New post coming soon! I’m sorry I’ve been away but I’ll be back soon!

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On planning my trip to Disney World, phase 1

I’m the type of person who plans and plans and overplans… and then never sticks to anything she wrote down. Way far in advance of anything I’m going to be doing, I’ll do a ton of research, make lists, text and e-mail friends and family with a whole collection of ideas. Basically, I’m an over-excited, “can’t wait for it to get here,” planning machine!

…but then we get closer to the date and I get bored with it or decide not to worry about it anymore and eventually the planning stage ends and is abandoned, resulting in me/us completely deviating from anything I had planned. And I kind of hate myself for it. Not for the deviation, but for all the time wasted!

Take, as an example, the trip I took to Disney World with my mother and sister in September 2014. (Since, you know, this is a Disney-themed blog.)

This trip was planned literally 5 weeks max before we arrived at the most magical place on Earth. As soon as it was booked, I took out my notebook and wrote draft after draft of the schedule we would all follow. FastPasses for these rides, shows at these times, food before this ride and after that one. I was overcome with an intense anxiety that we just wouldn’t be able to get everything done and my need to plan it was at an all-time high.

And then it faded away. After stressing over how we would be able to fit everything into the schedule we had, which was fewer days and shorter park hours than our previous trip, I burned myself out over the worry of making sure I would be able to do everything. OF COURSE we would! And even if we missed something we were hoping to do, there was always the next trip. I stopped planning and stopped worrying, and wouldn’t you know it: we hit pretty much everything I had in mind.

This over-excitement, “gotta make sure I have enough” part of me carries over to pretty much every aspect of my life. When my mother first taught me how to quilt, I was over-ambitious and bought a lot of fabric — fabric that is now sitting unused in boxes (albeit fancy ones) in my bedroom because I realized quilting just wasn’t my thing. I made one quilt top, decided I didn’t like the non-portability of a sewing machine combined with the amount of time it took to make just one quilted item comparable to its size, and that was it: quilting just wasn’t going to be in my crafting arsenal anymore. Less than three months from first lesson to first finished quilt top, I was done.

It’s the reason I have tons and tons of yarn and no projects to show for it. (Yet!) It’s the reason I have nearly 50 unfinished projects stuffed into an overabundance of predetermined “knitting bags,” all waiting for completion. I get an idea, I start it, and then I get bored and move onto something else.

It’s something I’m trying so hard to change about myself, but changing something that’s such a part of your personality (and has been for 25 years) is easier said than done.

Anyway, why am I telling you all of this?

Well, it’s because I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD IN JANUARY. (Though, this post title may have given that away!) And, man, let me tell you – it’s been a ride just to pick a date!

Some background: I’ve known for a while that I wanted to spend a birthday in Disney World (just to treat myself, you know, as if I needed an excuse), and I figured that my Golden Birthday* would be the perfect one. But my decision to go back to school put a bit of a wrench in those plans.

I’m in the process of applying to a program for certification in history education. I majored in history in undergrad and being a teacher has always been at the back of my mind. Even more than that, I’m hoping to get into the museum education field in the future, and with that comes the requirement of certification and teaching experience. So I’m going for it.

My hope is to begin in January, and the deadline to apply is November 1. That means I have to take two separate Praxis exams (and pass them, which isn’t an easy feat) before September in order to have enough time to get my scores and put everything together for the application.

What does all this mean? If I pass the exam (and am accepted into the program), I’ll be going to Disney World from January 9-16. If I don’t pass the exam (or don’t get accepted into the program), we’re going on January 23-31. So while I know roughly that I’m going in January, there are still a few factors in place before we can actually book anything and make plans.

But what does that mean for my over-planning tendencies?

Ah, I’m glad you asked! While I’ve been looking over restaurants (and have even made a few reservations already just in case!) and considering prices and park hours, I’m trying my hardest to hold off on any actual planning until I know for certain when we’re actually going to be there. I think it’s for the best this way, because I can think about it for a bit, and then when I know the actual days I’m going, I can go full steam ahead to plan. I’m going to try to pace myself though, friends!

