Magic Moments at Disney

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I believe that Disney is a magical place. An exhausting, expensive, and magical place.

On our most recent trip we had some great moments. Here are my top 5 Magic Moments at Disney.

5. Sleepy Adrien

Bringing a baby to Disney is fun. They get excited about random things and fall asleep everywhere. If you don’t mind lugging them and all their stuff and realize you’re doing it for yourself, you’ll have fun.

4. Keladry meeting Tigger

The first day we went to Magic Kingdom we asked Keladry what her favourite part was, without hesitation she said seeing Tigger. We were pretty surprised since she’d only seen him at a distance. So we made sure to go back. She loved meeting him.

3. Fireworks while Riding The Mine Train

The first real roller coaster that Keladry went on was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It’s a fun little coaster that even my motion sick mother in-law can ride.

As we started going up the fireworks started. The ride designers must have expected this since they were right above us. We then rode through the ride with fireworks going off. It was awesome in every sense of the word.

2. Carousel of Progress Breakdown

The Carousel of Progress is a ride that needs updating. It’s four parts with the same family showing the evolution of technology. The last one is a vision of the future from the late 90’s or early 2000’s.

Each section ends with the same song. There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. It’s a catchy song and nice and upbeat. Very much the hopeful futurism of Disney.

When we went on the ride it broke down and repeated the last part. The first time it repeated no one reacted. The second time people tried to get out and a park person over a speaker told us to sit and wait for our safety. The third, people started heckling and quoting good naturedly.

The fourth time, the sound cut out and when we got to the part where they normally sang, the majority of the audience started to sing the song. It’s like everyone decided at the same time. It was really impressive and fun. It’s the kind of shared experience that Disney can’t manufacture but that makes going so much fun.

We were all given free fastpasses after our concert but I would have been happy just with the experience.

1. Grandparents’ Joy

People say that during a wedding you should always take a look at the groom because they look so happy to see the bride.

The same goes for grandparents at Disney. I love my son and daughter but I don’t always take the time to appreciate their joy and wonder. Their grandparents, however, always seem alert for those little moments.

From shows, to rides, passing by food, statues, and merchandise, whenever my daughter, or son, were excited or in awe; the look was mirrored and combined with joy in their grandparents.


Magic isn’t what you do, but how much you enjoy it with others. I think that’s important to remember.

Later days,

Éric

Growing up Poor and Disney

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Growing up, my mother gave us everything she could, but she wasn’t rich. We were definitely poor although she did her best to not let us know.

March break to me meant reading, playing video games, and maybe going to the movies. Summer vacation was much the same but with biking, yard sales, and maybe a trip to Ottawa. The trip to Ottawa was an 8 hour drive and us staying with family.

I remember the first time someone I know went to Disney. I was in first or second grade and everyone thought it was awesome. As I grew older I noticed that only the richer families took their kids to Disney. Then I started seeing Disney World on television. The characters in Full House, Roseanne, Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and many more. It re-enforced to me that only the wealthy went to Disney.

Don’t get me wrong. There are ways to do Disney on a budget but for a kid of a poor single mom in Northern Ontario, it seemed impossible. I went for the first time with my in-laws when I was 28.

My first time at Disney meeting Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too.

In the decade since, we’ve gone to Disney World 3 more times and Paris Disney.

Even during my most recent trip I still got the excitement of being able to do something that young me would never believe I could do. There’s a thrill to getting to experience everything.

Walking around Disney and doing all the activities, eating the food, and meeting the characters is amazing and cheesy. Everything is shiny and cool (except the dinosaur section in Animal Kingdom… yikes) and it all feels like an accomplishment. There’s this feeling of having somehow snuck into an exclusive club where I’m not supposed to be.

Going with my in-laws was great, but getting to bring my children was amazing. It’s ridiculous and silly but being able to give them an experience that I couldn’t have makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

However, and this is a topic for a future post, bringing my children to Disney wasn’t about them, it was about and for me. The experience of going to Disney at 7 months isn’t something either kid will remember, and I’m fairly certain that my 3 year old’s memories will fade too.

There are experiences that as a kid I romanticized as “rich people” things. Some were disappointing (looking at you caviar and taking a plane) but Disney wasn’t. Maybe because I built up the vague notion but didn’t really know any details, maybe it was the excitement and childlike wonder on my wife, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law’s faces.

