Tag Archive | Disney

The Pixar List

Reactions to my Disney movie rankings surprised and delighted me. I was glad to see so much love for Pocahontas in your responses. I thought that might be an outlier, especially since it’s so historically inaccurate. But if you look at the film as a work of pure fiction and not historical fiction, it truly is one of the most beautiful animated films Disney has made—I think. I do hope, if nothing else, that my list has compelled one or two of you to give Brother Bear a chance.

I had so much fun ranking the Disney animated features, I simply couldn’t stop there. So here it is; behold the Pixar list.  I wonder if perhaps we’ll find our lists match up more closely here. There seems to be a bit more consensus on the quality of Pixar’s canon, but who knows, I think some things may surprise you.

PS, word of warning, just thinking about Toy Story 3 has caused me to start crying at my desk, so if you’re not comfortable crying at work, maybe stop now and read later. You know how Pixar gets you.

  1. Up
  2. WALL-E
  3. Toy Story 3
  4. A Bug’s Life
  5. Monsters, Inc.
  6. Inside Out
  7. Finding Nemo
  8. Toy Story
  9. The Incredibles
  10. Ratatouille
  11. Finding Dory
  12. Toy Story 2
  13. Brave
  14. Cars

I have not seen:

  • Cars 2
  • Monsters University
  • The Good Dinosaur

Every Disney Movie . . . Ranked

In today’s edition of not finishing my novel, I’ve decided to rank every Disney movie ever made in order of my favorites. Disney fans, I’m sure you’ve pondered your favorite Disney movies—probably even assembled a top ten—but have you ever ranked all of them? It’s hard. Been wanting to do this for weeks, so here goes.

What does it mean to be a favorite? There are movies that intellectually I can understand are better than others, but I might like the “lesser” film more. Why? Not sure. Only explanation is that art is a two-way street, and half of it is what I bring to my experience of the thing. So while I acknowledge that Beauty and the Beast is a good film, it really had very little emotional impact on me, landing it way down on the list. This is why things like lists and awards are fun, and also really stupid. It takes a special snowflake to rank Brother Bear above Frozen. I am that special snowflake, and the cold never bothered me anyway.

I’m not including Pixar, Amblin, Disney Toons, or Studio Ghibli. Perhaps I’ll make separate lists of those. For now this is strictly Walt Disney Animation Studios.

So here it is—every Disney animated feature in order of my personal favorite, for any weirdos out there who are curious. My top ten might surprise you.

  1. The Little Mermaid
  2. Sleeping Beauty
  3. Lilo & Stitch
  4. Alice in Wonderland
  5. Tangled
  6. Lady and the Tramp
  7. Pocahontas
  8. Pinocchio
  9. The Lion King
  10. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  11. Peter Pan
  12. Aladdin
  13. The Sword in the Stone
  14. Bambi
  15. Brother Bear
  16. Frozen
  17. Mulan
  18. Cinderella
  19. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  20. Zootopia
  21. Moana
  22. Dumbo
  23. Robin Hood
  24. Fantasia
  25. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  26. Beauty and the Beast
  27. Big Hero 6
  28. Oliver & Company
  29. The Jungle Book
  30. The Rescuers Down Under
  31. Fantasia 2000
  32. The Princess and the Frog
  33. The Aristocats
  34. Wreck-It Ralph
  35. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  36. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  37. Hercules
  38. The Rescuers
  39. Bolt
  40. The Fox and the Hound
  41. The Great Mouse Detective
  42. Tarzan
  43. The Emperor’s New Groove

I have only seen the following in snippets, so did not include in the ranking:

  • Saludos Amigos
  • The Three Caballeros
  • Make Mine Music
  • Fun and Fancy Free
  • Melody Time
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (I’ve seen The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which would rank highly, but I’ve never seen Wind in the Willows and definitely haven’t seen them together in this packaged film)
  • The Black Cauldron
  • Dinosaur
  • Treasure Planet
  • Home on the Range (this is when things got real tough for the Studios)
  • Chicken Little
  • Meet the Robinsons
  • Winnie the Pooh (I know! I don’t know what’s wrong with me)

So? Are you surprised by my list? Anything you would bump out of the top ten? Would love to hear all the ways in which you think I’m crazy.

