Wow. This post is my 99th blog! In addition, December 12th is my two year anniversary of writing for WDW Radio. Time flies when you are having fun! To commemorate these two special occasions, I decided to share with you 100 of my favorite Disney moments. Some take place in Walt Disney World, some on the Disney Cruise Line, some on the other side of the country in Anaheim and some even take place in the comfort of my home. Of course, 100 may seem like a lot so I split it up into two blogs: this one, post number 99, will feature 50 moments and my next post, number 100, with feature the next 50 moments. Please enjoy a look into my former trips and Disney encounters including a party as mad as a hatter with a certain mouse (and not the one you are thinking), a storm on Castaway Cay and that one time I could have gone on tour for the rest of my life. Confused? Read on!
- “My” Red Car Newsboys Set
I wasn’t physically on a Disney property when this happened, but I still count it as a Disney memory. I wanted to meet one of my favorite Cast Members when I was over in Disneyland, but she unfortunately wasn’t working the few days I was there. I had a letter to give her (the letter I am referring to is here) so I decided just to send it to her through the internet. She was very touched, and wanted to do something in return. She is friends with Sal, the only female in the Red Car Newsboys show in Disney California Adventure. She showed Sal and the newsboys the letter and they all agreed to dedicate one set on that following Friday to me! It’s just a little thing that means a whole lot to me, a girl who would love to be a newsboy one day.
- The Mirror on the cruise
On the WDW Radio Dream Cruise 2.0, I made a gag gift for Beci. It was a mirror with Beci’s face on the outside of it, so that she could “fix her bangs and Lou would not know the difference” and therefore stop teasing her about constantly messing with her hair. Long story short, Lou ended up with the mirror, and he walked around pretending to be Beci!
Also on the WDW Radio Dream Cruise, I ran into one of my FAVORITE Disney characters, Peter Pan. We talked for a while and we posed for a photo. I showed him my Peter Pan inspired bow, which he seemed to enjoy. My cousin/best friend, Kiley, was taking a cruise on the same ship (The Disney Dream) the following week, so after we departed from our cruise, there was a three day cruise before she boarded for a four-day cruise. When we were younger, Kiley and I looked like clones of one another. Strangers thought we were identical twins and sisters. We even joked about switching places one day and our parents wouldn’t even notice! As we got older, we started to look different, but still enough alike to confuse people into thinking we were sisters. Well … or so we thought. When Kiley came back from her cruise, she asked if I met Peter Pan. I said “Yeah, why?” Well, apparently Kiley met Peter Pan, and Peter Pan asked how she managed to stay on the ship. “Did you hide under the bed?” he asked. “What are you talking about?” she asked. “Sure you do! I met you last week. You showed me a bow that looks like me. We even posed like this!” And he did the EXACT SAME POSE he and I did. Kiley eventually realized what was going on (this isn’t the first time a stranger confused us… just the first time someone in Disney did) and explained that her cousin was on the cruise, and he must be confusing us. My favorite part of this story was that out of the thousands upon thousands of people Peter Pan meets in a single sailing, he remembered me. ME! A small town girl from New Jersey who was just trying to give him a little extra magic by asking him questions and showing him a bow. This really showed me that the littlest things can cause someone to remember you.
- Playing Games with the Mad Hatter
When I won a Disney essay contest in 2011, the prize was a trip to Walt Disney World. One of the exclusive things that the winners (there were 50 of us) did was play games with a chosen character. We split up into groups ventured off to our chosen character, and ours happened to be the Mad Hatter! We went to a roped-off section in the United Kingdom pavilion and played crazy games from Wonderland for about an hour, which I will never forget.
- Photos with Photopass Photographers
Photopass photographers need love too! Everyone always asks them to take a photo of them, but no one asks to take a photo WITH them. I decided to change that. One of my favorite reactions was from Jessica, who said “I have been waiting eight years for someone to ask me that!”
- I Flirt with Chipmunks for a Living
In 2011, I trekked my way through the future of Tomorrowland® one morning. We happened to see Chip and Dale in futuristic costumes, which I had NEVER seen before! They didn’t have a line, so we ran right up to them! Now me being a young girl, they were fighting over me. Dale would twirl me around and then Chip would. At one point, Dale started dragging me towards Space Mountain®!
- Seeing the Mad T Party for the First Time and Dormouse Recognizing Me.
