There are many paths that lead to a Disney Driven Lifestyle. Some get there by way of family memories. Some get there by way of ideology. Many get there by way of a kick-butt vacation. But our Neurotic Disney Person of the Month got there by way of . . . homework. Meet Kristen H., Neurotic Disney Auntie #12.
Kristen was exposed to Disney Parks as a wee little mouseketeer, but her Disney upbringing was cut short at the young age of four years old when her parents declared that they would not return. Many years later as a young adult, a friend suggested that Kristen and she make a trip to the World together. The trip planning began, and Kristen was captured by the dream of her future destination.
The trip ended up falling by the wayside, but Kristen’s interest did not. In fact, she was so mesmerized by this “Fantasyland” that when faced with the dilemma of picking a topic for her college thesis, her muse was the vacation destination that continued to escape her grasp. “I knew that I had to pick something that would hold my attention because I would be working on this paper for a full year,” Kristen relays. “I was an American Studies major, so I needed an American topic. What could be more American than Disney?”
Kristen decided to focus her thesis on two Disney Park attractions, The Hall of Presidents and The American Adventure. She used this assignment as an opportunity to thoroughly analyze whether Disney accurately depicted our nation’s history and culture within these shows. For six months she researched and studied the delicate matter, allowing her passion for Disney to overtake her life. It culminated in a “research trip” to gain the necessary first-hand experience of these classic Disney staples. It was that trip that permanently cemented her love for the brand.
On her expedition, she found that Disney’s retelling of the American tale qualified as some type of glamorous reality. While not a fairytale version of the American journey, it skirted over many of the controversies and unpleasantries that glare at us in the history books. But rather than find fault with this, Kristen understood Disney’s angle. “There is a time and place for everything, and being at Disney is not the time nor place for reliving the cruelties that did happen,” she explains. Her paper proposed that rather than criticizing the skeletons in our country’s closet, Disney’s higher purpose was to instill a sense of patriotism and unity among Americans. Did they achieve that goal with their tributes to the United States? Kristen believes they did.
Kristen finished her thesis paper, yet she never stopped writing about Disney. Her interest and willingness to chase a dream brought her to the door of Len Testa, co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Teaming with him, Kristen has been involved in recording Disney Parks research, planning Disney-esque events, and blogging about her passion on TouringPlans.com. Her very unique homework assignment also landed her as a feature story for a WDW Radio Show episode with Lou Mongello.
Currently living what she feels is a lifestyle that has reached her highest expectations, Kristen can even claim responsibility for helping others discover the NDP within themselves. On her most recent trip to Walt Disney World, she brought a friend with her to meet the other Disneyphiles she has grown to love.
Kristen was initially worried that her Disney-indifferent friend wouldn’t feel comfortable around so many strangers, but she hoped that somehow her companion would dig deep to find her “inner mouse” With much pleasure, Kristen watched her comrade be welcomed, embraced, and loved by the Disney Driven group throughout the duration of the trip. But the magic of it all climaxed when the crew found themselves at the Magic Kingdom’s Town Hall on the last day, cheering as Kristen’s buddy purchased her first Annual Pass.
“I’m Celebrating” buttons were passed throughout the clan in honor of the milestone and the Cast Members were in awe of the solidarity displayed. They made such a grand impression that before they left they were all offered “golden ticket” FastPasses “just for being awesome” (as one Cast Member put it).
Kristen, at The Disney Driven Life we couldn’t agree more. You are awesome! Incorporating the Disney brand into various facets of life is the essence of what we celebrate, and you have managed to bring the brand home in a manner that is really “out of the box.” For this reason, we bestow upon you the title of Neurotic Disney Person for the month of September.