It’s not like I can get complete burnout from planning a Disney trip because I’m ALWAYS thinking about Disney and the next time I’ll be going and there’s a 0.001% chance I’ll get sick of it before I go. But with everything I have to deal with for school, adding on the stress of wondering when and how and blah-dee-blah-dee-blah… not good.

So I’ll keep you posted! Fingers crossed that I pass my exam the first time and can know sooner rather than later which dates I’m going. And then you’ll get the joy of hearing all about my planning process. YOU KNOW YOU’RE EXCITED.

Speaking of crafts, check out these photos of my latest crafting adventure and click this link to see some more!

Later, Disney lovers! Stay magical!

Examination 4, on how rude outside of Disney equals rude inside of Disney

Today’s post (my first in a while, so my apologies for that) is going to be about something that’s been on my mind lately, and that’s this: the rude people of Disney.

I’m sure it’s something every Disney visitor has thought about at least once, and for good reason: they can ruin a perfectly pleasant day. I’m not going to venture to say that they ruin an entire vacation, but maybe they have for some, and that makes me incredibly sad. Rudeness seems to be a fact of life. Even the kindest people can have their rude moments, but it seems like there are just some people who are consistently the worst type of individuals.

As an example, albeit a small one compared to some stories, allow me to tell the story of one of the rude people we encountered on our latest trip.

My mom, my sister, and I were on the bus on the way back to our resort, and we were sitting in the back amongst a few people standing. When the bus got to our stop, a few people in the front of the bus got up, but nobody around us moved. Standing in front of us was a family, and when it seemed as if they weren’t going to get off, my mother stood up and said, “Excuse me” to what I assume was the father. No response.

The scene of the crime
The scene of the crime

My mother said again, a little louder, “Excuse me, can we get through?” The man immediately turned around and said in such an unneccesssarily rude way, “We’re all getting off! We’re waiting for people! Why do you think we’re not moving?!” (Or something like it.) Well! My mother’s eyes widened and she said, “Sorry, sheesh!” and sat back down, but not before the man said loudly, “God!”

Obviously, things could be worse, and one man getting snippy at my mom doesn’t ruin a vacation (except maybe for the next half hour, when all she could talk about was how rude he was). But he’s not the only rude person in Disney World, and not by a longshot. While this one moment is the only “rude” experience I can recall happening to us personally, I’ve witnessed quite a lot of generalized rudeness. It seems like rudeness abounds in Disney!

There are the people who think the rules don’t apply to them. There are the people who think that just because they paid a lot of money for their vacation that they deserve special treatment. (Oh, don’t we all…) There are the people who are rude to cast members who don’t give them the answer they were hoping for. There are the people who cut a hundred people in line saying, “Oh, my group is up there.” And my personal favorite: There are the people who talk during the entirety of a ride or show.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there. I’ll say it again and again: there are some ridiculously rude and inconsiderate people in the general population, and they’re not going to change when on vacation.

Reason # 1 why I don't want to bring my children until they're older
Reason # 1 why I don’t want to bring my children until they’re older

Basically, Disney World (or Disneyland) exists as if you took a few thousand people from the world and stuck them all together in the World (capital W this time). The person honking their horn in traffic becomes the woman who runs you over with her stroller. The teenager texting while driving becomes the girl who runs into you because her head is buried in her phone. The person getting annoyed with the cashier at the store is the man who gives sass to a cast member.

There’s really no difference. Rudeness in the real world translates to rudeness everywhere else, including the internet, though I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone! Here’s an example:

I’m a member of a Facebook group called “I’m So Disney…” run by a man named Danny who has a website called Doctor Disney. Some of you may have heard of it or even be a part of the group. And if that’s the case, I sincerely hope that what I’m about to say isn’t directed at you.

For a group created to celebrate and share a love of all things Disney, there sure are some negative, rude, and downright NASTY people in it. Take as an example, a post I read about two weeks ago (when I first started writing this post – oops!), in which a woman from England said that she had an incredibly disappointing trip and was thinking about planning next year’s trip to Universal Studios instead. She wanted to know if there was contact information for her to air her grievances.