The Award Winning Rebecca Light

Sure, I dream about winning a Newbery or an Oscar—even an Ovation award would be nice. But honestly I think I’ve already won what will most likely endure as my favorite pair of honors. Hi, I’m Rebecca Light: two-time Golden Betty Award winner at Theatre of NOTE, and now the proud recipient of a Mousetalgia platinum pen.

awards.jpg

I was awarded this super fancy pen for completing the Mousetalgia Soarin’ Over California Challenge. What’s that you ask? Well I’ll tell you. Per challenge regulations, I visited 10 out of 13 of the locations featured on the ride, Soarin’ Over California—taking a picture in the exact filming location of each. Now I have this beautifully engraved pen to go along with the lifetime of memories this challenge helped to create.

I thought I would share a few highlights of the journey.

PGA west 1.JPG

Oh this was a good one. Soarin’ credits this location as Palm Springs, but don’t be fooled by fancy city names. This is a golf course of lies. First, it’s not in Palm Springs. It’s in the neighboring town of La Quinta. Second, it’s not PGA West. I mean, it’s part of the whole PGA West resort, but you can’t play this course.

La Quinta is full of three things: dust, golf, and gated communities. I convinced Brad that I wanted to go to Palm Springs a few years ago ostensibly to celebrate my birthday, but I had ulterior motives. Did I mention my birthday is in June? You putting this together? Palm Springs. June. Brad’s car doesn’t have air conditioner. He must really love me.

Once we arrived, we had a nice casual lunch al fresco, piddled around Palm Springs a little bit, then I casually mentioned that maybe we could drive twenty minutes down the highway to La Quinta to, oh I don’t know, see what that would be all about. On the drive there the temperature gauge hit 118 and we had to pull over to put Brad’s iPhone in a freezer at the gas station because it almost exploded.

Wondering the need for driving through this furnace, I eventually confessed my scheme. Brad may not share my level of Disney fandom, but luckily he’s up for an adventure. We made it to PGA West. Lies! The resort course at PGA West looked nothing like the Soarin’ video. Brad suggested it was probably because the exact shot was somewhere out on the middle of the course. Hmm, maybe. But I didn’t see any benchmarks. There were hills in that part of Soarin’. Where were the hills?

We found a map of the entire PGA West resort in front of the gift shop. Turned out there were three private courses in addition to the resort courses. How interesting. Looking up I noticed to the east of us… hills! We cross-referenced the map and YES! There was a course over there. A private course. Eee.

If you know me you know that I love rules, and simply do not break them. I respect rules. I find that by breaking rules people disregard respect for their fellow man. If all of us broke the rules there would be chaos! Rules bring order, and a chance for us all to live in harmony.

Harmony flies out the window and chaos reigns when it comes to a good Disney challenge.

Brad at this point was either getting into it, or just eager to get out of the desert dust storm that was La Quinta, because he very enthusiastically drove us straight to the gated community that housed the private golf course. I sort of freaked out. I mean there were signs. “Residents Only.” We made up an elaborate story that we were visiting our grandparents who lived in the neighborhood in case the suspecting private golf police tried to cart us away.

At this point our only breadcrumb was to walk toward the hills.. We walked confidently, like we literally owned the place, and luckily no golf police bothered us. Okay so there were no golf police, but there were signs. I respect signs. Usually.

Palm Springs.jpg

That was a great birthday.

The other location I’m quite proud to have tracked down was in Napa. Have you been to Napa? It’s huge.

On a weekend home in Sacramento,] I convinced my parents to drive with Brad and I to Napa Valley for wine tasting.

Sure. Wine tasting.

I eventually confessed my true purpose. They did end up with a nice wine subscription though.

I trawled the internet to see if I could track down any forums or sites with inside info about this location. I even called the Napa Chamber of Commerce to see if they had a record of the shoot. When they asked me if I was crazy didn’t, I asked them if there was a spot over which the hot air balloons usually flew. “Nah, not really. They kind of go where the wind takes them. We’ve had them land on houses before.”

