Stories from the Park — Sharing is Caring

For those of you who have never been to the Walt Disney World resort, there is a portion of your time that has to be allocated to getting from point A to point B.  While there are several options, the one used most commonly is the bus.  The bus is not exciting.  First thing in the morning or last thing at night it is packed full of people in varying stages of hot, tired, excited, or grumpy.  There is a schedule, I’m sure, but I don’t know it.  It seems like whatever bus I personally am waiting for is the one that isn’t coming.

Not surprisingly, when you travel to the resort as a large group, you get access to your own bus.  With a large enough group, there is a driver who shuttles your party to and from the parks on a pre-arranged schedule.  Members of the group who want to go their own way are free to do so.  However, if the whole group is booked for a Mickey Breakfast it is much more convenient to move 40 people independently of the regularly scheduled buses.  Surprisingly, we ended up on one of these family reunion buses.

We were feeling slightly overwhelmed by the heat and deiced we needed a little pool time. As we walked up to the bus stand we saw the bus for our resort leaving.  The girls, feeling hopeful, tried running and waving their arms, but it was too late.  As I caught up with them a bus driver asked if we were going to Pop Century.  I replied that we were and he said we could get on his bus.  We got on the bus, the doors closed, and as we were they only white people on the bus we very quickly realized we were with an extended family at the resort for a reunion.  They were delightful.  They were funny, and they were happy that we could share the bus ride with them.  As were we.

As we listened and talked to them we heard a disturbing story.  As they had been boarding a ride in the park, a woman refused to sit next to one of the young men in their group.  She became very rude, and referred to him as ‘that’.  She wouldn’t sit next to ‘that’.  It was unfair to put her with ‘that’, etc.  The situation was resolved and I believe the young man got a seat to himself.  But the entire family was hurt and offended as they should have been.

So here is why this has stuck with me.  This family who had been treated terribly voluntarily shared their bus with three white women they didn’t know so we wouldn’t have to stand out in the heat.  For all they knew we could have been just as terrible as the woman who had insulted the member of their family, but they offered us hospitality anyway.  They didn’t have to.  We never would have known they were going to our resort.  I am humbled by the grace of people of color who face hate and persecution every day and still have the ability to reach out a hand in friendship and welcome.  I honestly don’t know that I would be that gracious.  I would like to think that I would, but honestly I am not that good at turning the other cheek.  But when I see and experience for myself that kind of love, I am inspired to be a better person.

I don’t know any of their names, but I want to thank the family who shared with us that day.  Not just for a ride to our room, but for an example of forgiveness and grace that will stay with me for a long time.

Stories from the Park — Introduction

Those of us who are Disney fans speak a lot about the Magic of Disney.  It is a feeling that we get from watching a Disney movie or visiting a Disney Park.  And while the tone is set by the Disney corporation, the true magic comes from the people experiencing the event with you.  Listening to children in the theater gasp and cheer for their new favorite hero, singing along  with a whole bus full of people on the way to a park, laughing and screaming on a ride with total strangers, or having a ‘conversation’ with a Disney character who doesn’t even talk; all these things weave together a community.  That community makes magic in a way that you cannot understand unless you have experienced it.  Disney fans aren’t the only community that does this, but it is the community that has always spoken to me.  It is why I see Disney films in the theater and why I return, over and over, to the Disney Parks.

Whenever I spend time at a Disney Park, I have experiences that stay with me.  Some of them are rides and shows.  Some of them are interactions with cast members.  Some of them are simply meaningful time spent with family.  Some of them are conversations with other guests.  They all make an impact above and beyond the everyday fun and excitement of the trip and remain with me longer than the few minutes than they happen.  Over the next couple of blogs, I’m going to share some of these stories.  They range from funny to thought provoking.  At least I think they do.  They exemplify for me the spirit of Disney and why I do what I do.

I encourage you to share your own stories, if not with me then with another Disney fan.  We can’t live in a Disney park (though I would be willing to try), but we can form our own communities where we are and make a little magic in our everyday life.