The initial comments were supportive, giving her the information she requested, and some people asking what exactly had happened for her to have such a disappointing trip. So she listed them. Rude cast members, special Frozen-themed magic bands that should have made sounds and lit up that were doing neither, a stolen stroller. Again, supportive people who said they were sorry this happened.

But then a man commented, saying that everything she encountered was her fault and it was obvious that, by asking for customer service contact info, she expected to get something free out of it.

If the magic bands weren’t working, she obviously wasn’t using them the right way. If a cast member was rude, she had obviously been rude to them first, and that visitors like her are the reason some cast members ARE rude. If her stroller was stolen, it was because only an idiot would take their eye off their stroller expecting someone not to take it.

Only YOU can prevent dismemberment from ruining your vacation!
Only YOU can prevent dismemberment from ruining your vacation!

Then another woman piped in saying that she clearly is clearly an entitled individual if she’s upset over these things. She should be grateful she got a vacation at all. AND THE KICKER: since nobody in her party lost a limb OR THEIR LIFE, she needed to get over it and be thankful for what she had.

Um. What. Seriously? There’s no in between there? It’s either you love your vacation, or someone has to die?!

But it got me thinking: there are a ton of people in that group that are so quick to complain about all of the rude people who visit the parks. I’d be willing to bet they’re one of them. The issue is that pretty much everyone is so blinded by what they consider to be rude that they are also blind to their own rudeness. Seriously, it’s so easy to unintentionally open a can of worms when posting or commenting in this group because there’s always someone ready with an argument or a rude comment! I’ve taken to just being an observer because it’s exhausting to have someone jump down your throat for saying that you liked the soup at Be Our Guest because “it was actually so terrible oh my god I could have made something better at home.”

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, aren’t I? I apologize for that! I guess the main point of this post is this: Disney vacations (and various Disney experiences) aren’t nearly as magical as they could be, and many times it’s the other visitors (and Disney lovers – or “haters,” as is more likely) that make it that way.

Have you ever had a rude encounter with a Disney World or Disneyland guest or had a generally unpleasant experience at one of the parks that was the result of another guest? Let me know in the comments!

MOUSE EARS GIVEAWAY!

Hello, Disney lovin’ friends and bloggers!

I’ve got a new post in the works, and it should be live shortly! (So so sorry about the long wait, by the way!) But in the meantime, I’d like to share with all of you a GIVEAWAY I’m hosting on my Instagram page for a pair of custom-made Minions inspired mouse ears.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – Minions aren’t Disney, I hear you shout! But who says we can’t combine more than one of the things we love into one?

Below is the original photo on my Instagram with the rule and qualifications. If you don’t have an Instagram but would still like to participate, the rules are basically the same except you’ll be following THIS BLOG instead of my Instagram page. OR DO BOTH. (Yeah, do both.) Reblog the post and leave a comment on this one to qualify!

The contest runs until THIS SUNDAY, JULY 12, so get those entries in! It’s open only to anyone with a mailing address in the United States. Best of luck to everyone who enters!

In celebration of the opening of the Minions movie, I'm doing a giveaway (my first one!) for one pair of the Minions-themed ears you see above! The rules are simple, but to qualify, you must meet each of these requirements: 1. Must be following me (@aknityourheartmakes) 2. Must repost the photo on your instagram with the hashtag #minionsearsgiveaway 3. In the caption, tag me & tell me why you want to win! If you have a private account, send me a DM with a screenshot of the photo posted on your account and your caption in order to qualify! Open only to those with shipping addresses in the United States. (Apologies to any international followers, but shipping overseas is far too expensive to pay out of pocket.) The winner will be announced on SUNDAY, JULY 12 at 9pm EST in the US. If you win, all you have to do is DM your full address, and your ears will be on their way a few days after that. If I don't get a response within 24 hours, I'll pick another winner (and so on for each 24-hour period). While I appreciate the love, only up to 5 entries per account will be counted. This is my first giveaway so it could fail miserably, but I've got my fingers crossed! Good luck! Comment below with any questions! #disney #disneyworld #disneyig #disnerd #disneyfan #disneyears #disneygram #disneyland #disneylife #disneylove #disneyside #minions #minionsears #californiaadventure #epcot #animalkingdom #hollywoodstudios #magickingdom #giveaway #iggiveaway #instagramgiveaway #mouseears #minnieears #mickeyears #despicableme #gru