Remind me to skip the hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley.

This exact location seemed all but impossible to track down. A stickler for the rules, I did not feel comfortable taking a generic picture just anywhere in Napa, but by the end of the day this was what I had to do.

IMAG0754.jpg

We drove home and life went on, but the fact that it wasn’t the precise location ate away at me. I watched the Soarin’ video on YouTube a few more times and finally something jumped out at me. A strange triangle-shaped body of water. Now that’s fairly unique. I could use that.

I hopped back on Google Earth and scrolled around Napa Valley looking for triangle lakes. There are unfortunately a few. (Weird, right?) Looking back at the source material for more benchmarks I made note of a big white house adjacent to the lake. Bingo. The combination of the two didn’t take long to isolate on Google Earth.

I convinced my Mom and brother to drive back to Napa to go “wine tasting” again. By this point I’ve assumed they think I have a drinking problem, but whatever.

What do you know, the triangle lake was also on private property. By now this challenge had turned me into a complete outlaw and we unabashedly drove down the private driveway to find the body of water in some vintners backyard. I crossed my fingers for some hot air balloons passing overhead, but alas, just blue sky. The balloons were probably stuck in some trees in Calistoga. But I got my perfect picture.

20140510_133957 (1).jpg

Hard to tell from the pic but this lake is indeed triangle-shaped.

20140510_134013.jpg

The white house that sealed the location off in the distance.

The other location I visited twice was Point Lobos in Monterey. The first time while in Santa Cruz for a friend’s wedding…

Point Lobos Monterey

… but I never felt like it was quite right so I dragged Brad and the parents back for round two. Jeez, my family got dragged quite a few places for this.

Monterey

I worked in Downtown LA for several years so that one was easy.

DTLA

Brad and I almost got washed away getting this shot in Malibu. Guess we should’ve checked what time the tide was coming in.

Malibu

I love any excuse to visit San Diego so this was one of the first I tracked down. It doesn’t hurt when your husband is a SoCal sales rep and has to drive all over the Southland for work. I just tagged along. Turns out you can’t just walk onto an active aircraft carrier, so I got as close as possible to Coronado Naval Base.

San Diego

My favorite place in all of California…

Yosemite

Open your Golden Gate…

San Fran

Anza-Borrego wins the award for most surprisingly beautiful location. The Soarin’ ride does not do it justice. Three times my breath has been literally taken away by a vista. Grand Canyon. Yosemite Valley. Anza-Borrego Badlands.

AB

This one was pretty easy.

Disneyland 2a

Dland castle xmas.jpg

And at Christmas, just like on the ride.

I can guess what some of your are thinking. Why? Why go to all of this trouble? I guess my answer is, why not? I’m a competitive person and I love a good challenge, but that wasn’t enough to make me care. More than that, I love California with every fiber of my being. Raised in NorCal, now a transplant to SoCal, sometimes I want to scoop the whole state up like ice cream and swallow it so it will always be with me. This is a breathtaking and magnificent state, and I could not be more proud to be a born and raised California girl.

And I love Disney. I know, shocking! The experience gave me a new appreciation for Soarin’ (Which they’re about to replace with stupid Soarin’ Over the WORLD! Boo! Like honestly, who needs the Great Wall?).

Thirdly, it was fun. I don’t know if I would have taken the challenge on without Brad in my life. He brings out the explorer in me, while tempering the competitor. In other words, he makes me the best Becky possible.

Okay but the most important part of the story is that Mousetalgia is the best Disney podcast you will find on the web. If you’re interested in the history of the company and you’re looking to find a tribe at your advanced level of nerddom, download Mousetalgia right now. Start at episode 1 and get ready to binge. It’s delightful. Just don’t get too excited when they get to the Soarin’ Over California Challenge episode. That case has been closed.

ituneslogo600.jpg

Thank you for this honor friends. An honor it truly is. Carpe Kingdom!