A whole new world

Here I am after a brief hiatus.  Since last I wrote I have spent time at Walt Disney World (more about that in other blogs) and relocated my household to an entirely new location.   To say I am exhausted would be an understatement. My life is in boxes.  I have found my pots and pans, but not my utensils to cook with.  I have unpacked my plates but am still missing my silverware.  I cannot find the cord to plug in my tv.  In addition I have no idea where to get a good hot beverage, a breakfast burrito, or dairy free frozen dinners.  My life is chaos and I don’t like it.

I know it will settle.  I know that eventually I will know all of the things that I don’t know now.  I will have new routines, new places, and new favorites.  I know soon I will begin to explore and find hidden treasures.  But right now I am simply overwhelmed by all the unfamiliar.  I am waiting for my sense of adventure to kick in so I can see this as a great new opportunity.

Maybe it’s still in a box, too.


I Just Can’t Wait…

It’s four a.m. here in my world and I am awake. I am very awake. There is no way that I am going to be able to get back to sleep. It’s not because I am in an unfamiliar place, though I am. It is not because it is very loud outside, though that is true as well. I am awake because today I go to Walt Disney World!

The true Disney fan knows that life shifts when you are your Disney self. You wear things you wouldn’t normally wear, eat food that you normally avoid, and do things you normally wouldn’t do. For The Princess and I that includes becoming morning people. It began on our first trip accidentally and now just seems part of our rhythm. 

Some times it is intentional. When we are at the parks we know the early bird catches the worm or in this case gets the shortest wait times of the day. But when we are in a hotel waiting to head to the airport there is no good reason to be up early. A full night’s sleep is a good and useful thing but my brain is too excited and tells my body that it’s time to get moving. So here I am up a good three hours before I’m usually awake killing time until we can take the shuttle. The Princess has been up even longer. 

There will come a moment when we have a discussion about how wonderful it would be to stay on this schedule in ‘real life’. We could be so productive!  In reality we get home and immediately enter recovery mode and are back to growling at the alarm and sleeping in at every opportunity. The Disney energy is contained and situational, sadly. 

So here I am. 

It’s later now. The breakfast bar is still not open, but it may not be too early to get dressed. I will move as slowly as possible which will still be too fast. I will be ready to go long before I need to be and have to find a way to entertain myself that doesn’t waste too much battery life. It’s going to be a very long day, but I just can’t wait!

You can follow along on my WDW adventures on Twitter (@Pastorinmousear) or by liking me on Facebook. 

Dream Big, Princess

Continuing the theme of graduation advice, I’ve got another post this week.  In all fairness, you should know that this post is primarily for my own Princess who is graduating in a few days.  You may want to skip the last paragraph.

Disney Princesses are a mixed bag of characters.  Some deeply reflect outdated notions of gender roles.  Some barely register as a driving character in their own movie.  Some are extraordinary.  All have characteristics that we can admire and can use to navigate our way through life.  As you graduate and head out into the great wide world, here are some lessons from the Disney Princesses.

Be like Snow White.


No matter what you have to do, make it fun.  You don’t have to whistle while you work, but make an effort to find the joy in the most mundane of life’s activities.  If you can manage to do that, life will be more enjoyable.  We all get stuck doing things we don’t want to sometimes.  Find a way to see the positive and you will be surprised at how that transforms your world.



Be like Cinderella.Cinderella_Photo

Be kind.  Even when it is easier not to be.  When you choose kindness you make yourself a stronger person.  Kindness doesn’t mean you stay in a bad situation when you have a chance to leave.  Your put on your glass slippers and run out of there.  Kindness means you never sink to the level of casual cruelty no matter what.


Be like Aurora.


Trust in your dreams.  They might feel unrealistic, too hard, or just plain crazy but that doesn’t mean you should give up.  Adapt, change, and maybe take a nap but keep following your dreams.




Be like Ariel. ariel-the-little-mermaid

Be brave enough to look outside the world you know.  You never know what you might find when you step outside the things you have always experienced.  It might be scary.  It might be wonderful.  It will probably be a mixture of both.  You will never know if you don’t see it for yourself.


Be like Belle. 