A post shared by Maggie (@craftydisney) on

If you like mouse ears but don’t like Minions, check out my brand spankin’ new Etsy shop here: elephantandmouseshop

Examination 3, on the people who just don’t get it

If there is one person out there who doesn’t understand my love of Disney, it’s my father. After my mom and I came home from Disney World in May of 2013 (two years ago tomorrow – crazy!) we could not wait to go back. For a while, it was almost exclusively what we talked about: how much we wished we were in the Magic Kingdom, how much we wanted to be on this attraction or that attraction, how much we wanted to be eating a Mickey’s Premium bar, how much we loved Port Orleans French Quarter, how much this, how much that, blah blah blah.

I loved it, the talking about Disney part; I hated the “we probably won’t go back for a while part.” But that didn’t stop us from always talking about “next time.” My dad didn’t get it. He’d try to ignore us while we were talking, but he’d usually pipe up with something, as dads are known to do. More often than not, it was the cost of a Disney trip. That was something my mom and I discussed a lot, and it was one of the reasons we didn’t hop on a plane again as soon as we got back. Disney is expensive; there’s no getting around it, as even the cheapest stuff is overpriced. But our trip to Disney was a treat for my mom, who hadn’t been there since 1995, and dangit, it was worth it.

But, of coooourse, my dad said some things. And the thing that’s stuck with me most is this: “You’d be better off buying Disney stock than going to Disney World.” Hmm. Interesting. While technically TRUE, I suppose, what’s the fun in that?! Yes, yes, yes, investing in stocks will get you more money, which you can then use to take MORE trips to Disney World (that’s what he meant by that suggestion, right?!), but what he said has really stayed with me.

His comment didn’t so much hit my “Oh, yeah, we’re wasting money by going to Disney World” bone as much as it did my “Wow, he really just doesn’t understand why we love it so much” bone. And that’s the problem. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like or appreciate Disney to some degree, but not everyone will see or understand the magic that surrounds so many aspects of it.

(I suppose I should leave a side note here: after discussing this another time at dinner recently, I’ve determined this: as someone who partially grew up in California, my dad really just prefers Disneyland. This is totally fine with me, of course! But he’s still not at the level of love my mom, sister, and I are.)

There’s a ton of commercialization surrounding Disney; some people love it, and some people hate it. And that’s okay. However, I’ve found that among those who don’t love Disney as much as those who LOVE Disney, there can be a smidge of judgment for the amount of effort put into it. A little mm-hmm nod when someone talks about loving Beauty and the Beast, a little raise of the eyebrows when they rave about The Little Mermaid.

Because when people love Disney, they REALLY love it. “It’s childish” is one I’ve heard a lot. (Not to me, thankfully, but I’ve heard tales.) If it’s aimed toward someone who vacations exclusively at the parks, it’s “Why don’t you go anyplace else?” or “Don’t you get sick of it?” or “Why would you waste your time and money on the same experience every time?”

The thing that really gets my goat in all of this is that it’s been said time and time again that Disney World is not only meant for kids. After all, adults are just grown-ups children! Who doesn’t get a little giddy when they see something they used to love? But so many times, the things we love as kids turn out to be so disappointing when we experience them again as adults. If you’ve ever watched a movie you loved as a kid and realize that it was kind of dumb, you get it. Or if you go on vacation to someplace you loved as a child, you know what I’m talking about.

But Disney parks are the vacations that are least likely to be like that. They don’t end up stupid when you visit them again after years and years. Instead, you get the kind of rush you remember feeling when you visited as a child. And you feel like a child again, in the best way possible.

