Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For The Love of Disney: One Man's Dream

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World (Florida), don't overlook the attraction known as One Man's Dream.  While running to your Toy Story Mania destination to grab your Fastpass, take note of OMD's location, grab your golden ticket, and then turn around to experience one of the best attractions in Hollywood Studios.

One Man's Dream has more to offer than you might think at first glance.  Entering through the doors, you begin wandering through a selection of Walt Disney's historic pieces.  Among the Disney paraphernalia, you will find the desk Walt used in 2nd grade.  My sons loved seeing that the man who created "the mouse," had to sit in school at one time as well.  An antique Tinkerbell, a diorama built by Disney, Walt's office, costumes from Zorro, the Rocketeer's jet pack, and Big Bunny from Honey I Blew Up The Kid are just a few of the unique items found in this treasure trove.

When you complete your tour of the display, a video awaits.  Here is where you will learn more details in the story of our beloved Walt Disney as narrated by Julie Andrews.  As it states within the film, "Walt always said, 'it all started with a mouse,' however it really began with a man."  What an inspiration that man really is.  I was grateful to have shared Walt's story with my children.

Much can be said about the man who created one of our favorite characters of all time.  Discovering that he held a close relationship with his brother, a true love found with his wife, and proof that he was truly a devoted father was icing on the cake.  Walt began his life as part of a family who struggled financially. He never let that stop him.  Walt pursued dreams and never gave up, even when he had an almost crushing professional blow.  He regrouped and before long created a character that danced into our hearts... Mickey Mouse.  This is the point where Walt claims it all began, but I (along with others) believe differently.  The man that created the mouse, truly started it all.

Endless family friendly movies and characters followed Mickey.  Disneyland and Walt Disney World were created due to the love of a devoted father who wanted to share experiences with his children.  Would we enjoy these animated pleasures in life if it hadn't been for the man who drew up a squeaky mouse with a positive attitude?  Where did that mouse get his spunk?  I believe it came from Walt himself.

One of my favorite quotes by Mr. Disney says a lot about him.  "Get a good idea, and stay with it.  Dog it, and work at it until it's done, and done right."  Walt Disney is a positive inspiration to many.  My own two children came away from this theme park attraction with an understanding that it doesn't matter where you come from, how much money you have, or if you fail along the way.  If you truly believe in something, have a dream, work hard, and never give up... anything is possible!

Thank you Mr. Disney for dreaming, following all of those dreams, and encouraging others to dream!  Another big thank you for creating a place where I found my own true love and can now share with our children.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Walt Disney World Vacation

Thanksgiving day brings travel for many families, but for mine it was an extra special road trip.  While others were making turkey, pie, and all the fixings that accompany a glorious meal, we loaded up the car and headed to Walt Disney World, Florida!  Our travel adventures took two days, with an overnight stay in Tennessee.  The long days were worth it when we pulled onto Disney property and our vacation officially began.

After unloading the car, we headed to Downtown Disney.  While the entire admission free area is split into three sections (The Marketplace, Pleasure Island, & The West Side), our favorite spot to roam is The Marketplace.  It's full of shops and restaurants with Disney flair.  A giant Lego store, with huge Lego creations outside, is one of my boys' favorite stops.  This night, we bypassed many of our favorite shops in favor of our dinner destination.  Delicious meals from Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney's Marketplace will always be on my favorite foods list.  The penne alfredo, that was calling my  name before we left Michigan, did not disappoint my taste buds.

The Magic Kingdom was our destination for the first full day of Disney.  When we arrived, we were thrilled to find ourselves going from one ride to the next without a big wait.  Crowds were not overwhelming as they have been in the past when we've visited.  Christmas atmosphere seeped into every area of the park, even Cinderella's castle lit up with gorgeous lights when the sun when down.  It was simply beautiful.

As we skipped from one attraction to the next, I began to notice a growing trend.  In fact, I caught my husband and myself participating in this a number of times as well.  While waiting in a line or sitting at a meal, cell phones were front and center.  Thankfully, I picked up on this fairly early into our first day and when I had time to talk to my husband quietly, I mentioned my concerns.  Many parents were spending those free moments exploring their gadgets instead of interacting with their children.  As we didn't want to fall into the technology trap, we agreed to limit our time on phones during our vacation.

Throughout the remainder of our trip, we gained so much.  Our family had true quality time with very little interruption.  We used wait times to learn about things around us, practice lines, do "homework," and discuss our experiences.  Our goal was to absorb everything possible.  Had I attached myself to my cell phone's apps, I would have missed out on many special moments with my husband and boys.  Instead, I saw through the eyes of my children and felt my heart warm on countless occasions.

My husband and I both felt our eyes were opened to various new and different thoughts and feelings  during repeat experiences on this trip.  New perspectives were gained because we have grown and are at different stages in life than we were before.  We are excited for what our children gained with their new and repeat experiences well.

Walt Disney went away on trips to come home renewed, refreshed, & "a new man."  When we headed home on December 2, 2010, I completely understood that feeling.  I had not been so relaxed in a very long time.  Over the next few weeks, I hope to share more of what I learned while on my Walt Disney World vacation.  

A very special memory to be cherished for years to come was created on this Disney vacation.  We met up with my father-in-law and his girlfriend, P, at Hollywood Studios on Monday, November 29, 2010.  Unbeknown to P, a surprise had been in the works for some time.  Our family enjoyed the Beauty & the Beast stage show from VIP seats.  After the show, we were given the privilege of meeting Belle & the Prince "backstage."  During this extraordinary meet & greet, my father-in-law proposed to P.  We were honored to be a part of the surprise & celebration!  I couldn't ask for a better step-mom-in-law!

Congrats on your engagement M & P!!!