I group these two together because they go hand in hand. If you follow me on any social media site, you know just how much I love the Mad T Party. I just find it creative and fun! So, of course, when I found out I was going to Disneyland, I was pumped to go down this rabbit hole. Beforehand, I got to know two of the four main performers in this band: The Mad Hatter, a lead singer and the host of the celebration, and Dormouse, the electric guitarist who acts like the stereotypical rock star. I talked to these two men before I left. During the Mad T Party the Friday night I went, my friend Dormouse was performing! During the first set we made eye contact twice. The second time we made eye contact, I gave him a heart and mouthed “I love you!” (of course, I don’t really love him – it was just an “in the moment thing). He held the eye contact for a little longer (keep in mind he was playing a guitar so he couldn’t really respond). At the end of the set he we walking off stage when we made eye contact, and I repeated what I did previously. I made a heart with my hands and mouthed “I love you!” This time he responded. He screamed “I KNOW!!!” before looking away, still completely in his rock star character. I just started cracking up, and so did the people around me who saw what happened. I came back for the final set, and I’m pretty sure he told the other members of the band that he recognized me because I made awkward eye contact with every single member. Of course, I am not complaining!
- Backstage Buses
In 2011, on the trip that I was privileged to win, I had to take a bus backstage multiple times to get into the parks early or to get into the Canada pavilion without walking too far. We had to go through a special entrance made only for Cast Members and drove UNDER the Seven Seas Lagoon. Pretty awesome! We even saw a little miniature version of the Epcot ball with vines inside of it!
Megan was my “liaison”, if you will, during my adventures through the parks as an essay contest winner since only the winners could do some of the unique activities. She was very sweet and pointed things out to me that I never knew. She served as a guide, coach, cheerleader and friend. She is one of my favorite Cast Members of all time!
- The Secret Building
I never realized this, but there is a building behind the gates that connect the Canada Pavilion and the United Kingdom Pavilion! It is in fact taller than the gates, but is painted a light blue so it blends right into the sky. We had the pleasure of spending time in the building during my time as an essay contest winner.
- Club Pirate
On the WDW Radio Dream Cruise, we partied hard at Club Pirate. We took up the whole back half of the dance floor!
I already shared this story before! Head over to Reversing the Magic: Disneyland Cast Members (http://www.wdwradio.com/?p=32351&preview=true ) and scroll down to the paragraph above the first photo to read all about how a man with scissors became the running joke of the whole trip.
- Secret Trails of Animal Kingdom
While adventuring through Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park , we came across some small trails. We decided to follow them and they took us RIGHT next to the Tree of Life, and no one was on the trail! It made for great photo opportunities.
- The mysterious Castaway Cay storm
In 2006, my family and I took our second Disney cruise ever! We opted to do the Western Caribbean experience and visit Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay. Towards the beginning of our day at Castaway Cay, it was sunny and bright. As the minutes ticked by, the clouds got darker. And darker. Suddenly in the blink of eye, lightning was surrounding us, and the wind was whipping everything off the ground. Lifeguards were running around like chickens without their heads trying to get people out of the water. Cast members were leading us to shelters, and I remember grabbing my shoes and RUNNING. Luckily my mom was right on my heels, but my father and brother were not. We ran to the shelter (under the Cookies BBQ pavilion) as everyone began to look for their loved ones or shield themselves from the sideways rain. We looked around and came to the conclusion that the men of my family found their way to a different shelter, so we decided to just stay put. We were one of the last families to reach this shelter, so we were towards the outside of the building and had a clear view of what was going on outside. I will never forget standing and staring at this palm tree five feet away. The leaves were touching the ground and the tree was literally BENDING before all of our eyes. That’s how crazy the wind was. The only thing I could think was if one heavy gust of wind comes and breaks this palm tree in half, we would have been the first people to make impact with it. Luckily, within ten minute the storm stopped, and we reunited with my brother and father. In fact, the weather was perfect from that moment on. A cast member asked my mother if she was enjoying her day, she mentioned it was perfect “except for the storm that came out of nowhere” and he said, “Welcome to the islands”.
- Pirates with a Pirate
We were getting ready to board our Pirates of the Caribbean® boat when the ride shut down. Everyone left the line, but we decided to stay. The only people that stayed in line were us and about 2 other people. The Cast Member who was leading the line was very in character and made the wait, as short as it was, very entertaining.
- Singing with Richard
On the WDW Radio Dream Cruise 2.0, we attended the Richard Sherman concert. Richard was singing. We were all singing along. Therefore we all sang with Richard Sherman!