So, yes, Disney may be marketed “for” children, but “children” isn’t as exclusive and restrictive as some may think. Disney markets for children in a way that includes the child IN everyone, not just the little girls who run around Fantasyland in their princess dresses or the little boys dressed as pirates meeting Jack Sparrow in Adventureland. Walt Disney World Resort (the only Disney resort/Disney parks I have any right to discuss, since I’ve never been to any of the others) is massive. MASSIVE. There are people who go multiple times each year who still do not experience everything there is to do. And that’s why they go back.

When you visit a new & large place, you don’t expect to visit every site, every museum, every store, every restaurant while you’re there. If you loved where you had just been, when your trip is over, you want to go back to experience more and maybe re-visit some of your favorite places. If someone said that were going on another cruise, another trip to Barbados, going to visit family in Iowa yet again, I’m sure they wouldn’t receive the same kind of flak. Why should a trip to a theme park with so many things to love wrapped up in it be any different?

No experience at Walt Disney World is ever going to be the same. You could plan out the same itinerary for every trip you take, and you will never do all of the same things twice. You will meet new people, speak with different cast members, get annoyed at a different group of guests, sit next to someone new on your favorite ride, not get wet on Kali River Rapids when last time you got soaked, finally see the shark in the tank when you eat at Coral Reef, get a different seat in your favorite restaurant, have your joke finally chosen on the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, ride a car with the pedal on the left on the Tomorrowland Speedway when you’ve only ever had it on the right, talk about something different with your favorite princess, have a sunny day to watch a parade when last time it was cancelled.

There is always something new and different to experience. That’s why I never plan to stop visiting the Disney parks, and I can’t wait to visit all of the other Disney parks and to share them with the family I’ll someday have.

Have any of you ever experienced any Disney nay-sayers like this? I’d love to hear your rebuttal in the comments. 🙂

Examination 2, on those Disney fixer-uppers

I figured that it was a good time to devote a post to something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot recently, and that’s about attractions at Walt Disney World that are definitely in need of refurbishments and/or changes and/or removal. Don’t get me wrong: I love Disney World just the way it is now. (Cue Billy Joel, please.) It’s magical and beautiful and all-around wonderful, but you cannot deny that there are definitely some attractions that seem to have been a tad neglected lately or that need to be replaced.

So here are my thoughts! I’d love to hear yours in the comments.


Magic Kingdom

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Carousel of Progress — I’m hoping for a great big beautiful tomorrow in which the Carousel of Progress isn’t so hopelessly outdated. The attraction begins with a scene that takes place at the turn of the 20th century, then another in the 1920’s, then a third in the 1940’s. It’s not surprising the hear the the original last scene took place another 20 years later in 1960. In 1981, the attraction’s last scene was updated for that decade, and according to the attraction’s Wikipedia page, since 1994, the last scene has been themed “Christmas in the House of 2000.” Of course, that means that it’s pretty much just an idea of what the 2000’s would look like (a la Back to the Future), but I suppose that goes with Tomorrowland’s “The Future That Never Was” theme.

I think the Carousel of Progress really needs another revamp to display what the 21st century really is like. Each of the other scenes are pretty much accurate since they were created when people knew history as fact, so why not change it again? I’m sure it’s not high-priority, especially considering the amount of animatronics work that would have to go into it, but I still think it’s high time for a change.

Tomorrowland Speedway — I didn’t truly fallIMG_1008 in love with this attraction until my last trip, and it most certainly had everything to do with my sister being with me. It’s a fun ride (even if your maximum speed is somewhere around 7 mph), but making a game out of actually “racing” with someone makes it all the more so. Granted, when Colleen and I went on it together, she was in the car either in front of or behind me so we couldn’t actually really race at all, but we had a hilarious time catching up to each other.

But why is this attraction so neglected? The race cars are old and dingy and – let’s admit it – those seat belts are a bit gross when you think about how many dirty hands have touched that fabric. (Your guess is as good as mine as to why this is the only attraction on which I’ve ever considered the amount of germs that are probably aaall over it.) Give those cars a good scrubbing down and replace those seat belts, and they’d be good to go!

