Real Character (Or, How Peter and Jake Made Wendy’s Day Perfectly Darling)

As Confessions moves into 2014 with new ideas and stories, I’m also taking a moment or two to reflect and share a few memorable experiences my family and I had during 2013. This particular instance comes from a trip to Disneyland in September, and serves as an open letter to those who made a possibly sad experience absolutely wonderful.

Dear Residents of Never Land (aka, Peter Pan and Jake the Never Land Pirate),

I write this letter as a long overdue note of thanks for making a five year old’s day at Disneyland so incredibly magical by small acts of kindness that were, in essence, incredibly huge in her eyes – and ours, too!

You see, as I’ve mentioned in the past, Peter Pan and Never Land are huge in our household. While there are other aspects of Disney from day to day, depending on which characters we are “playing” at a particular time, Peter is the constant. Any time we’ve met you at the park, Peter, you’ve always been a highlight and we’ve been excited to see you. So, it was with great anticipation on this trip that our daughter wore the Wendy dress her grandmother had recently made her in anticipation of meeting you.

That day in the park, September 9th, 2013, we arrived and looked for you in the locations and attractions we had met you previously. The early morning yielded no results, although one cast member had mentioned seeing you around Dumbo. Yet, in asking a character handler at the Tangled meet & greet, we were informed that no, you had not made it to the park today. Later, however, we were informed by a cast member at another area of the park, “Peter should definitely be around today!” Being that there was quite a bit of confusion among cast members as to your whereabouts, I ventured to Main Street to chat with the character handlers there to see if I could get a definitive answer. Although I cannot remember the handler’s name, I can tell you what a wonderful help she was. After explaining our situation to her, she stepped back and made a call to the back. Upon her return, she sadly explained that you had some troubles in Never Land that morning. Hook and his fellow pirates were being extra feisty, and you were needed there to reign them in. Sadly, you would not be at the park that day until Soundsational parade time.

While we understood – I mean, these things happen, pirates being how pirates can be – we were nonetheless a little sad. Here our little Wendy had one wish, and that was to meet you and show you her dress, Peter. But being the trooper she was, she held back tears as we went to plan “B.” While she was reluctant to meet Tinker Bell (I guess Wendy and Tink have a bit of a past…), she was more willing to venture across to Disney California Adventure in hopes of meeting Jake (the nice Never Land Pirate) and return to Disneyland later to at least wave to you as you passed by during Soundsational.

Jake, this is where you came in. When we got over to Californina Adventure, you were not out, but were told you would be arriving shortly. The short wait was worth our while, as you instantly recognized Wendy and took her on a magical journey through the streets of Hollywoodland in search of the ever elusive second star to the right. For a full five minutes, the two of you were in your own world, walking down one side of the street and up the other, eyes peeled for any sign of Never Land.

He must be here somewhere!

After finding evidence of a possible path to Never Land (a star in the window of the Animation Building), it was time for you to move on and meet other guests waiting for you. But Jake, you put a smile on that little girl’s face – the biggest one we had seen that day.

At least, the biggest one we had seen so far.

Later that afternoon, we traversed back to Disneyland in order to catch the only showing of Soundsational that day – at park closing. Still unsure of meeting Tink in Pixie Hollow that day (I mean, she HAD wanted to shoot Wendy down, you know…), we made our way to the back of the park for a ride on It’s a Small World. After that, we sat down for a spot at the end of the parade route. As the sun began to set and the parade started, our little Never Lander waited with anticipation to wave to you, Peter.

Waiting For Pan…

Soundsational is definitely a great parade. The music, the upbeat tempo, the cast of characters… this time was no different. Very much worth waiting for. However…the main event was coming up – would you see Wendy and wave back?

Hi, Peter!!!!

Did you see her? Did you ever! Not only did you wave, but you made her feel like the most important person in the world for 15 seconds. When you spotted her, you ran over, got down on her level, and….

“Wendy!!! Where’ve you been? I’ve been looking ALL OVER for you!!! I’m so glad you made it today! I have to get back and catch Hook, but I’m so happy to see you!”