Don’t be afraid to look beneath the surface to see what is really there.  People will surprise you, sometimes for the worse but often for the best.  Everyone is more than they appear to the outside world.  It is worth your time and effort to find out what’s on the inside.  As an added bonus, don’t forget to take time to enjoy a good book!


Be like Jasmine.


Don’t accept something just because that’s the way it has always been done.  There will be plenty of people who will want to tell you what you can and should do.  Listen to them and their reasons, but make your own decision based on what you know is right for you.  Be bold in your choices even when no one has made that choice before.



Be like Pocahontas.  


Champion diversity.  We live in a society that tells us different is scary, bad, or awful.  Don’t forget that you know better.  Our world needs diversity in order to thrive and so do we.   Life is better when we see all the colors.  Use your voice to call out discrimination and hatred whenever you see it.  Speak for those who are not present and call for their inclusion at all levels.




Be like Mulan. 


Fight for the right to be the person you really are inside.  You have gifts and experience that no one else has.  Your perspective is of value don’t let anyone put you in a box.  Just because you might fail trying to fulfill a role that someone else assigns you, it doesn’t mean you are a failure.  You can succeed in ways that no one could have expected.



Be like Tiana.



Have a goal.  Work toward it.  Don’t give up.  Life is not easy.  Don’t expect it to be.  It is a rare thing that you will get something without having to work for it first.  Make a plan, adapt the plan when necessary, but keep working toward your future.



Be like Rapunzel.

rapunzelSee the world with wonder.  Enjoy every day like it’s the best day ever.  Jump in with both feet.  Experience life to its fullest.  We all have a limited number of days.  don’t get so focused on goals, work, and plans that you forget to have fun.  Plus, don’t forget your frying pan



Be like Merida.

Merida_web_smallBe brave enough to change your fate.  It is hard to step out and do something different from what was always expected, not just of you but by you.  Sometimes life changes and you will have to change with it.  Don’t be afraid when that happens.  Embrace the change and allow yourself to look in a new direction.




Be like Elsa. 


Let go of the things that hold you back and keep you from being the person you are meant to be.  things will not always be easy, but hold on to the strength you need tune out the negative.  Pain, failure, and heartache can hold you back if you let it.  Move on.  Look toward the future, not to the past.  Look to your strengths, not to your weaknesses.



Be like Anna. 


Love enthusiastically even if things don’t turn out the way you want them to.  At some point someone will break your heart.  It will hurt.  You will feel like you never want to go through that again.  Those feelings will pass if you let them.  Don’t allow the experience of being hurt to shape how you love.




Be like Moana.

Princess_MoanaKnow who you are.  Listen to the voice inside.  Embrace where you came from, but find your own path.  You will do things that no one ever dreamed you could.  You will head into the world leaving what you know behind, but you will be supported and surrounded by all the people who have gotten you to this point even if you cannot see them.





Most importantly

Be like You.Disney morning

People ask me who my favorite Disney princess is.  The answer, of course, is ‘the one I raised’.

You are everything you need to be in order to succeed in this world.  Embrace it. Allow your strength to carry you through the tough times.  Allow your kindness to shine like a beacon to those around you.  Allow your joy to transform this world.

Dream Big, Princess and know that no matter where you go or what you do my love goes with you.


Inspiration by Disney

We have once again entered into graduation season.  It’s a little more poignant this year since The Princess is graduating.  To begin our week long celebration I am republishing my graduation blog from last year.  Enjoy!


I have never been asked to speak at a commencement or a baccalaureate but it it one of those things I have thought about doing.  What would I say?  How would I inspire young people on the cusp of a new phase of life?  Here are some of my thoughts.


‘I’ve got no strings’


You are on the brink of a new level of freedom.  Your choices will more and more be shaped by your own priorities NOT what your parents, teachers, and other authority figures tell you to do.  This is good and bad.  Freedom is a wonderful thing, but it is also a little scary.  Be brave!  Don’t let your strings hold you back.

‘A whole new world’

whole new world

There is a lot of world out there that you have never seen.  Be open to new experiences.  Go new places, try new foods, meet new people.  You will not enjoy all of them.  That’s okay.  It is better to try something and know that you don’t like it then to take someone else word that calamari is disgusting (it is, BTW).  Don’t except what you are told without experiencing it first hand.  Keep an open mind.

