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

Disney Fans from Louisiana

Louisiana Disney FansOne of the best things about taking Disney vacations is getting the opportunity to meet fellow Disney fans from all over the world.  I’ll strike up a conversation with people waiting in line for rides, sitting next to me for a parade or Fantasmic, and shopping in gift shops.  I seem to have one of those faces that invites people to talk to me.  I get stopped and asked for directions, asked about the pins on my lanyard, my Disney tee shirt, etc.  Raymond, Megan and Joseph are used to this and find it funny, if not highly entertaining, more often than not.  It means I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world!

I like learning about different cultures.  Even within the United States, there are regional WDW Parade Friends!differences in certain words for things, how we raise our children, how we interact with strangers and each other, what kinds of foods we cherish and so on.  These differences gave me the idea for today’s post.  We’re from Louisiana.  The South has some very strong regional traditions, cultural norms, and firmly held “ways” that make us easy to spot when we travel.  While not originally from the South (I’m mainly a Midwestern girl), I’ve been here 26 years which means I’ve lived in Louisiana longer than I’ve lived anywhere else and there has been plenty of time to adapt!

Next time you’re at Walt Disney World, you can recognize Southerners (and Louisianans) by a few telltale signs:

Meg and Joe at Disney's Hollywood StudiosOur children always say “Yes, Ma’am or Sir / No Ma’am or Sir” to every adult.  This is not because we’re especially strict parents – it’s a cultural norm so strongly prevalent and extremely important – children would be considered incredibly rude if they didn’t say it.  It’s an absolute must, just like please and thank you.  I’ve found that some non-Southerners find the ma’ams and sirs a bit alarming and may say, “Oh, you don’t have to say that to me.”…Southern kids DO have to say it.  To all adults, all the time.  That’s just the way it is here.

We rarely refer to our elders (or superiors at the office, even) by their last name.  Mr./Mrs. First Name is completely acceptable with the exception of school teachers.  Our children’s friends have always called us Mrs. Lisa (pronounced “Miss Lisa”) and Mr. Raymond.  It’s that way for everyone.

We rarely call our grandparents Grandma or Grandpa.  Oh, there’s a lot of variety in Waiting for Toy Story Midway Maniagrandparent naming, but those aren’t usually among the choices.  Mamaw, MiMi, Ma, Granny and PawPaw, Pa and Pops are pretty common.

In these parts, Soda/Pop is “Coke” like tissues are “Kleenex”.  You say, do you want a Coke?  Then follow up with which kind it will be if other varieties are available…Dr. Pepper, Sprite, Diet Coke, etc.  Also, a shopping cart is a “buggy”.  If inquiring whether or not you’re about to do something (like have lunch) we may say, “Are you fixin’ to eat?”  “Fixin'” to do something may be even further shortened to “F’in'” by some folks.

We make eye contact with everyone, we smile and wave to strangers, we stop in the middle of walkways and store aisles if we run into someone we know – we stop and visit.  We strike up conversations with complete strangers nearly everywhere we go.  Annoying?  Maybe, but since we move a little slower and take life a little easier than people in other places, it’s just the way we are.

Famly Pic on Rock'n' Roller CoasterWe don’t usually yell at one another in public.  Southern gatherings are pretty quiet affairs – although booming laughter, happy squeals, and good-natured teasing about rival football teams are completely normal.  Having a public disagreement would be considered completely unacceptable.  Yelling/lecturing children (or spouses) in public is rarely seen – we tend to use “the look” with our children to stop certain behaviors with the unspoken promise that misbehavior will be dealt with as soon as we get home.

On our last visit to Walt Disney World, we were in Epcot when I spotted a bad situation – a family in the middle of an argument.  Normally, I would never become involved, but I could tell what the problem was right away – they were lost.  The mom (of the formidable, robust variety) and kids (looking mortified and miserable) were walking several yards away from the dad (who was clearly distraught) – angry words were being hurled from the mom towards the dad.  Seriously, I wouldn’t normally butt in, but I was embarrassed for them all and feeling the waves of hostility passing back and forth (with me in the middle)…I found myself close-ish to the dad so I quietly asked (very tentatively)…”Could I maybe….help you find something?”  The relief on his face was almost funny – it seems they were looking for Soarin’ and we were almost to the Dad's Birthday at Walt Disney World (Disney's Hollywood Studios)entrance for the World Showcase on the Mexico side.  I turned around and (I know pointing is rude, but desperate times and all that) pointed toward The Land Pavilion, giving directions.  He thanked me and turned around to gather his family…while listening to his wife yell, from 10 yards away, “You were WRONG, weren’t you!!!!!”  Oh, well….One thing I can tell you for certain.  They were not from Louisiana.

How would we spot Disney guests from your part of the world?

For more information on Southern Slang – this is hilarious (and educational!).