Merry Christmas Disney Friends!

I hope this post finds you well and full of all the season’s happiness and magic.  You, the friends I’ve made within the Disney fan community, are dear to me in a way I could not have imagined when I started this blog over three years ago.  Some of you are fellow bloggers and podcasters, but all of you are Disney fans like me.  Through social media, I’ve been able to see and hear about the adventures you’ve had on your Disney vacations, I get your take on movies, restaurants, resorts, and Disney news.  We may not always agree on everything, but our friendly discussions are part of the fun.

I started this blog as a way to cope with the major life-changing event of becoming an empty-nester.  I’d spent 23 years raising two amazing people in a home full of near constant activity.  Raymond and I encouraged our kids to pursue their interests and we did our best not to miss a single ballgame, dance recital, taekwondo tournament, or school event.  Suddenly – all of that stopped on a dime.  I wasn’t sure how life would be.  I’d heard horror stories and, while I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be thrown into a midlife crisis over it, I did realize I’d have an awful lot of free time on my hands.

That’s where you guys came in.  Suddenly, I had a community.  It started with Tips from the Disney Diva and Devos where I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a writer and was welcomed by the other writers with open arms.  Then I started Living a Disney Life and poured my love for both Disney and my family into every article.  In 2015, two of the best friends I’d made in the Disney fan community, Nick Maglio and Dave Hodges, were kind enough to team up with me for The Disney Exchange Podcast and they’ve kept me laughing every week for the past two years.  I’ve been blessed in a million ways, great and small, all along the way.

Merry Christmas, Disney Friends!  You’ve given me your friendship, your advice, and your care and concern through the ups and downs of life.  You’ve shared your stories, your vacations, your families, and your hearts with me – all gifts beyond measure.  May the peace and joy of the holiday season be yours and may 2017 be a healthy and prosperous year for you and your family.

All my best…Lisa

Pulling My Disney Comfort Closer

This is the first post I’ve written all week – I still love you guys and I still have a lot to say about Disney and my love for all the joy and magic I find in it.  This week I’ve been distracted by a few things, not the least of which has been the hate-filled rants and incredibly vicious attacks I’ve seen all over social media related to our American democracy and the process of electing the people who govern our country.

Pulling My Disney Comfort Closer

I treasure my own freedom of speech and believe we are entitled to speak our minds.  I love a good debate between open-minded adults who can argue a point without making personal attacks on those with opposing views.  DCL Norway Raymond and LisaIf you’ve ever met me in person, you know I possess no shortage of opinions on a wide variety of topics and am never afraid to express my feelings.  I speak my mind…sometimes too quickly, sometimes too passionately, but not with the purpose of tearing down another human being intentionally.  On social media?  I choose to post family events and happenings, the occasional humorous meme, and lots of pictures of my dog, Junior.  Disney Dog Henry Jones, JuniorI also post a LOT about my love for Disney.  It’s not that I don’t have strong feelings about religion or politics, I’m simply choosy about when and where I express those particular opinions and with whom I’d like to debate them.  I believe one should never email, text, or post on social media anything one would not say face-to-face – hiding behind an online identity to be hateful is the sign of a coward.

I didn’t unfriend or unfollow a single person, but I was shocked and dismayed by what I read on Wednesday morning.  I’m not a person with delicate sensibilities, but the vitriol!  The utter disdain for fellow citizens and their right to their own beliefs and decisions was shocking to me!  Complete strangers hurling horrific insults at one another, spewing poison with no respect, no compassion, and no reason!  And what purpose did it serve?  Why would anyone want to show the world the very worst version of themselves they have to offer?  Is that who they really are?  If so, then we do indeed need to fear for the future of America – her citizens have chosen anger and hate over respect, tolerance, and love.View of Cinderella Castle from Main Street U.S.A.