- Playing Survivor
This might sound familiar if you have been reading my blogs for a long time. I talk about this in detail HERE. Basically, my parents have always found very creative ways to tell us we were going to Walt Disney World and, on this occasion, they had us play a two day game of Survivor to win clues to our trip!
- Watching a Proposal
My dad and I came across a proposal one day in 2011 in front of the topiaries on the side of the castle near Tomorrowland®. I had never seen a proposal in the parks before this one, and it was super sweet!
- Yahder and the Slipper
I already talked about this in great detail over here. Just go down to the paragraph above the glass slipper to read all about it! To sum it up, Yahder (a ride attendant) got down on one knee and presented me with a glass slipper that he said would make all my dreams come true!
- Let’s Make a Deal
Let’s Make a Deal is a game show that made its way back onto the air a few years ago. My family and I loved to watch it together, so my parents turned it into a game of things for us to win for our trip to Disney in 2012. I talk ALL about it here.
- Mickey and the Wedding Ring at the Garden Grill
One of my favorite things to do is ask characters awkward questions. During dinner at the Garden Grill, I asked Mickey why he had never asked Minnie to marry him. He just shook his head and covered his eyes. During later visits to our table (he stopped by three times), I even gave him suggestions on how to pop the question. Since I haven’t heard about a wedding, I guess it didn’t work!
- 22. Waving to Everyone
While I was in Disneyland, we had a chance to view the Pixar Play Parade from a close-by restaurant. We waved to every single performer, and received a lot of smiles and waves back!
- Boy acting like Tigger in the Food Court
I suppose people will do anything to keep their kids occupied. On a visit to the Intermission Food Court, our family sat at the table next to a little boy hopping in a paper bag. He was the most excited, happy little boy that you could imagine. He walked over to us, and offered us the use of the paper bag. My father asked why we would need the bag. He responded that it was for us to bounce like Tigger. He looked crushed when my father said no thank you, so my brother and I took turns bouncing in the bag. When my mother got to our table (looking a little stunned), we explained what we were doing and from the table next to us, the parents apologized. Always the supportive parent, my mother said it was no problem and that she had been waiting for a chance to bounce like Tigger all day. So into the bag my mother went (I have it on video). The little boy was ecstatic and the parents got to finish their dinner!
- Pirates and Pals Cruise
Who knew that you could go on a pirate adventure, see the fireworks with the castle AND the train station in your view, and meet Captain Hook, Mr. Smee and Peter Pan all in one night?
25. Saying Mele Kalikimaka to a Polynesian Cast member and causing an uprising
On a Christma time visit to Walt Disney World, I visited Disney’s Polynesian Resort and walked into a store to wish the cast members a “Mele Kalikimaka” (that’s Merry Christmas in Hawaiian). She responded by saying, “What did you say?” so I repeated it. She asked all her co-cast members to come listen to me. They were all more than a little astonished that I thought to speak to them in Hawaiian. It made us all smile.
As I mentioned before, my parents have always come up with fun and unique ways to tell my brother and I about upcoming Disney trips. On this occasion, they enlisted the help of our own Lou Mongello to break the news to me that I would be sailing with the group on the WDW Radio Dream Cruise 2.0. Lou told me while on the air after a Wednesday night podcast, and I was so excited that I burst out in tears. It really meant the world to me to be able to join my Disney family on a four night adventure.
- The Mountain Range
The Mountain Range is when you ride Space Mountain®, Splash Mountain®and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad® all back-to-back-to-back. My mother and I conquered this for the first time in 2011.
- Bouncing like Tigger on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
I’ve heard the Tower of Terror described in a lot of ways. Never though like a mother was explaining it to her two young boys. They had never ridden TOT and were very nervous. Thrill rides weren’t really their thing but their mother talked them into riding it by describing it as “a ride that makes you bounce like Tigger”. Really? Not exactly, I thought. I worried for the entire queue and, of course they ended up in my elevator. Much to my surprise, they loved the ride … because they got to “bounce like Tigger”. I’ll have to remember that one when I have kids!
I love being selected from the audience to participate in shows. While exploring the Imagination Pavilion quite a few years ago, the “scientist” chose me to help in a few experiments. I even got to wear a lab coat and safety goggles! Since I love science experiments, this was an event that has stayed with me over the years – hmmm, maybe this is why I love science!
