from the Disneyland 25th Anniversary Special

The Whole Special. It’s so deliciously 1980.

Imagination, along with hard work, perseverance, stubbornness, contributions from others, and so much more was, and still is, the key to Disneyland. As Walt’s opening day broadcast began on July 17th, 1955, imagination ran wild. The theme park was born, and what an amazing debut it made. On televisions across America, a new locale became the go-to destination for many families. Given Walt Disney’s dream and drive, looking back, this is not surprising. However, up until that point, it was very much up in the air.

Not anymore. 58 years later, and the park is going strong as ever. Even with Disney Parks world wide, people still travel from all over the globe to visit Walt’s original theme park.

People like us. We, the vacationers, the day trippers, the locals who love to go and soak up the atmosphere. Who still talk to Mickey as if we’re seeing him for the first time. Who plan for weeks on end which ride will be our first when we get there. Who put on mouse ears as if they are part of our everyday accessories. Who stand in line for 25 minutes on a hot day for a Dole Whip because water just won’t do.

Although some naysayers may scoff, there really is a magic feel to Disneyland. Whether it’s nostalgia, an escape from real life, or the need to relax on a bench as horse drawn trolleys pass by, we feel transformed as we enter. For even a few hours of the day we can forget our worries, or, at the very least, take time to reflect a bit while riding a train through jungles, New Orleans and a prehistoric scenario.

Because of this magic that lingers long after I’ve left the park, even now, a month and a half out from another trip, I want to take the time today to say the following:

Happy Birthday, Disneyland. Thank you to all who worked on creating this happy place, from Walt himself to the bulldozer drivers who cleared the orange groves… you have my gratitude. May you continue to be a source of joy and inspiration on this earth for years to come. May our grandchildren know the wonder of flying with elephants and sliding down icy slopes of hills while eluding abominable snowmen. Here’s to many more birthdays to come.

Now Introducing!

Greetings and salutations, fellow DisNerds!

For a while now, I’ve been teasing on the Confessions Facebook Page about some upcoming changes being made to the site. I started a couple weeks back with a new background on the blog; a minor change, but something that definitely reflects my inner Disney geek.

Today, I’m excited to be announcing another change to confessions, this one being quite a bit bigger. From the start of Confessions, one thing that was always important to me was community. If it wasn’t for my fellow Disney fans, there would be no reason to share these stories, thoughts and pictures. As much as I love writing, I thrive on reading responses from readers and hearing their stories and love of Disney as well. With that being said, I felt the desire to share more stories with you all, even if they weren’t all from me.  Therefore, I am proud to announce a new addition to Confessions of a DisNerd.

Can't think of a better day to introduce someone than on Tuesday - Guest Star Day!

Can’t think of a better day to introduce someone than on Tuesday – Guest Star Day!

My dear friend Hayden will be joining this blog in the upcoming days as a fellow contributor, eager to share his thoughts and tales on the love of all things Disney. As long as I have known Hayden, his enthusiasm for the Disney company, from its rich animation and film history to theme parks is nothing short of contagious. Through many conversations with him, I have found a friend and confidant that not only understands what it means to be a DisNerd, but is definitely one himself.

Hayden has just returned from a two year mission, during which time, he didn’t have much outside contact with the world of Disney. How interesting it was to hear his impressions of the new Disney California Adventure as well as other changes that happened in both California theme parks, as well as movies that he is watching for the first time – two years is quite a bit of time in the vastly expanding universe of Disney! I can’t wait to see his perspectives on this, as well as other goings on within Disney in the upcoming days, weeks and months.

Oh! And he's also a very talented artist, as he was the one who dis this piece, discussed in my "Still Living In Neverland" entry.

Oh! And he’s also a very talented artist, as he was the one who did this piece, discussed in my “Still Living In Neverland” entry.

This is just one part of some exciting things coming up within the world of Confessions of a DisNerd (look for new features in the upcoming weeks!), but definitely one of the things I’m most excited about. So without further ado, let’s give a warm welcome to Hayden! We can’t wait to hear of your adventures and stories!

It Always Comes Back to Disney (Or, However Many Degrees Of Disney Separation)….

I have a music recommendation for you all today – I’ve provided the link to Amazon, where it can be bought digitally. It’s a great collection of Disney music, all instrumental. Very peaceful, well done, great background music. I love stuff like this. The album name: Gävle SymfoniorkesterEn Helt Ny Värld.

Or, A Whole New World by the Gavle Symphony Orchestra for those of you who can’t read Swedish.

If you’re finding yourself wondering if I’ve taken DisNerd to a whole new level, searching for foreign and obscure orchestra covers of Disney songs… Well, sorry to say, the answer is no. At least not this time. In fact, this discovery had nothing to do with Disney at first. But it always seems to come back to Disney for me. I can’t escape it, but why would I want to?

Believe it or not, I’m not all Disney, all the time. Especially when it comes to musical taste – they go all over the board. This morning the theme was folk music. So as I was creating a playlist on Spotify titled “Folkish,” I decided there was a song that had to be included along with The Kingston Trio and Phil Ochs. Only problem was… I wasn’t sure of the exact title or who sang it.