Carpe Kingdom.jpg

pen.jpg

VIDEO: 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap

Brad just finished our recap video of the Walt Disney World Marathon! I know I say this every time he makes a new video but I really think this one is the best yet! Maybe that’s because he gets better and better at cutting these recaps, or maybe it’s because each race is more magical than the last. Either way, this one is GOOD! Really good. Check it out. If nothing else at least watch the first minute for Brad’s magic moment with Winnie the Pooh. This doesn’t happen every day.

What a great race. Still reeling from our accomplishment. Great video Brad! Everyone, let’s tell Brad how great he is. I tell him every day but he’s used to it from his wife. Share your comments below or on YouTube!

The Wisdom of the Hundred Acre Wood

I run the Walt Disney World Marathon in five short days. Many things seem to be conspiring against me, as they often do. I’m feeling very stream-of-consciousness like about the whole thing so excuse me while I regurgitate some thoughts bopping around in my head.

Two weeks ago I caught a nasty cold. Just two days before my scheduled 20 mile training run. I couldn’t run it.

The 20 miler got pushed back a week and I ran it in Kansas City over the Christmas break. It was 20 degrees outside. I was still getting over my cold. I hacked up a lung running that thing. I also think my body went into shock because of the cold. I’m a wimp about weather.

Because the 20 mile training run got pushed back a week, my taper period got cut short. I developed early symptoms of shin splints after that 20 miles and since my taper period is shorter, I don’t have as much time to nurse it and recover. I’m investing in KT Tape and I never take off my compression socks. My fingers are also all crossed.

My family is in turmoil. My brother is making life challenging in a way that is hard to put into words. It’s kind of private, although he is very public about the whole thing, so I won’t go into it. It sucks. Big time. I’m angry, frustrated, hurt, depressed, resentful, scared, and a few other negative emotions that don’t lend themselves to endurance running. I have to learn to battle these emotions when the running starts. I wish I was a Jedi.

But then there are things to look forward to…

AltraI have to be honest. I chose my running costume for the marathon because of how well it would match my shoes. Now that the marathon approaches I couldn’t ask for a more appropriate mascot. Piglet. The biggest heart in the littlest body. The most courageous in spite of danger, the most giving in spite of adversity, the sweetest little love to ever be written into existence. Piglet is scared and nervous most of the time, but moves forward anyway. Of course, he does so thanks to Pooh.

You can guess what I’ve convinced Brad to wear for the marathon. I know he humors me and thinks it’s mostly silly to dress up for these things, but I do see great meaning in it. In the most fundamental and pure of ways, Brad really is my Pooh, and I’m his nervous-nelly of a Piglet. He’s my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my strongest support, and my love. When I don’t think I can do something he gently reminds me that I can. When I feel anxious about something he convinces me not to worry. And he’s the handsomest Pooh bear you’ll ever meet.

IMG_20141217_133039

Then there’s our Eeyore, who is also running the marathon with us and I’ve somehow coerced into a running costume. Our friend Neiman. He’s such an Eeyore. Everyone’s favorite little black rain cloud. Eeyore is such an interesting character in the Hundred Acre Wood. Milne is quite brilliant to include him when you think about it, because there’s no use pretending that darkness doesn’t exist. There’s no use ignoring the fact that some people can’t help but think “why bother?” Because once you accept those people, or donkeys, for who they are, you’ll realize what they have to offer you. Eeyore, despite his gloomy disposition, is a great friend to Pooh and the gang. Always saying yes to helping. Always there, even if he doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes you have an Eeyore in your life to remind you that sadness doesn’t blot out kindness.

tumblr_ls04a4mBLO1qjj6mko1_500

Photo on 1-5-14 at 2.01 PM #2Pooh and his pals in the Hundred Acre Wood practically raised me. I was obsessed. Something about the simple wisdom and whimsy of A.A. Milne rang so true for me. It nurtured my creativity, my friendliness, and my sense of poetry. I still have my very first Winnie the Pooh bear from when I was a little wee girl. I’ll never let him go. He’s funny looking and his red shirt never fit quite right, but I love him. I’m thankful for Pooh. I’ll try to be brave like Piglet. I won’t take Eeyore for granted. Now if only we had a Tigger. Any takers?