30. Walking through A Bugs Land… with someone horrified of bugs
Over in Anaheim, there is a whole land dedicated to Pixar’s first movie, A Bug’s Life. Everything in Disney California Adventure is kind of squished, if you will, and the shortest way to get to the Tower of Terror from our exclusive hotel entrance was cutting through A Bugs Land. This might not seem like a big deal, and it wasn’t for me. However, my friend who was on this adventure with me, Courtney, is absolutely TERRIFIED of bugs. So of course, like the good friend I am, I forced her to go through the land … many times. Good news is by the end of our trip she could walk through without any problems! We even somehow convinced her to take a photo with the big bug himself, Flik! I am super proud of her for walking through this land, and some pretty funny photo opts occurred because of it!
We were walking up to the Lego Store over in Downtown Disney when my mom said “look it’s Lego Yoda!” We were all really confused because she was pointing at the Snow White display. Ends up, she thought that Dopey was Yoda!
When we stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I thought the highlight of my visit would be waking up to animals that I could watch from my balcony. Turns out, what I liked most was a little more interactive. Animal Kingdom Lodge has a program that allows you to earn beads for completing animal and cultural activities. Learn how to play an African instrument, earn a bead. Learn how to track wild animals, earn a bead. Go on a scavenger hunt to learn about African history and culture, earn a bead. The list goes on and on. Each activity earned a different bead. In fact, there were times that my brother and I would schedule our park departure time around earning beads. You know it was cool if I was willing to forfeit the park opening ceremonies!
- Seeing the Dapper Dans for the First Time
If you know me even just a little bit, you know that I love the Dapper Dans, specifically the ones over at Disneyland. So imagine my excitement when I saw them and heard them early this November!
34. My Henna tattoo
I live at the Jersey Shore and the boardwalk has tons of Henna shops but I always wanted to get one in Disney. A few summers ago, I stopped by the Morocco pavilion in Epcot® and browsed through the book to see what my very first Disney Henna was going to be. What did I choose? I got a henna tattoo that started at my fingers and traveled all the way up to my elbow which represented health and protection.
35. The Mad T Party Hosts
These guys walk around Disney California Adventure giving out invitations to the Mad T Party that night. We happened to run into them, and I had some very interesting conversations with Hatter Host Jeff and Hatter Host Thomas!
36. Finding the Paintbrush at Tom Sawyer Island
This is another moment that made its way into a previous blog! In fact, it is one of my earlier ones! If you want to know what paintbrush I am talking about follow the link to my blog about it!
37. Walk In Walt’s Footsteps
This was a tour around Disneyland discussing Walt Disney and what he personally contributed to in the park. Highlights included going into the lobby of Club 33 and Walt’s apartment! Yes, you actually get to go inside Walt’s apartment!
38. I Spy Belle
When I visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios® for one of the first times ever, I saw a brunette with a blue dress with white accents in the distance. I knew right away that it was Belle in her “Little Town” dress. Of course, no one believed me. I decided to run up to her anyway only to find that it was her, and she just got to her meet and greet spot so there was no line. I had a great interaction with her for at least five minutes.
- Being Recruited to Go on Tour as a Hula Dancer
In 2004, my family and I visited the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show over at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. I wore a hula skirt and had my hair out with a flower on the side. While waiting for dinner, quite a few people (including cast members) asked my mother what island we were from. Of course, we are from New Jersey, but they were not to be dissuaded. After the show, my mother was asked if she would consider having me learn to hula dance and become part of the “tour” since I look more Hawaiian than some of the Hawaiians. Huh?
- Getting the Block Party Bash Balls
Before the Block Party Bash (parade) was replaced in Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, a little known fact was that if you followed the parade to its end, after the gates closed and the music stopped, a barrage of rubber balls would be shot over the gate for you to take home. These nerf-like balls are stamped with the words “Block Party Bash” and, since my family was one of only a few there, we walked away with a lot of them. For the rest of the day, we would give the balls to little kids. We left with only one ball of each color but with a lot of little kids smiling!
- Captain Hook Hates Me
I already told this story before! In my blog about Pirate’s night, I talk about my experience with Captain Hook leaving me behind. Go check it out!
- Jiving My Way Through Carsland
Due to the Extra Magic Hours offered exclusively to Disneyland resort guests, we were allowed to venture through Radiator Springs early one morning. Radiator Springs Racers was closed, so we explored the rest of Carsland and ended up under this really extravagant archway that connects Paradise Pier and Carsland. We were taking billions upon billions of photos because NO ONE was there and it looked so gorgeous. I also took advantage of this by swing dancing around. No one was there to judge me and the music was great, so why not. The music playing was your favorite Christmas tunes with a 50’s vibe, and so it was perfect for high kicks, jiving and twisting! I had my own mini dance party in Disneyland!