All I knew for sure were the lyrics:

“All day, all night, Marianne…down by the seaside sifting sand.

Even little children love Marianne…down by the seaside sifting sand.”

Well, this prompted me to search. Was it called Marianne? Mary Ann? All Day, All Night? Best way to find out was to search the lovely world of Google, upon which I learned the song, “Marianne” was made famous by Terry Gilkyson. Armed with this knowledge, I go back onto Spotify and type in Terry Gilkyson. Yes, “Marianne” was one of the results, but what came first? En Helt Ny Värld, which, after listening, deterred me from my search for Marianne and her sifting sand.

But now, I was curious. What was the connection between this album of Disney songs and Gilkyson that led me back to Disney? A little more research would clear that up: according to his bio at allmusic.com, Gilkyson was also the Academy Award nominated composer of a song called “The Bare Necessities.”  Ever hear of it? Of course you have. And the Bare Necessities was one of the tracks on En Helt Ny Varld.

While this may serve as just an interesting bit of trivia to most, I wanted to share this as there really is a “Six Degrees of Separation” aspect to Disney that just constantly amazes me. It leads me to find new things, to smile at the way Disney connects even unintentionally. This is how my mind works; what makes me the DisNerd that I am. All because of a song that I at first thought had nothing to do with Disney…


I’m All Ears!

Year Of the DisNerd, Week 1

From the Disney Parks Blog: ” We’re also excited to announce that 2013 will be the “Year of the Ear” at Disney Parks. Every month, Disney Parks will release new ear hats to add to your collection as part of “Limited Time Magic.” January will start with the limited release of Disney Couture Ear Hats. And each month, there will be fun designs to discover.”

From the first airing of the Mickey Mouse Club in 1955, I’m sure Walt knew mouse ears would be big. After all, he’d seen coonskin caps take off  the year before with Davy Crockett, and also knew the marketing power of the mouse. However, the phenomenon of mouse ear hats in the parks… well, who could’ve guessed?

Ears quickly become a must-have for fans of all ages, especially on their first trip. It was that way for me…

Vintage Mickey, and Vintage Me.

And it was the same for my daughter.

Though you can barely see them, mine say “I Never Want To Grow Up.” I stand by that statement.

Of course, it doesn’t end with children, or Mickey ears for that matter. Kids and adults alike can be seen wearing all kinds of headgear, ranging from ears, to wigs, to oversized hats throughout the park. Why? Perhaps because everyone else is doing it? Certainly not the fashion sense, although with a line of couture inspired ears, it could be possible.

I truly believe it’s because we lose our inhibitions at places like Disneyland and Walt Disney World. We walk through the turnstiles and, for the most part, embrace fantasy. We skip down Main Street, we talk to the characters as if they’re long lost friends (of course they are!), we journey with pirates, and sing along with birds and tikis as if it were an everyday occurrence.

And we don the ears, as if they are a natural extension of us within the park. Yes, we may buy a ball cap to wear at home to remind us of our trip. But for our time within the park, it’s more natural to have wild auburn hair under a top hat, dreadlocks underneath a pirate’s three-point hat, or spherical rodent ears protruding from our skulls.

Year of the ear?

As long as there’s imagination left in the world, I see many more years of ears to come.

Announcement: The Lost Safari

Hello, dear readers! It’s with great honor and pride I make this announcement to you:

Confessions of a DisNerd is joining forces with two other blogs, Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member and Disney Park Secrets, to form a new partnership: The Lost Safari.

Special thanks to Jenny Skousen for the awesome picture!

So, what exactly is The Lost Safari?

The Lost Safari is a primarily Facebook focused group consisting of the aforementioned blogs created with the intent of having one location to share information and blog postings with our readers. By having this group, this one location, readers can join and choose to be notified via Facebook whenever one of the blogs has a new post, story, or something else we want to share with everyone.

Why was the Lost Safari Formed?

When we first started discussing the possibility of a “support group,” so to speak, our main intent was for a group of bloggers to be able to show support for each others’ writing and postings, as well as promote each others’ blogs in one place. Stated plainly, there are many sites and blogs and websites out there – many on the subject of Disney alone. We realize the individuality of each blogger, but at the same time find ourselves united in one common denominator: Our love for Disney. Through our discussions, we’ve come to realize that the blogosphere is not a place of competition. There are so many worth reading. If we can occasionally partner with each other on content and support, perhaps we can broaden our audience and share our passions with others while maintaining our own unique identities.

In doing this we promise two things:

1:To remain upbeat. If you are looking for Disney “watchdog” groups, you won’t find them in The Lost Safari. There are plenty of websites, blogs and even Twitter accounts that specialize in that sort of thing; just not us. We are, first and foremost, fans. Therefore, our views will more than likely celebrate the things we love about Disney.

2: We won’t overwhelm you with posts. The beauty of Facebook groups is that one can elect to receive notifications whenever there is a new post as opposed to relying on a news feed to show you the latest posting, which can easily be missed. This being said, we promise not to overload your notifications with multiple posts.