‘I’ve got a dream’


Have a goal in mind.  Don’t wander aimlessly.  You can reach your goal.  You can achieve your dream.  You can even fail.  But always, ALWAYS have something to aim for.  It can be small (learn how to whittle) or large (run a Fortune 500 company) but have a goal or, even better, have several.

‘You can fly’


You are capable of more than you imagine.  You are not defined by what your grades were or where you’re from.  You all have vast reserves of untapped potential.  Do not listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.  Believe in yourself and you will soar.

‘Just around the riverbend’


Life is a journey.  You need to get moving.  What you want will not magically come to you.  You need to get out there actively working and looking for the things that you want.  It may be a little further down the river than you expect.  The sooner you start, the sooner you will arrive.

‘Dig a little deeper’


Never make the mistake of thinking life is easy or fair.  It is neither.  If you want to truly succeed in whatever you chose for yourself you have to commit fully to it.  You cannot do less than your best and expect to excel.  Do not half-a@@ your way through life.  What you put in is what you will get back.

‘Let it go’

let it go

You WILL make mistakes.  They are a fact of life.  Most of them will be small but some of them will be life changing.  Accept them, learn from them, then move on.  Holding on to mistakes will only weigh you down and keep you from something greater.

‘Go the distance’


Life is a marathon not a sprint.  Commit for the long term.  Some life goals are exactly that, LIFE goals.  You will need your whole life to accomplish them.  Settle in for the long haul.

‘Never grow up’


You will get older.  You will be more responsible.  You will learn to do all those things that mature adults do in this life.  You will possibly even have children of your own someday.  Don’t forget to have fun.  Don’t forget to be amazed by the world around us.  Don’t lose the joy and wonder we all had as children. That is what will make life more than just living.  It will be an adventure.                   (image by julesrizz-d6hu4ed  on




A Pirate’s Life

***So there are no spoilers here, feel free to read if you haven’t seen the newest installment in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.***

If you have any connection to Disney or a television you are aware that Disney has released the fifth movie based on the park attraction, “The Pirates of the Caribbean”.  If you have been thinking, “Wow, it seems like five movies worth of plot is a lot to squeeze out of a 10-15 minute ride.”  You would be right.  At this point, there is little to no resemblance to the original ride in the movies other than an occasional quote from the ride narration or its theme song.  Honestly, there is no reason this movie (or at least 3 of its predecessors) should have been made.  But for some reason it works and the newest movie is an enjoyable addition to the series.

Both before and after “Pirates of the Caribbean” Disney tried several times to create a successful movie adaptation of a park ride.  Let’s just say the results were disappointing





Tower of Terror (1997)tower-of-terror

Disney’s first attempt to create an independent narrative around a ride.  This made for TV movie was disappointing to many.  Of all the rides available, one would think that an attraction with a Twilight Zone connection would be the most engaging to move to the screen.




mission-to-marsMission to Mars (2000)

Did you remember that there was once an attraction of this name?  Neither did I.  It’s a pizza restaurant now.  The movie is about as memorable.  Critics hailed the special effects, but the plot, dialog, and pacing were all considered mediocre at best.





The Country Bears (2002)country-bears

This one definitely goes in the the ‘what were they thinking?’ category.  Disneyland’s version of this was already closed before the movie was even released.  The attraction is cute and a fun way to get off your feet for 15 minutes, but honestly they don’t need a backstory.





haunted-mansionThe Haunted Mansion (2003)

Of all the movies on the list, this one was the only one that really disappoints me.  The movie isn’t good, however there are glimpses of a better movie that occasionally peeks through.  Perhaps that’s why this one is rumored to be getting a second chance.





With this mixed bag of movies, one would think Disney would give up on the idea of great rides becoming great movies, but no.  We have several more rumored to be in the works including movies based on The Matterhorn, Jungle Cruise, and (God help us all) Small World.  Will anything ever be able to match the success of the Pirates?  I guess we will have to wait and see.