141852867225888-1

cute-quote-quotes-winnie-the-pooh-favim-com-353061

Pooh & Piglet

And so in the spirit of Pooh-like optimism. Here are some things that HAVE been going my way lately.

I got sick three weeks before the marathon, instead of three days before the marathon. This makes me very lucky.

I get to go to Disney World.

I found a bunch of leftover KT Tape in our apartment last night to treat my shin splints.

I found the perfect Piglet running clothes. Photo preview coming soon.

I got a raise at work which means extra cash to pay for this trip which means less stress.

I have two working legs and two working feet.

I have support from my friends, my family, and from a slew of complete strangers. Go #teamRunDisney!

I got my new Driver’s License in the mail weeks before I was expecting it which means my airline ticket will now match my identification which means I don’t have to travel with my marriage license in the hopes they’ll let me on the plane which means I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

I found out our niece will be in Orlando at the exact same time, and hopefully we’ll be able to share a celebratory beer on Sunday night.

In a strange twist of fate, I have someone to babysit our cats while we’re gone.

I managed to make dinner and Fast Pass reservations on Disney’s crazy new My Magic+ Experience without too much of a headache. Knocking on wood that that keeps up.

Oh and did I mention I get to go to Disney World?

Piglet Square

I’m scared, nervous, and trepidatious. I’m excited, eager, and bold. I fall asleep with anxiety in my heart that I won’t finish/will get sick/succumb to injury. I wake up with confidence that I can do this. I am Piglet! Hear me squeak!

“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

sweating in the summer heat wearing a silly costume

You thought I was talking about Burning Man didn’t you? Nope. Not quite.

The Burning Man Festival took place just a couple of weeks ago.  I first heard of Burning Man 6 years ago. I was doing a summer Shakespeare festival in Los Angeles and a fellow actor in the play was talking about how he was saving his money to go to Burning Man. What is Burning Man? I asked. His response set the tone. He just kept going on and on about how he couldn’t describe it. About how it was something he couldn’t put into words. This of course intrigued me even more. I managed to extrapolate only a few details from him; it was in the desert, it involved trade instead of cash, it was a little temporary city, sometimes there were drugs involved. Really not much to go off of, but the seeds of mystery were planted. I’ll admit, from his sparse and mysterious description it sure sounded a lot like a drug-addled cult of hippies hiding out in the desert for a week. His enthusiasm and reverence in talking about the festival gave me pause however, and I withheld my judgement and allowed myself to be intrigued. Burning Man. Huh.

In the past 6 years since that summer social media has changed our world. Now I don’t have to ask my friend’s what some rising event in pop culture is, I just have to log-on to Facebook. Over the past few years it’s come into clearer view. Burning Man. In the desert, yes. Looks like camping is involved. Fun. Lots of people in silly costumes. Dig it. Late night dancing, communal feasting, riding of bicycles, and art. This all looked more and more intriguing to me but there was still a piece missing. I still didn’t “get it.” I mean I saw the details. I saw the whats, but I guess what I still didn’t understand were the whys. How is this different from any other art festival. How is it different from camping with a bunch of friends? I put the question out to the Facebook universe. What is this Burning Man, in seven words or less. Responses: celebration of art, adult camping, epic communing experience, music, dirt, sweat, high hippie hipsters. Ok. All of those things I had pretty much pieced together, but there was one response that really started to get the message across. What is Burning Man? Freedom.

Interesting.

That I get. That one little word started to gel all of the details together and make me realize why Burning Man was different from a week of camping with your buddies, playing music, and smoking pot. Freedom. Now that is something we all need.

I was curious enough at this point to consider that I might want to attend myself one day. See what all the fuss is about. I looked up the details and immediately realized that was never going to happen. I would never attend Burning Man. The festival is always the week prior to and weekend including Labor Day. There is another event that is the same weekend every year. The Disneyland Half Marathon. This realization bummed me out for about 10 seconds, and then I got over it. Not because I’m not curious. I genuinely am. But because The Disneyland Half Marathon is my Burning Man.