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger SpinWhaaaaat?! I hear you saying to yourselves. Has she lost it? I haven’t, I promise! It’s just this, dear reader: now that Disney World also has Toy Story Midway Mania, this attraction doesn’t even compare! Most importantly for me, it wasn’t nearly as fun, but there were also some actual issues: It’s very difficult to see where your laser is pointing, so I ended up just guessing on whether or not I was pointing it in the proper direction. I’d point at a large target directly next to me, and it would do nothing. So either I had a faulty laser shooter, or this attraction is pretty hit or miss. (Pun absolutely intended.) A few vital changes — especially better laser accuracy — would make this attraction MUCH better.

Some might say that Stitch’s Great Escape should also be on this list, buuuut since I haven’t been on it since 2007 and can remember next to nothing about it, I can’t really write anything about it other that I do remember not enjoying it. But that’s all I can say right now!


EPCOT

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Ellen’s Energy Adventure — Don’t even get me started. This attraction is just so stupid. (#sorrynotsorry) Never mind the fact that they took out the Universe of Energy, which I would kill to experience now, but the attraction is now already outdated with Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye. Ellen’s Energy Adventure has been around since 1996, so it’s already nearly 20 years old. I like to tell myself that the Imagineers are working hard on something amazing that will eventually replace it, buuuut that’s just a pipe dream. They basically took the old Universe of Energy and created a new beginning and end, throwing Bill and Ellen into the area with the dinosaurs. What even?!

The Circle of Life — Don’t be fooled by Timon IMG_1726and Pumbaa leading you there; this short film has next to nothing to do with anything Disney.Unless you care about preservation or are interested in learning more about preservation, don’t waste your time. If you want some time to sit and relax, go for it. If you want something to do while you’re waiting for your party, by all means check it out. But if you’re pressed for time on a busy day, don’t bother. There are better choices.


ANIMAL KINGDOM

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It’s Tough to Be a Bug — This attraction freaks me out. I’ve never been a fan of 4-D ride experiences, so spewing gross-smelling smoke, having fake bigs running along underneath your butt, being sprayed with god-knows-what? No, thanks. It’s a cute idea, and I love A Bug’s Life, but this attraction needs to go completely.


HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

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Voyage of the Little Mermaid — Here’s one that really just needs an overhaul. I’m in no way suggesting that this should be removed – and it’s not likely anyway. My biggest issue with this show is that it’s too short. I know that making it any longer would be time prohibitive and lead to longer wait times, but there is so much missing from the narrative! It’s definitely a good show, so it’ll be entertaining for children either way, but for adults who know the story of The Little Mermaid, the story arc in this production doesn’t make sense! Too much just isn’t there.

I’d add The Great Movie Ride to the list, but luckily there are already plans for an update!


So that’s that! Are there any attractions you think I should have added to the list?

Why do I love Disney so much?

I have an about page, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of people who see my posts on their reader won’t click to visit that page. So here I am, writing about who I am and why I love Disney. And away we go!

I’m Maggie. And this is me, looking goofy (lowercase g) in Donald Duck ears.

I’m admittedly looking a little rough in that photo, still in my plane clothes with those awesome flyaway tufts right above my ears. But I love this photo. It was taken on my May 2013 trip in Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney. We had just gotten in that afternoon, and after cboat ride downtown disneyhecking in to Port Orleans French Quarter, we got on the boat to Downtown Disney.

I mentioned in my first examination that, for a while, I hadn’t been really DISNEY Disney, if you know what I mean. I enjoyed Disney, but it wasn’t something that I devoted much time and energy to loving. I had two good friends in college, Kathleen and Cara, who loooooved it. Everything was Disney – particularly Tarzan (and mostly Jane) for Kathleen and Beauty and the Beast for Cara. I remember a conversation I had with Cara my junior year about how I liked Disney, but I wasn’t as much in love with it as she and Kathleen were, and that I kind of felt bad that I wasn’t so gung-ho about it. I mean, obviously everyone knows Disney movies and Disney music, and so did I. But it wasn’t much more than that to me.

