Experiencing the “Real” Disney

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I have written and rewritten this post in my head no less than a dozen times. Yes, it’s Disneyland, and it was a blast, but there are so many things I learned and realized in the days that I was there, that I feel I need to share. It is hard to convey how I feel about this trip.

Experiencing_the_Real_Disney Photo credit: Josh Hallett

The Shoes

At first I couldn’t tell this story without my voice breaking and tears welling up in my eyes. Now, I can – for the most part – keep a straight face without wanting to just bawl.

On Friday, while I was in the conference sessions, Shane and the kids were at the parks. Cam lost one of his shoes on a ride, and they couldn’t retrieve it. Shane spoke to one of the cast members about it, and they told him to check Lost and Found the next day. The cast member also gave him – of her own accord – a voucher for $25 to get Cam a new pair of shoes.

The story should stop there, right? I mean, that’s pretty generous. The shoe Cam lost cost $15 at The Children’s Place, and were easily replaceable. He did need shoes for the park, but we had another pair in the room. Yet, this cast member gave Shane a voucher for shoes from their park, not to replace any we had purchased there, but a cheap pair purchased for this trip – just in case he lost them.

Shane gets to the store and there are two pair from which he can choose. They are $30, and when he finally decides on a pair, the cashier decided not to charge him at all. You see, he presented her with the voucher, and he explained what happened and how he came to have the voucher in the first place. After both parties took their turns being insistent, Shane trying to pay and the cashier refusing payment, the cashier won.

I really have no words.

I am not moved to tears by a lot, y’all. You know this. I’m not really an emotional kind of girl. But this. This got me. WHO DOES THIS? What company does this? It’s not like Cam lost a shoe we had just purchased at Disney and they were making it right. This had nothing to do with Disney at all. The kid lost his shoe. Period. But the cast members at Disney chose to go out of their way to make something that had nothing to do with them right.

The Cast Members

Every person we encountered on this trip went out of their way to be friendly and helpful. From guest services, to janitors, to security, to vendors in the park; every cast member (aka, staff) engaged us in a conversation. It was always more than just a cordial greeting. This surprised me in that I’m not used to it. I’m from the South; we are pretty friendly folks down here, but even we aren’t this good! The cast members at Disney seem to truly care about the people visiting their establishment.


As a perk of the conference, we received great seats to the fireworks show on Saturday night. We got there very early, and spent our entire wait time (about an hour) chatting with and getting to know two cast members (pictured above). They engaged us. Meleah was singing {what else?}, Let It Go, and the sweet girl began singing with her. It was adorable. At first, you think the cast members are just being nice, doing their job. And then they keep talking to you, asking about you and your trip, and you realize they are genuinely interested. The girls were sad when we had to leave our new friends!

The Disney Walt wants you to see

Ok. So, I’m not Walt Disney. {Raise your hand if you knew that already.} Gary Buchanan spoke to us on Friday, and many things he said really hit home. Our family was blessed to experience a side of Disney – apart from the conference – that I truly believe was Walt Disney’s original intent.

I can say I love Disney all day long. In fact, I came home last year, blown away, but this year what truly got me wasn’t the rides or the princesses or the parks themselves. It was the people. The people who work at Disney because they love it. Because they love people.

Disclosure: I was not asked to write any of this. I am not getting paid for what I say. Yes, I received discounted tickets and accommodations as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, but writing a blog post was not a requirement. I want to make it clear that I am not trying to “sell” anything, but that these are my opinions and my stories from the trip.


  1. says

    I love reading stories like yours. We like to call this – The Disney Difference. It’s often very hard to describe but you really managed to capture it. Thank you!

    • says

      Thank you, Leanne! It is still hard to put into words exactly how I {still!} feel about this story. The Disney Difference is definitely real, and it was an honor to see it up close and personal! <3

      - Amy

  2. WaltzingMtilda says

    Awww…I love Disney!!! And it’s so true what you write, the cast members genuinely care about how your trip is going. Goosebumps from your post, and this makes me want to work even harder to get back to Disney World.

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