Then I figured out why I was so surprised.  Remember this post about the Disney fan community?  I follow (and am followed by) thousands of fellow Disney fans on social media.  Overwhelmingly nice people in general who are brought together by their passion for Disney vacations, movies, characters, collectibles, and more.  Some are fellow bloggers and podcasters, all are very geeky about Disney.  The ugliness on social media was not coming from these people.  They were, like me, disgusted enough to politely ask, “Why can’t we all get along?” before taking a break from Facebook and Twitter to ride out the election aftermath watching movies or planning a vacation.  Once again, I am reminded how special my Disney friends are and how much I appreciate being part of such a loving group of humans.Disney Movie Collection

I’ll be back next week with more Disney topics to share – in the meantime, thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

March to the Beat of Your Own Disney Drum

Let’s face it – the Disney fan community is made up of a unique and wonderful assortment of folks from all over the world, all walks of life, and all different Disney passions.  I love swapping stories, learning new tips and tricks about all manner of Disney topics, and reading (or listening to) reviews and recommendations from some of my favorite fellow Disney fans.  With few exceptions, the Disney fan community is extremely tolerant of all points of view and most debates are friendly and good-natured.  Okay – maybe not on certain forums, but that’s a different topic for a different day.Princess-Half-Mary-Poppins

You are welcome to be the Disney fan who will absolutely defend each and everything Disney does as perfectly perfect in every way.  You’re welcome to be the fan that clings to the past and laments the current state of everything from Disney parks to rides and attractions to movies and TV shows.  You can be a Disney travel guru, a Marvel or Star Wars franchise expert, or the Disney character fanatic or passionate pin trader or collector of Disneyana.  Be one, none, or all of these…if you love anything or everything Disney…

March to the Beat of Your Own Disney Drum

Allow me to elaborate.  I’ve spent the past (nearly) two years pouring my Disney love into this very blog while reading dozens of other blogs by other Disney fans.  Like many of you, I’ve spent hundreds of hours listening to my favorite Disney podcast hosts entertain me with their own brand of Disney love.  I’m a Disney parks and resorts fan, a Disney Cruise Line fan, a Disneyana and Disney pin collector, a Disney movie buff.  My Christmas tree is 100% Disney-themed.RM-Christmas-Tree-2014

Do I love every part that makes up the whole?  No, I do not.  I love Disney in my own way.  I don’t like Dole Whips and think Le Cellier is overrated (it’s TRUE and I’m not ashamed!), I didn’t like Inside Out, I thought Ant Man was great, and I adore The Muppets (in every glorious and horrible performance) and Indiana Jones – I love him so much, I named my dog Henry Jones, Junior!  Do I miss the excitement and novelty of Disney’s Hollywood Studios the way the park was just after it opened in 1989?  Absolutely!  Would I put it back today to its original form?  Nope, wouldn’t want to.  I don’t love every change to my favorite vacation destination, but nothing Disney’s done yet would keep me from coming back again…and again.Disney's-Hollywood-Studios

What I’m trying to say is this:  We don’t have to love everything Disney to be true blue Disney fans.  Being a Disney fan is about embracing the parts that make you happiest and passing on the parts that don’t.  If I go on a Disney vacation and something goes wrong, I will complain in hopes that Disney will fix the problem for future guests (including me).  When Disney asks me to complete a survey, I do and with complete honesty.  At the same time, I will also praise what I love most about Disney right here, on The Disney Exchange Podcast and all my social medias.  Not loving everything does not diminish my love for Disney as a whole.  I’ll be a Disney fan in my own way and hope you will too!

Your turn!  What kind of Disney fan are YOU?  What do you love most – the parks, the home décor, the movies, characters, collectibles, or something else altogether?  What makes you most passionate about Disney?  What would you change if you could?