So, Mr. DisNerd, we know about your blog. What about the other two?

The other two blogs come highly recommended – great reading indeed! A little info on both:

Tales Of A Disneyland Cast Member

Danielle, author of Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member, worked for The Disneyland Resort at both The Grand Californian and The World Famous Jungle Cruise. Through her recollections of experience and one on one personal interactions, you’ll find yourself laughing one minute and in tears the next. Many of her stories seem to hit home with many readers, either through the magic Disney provides or similar life experiences. I highly recommend reading stories like “A Main Street Kiss” with a box of tissue.

Disney Park Secrets

Meanwhile, over at Disney Park Secrets, Austen and Jake have taken the time to set up a blog to appeal to even the most casual of Disneyland visitors. They have combined their knowledge of park information, such as history and details of rides, to give park visitors a new appreciation for what they are seeing as they go through the park, as well as things to keep an eye out for, such as finding Jabba the Hutt in Adventureland (who knew?!?). In addition, with one of the authors living locally, you’ll see newer pictures and reports of more recent experiences, such as the space shuttle Endeavour’s final flyover of Disneyland.

As for me, I’ll keep doing what I always do, covering and chronicling my love for all aspects of Disney, perhaps with more reviews and articles that focus outside of the parks. One thing will stay consistent – hopefully my love for all things Disney, i.e. my DisNerdom shines through.

I encourage anyone who is interested in following this new partnership to check out and join The Lost Safari on Facebook, as well as follow both Tales and Secrets on their individual Facebook fan pages as well. And of course, if you haven’t yet followed Confessions of a DisNerd on Facebook, I encourage you to do that also!

Thanks for taking the time to read this rather lengthy post – we all look forward to seeing what the future holds for our new partnership!

Disneyland, September 2012 – A Photo Essay (Part 2)

I’d like to start this next part by stating the following: I never understood the appeal of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disneyland. Never understood, that is, until I had a little girl that was old enough to be appealed to.

Oh boy, do I understand now!

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a special experience that caters to the inner princess of every little girl. From the care of the “Fairy Godmothers in Training” to the magic mirror reveal, it’s a great way to make a little girl feel very special for a day (or two, if the hairspray and style holds)!

Who doesn’t feel like a royal princess after this experience? Our little girl sure did!

In fact, a few families with small children (and a couple grown ups as well) asked our daughter if they could get their picture taken with her. Of course, she obliged and felt like holding court to see if she could get even more visitors! Special thanks to my good friend Austen from the Disney Park Secrets blog for being part of her entourage and acting as royal guard along with another friend!

“Sure, you can have my autograph too!”

Going forward into Fantasyland, the next stop is definitely a must for multiple rides in a trip….

In a discussion with a friend the other day, we were both talking about how well classic dark rides have held up in Fantasyland. The paint schemes, the story, the music, the feeling of immersion –  you ARE part of the story; it just draws the rider in. Nowhere is this exemplified better than in Peter Pan’s Flight. The continuous 30-45 minute waits for a 2 minute ride are proof of that!

“There it is, Wendy – second start to the right and straight on ’till morning!”

Moving on to our next destination, It’s a Small World, we stop for a picture in the stationary teacup, a photo favorite of kids and adults alike… wait…it’s missing!

Hopefully it’s just getting some touch-up and will return; perhaps it has already. Any readers who frequent the park, can you confirm this?

No time to stop and cry over spilled tea… we have to journey to the rest of the world!

It is a small one, after all!

We arrived at It’s A Small World, right about the time of the Soundsational Parade. With all eyes fixed on the parade route, the line for Small World was nonexistent. Not only were we loaded onto our own boat, the boats behind us were empty!

Which gave me thoughts for a great Small World Halloween picture…..

“Sure, they go on, but nobody ever comes out…….”

Time to move from that horror into Toontown. Such a great themed land. Sure, there could stand to be a little more in the way of rides, but the detail put into this area is just amazing. From the curved architecture, the talking mailboxes and gag boxes to the little details in every house, there are so many opportunities to just admire the thought that went into it!

One of my favorite resting spots (for a parent, that meant about two minutes to be still in shade) is the area behind Donald Duck’s Boat, The S.S. Daisy. Between the shade and constantly running water, it’s quite a nice area to cool off! Which leads to one of my favorite pics of the trip – finding a bit of Adventureland in Toontown:

I’ve titled it “The Backside of Duckwater.”

With the mention of Adventureland, I’ll leave you with one more picture today; this one a bit of an observation. I often forget how awesome Adventureland looks in its theming. Even in a little area, it really does feel like you’ve been transported to a little outpost in the Jungle. The reason it gets missed so much is due to the bottlenecks that tend to happen between strollers, people walking toward New Orleans Square, and Indiana Jones riders. This past trip, with Indy closed, Adventureland became walkable again, and we were really able to enjoy the beauty:

Look! Elbow room!

Well, dear readers, that wraps up part two of my photo essay! I have one more part coming – a few pictures from California Adventure. Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures. Feel free to share with your friends and leave any comments you may have as well! Thanks for reading!