Whatever the reason, it was magical to be able to go to Disney after growing up thinking I couldn’t.

Later Days,

Éric

The Griswold Effect and Your Disney Vacation

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Holidays and vacations are stressful. It’s one of the few times in life where you feel you need to be perfect and make everything perfect for everyone around you. That stress can turn to anger and depression.

The need to make everything perfect on holidays and vacations is colloquially known as The Griswold Effect. There’s only one result to expecting perfection in a holiday or vacation, and that’s disappointment.

My father in-law said on our second day at Magic Kingdom:

“They say this is the happiest place on earth but I keep hearing crying and people screaming at each other.”

I had noticed the same thing. From little kids on leashes screaming at their parents, to one uncool man swearing at a Haunted Mansion cast member, to parents yelling at their kids.

All Disney parks are huge, exhausting, and filled with people who think the whole park is there for them. There’s this image of the parks as perfect experiences of awesome, but they’re like every other vacation.

Don’t get me wrong, Disney is absolutely fantastic and I’m sure I’ll be going back (I’ve been to Disney World 4 times and Paris Disney once.)

The trick is to keep your expectations realistic. Rides break down, you wait for hours to get on, everything is overpriced and there’s more than you can do in one trip. You also have to account for down time and eating. Everything is bright, loud, and exciting which makes it really easy to get overstimulated. It’s also super easy to forget to eat. Use your eating time to decompress, plan, and most of all, adjust expectations.

The most important part of any holiday or vacation is being with those you love. Nothing will ever be perfect, so plan, set things up, prioritize what’s most important, and then hold on for dear life as the universe throws everything it can at you.

Good luck,

Éric

Disney Vacation Posts

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

For the next few weeks I’ll be writing articles on Disney Vacations. I’ve read horror stories and seen terrible things.

I’ll offer tips and tricks, tell you how I felt, and all kinds of other ridiculous stuff.

And don’t worry I’ll have cute pictures of the kids too.

Later Days,

Éric

Teen Beach Movie – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 Disney Channel movie Teen Beach Movie.

There are a few movies about people getting sucked into their favourite movie, book, or game. I’m not sure what this niche genre is called but I obviously love it since I wrote a book in the same genre. Go check out Everdome.

Story

The movie’s plot is simple and too the point. It’s almost completely unimportant and used as a vehicle for the music, whimsy, and references.

Score: 0

Characters

The main characters in this movie are basically Disney Channel cutouts that develop as time goes by.

Oddly enough the “real” world characters have less depths then the stereotypes in the movie world.

They are however very sweet and extremely fun to watch.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This movie is pure and utter cheese and ham. The movie revels in some of the best cheese lines.

The dialogue is delightful.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is surprisingly pretty. They really worked towards making it over saturated and beach movie like.

The music is a love letter to teen love stories and classic movie musicals.

Score: 1

Fun

Fun music, cool concept, and extremely entertaining dialogue. This movie has a very low cringe factor and a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

If you’re a fan of musicals and classic beach movies you’ll love this one. I’ve seen it twice and it’s the kind of movie I’d watch without being annoyed. I will also absolutely sing along.

Final Score: 3.5

Enchanted – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2007 movie Enchanted.

Story

This is a tongue-in-cheek love story to Disney princess movies made in a time where there hadn’t been a princess movie in nearly a decade (Mulan came out in 1998). This was before Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Frozen; and way before Sophia. The love of princess movies was considered childish unless you liked them ironically (That’s 2000’s for making fun of something you like so that you come off cool and aloof.)

All that being said, this movie revels in fairy tales and magic. It swims and dances in all things genuinely innocent and magical.

Underneath all that, it is an expertly pulled off Rom-Com.

Score: 1

Characters

Intentionally grating in their saccharin sweetness or in their jaded bitterness (dude, it’s the late 2000’s, enjoy having survived the 90’s and prepare for the ridiculous and horrifying 2010’s.)

There are three characters that grow, Giselle and Robert do the old innocent and grump move towards each other and fall in love, dance. And Nathaniel realizes he’s just a minion and learns to love himself.