Thoughts on the Disney Fan Community

Castle-PictureIt’s that time of year.  You know, when even the least warm and fuzzy among us are prone to some sort of sappy sentimantality.  I’ll cry during a Hallmark commercial, so I’m especially susceptible to all the nostalgic and happy feelings brought on by the holiday season.  I’m a little more patient (or I should say, I’m actually a little patient), I try my best to slow down and enjoy each sweet and precious moment with friends and family, and I reflect more on where I’ve been and where I’d like to go (in both figurative and litteral ways).  Which, of course, brought me to today’s topic.

Thoughts on the Disney Fan Community

1. Our common love draws us close. It’s been well over a year now since I started writing articles for Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos, since I started my own blog, and since I began to truly participate in the Disney Fan Community. Prior to that, I mainly listened to Disney podcasts and read an occasional interesting-sounding blog article. I didn’t know what I was missing. My passion for Disney is generally little-understood by my friends and coworkers, but those podcast hosts and bloggers? They speak my language. I’ve always enjoyed Magic Kingdom / Cinderella Castlehearing and reading about people who “get” why I love Disney so much. Then I realized that you can, through the wonders of social media, engage with these people on a (somewhat) personal level and before I knew it, I had a new group of friends! Some from as far away as Great Britain, Australia, The Netherlands and Japan, New Jersey even!

2. In 140 characters or less. Twitter is probably my favorite place to “hang out” with other Disney fans. The hosts of all my favorite podcasts engage listeners via Twitter and within the confines of that limited number of words, entertaining discussions are taking place all the time. I’m incredibly humbled and appreciative of the number of my own Twitter (and Facebook) followers that regularly read my blog and make comments to me about an article I’ve written or question I’ve posed. If you’ve ever met me, you’ll have noticed that I say what I think. If there’s a Disney food, movie, attraction, resort or lumberjack show I don’t like, I’ll say so. It doesn’t mean for a nanosecond that I don’t love Disney – I can love Epcot's Iconic Spaceship Earthsomething in spite of its imperfections and I cannot pretend to agree with or like every individual part that makes up the whole. Lots of Tweeps seem to feel the same way and are accepting of my tendency to voice my opinions (which are many).

3. An ever expanding circle of friends. What wonderful friends I’ve made! Real ones. Friends I’ve met face to face. Friends who I’ve been fortunate to get to know as people, not just as a podcast host, blogger or Twitter handle. Generous, caring, lovely people who have shared life’s ups and downs with me while we’ve supported, cheered, and picked each other up along the way. I love you guys!

4. Lively discussions and debates are the best! Nothing delights me more than a good exchange of thoughts and ideas. Especially from differing points of view. Honestly, my very favorite podcasts are the ones that cause me to yell at my car stereo – sometimes in outrage, sometimes in support. I’ve been super fortunate to have been invited to make a guest IMG_2862“appearance” on several of the podcasts I enjoy and when you gather around the old Skype to talk Disney, the most fun comes from what we don’t agree on rather than what we do.

5. Trolls, nitwits, and stranger danger still exist – Fortunately, the vast majority of Disney fans that congregate to share their passion on social media are kind. But not all people are there for the same reason – sadly, some people only come to complain or create drama (or worse). A word of caution if you’re just joining in on the fun: Open Facebook groups appear to be the most fraught with potential danger – especially the ones with moderators that seem to thrive on the sensationalism and accompanying drama of some of the posts and comments. Occasionally, those situations rapidly decline into what amounts to nothing but a demonstration of how childish and intolerant people can be – that is not a part of the Disney fan community I understand or wish to be a part of. It’s easy to avoid, luckily.

Ready for Toy Story Midway ManiaSo, during this season of being thankful and remembering what peace on Earth and goodwill towards humankind is all about, I wanted to take a minute to tell you how much you mean to me. For every Facebook “like” and comment, for every Tweet, retweet and message of support, for every email, and every shout-out, I’m grateful for the chance to join along with you in our shared love for Disney.

From our family to yours:  Wishing you all a very safe, happy, and peaceful holiday season.

And may you get every present on your Disney wish list…Lisa