As you ran off to fight those pirates once again, and our little one squealed with glee, you took a moment to point back and tell Tinker Bell she was there. And yes, even Tink was happy to see her!

As adults, many seem to forget the magic of meeting a favorite character in the park. We tend to be the ones gasping at long lines to meet a mouse, a princess, or a boy who never grew up. We scoff at meet & greets and want to get to the rides. But for many of us, we can look at the face of a little girl who just met her hero…

“He stopped the parade just for me!!!” – her exact words!

…and it’s the most important thing about being in a magical place.

So thank you, Peter and Jake. You made a little girl’s day by going above and beyond what many expect. And I am forever grateful for moments and characters like you.

Sincerely,

A Dad Who Never Wants to Grow Up

My dear readers, I wrote this letter with the hopes that it would bring you happiness – to remember what it’s like to see Disney through the eyes of a child. I also did so in the hope that you would help me out with a small favor. See, I would love to see if this could make its way to the “friends” of Peter and Jake that were at the parks that day in September. I really would like them to know of the impact and impression they left on us that day. It truly was magical. Please feel free to share, comment and pass this on to anyone who may be able to get it to these wonderful people. Until next time, my friends, be blessed!

Secret Of The Wings – A Review

(Note from a DisNerd:  I promise in any movie I review here to keep the reviews short, sweet, and spoiler free – I encourage anyone who wants to see this or any movie to make up their minds for themselves and enjoy the magic!)

Images in this post copyright The Walt Disney Company

I’ll be the first to admit, I was taken by surprise by the Tinker Bell series of movies. Somewhere along the line, I went from, “Oh look, a blue fairy…” at Pixie Hollow in Disneyland, to insisting on picking up and immediately watching the latest movie in the Disney Fairies franchise, “Secret of the Wings.” I’m sure it has something to do with a certain blue-eyed little girl, but it also has a lot to do with quality film making.

For anyone not familiar with the series, it follows Tinker Bell’s origins and her adventures among other pixies in Pixie Hollow, an apparent appendage of Neverland. Will we ever find out how she comes to meet Peter Pan and his Lost Boys? That remains to be seen, but the stories being told in this realm have been entertaining enough to keep bringing fans back. Stories of friendship, loyalty and courage – these are values that good family stories are made of.

Needless to say, expectations for this one were pretty high, and it didn’t disappoint.

In “Secret of the Wings,” we learn that unlike other pixies, winter fairies live in a separate area of Pixie Hollow: the Winter Woods, which are off limits to everyone but winter fairies (and the rest of Pixie Hollow is off limits to winter fairies as well). The reason? Apparently, the change in climates can damage their wings; if that happens, there is no cure and the fairy can never fly again.

However, this doesn’t stop the curious Tink from setting out for the Winter Woods, where she seems drawn by some mysterious force, noticing her wings appear to sparkle when she steps foot in the forbidden land. The reason her wings sparkle, she soon discovers, is because she is in the presence of the frost fairy Periwinkle – her sister, born of the same laugh. While thrilled at the prospect of having a sister and someone with so much in common, the joy is short lived; as mentioned before, it is forbidden to cross over into each others’ respective land. This doesn’t stop Tink and Peri from trying, however. Let’s just say the results are far from successful, and soon it’s up to fairies from both lands to work together and save the day. Of course there are a few more twists and turns than that, but what fun would spoiling the movie for others be?

Sisters? There were never such devoted sisters!

As I stated before, the Tinker Bell movies are a big hit in our house, as is anything to do with the realm of Neverland. This movie seemed a little slower to start than the others, but once it got going it was really quite a treat and lots of exciting fun and quite a few laughs as well. The little girl loved it. Even though there were a few heart tugging moments, including when Tink and Peri thought they would have to say goodbye forever. Sometimes it’s hard to watch those goodbyes, even for adults! However, as the fairies worked together to save Pixie Hollow, she sat on my lap with rapt attention. Afterwards she informed us she was Periwinkle – a sure sign that the movie was a hit!