I can hear all of the loyal Burning Man enthusiasts scoffing at their computer screens. Disneyland? Really? In fact some of you are probably offended at the suggestion. I’m sure there are those out there offended that I would compare a giant commercial endeavor, the behemoth of capitalism itself, to Burning Man. That’s fine. To me, one of the parallel threads of the two events is non-judgement, so maybe keep reading before you write off the notion. After all, there’s two sides to every coin. The commercial capitalists are right now accusing you of being lefty hippie narcissists with nothing better to do than dance in the desert without your clothes on. But of course, you know that’s not a fair assessment. That doesn’t even scratch the surface. So let’s not judge.

I could go to Disneyland pretty much anytime and I can run pretty much anytime, so the technicalities of Half Marathon weekend are not what keep me from choosing it over a week in Black Rock City. What keeps me there are the same things that keep y’all in the desert. Freedom. I started to think about why I would never give up Half Marathon weekend and I started to draw so many parallels between what the weekend in the Land gives me and what Burning Man loyals purport to get from the Playa (you like how I’m using all the terms, even though I’ve never been there? I kinda feel like a tool, but it sounds weird to say Burning Man over and over so I gotta whip out some synonyms). Allow me to draw some for you, parallels that is.

Freedom

The concept that makes it all worthwhile. We really need this. The world is hard and demands a lot of us. There are so many rules. Get a job, eat sensibly, get a good night’s sleep, wear clothes, shave your legs, do your hair, act like an “adult.” I’m just going to go ahead and quote Walt Disney. “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.” Being an adult sometimes feels like a terrible idea, and the only way we’re going to survive it is to get some days off once in a while. So here’s what Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend does for me that I think Burning Man must do for many others:

Freedom to be silly

BM 1

Freedom to Challenge Yourself… or Not

From what I understand, about 68,000 people attend Burning Man each year, and there are 68,000 different experiences had. Same is true for Half Marathon weekend. Running is an incredibly independent sport. It’s so independent in fact that I think the reason we do these huge races is to remind us that we’re not the only crazy people in the world who run 13 miles for fun. But the challenges are your own. You’re racing against your own ability and it’s up to you what kind of race you’re going to have. Are you going to push yourself beyond what you’ve ever experienced? Are you going to challenge yourself in new ways to see what you’re made of? Or maybe you’re going to hang back? Maybe this is a race you just want to finish, comfortably. Maybe you’re here more for the fun and solidarity than the personal challenge. Maybe you’re running to work through some shit (we’ve all been there), or maybe you’re running in honor or memory of someone. From what I understand, festival go-ers have this same choice at Burning Man. It can be as weird, fun, spiritual, challenging, crazy, low-key as you want it to be. Some years I run the Half Marathon with hopes for a PR. Others I run just to see the sights, take some pictures with Mickey, and have fun. I appreciate the choice, and that the weekend allows me to have whatever experience I want. Again, freedom. It’s pretty awesome.

Freedom to wear silly costumes

BM 2

Freedom to Relax

Nothing like true R&R!

BM3

Freedom from Judgement

I care what people think of me waaaay too much. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. I have INCREDIBLE anxiety about how I’m perceived. I constantly worry that I’m offending people, letting people down, making a fool of myself, behaving awkwardly, etc. I NEED a weekend completely free from that. I NEED a weekend where I can run through Anaheim dressed up as Donald Duck and not give two-shits what anyone thinks about it. I NEED a weekend where I can run my 12-minute mile and know that no one is judging me for being slow, but on the contrary, CONGRATULATING me. I need a weekend where I can celebrate myself and not apologize for my inclination toward themed entertainment, my slow running pace, my love of wearing costumes, and my love of the Mouse. No one at Dland Half weekend judges me for these things because they are there with me. They have their needs, their reasons they run. No questions asked. We’re all acting like big dorks together. All 20,000 of us. Burning Man too, oui?