That all changed in March of 2013.

I wasn’t working at the time. A couple weeks before, I had left a job that was making me absolutely miserable, and was in the process of looking for something else. It was a Friday, probably March 15 or March 22, and my mom came home from work exhausted and in a sour mood. I was on the computer in the living room, and my mom and dad were sitting in the dining room. I wasn’t really paying attention, but I heard my mom say, “I was at work and I thought I just really want to go to Disney World.” And my dad immediately said, “Then you should go.”

Here’s a little backstory: In October 2012, the east coast of the US was hit with Superstorm Sandy. That same day, my grandmother had a heart attack. My mom believes it was brought on by the stress of the coming storm – the worry about the power going off and her not being able to cook, the worry about having no lights and something happening to my basically blind grandfather, the worry about how their dog would react to the storm, the worry about making sure that the house was filled with non-perishable foods. For days before the storm actually hit, it was all she could talk about. My grandmother was generally a stressed-out worrier anyway; taking care of my grandfather was a lot of work, even if we didn’t realize it.

But from the day of the heart attack on, the responsibility of taking care of my grandfather fell on my mom. He can walk and his mind is sharp, but he can barely see or hear, which makes his independence next to impossible. He needs someone to cook for him, do his laundry for him, drive him anywhere. When my grandma was still in the hospital, it was a bit easier: He wanted to be there all day, and he was able to get food there, too. But after my grandmother passed away in December 2012, everything fell on to my mom. And my grandpa is a handful.

So on that day in March 2013 when I heard my dad tell my mom that she should go, I knew that it was a good idea, and I knew that my dad wouldn’t let her say, “Forget about it.” I piped up and said, “Let’s do it! I’ll go with you!”

“No, no,” my mom said (paraphrasing, of course). “I can’t do that. I can’t leave dad to take care IMG_5033of Pop-Pop.” But I immediately went over to the computer and started looking up how much it would cost. And soon, we were booking a trip for just about a month later.

In the month leading up to that trip, my love of Disney kept growing and growing. This was the first time that I would be able to go to Walt Disney World for an extended amount of time and do what I wanted to do. It would be my 5th trip. We had gone as a family twice, in 1991 and 1995 (I was 1 and 5), and I had gone twice more in high school with my performing arts company, in 2005 and 2007 (15 and 17). During my junior year of college, Cara mentioned going during Spring Break once, but it was way too expensive for me as a student, and I really only had interest in going because it was a trip, not because it was Disney World.

That April, I started re-watching a bunch of the mIMG_5676ovies and watching ones I’d never seen for the first time (see my previous post regarding “The Princess and the Frog”). But it wasn’t until I was in Disney World, surrounded by the magic and able to experience everything in my own time and at my own pace, that I absolutely fell in love.

It comes down to this: there is a magic in everything Disney that makes me inexplicably happy.

I don’t even know how to describe it, but the mere sight or mention of anything Disney related now makes me nearly squeal like a little girl. I spend far too much energy wishing I was back in the parks, and far too much time watching walk-throughs of the parks on YouTube. (These. Are. My. Favorites.) I designed my own set of knit dolls based on Disney characters. (You can find those here if you’re interested in taking a look.)

I think part of it comes downIMG_5029 to the fact that going to Disney World allowed my mom to get away from the stress of life, and it gave me a chance to take a break from figuring out what I was supposed to be doing with my life. (No job, remember? And interestingly enough, the week after I came back, I was offered the position I have now.) It allowed us to have fun, more fun that we’d had in such a long time, and it let us have some really good mother-daughter time together. Indeed, Disney did bring us much closer; it’s not that we weren’t close to begin with, but rather that we now had even more of a common bond.

So when my uncle announced that he would be visiting for a week in September of 2014 and staying with my grandfather, my mom jokingly said we should take the week to go to Disney World.

And wouldn’t you know it: we did.