43. Giving Aurora a Thimble
Yes, Aurora is my favorite princess. When I was little, I made her a thimble to protect her finger if there was ever another spinning wheel in the room. I painstakingly painted a tiny thimble pink then added blue dots. I told her what it was for when I gave it to her and her reply was precious. Aurora told me that she would always keep it with her and treasure it forever. That really made my 6 year old heart melt!
- Helping Matt with His Trip to Florida
Matt was our Walt in Walt’s Footsteps Tour guide. At lunch, he let it slip that he was going to be visiting Walt Disney World for the first time in December. Luckily for him, two other people along with my group were self-proclaimed Walt Disney World experts and we filled him in on the must-dos. It was fun giving advice to a Cast Member.
- Watching parents in the Studio Backlot Tour show
We all know how fun it is to watch your parents get embarrassed. After all, they embarrass us all the time! Imagine my surprise when my parents were chosen for the Studio Backlot Tour show and had to dress in raingear which did nothing to stop them from getting soaked when the bullets started flying and the bombs started going off! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at them. I also learned that they’re not very good actors that day … good thing they’re great parents!
On our last visit to Walt Disney World, my parents wanted to go on an adult’s only tour (Backstage Magic) so my PopPop Charlie and MomMom Lisha flew to Florida to entertain my brother and I (at Universal …shhh) then stayed a few extra days to explore Disney with us. PopPop hadn’t been to WDW in years and MomMom had never been to the parks. It was amazing to act as tour guide to a first-time visitor. We made sure that they saw lots of secrets and rode the “must rides”. They had such a great time that they have decided to fly down whenever any of the grandkids go, so they can spend a day in Disney with the kids. They say that the parents can spend an adult day because they really only want to be with the kids! Works for me!
- Giving Letters to the Princesses
Like every other little girl, when I was younger, I loved the princesses. Truthfully, Aurora was my favorite, but I loved them all. On a visit when we were scheduled to dine with royalty in Cinderella Castle, I wrote each princess a letter telling her what I admired about her. I tried to make each princess’ letter unique. For example, reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine, so I wrote to Belle that I loved to read like she does. You get the picture.
Jodi was a Cast Member at Muppet*Vision 3D who was deeply appreciative of my letter. She was flattered and kept questioning why I picked her. She also shared the letter with the rest of the Cast Members, and by the time the show ended everyone knew who I was. It was surreal. She gave me a green slip that allowed my party and me to hop in the Fastpass line for any ride of our choosing, which was very nice of her.
- Meeting the Girl and her Little Brother Before Getting on Kali River Rapids® then Getting Stuck in the Rain
Nothing says August in Florida like daily, torrential downpours! During an August visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom®, we met a 16 year old girl and her 8 year old brother. Like us, they chose the rain as a perfect time to get in line for Kali River Rapids® since you’re going to get wet anyway plus the added benefit that most of the queue line is covered. They stood in front of us in line, and we couldn’t help but overhear how anxious the little boy was about the amount of rain. Turns out they were from California and claimed to have never seen rain like that before. We talked for the whole line then boarded the same raft. As luck would have it, the ride came to a halt when we were about half way through, and we sat through the worst 10 minutes of the storm completely uncovered in the raft! I have never gotten so wet on any water ride! Of course, 5 minutes after the ride ended, the sun was out and the ground was drying but it took hours for our clothes to dry!
- When Goofy Scared my Mom
A seven (or more) night Disney cruise comes complete with a character breakfast. It was during one of these breakfasts that Goofy got the best of my mother. We were sitting at the table talking about what the day had in store when I spotted Goofy approaching my mom from behind. My brother and I watched him “sneak” up on my mom. Yes, we could have warned her but well, we didn’t. Goofy tapped my mother on the shoulder and stuck his head next to hers. She yelped and jumped out of her seat. Everyone in our area of Animator’s Palate laughed at her reaction. I still laugh when I think about it.
I had a ton of fun reminiscing and remembering some of my favorite Disney memories. Stay tuned to hear some of my other crazy highlights including a Cast Member in a kilt, a heartwarming message and… a talking mailbox? All this and more will be explained next Tuesday.
See ya REAL soon!
(All photos from my personal collection.)
Quote of the Week: “Think of the happiest things, it’s the same as having wings.” ~ You Can Fly, Peter Pan
Makena is a 15 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. You can follow Makena on twitter @Makattack98 or on Facebook (Makena Wolcott). Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.