Giselle could easily have fallen into the manic-pixie-dream-girl category but over the movie she adjusts to the world and gains agency. She goes from needing to be caught to catching. It’s lovely development but without insulting what she started as.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Like the rest of this movie, the dialogue is peppered with in-jokes and allusions to Disney. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s fun to pick out. Beyond that, the dialogue relies heavily on double meanings and misunderstandings. I really enjoy the way the characters talk with each other when the misunderstandings happen.

Although well done, the dialogue sometimes got self-indulgent in the, “I’m from a fairy tale” sense.

I also rolled my eyes hard at, “I have a gift / A book I know.” I realize they were trying to make him seem down on fairy tales and wanting her to find real life role models, but it just came off as hating on books. I wish they’d had a scene with the little girl and Giselle geeking out over the book.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie is colourful and beautiful. The music is great.

However, the Central Park song (How do you know) is one of the greatest musical moments I’ve ever seen. Both in it’s contrast with Robert’s disbelief and eventual acceptance and with the pure joy that everyone throws into it.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie is a joy to watch from beginning to end. James Marsden hams it up with a delightfully nice prince. (Look at his face with Giselle and Robert kiss.) There’s action, romance, and lots of Easter-Eggs.

Score: 1

Conclusion

If you like Rom-Coms, princess movies, musicals, or fish out of water stories, this one is worth a watch. The world of 2007 was a different place and time, but you have to love it’s innocence.

It’s also a movie filled with strong, capable, and lovely women with urgency and character development. Something that is sometimes lacking in Rom-Coms.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5

The Ghosts of Buxley Hall – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the made for TV movie from 1980 The Ghosts of Buxley Hall.

Story

The story is pretty simple, but feels like it lacks depth. We don’t really get to know much about the characters backstories or motivations, beyond the ghosts. Even the “In Your Face” feminist story line feels a little flat.

It is however a nice linear story that follows through with its promises and foreshadowing.

Score: 0.5

Characters

This has all the stereotypes but made more human than I expected. The military man, the independent woman, the troubled boy, the troubled girl, the tough guy who doesn’t like kids, the bully, and the mad aunt who wants money.

They all have tender moments where their human side is shown. Unfortunately the cast is much too big for the movie. It means we are constantly moved between the kid’s story, the adult’s story, and the ghosts. Sometimes forgetting about one of the others.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is pure 80’s and pure cheese. Most of the best lines are given by the Sargent or the general’s wife.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

This movie might have been about ghosts but it could have seriously used some colour. The shots however are very well designed and clean. Both the music and the visuals are effective if not inspired.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This is a fun movie. You know everything will end well and you get a combination ghost story, coming of age, and boarding school story.

Score: 1

Conclusion

This is a fun fluffy movie that is now 40 years old and is showing it’s age. It’s not offensive but it’s definitely shallower than it could be. However, it is a lot of fun.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

Dear Pegasus and Dragon – Disney 2020

Hello My Mythical Brood,

We recently came back from a two week vacation in Florida. We rented a house, with Grannie and Granddad, and visited Disney World, A LOT.

Pegasus, you started teething not long before and kept us up at night. (Mum and I mostly.) You fell asleep on rides and mostly seemed confused as to why we were standing around and not letting you crawl. When you weren’t annoyed you spent the time smiling at people and making their hearts melt. You have a way of looking at people, with your big blue eyes, like you’re judging them and then releasing a massive smile. It makes anyone caught by it ridiculously happy.

Dragon, you will probably not remember this trip. At 3 you’re still very young, but if you do I hope you remember the joy and excitement you felt on the rides. The first time you took a rollercoaster, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the fireworks started as we were climbing. It was beautiful. I’ll always remember how you would get super excited to meet a character and then completely freeze, and the smile you would have every time you saw something exciting.

The two of you had your ups and downs (Same with us). Some days were harder then others but you did great being dragged around the parks and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

I also hope you remember the quieter times at the house talking and playing with Grannie and Granddad. Without them, this trip would have been impossible. They are truly remarkable helping with you and everything else required in a big trip. We don’t always agree on everything, but I wouldn’t have wanted to take this or any Disney trip without them.

In the end, Pegasus and I got a cold but years from now I hope we’ll remember the good things.

I had a wonderful time with you, Mum, Grannie, and Granddad.

I love you both very much,

Papa