The Disney I See

written by Julie Cohn

 

Disneyland WOC 1

{Disclosure:  I was invited to the Disney Social Media Moms event in Disneyland, CA for a discounted fee for hotel, park tickets, meals, and other activities.  I was not required to post on behalf of Disney or any of the Disney Social Media Mom sponsors.  My opinions are 100% my own.}

The Disney I See:  Why I Love Disney

It’s been two weeks since I am back from Disney Social Media Moms, and I am still trying to process the whole experience.  I went through a hodge podge of emotions before I left, and have gone through so many more since I’m home.  To understand exactly what going to this event meant to me, you first have to understand why Disney hold such a place in my heart.  On the outside, I act like a tough old broad, but inside, I am a whirlwind of emotions, emotions I usually keep tightly bottled up.  The older I get, the more I understand that it is okay to talk about these things and share them, as there are other people who have gone through similar.   Birds of a feather and all that.  So, before I talk about what went down at Disney Social Media Moms (in my next post), I need to take you back about forty years or so, to understand how this Disney thing all started for me…

LA Times Hippy Life

*See below for photo information

When I was a little girl, about four years old, I sat in a beat-up old VW Bug, with a woman named Miss Shelly, and drove across Philadelphia to live with a new family.  I went to live with my new family as a foster child, leaving behind the tumultuous world of a hippie mother and three siblings.  I previously lived in a mail truck, in Laguna Beach State Park, with other hippie families, begged on the beach for money and food, and traveled from city to city looking for a home (and saying goodbye to siblings along the way, as they were also put into foster homes). I remember that first day I came to live with my family, and I very much remember leaving that life behind, to live in a stable home, with a real mother, father, and little brother, who would give me the love and guidance I needed and craved, and who I could love in return, unconditionally.   My new life brought challenges, as I was not used to living in a real house, with rules, bedtimes, school, etc..  At first, I was a bit surly and untamed, but with a gentle hand, my new family (who would adopt me a year later and become my forever family), guided me in adapting to a new life.

One of the very favorite memories I have, when I first came to live with my family, was when we watched “The Wonderful World of Disney” together every Sunday night.  Coming from such disorder, this quiet time together was a cherished moment when I could sit on my Dad’s lap, curl up next to my Mom, or sit on the floor with my brother.  The opening scenes of Disneyland, with the spinning elephants (Dumbo), whirling tea cups, and the always happy Mickey Mouse, were magical to me.  For a little girl who previously had no hopes or dreams, I now had a real family, a real home, and a real television, bringing me the magic of Disney every week.   Walt Disney, the kind grandfather-like man with the gentle smile, came into my new home every week, reminding me that not only was it okay to have a dream, but they could come true.  Walt Disney did not make my new life for me, but he certainly made my new life so much more magical.

Growing up, my Mom and Dad worked hard to make a good life for my brother, little sister (born a few years after I was adopted), and I.  Any vacations we took were to see our family scattered throughout the northeast.  Happy times, but we never had a chance to go to Disneyland or Disney World.   Fast forward a few years.  I married and had a child of my own.  We moved to Arizona, about six hours from Disneyland, and eventually to Southern California, minutes from Disney.  When my son was three, we went to Disneyland the first time.  Not just the first time for my son, but the first time for me.  To finally be in the place that Walt Disney, the man who made it okay for dreams to come true, built, was overwhelming for me.  To be there with my son, experiencing it through the eyes of a child, once again, was incredible.  Twelve years later, after going to Disneyland dozens of times, and with many family memories under my belt, I still get choked up when I enter the park; it is still a magical place for me, and I am four years old, watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” with my new family once again.

Nick Mickey ears

To some Disneyland is overcrowded, over-commercialized, and too expensive.  To those people, I would like to say “shut up and don’t crush my dreams”, but instead I will say that you are completely missing the point (and a little hypocritical).  Disney is the very essence of dreams and imagination; two things that are seriously lacking in our world today.  Perhaps you think that Disney is “not your thing.”   Really?   Have you ever been?  How can you go to Disney and not have fun?  You walk in the front gates to a giant smiling Mickey, with beautiful flowers blooming, sounds of song and laughter, sweet smells of edible treasures in the air. You willingly spend money on gadgets, streaming video, and other technologies that further isolate yourself from your family, but you won’t spend money on family together time at Disney?  You are missing out.

In our busy world,  there is little room for “flights of fancy”, yet at the crux of who we are, if we look within ourselves, we know that we need to let loose and have fun every now and then.   I know that in my home, 90% of the time I am the responsible Mom, who enforces homework, chores, and bedtime; the one who is the disciplinarian, and sometimes “bad guy”.  It is my choice to make as much of  that 10% of  the “cool Mom”  I am, spend time at Disney with my son, sharing joy and creating happy memories.

Nick and Walt

Dreams and Imagination. Through Walt’s vision, dreams and imagination are not cliche’ at Disney, they are real. Every person who works at Disney, from the chairman of the company, to the person who sweeps the sidewalks, keeps Walt’s dream alive, while creating a happy experience for people who come to the parks.  I know, firsthand, not just in my time in the parks, but in getting to know some of the Disney employees, that this is 100% true.  Everything they do is to keep Walt’s dream alive.  Everything they do is to make Disney “the happiest place on earth” for you and I.    Despite the time it takes to get there, the expense, and the crowds, I always have a wonderful time at Disney, and cannot wait to come back again, and to share that experience with others.  If you took the time to look around and see the Disney that I saw as a young child, and still see today, created by a very special man named Walt, you would see the Disney I see.

You would see the magic.

 

2014-03-19 10.23.07

 

  • {The yellowed photo above was taken by a photographer named Virgil, who worked for the Los Angeles Times, and was doing a story on the hippie families of Laguna in the early 1970’s.  I am the sulking little girl all the way to the right, and this is the mail truck we lived in.}

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2 comments

Des @DesireeMiller 04/28/2014 at 7:44 pm

I get it. I do. Disney is full of magic for me, too. And my family watched that Sunday night Disney stuff, too…I always think of Jiminy Cricket when I think about it, though. 🙂 I love that it brings you so many smiles now. We all need to smile more.

Reply
Holly 04/29/2014 at 6:29 pm

This is the best piece I’ve read about the magic and inspiration of Disney!

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