If you’ve seen the other Tink movies, this one stands well with the rest. If you haven’t, it also works well on its own, but I recommend the rest as well! Mae Whitman brings a great voice personality to Tinker Bell, a character who I previously thought was best to remain voiceless. The new characters are a treat as well, and of course, the stories are great ones of courage, strength, loyalty, faith, trust, and pixie dust.

Anyone else out there fans of the Tink movies? Have you watched this one as well? What did you think? Can’t wait to hear from you!

(Disney’s Secret Of the Wings is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.)

Disneyland, September 2012: A Photo Essay (Part 1)

Hello, dear readers! Really, it’s been too long. Having arrived back from a trip to Walt’s original Magic Kingdom last week, I thought I’d share some pictures with you via this blog. Before we begin, I would like to note a few things:

First off, I am not a professional photographer. The pictures you see here were taken either with my cell phone or our family point-and-shoot, either by myself or my lovely wife. We do not claim them to be works of art (although some of them turned out pretty cool), just pictures we felt like taking.

Second, while there may a few things we noticed this trip that may not have been there before, this is not intended to be a photo update or trip report. Just pictures I felt like sharing. You won’t see twenty five pictures of construction walls and dirt.

Lastly, I have no intention to make Confessions of a DisNerd a running commentary or “watchdog” type site. There’s plenty of those already, and you can follow lots of people on Twitter for that. I just want to have fun, and enjoy the magic of Disney – and I hope you do too.

So without further adieu, here’s the first of our pictures from our latest trip (you should be able to click on them to see bigger versions) – hope you enjoy!

 

How many of us actually wait for a Main Street vehicle to show up as opposed to jumping on because it happens to be there? My little girl loves the vehicles and was very willing to wait for the double-decker Omnibus to arrive!

 

Always love seeing this most welcome sight – the horse drawn carriages, the train station announcements, the music playing…. Main Street doesn’t need the words to say. “Welcome Home.”

 

One thing you will notice is that City Hall (as well as the fire station) was under construction. One thing I love when they do these refurbishments on Main Street is the facade covers they put in place. The details are great, and still give a feel of Main Street, U.S.A. For example….

 

If you look closely in the window of the fire station, you can’t help but notice: the light is still on for Walt!

 

One of my favorite places to visit is the gallery at the front of Main Street – I love seeing the concept art, renderings and models. Right now, the focus is on the various castles of Disney theme parks. What a beautiful exhibit to behold!

 

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant from Disneyland Paris is a sight to behold, even in scale!

 

I love seeing Main Street this time of year. Before the fall decorations are put up, when it’s in all of it’s non-holiday glory. It’s second only to…

 

Christmas!?!? In September???

 

It was only on a couple buildings, so we figured there had to be something promotional going on.

 

Yep – this explains it!

 

We saw filming going on that night, or at least prep for filming. Whatever the reason, it was a prefect tease of the season coming in just a couple months!

 

Might as well enjoy the short lived holiday spirit! I must say, nothing makes you ready for Christmas on a 90+ degree day like seeing these decorations. I’m ready!

 

But, as it turns out, those few shops on Main Street weren’t the only ones ready to get in the holiday spirit!

 

Over in Pixie Hollow, things have been getting their own winter touch in preparation for the latest Tinker Bell movie, “The Secret of the Wings.”

 

Little touches, like the statues in Pixie Hollow make the wait so pleasant! Can’t help but love the details (and the music) in this area!

 

Fortunately, we happened to be among the first group of people to meet the newest pixie friend, Periwinkle!

 

Pixie Hollow is always a fun time, especially for the little ones. The fairies are always so entertaining! It helps when you’re as into the movies as we are, but on that end, they really are surprisingly good movies!

 

Well, as we’ve reached the end of Main Street and enter the realm of Fantasy, we’ve also reached the end of this entry. Look for part two to come within the next day or two – I appreciate your patience in waiting for this post and hope you’ve enjoyed!

 

Credit goes to the lovely Mrs. DisNerd for taking this awesome sunset shot – seemed like a great way to end this entry!