Community 

This is a big one. We don’t have enough of it. We live in a global, digital world where our modern sense of community involves:

Like-Finger

I’m not going to spiral off into an analysis of what Facebook is doing to the thread of our society. I just want to say that I think it’s important we still have events where we come together in person, under the same sky, we breathe the same air, we hear the same sounds, and we look each other in the eyes. I believe we are kinder to each other when we can look each other in the eyes. Every year at Half Marathon weekend 5:30 am rolls around on that Sunday morning and Brad and I find our way to our corral. Every year we’re awestruck by the sight of 15,000 people all joining together with a common goal. Every year I get a little misty-eyed when the national anthem is sung and the fireworks go off. Every year I love chatting with the runners around me as we wait to start the race. Is this their first year? It is! They’re nervous. We encourage them. They’re going to do great. Others tell us about all of the races they’ve run so far this year. That this one is their favorite. We pass the time together. We swap running stories. We admire each other’s costumes.

This year I dressed as Donald Duck. As we’re waiting in our corral I notice a few feet behind me a girl dressed as Daisy Duck. We lock eyes and grin from ear to ear. She clearly speaks zero English and I speak zero Japanese. We don’t say anything to each other but manage to decide through eye contact and body language to pose for a picture together. Donald and Daisy. We’re so excited to have found each other. You don’t really get moments like that anywhere else. Well, maybe at Burning Man 😉

BM 6

Community of Support

I’m not sure anything warms my heart more than the sight of the thousands of spectators at the race who have woken up at 6:00 am to come out just to cheer on complete strangers. Cheerleaders from local high schools, dance troupes, school bands, and just average Joe’s line the streets of Anaheim with songs and signs and snacks, WILLING us to succeed. Powerful stuff. From what I understand Burning Man survives on this kind of support. Cooking meals for each other and not for a paycheck. Sharing sunscreen because you’re neighbor ran out and you know what that kind of sunburn feels like. Passing along tips to first-timers. Supporting each other because we’re all in it together, and we expect nothing in return.

Last but certainly not least:

Celebration

It’s easy to forget how much there is to celebrate in life! At Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend we get it all in. We celebrate 12 weeks of hard training paying off. We celebrate another year running together. We celebrate getting closer to Tahiti! We celebrate our first year running the race as an engaged couple (funny thing happens when you get engaged. Every milestone becomes, “this is our first time eating pasta as an engaged couple!” It’s adorable to us and probably sickening to everyone else. Oh well!) We celebrate setting a goal, working towards, and meeting it. More than anything, we celebrate for celebration’s sake. Because life is beautiful, humans have a lot of goodness in them, potential is magic, and it’s important to be joyful. I’ve heard that Burning Man is many things, one of which is a big frickin’ party. Sounds familiar. Dance and be joyful!

Sorry Black Rock City. You do sound awesome and I think you give a lot of goodness to a lot of people, but my “Home” is with the Mouse.

Why draw these parallels? I don’t know. It was interesting to me. Interesting that two events that could be considered polar opposites, in fact have so much in common. How many other opposing forces in our world might share the same traits if we looked a little deeper? Interesting to articulate that I wouldn’t skip out on Disneyland Half weekend for Burning Man not because I think it’s better, but because I think what Burning Man would give, I already got. I think more than anything I wanted to say that I hope you have this in your life. A place, or an event, where you can go every year and feel free. Feel inspired. Feel like a kid. Feel like an adult. Feel like whatever you want to feel like. Sad, depressed, challenged, relaxed, happy, spiritual, enlightened, skeptical, PROUD. Proud to be a runner, proud to be an artist, proud to be in love, proud to be human, proud to accomplish a goal, proud to be a nerd, WHATEVER. You need to find a place where you can feel, just, alive, with no expectations and no conditions. Because we are not our work, we are not our Facebook profile. We are cosmic beings thrown together from the stars on this big rock, trying to figure it all out. The only way we’re going to do that is with a little freedom.

