Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reminiscing of a Dream

I know it has been a while since I have written. Things have been very busy with work, school, and life. I have also launched a new blog called “ An Ernest Traveler”, which is chronicling my journey to Africa this summer.

I felt compelled to write because of the recent passing of Diane Disney Miller. Now I know every blog, instagram, and twitter has paid their tribute—but I felt that I needed to share my brief interaction with her.

This blog has touched many lives and hopefully caused many to pursue their dreams. I never thought this blog would become what it is today, nor did I ever think that I was that great of a writer. However it was  Diane encouraged me to follow my dream of being a better writer and pursue publishing.

I first met Diane when I worked at the Grand and we had a very brief interaction. When she first approached me, I thought she was just a guest making small talk. I honestly had no idea who she was. I knew Walt had a daughter named Diane, but I didn’t know what she looked like. I  knew that she was charming and dedicated to preserving her father’s dream.

The main part I remember about the interaction was when she asked my favorite part about working at Disneyland. Without knowing who she was, “I told her it was creating a lasting memory for people and carrying on Walt’s dream”. I remember she smiled so gracefully at me and said, “Keep doing that… we need more like you”. As she turned to leave, another Cast Member ran up frantically congratulating me on speaking to one of Walt’s children. I felt stupid and humiliated, because I would have shook her hand and just said thank you. I mean, Disneyland inspired by her. Walt sat on a bench, watched her play, and had this dream of Disneyland. After that interaction, I never thought I would  get the chance to tell Diane thank you. 

 A few years later, I launched this blog and get an email from Diane. In this email, she thanked me for writing about Walt’s dream and encouraged to get it published— these stories of positive guest interaction needed to be told. From that communication, I was able to thank her for her contribution and for being a supporter of her father’s dream.

That dream is still alive and well, but on the backburner for this season of life. It will always live inside me until I hold Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member, the book in my hand.

Thank you Diane for encouraging and inspiring this dream. Rest in Peace.

Diane Disney Miller

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hold Your Friends Close

It’s amazing when inspiration hits. To me, it’s like a giant wave that catches my foot in its undertow. I get caught up in the flow and forget everything around me. This happened to me this past weekend at the D23 Expo; I was reminded why I write and why I love Disney. I met various readers who continued to tell me how much they miss this blog. My heart was warmed and I felt inspiration finally start to creep back into my life. This led me to remember this story….. 

They had been best friends since childhood and grew up about 5 blocks from Disneyland. I was on my normal lobby rounds (at the Grand Californian) when I noticed the two sitting close to the fireplace. They were laughing and cracking jokes. In a scruffy voice, an elderly man motioned me over. I remember his gleaming blue eyes that were magnified by giant thick-framed glasses. The other man had hazy green eyes that disappeared when he laughed and were surrounded by wrinkles that all told a story. 

I sat down by the fireplace and the two men introduced themselves as Ralph and Larry. I could tell from the very beginning these two shared a bond that only time could create. Larry told me how they had met at a local restaurant. It happened when Larry threw his straw wrapper across the room and hit Ralph in the head. At that moment, Ralph interrupted and said, “It was a spit wad and you know it.” At this, they both chuckled and teased each other (I never did get a straight answer out of them about which one it was). Well, Larry’s mom saw what he did and made him walk over to Ralph’s table and apologize. Because of this, the families ended up eating lunch together. As Ralph described it, this is when they became best friends and they spent the rest of the summer together. 

After high school, they both enlisted in the Navy and were stationed at Pearl Harbor. I noticed that the conversation got really quiet and Larry’s eyes started to glisten. Larry broke the silence and said in a weak voice, “If it weren’t for Ralph, I would have died that day.” It took me a moment to figure out what they were referring to and then it dawned on me—the Pearl Harbor attack. Larry told me that when the attacked happened, a piece of shrapnel shot into his left thigh and he started to bleed to death. He was about to pass out when he heard a familiar voice. It was Ralph. Ralph had been onshore that day too and not on board. As Larry passed out, he felt Ralph pick him up and walk him to safety… At that point, Larry looked at me and told that no matter what happens in life, make sure someone always has your back. 

They continued to tell me more stories about their life and how they married the loves of their lives. They even told me that on the night before the opening day of Disneyland they camped out so they knew they would get in. It was their weekly tradition since 1960 to go to Disneyland, find a bench, sit, and talk. Then I asked them what the secret to life was. Larry took off his glasses and with a grin said, “Live a good story, keep your friends close, and follow your dreams.” Then I heard a scolding tone, “Ralph! Larry! Are you bothering this nice lady?” I turned around to see two elderly women holding shopping bags. Ralph nudged Larry and looked at me, “Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…we married sisters!” 

I reassured the women that they weren’t bothering me and asked if they had plans for dinner. They told me they had reservations at Storyteller CafĂ©. So I walked them over and shook their hands because they were such a delight. I then told the manager that their meal was on me, because both of these men were Pearl Harbor survivors. The manager wanted to make this moment special, so we ordered them special cakes from the bakery and arranged for Mickey to make an appearance. After the plans were all set, I left the restaurant with some of the best advice of my life.

I wrote that piece of advice down and kept it taped to the back of my nametag.  What struck me was keeping friend close. Often in this life we let friendships fade due to different paths, responsibilities, miles, and schedules. In fact, our idea of catching up is going through their newsfeed, perhaps liking their photo or commenting “LOL.”  But friendship is much more than that. There is something about sitting down with an old friend and talking about life. In fact, I often think about Larry and Ralph. 

In my own life, I know I need to spend more time just talking to people. Not letting distraction or anything keep me from connecting with that moment. I hope one day to sit down with an old friend and be able to share a story like that. Having someone who will walk through life with you is priceless. Hold your friends close. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Still Searching

I know it’s been awhile since I have written.  I took a few months to really adjust my perspective and find healing from the events. I have been struggling and trying to find my way. Disneyland is still special to me, but it is not the same. I have been trying to find my passion and something that will reignite that flame deep in my heart. This blog has meant more to me than most of you will ever understand.  It gave me a purpose and helped me realize how much I love writing. It also gave me an insight into how many people I have the privilege of impacting.

I’ve gotten email about when you will write again? Or where are all those promised stories? I have most of them, but I won’t release them until I feel they are complete. What makes this blog truly special is that you have the chance to see into my heart. I put a hundred percent of myself into these stories. You have the opportunity of seeing what I see, hearing what I hear, and thinking what I think.

The only way I can truly describe it is that I am waiting to find myself again. Find my passion. Disney was my passion, but that dream was crushed. The beauty of dreams is, you can always find a new one.

I have given thought to starting a new blog, about my different adventures, the people I meet, and overall thoughts. So that may come in the future.

Thank you all for your support.

Still Searching for the Magic,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Meet Me at the Fire Station

Well it's that time of year again, Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member will be celebrating it's 2nd anniversary. I honestly can't believe it. This year has been a bumpy ride, but full of so many blessings. 

I have decided to have another meet up this year, because last year's was so popular.  So plan to meet me on April 26, 2013 by the Fire station on Main Street around 3:30. If you can not make it to that one, I will hold another meet up around 8pm in front of the Jungle Cruise. 

Here is the Facebook event link Tales Anniversary

Also if you have any questions feel free comment on the event page,  Tweet Me or email

I look forward to meeting you all :) 

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