|Me at my very first Friends of The Magic meet in 2009|
30 years later, they still haven't gone back in. When I come back to my hometown for a visit, it doesn't feel like "home" unless I've had a visit, however brief, Disneyland Resort.
Touring Downtown Disney today was so much fun and a much needed relaxing break from the hectic world of wedding planning, traveling, deadlines, and work. It reminded me how much I miss my annual pass and living in the area. I loved being able to take a drive to the Parks when I was having a rough day, or just needed to get the heck out of dodge, or just because. Nothing kicks off the mundane world like a stroll around the grounds, or a fireworks show, or a ride on the Haunted Mansion....
It's hard to believe the above picture was taken so long ago. Going to my first Friends of the Magic Disney fan meet is a moment I remember very affectionately for many years to come. It was a big step for me to get out of my shell and go have lunch with about 50 complete strangers, only knowing some of them through their podcast reputations.
Being Disney fans, it didn't take long for us to strike up a conversation. Within moments, I no longer felt awkward.
It seems like a certain "type" of personality is part of the crowd that 'gets it'. We Disney fans seem to be mostly made up of the 'live in the moment' group. Most of the time, we're fairly grounded. We understand that Disney is a business. There's no getting around that fact. But we focus less on the crowds and financial investment, and more on the experience. After all, aren't the sweetest memories priceless?
Today was a great reminder of that.
Toward the end of my crazy wedding planning day (2 cake tastings, 1 meeting with the site coordinator, and a flat tire to start off the day), I stopped into Window To The Magic's regular weekly gathering at Trader Sam's. I wanted to check out this new bar that seemed to have shades of both the Tiki Room and the Adventure's Club, and WTTM's weekly Kungaloosh night seemed the perfect time to go. So with Mom in tow, we met some of my friends there, and I quickly remembered why my Disney pals are so near and dear to my heart. I immediately felt like family, as if we'd all been sitting around chatting for years (though, if you count online chatting time, that's probably true). And, let's face it, if it weren't for my Disney pals, this wedding might not be materializing to be the amazing event it is now.
If it weren't for my Disney Wedding Blog (aka Wedding Atlas) Mentors, I wouldn't have thought about Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen as a wedding/rehearsal venue, despite the fact that I spent many a solo birthday at the bar, enjoying a mixed drink and an appetizer while soaking in some jazz. They also turned me on to other vendors willing to work with our limited budget and short time frame. When I cried for help, they rose to the challenge and provided me much needed support when I was feeling really overwhelmed by everything.
(This isn't to say my other friends and family aren't as vital to me. This particular blog is just to praise a certain type of friend.)
Disney fans are known for their enthusiasm for life, their gregarious spirits, and their enduring commitment to enabling their dreams as well as the dreams of others. It's a truly amazing community I couldn't be more grateful to be a part of.
Like I said in the opening of this blog, when it comes to 'the Disney thing' - some people get it. Some people don't. I'll never be able to explain it to people that don't.
But I'm eternally grateful for the people that do. It's so refreshing to be in a room of Disney fans. It makes being me a whole lot easier.
Thanks, WTTM for the great time. See you all in August!