BM 4

BM 5

BM 7

ONE last thing Burning Man and Disneyland Half Marathon have in common: Holy crap are they both expensive to sign up for. Someone asked me recently why I would pay so much money to run when I can get a bunch of friends together and run on the weekend for free. Probably the same reason all those Burners pay so much money for a week at the festival when they can just as easily get a bunch of friends together and go camping in the desert for free. Because getting some friends together and running/camping for free is not the same. Some things are just worth it. What makes it worth it? Well, everything I’ve tried to articulate in this article which may or may not have resonated with you. But maybe my friend from 6 years ago was right. Maybe despite my attempt to do so with this lengthy post, maybe you just can’t put the “why” into words. I can’t REALLY make you understand what it feels like to run 13 miles until you do it. Just like I can’t REALLY understand what it feels like to run 26.2 until I do it. Which is why I’m going to. In my search to understand Burning Man, I didn’t actually go, and I’ll probably never truly get it, not all of it. But I’m good. I have my little community of running Disney nerds who make me feel free for three days every first weekend in September. I’m good.

You Never Forget Your First Time

The buzz and excitement continues for the upcoming Disneyland Half Marathon. I’ve been following all of the tweets and Facebook Group posts about it and at this point it’s pretty much all I can think about! Such is always the case a month or so before race weekend. I turn into a giddy little child counting down to Christmas. Today I can’t help but feel nostalgic. The reason I’m so giddy year after year (and so willing to fork over the dough for registration fees) is because my first year at the Disneyland Half Marathon was so special. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? Just a short one. I promise. I know you all have runs to get in 😉

The year was 2010. I really can’t remember the month but let’s say it was March. This was back in the old days before runDisney. I know, hard to believe there was a time before runDisney, but it’s true! This was in the time when each park, the Land or the World, organized racing events on their own.  Sometime in the early part of the year (we decided on March, yes?) I came across a pamphlet in a coffee shop for the Disneyland Half Marathon. (This was also back in the days when the races didn’t sell out in 48 hours and you learned about local events from pamphlets in coffee shops). I really couldn’t believe my eyes. How did I not know about this? Running at Disneyland? That sounded like the coolest thing ever. Turned out it was 🙂

I had never run more than 9 miles but I figured, what’s 4 more? I can do it! I decided I wanted to raise money for a good cause while training and that’s exactly how I got into blogging. I launched The Happiest Runner on Earth to reach out to donors and share my training progress. The Disneyland Half Marathon is responsible for many things. It’s responsible for getting me back in shape, getting me running consistently again, and getting my writing out there. Although first-person narrative non-fiction isn’t my writing career target, it gets me writing, and it keeps me connected with all of the other thousands of running freaks and Disney nerds out there. Raise your hands people.

That first race was magical. Running through the parks early in the morning with Paradise Bay all lit up, the fog still sitting low on the ground, and the surprise of cheerful characters around every corner; it was a perfect run. The surprise of how many runners were in attendance (I would’ve never dreamed to see 14,000!), and the joyful gratitude I held for each and every volunteer there to either hand out water, or simply hold up a sign to cheer on strangers crazy enough to run 13.1 miles; it was a perfect run. The experience of running a RACE for the first time ever, getting a little bit competitive with that other girl with Tinker Bell wings who I haven’t managed to pass for the past 4 miles, hitting the wall at mile 11 and figuring out how to dig up true willpower to finish, crossing a finish line for the first time: it was a perfect run. I’ve written before about how you can never quite recapture the magic of the first time, and how there’s something inherently sad about that, but every year that I run this race I get a glimmer of the first year’s excitement; and no it’s not quite the same, but it’s worth it. And it’s worth it for all of the NEW memories we create every single year. Like falling down the rabbit hole at mile 9, or discovering the magic of gummy bears. Every race holds some new lesson buried within it. In running the race you dig up the lesson and you move on to the next exciting event wiser, faster, stronger. It’s a pleasant addiction. 

Your first day at school, first trip to Disneyland, first time seeing the Grand Canyon, first love, first kiss. Firsts are just plain awesome. You only get them once for a fleeting moment yet they leave a lifelong impact. You really never forget your first time. Thankfully my first half marathon was at Disneyland, and I’ll honor that joyful memory by running it every year until my legs (or my pocketbook) give out. 

Here are the videos of our first Disneyland Half Marathon to complete the stroll down memory lane. Ahh, memories 🙂