Jodi W., NDM 385, didn’t grow up neurotically Disney. It wasn’t until she was an adult with children that her love for the Disney Parks became Neurotic. So neurotic, in fact, she wrote a book, created a website & moved to Florida! What makes you an NDP? Have a story to share? Have your own Disney Fan Site or Podcast you want to share with the community? Send it to ndm130 AT thedisneydrivenlife DOT com. We just might feature your story here on Sharing Saturdays.
Hiya, pal! I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed Mickey’s greeting, but I find that a wonderful way to meet new friends. I’m Jodi Whisenhunt, one of the newest staffers here at Disney Driven Life. I run Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, where kids and their parents can learn while they play with the magic of Walt Disney entertainment. You may also know me as NDM #385.
I am a Disney-devoted veteran homeschooling mom of 3 kids ages 8, 10, and 18, and I’m proud to say they are all being raised properly—as complete Disney addicts! I grew up in Texas, spending my summers in Virginia with my dad. Neither state was anywhere near a Disney resort, and honestly, I didn’t think much of it. I really didn’t get the big deal. We had 6 Flags Over Texas nearby, and I’d been to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. I assumed Disneyland and Walt Disney World were similar, and as much as I loved the parks I visited, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to spend an entire week at a theme park. Until I went there myself.
I always loved Disney movies and entertainment, but I never visited any of the theme parks until I was in my 30s and married with children. We traveled to Walt Disney World in 2006 with my parents to attend the Ultimate Field Trip, a week of exciting events and activities onsite with hundreds of other homeschooling families from across the country. It helped that we were traveling with our travel agent and my parents, because both had been numerous times before and knew how to make the most of the trip. We had breakfast at Cinderella Castle, had a private after-hours safari and dinner at Animal Kingdom, and became totally immersed in the magic that IS Walt Disney World! The only thing that disappointed me was that there was no way to take it all in in that one week! So that just meant I had to return again…and again…and again.
My daughter was just a few weeks shy of her third birthday when we made our first trip to Walt Disney World. She was all about princesses and dress-up and sparkle and magic. The first thing we did on the first morning we were at Disney was to have breakfast at Cinderella Castle. She wore her little Cinderella gown & tiara. As we entered Magic Kingdom and came around the entrance and saw the Castle, she just squealed, “It’s REAL!!!!” Her eyes were all lit up and her grin was the biggest, most beautiful smile I’d ever seen. She just took it all in. We didn’t get back to WDW again until two years later, and she talked about that first trip every day during that time.
My daughter wasn’t the only one smitten. My husband, sons, and I were equally awed. Over the years, Walt Disney World has become to us much, much more than a vacation destination. At Walt Disney World, we have found joy, we have overcame grief, we have healed from emotional trauma, we have rejuvenated, we have learned, played, grown, and lived! My daughter was right when she said the magic was real. It is!
In 2009, my friend Carol Beth Scott and I created Magical Mouse Schoolhouse to help homeschoolers bring Disney entertainment into their lessons. Through that blog, I have become part of a very unique community and have gotten to know many wonderful people who share my Disney passion. I converted blog to book with the 2012 publication of MAGICAL MOUSE SCHOOLHOUSE: Learn While You Play at Walt Disney World Resort, which is available in both print and digital formats. Through the blog, I also run a program called Earn Your E.A.R.S. (Enriching Academic Reward Series), which is a FREE homeschool incentive program. I have also written for various Disney fan sites, including Chip and Co., WDW Fan Zone, Mousekejournals, and The Disney Moms, and am an almost-charter member of the Magical Blogorail, where I’m a Senior Pilot aboard Magical Blogorail Red.
This past year, my family and I made our biggest dream come true. We moved to Florida to be near the Mouse! We’re about a 30-45 minute drive, which is so much nicer than our former 18-hour drive. We’re near enough to get there whenever we want but far enough away that “real life” remains separate and the magic of Walt Disney World never subsides. I’m often answering the question of what brought us to Florida. Locals don’t seem to get the draw of Walt Disney World, and that saddens me. I feel sorry for those who’ve grown up so close to such a wonderful place but have never taken it all in. I’m hoping that each time I fill my tank with Disney magic, some will spill over to my new friends here. In the meantime, I think I’ll head over to my favorite place in the World—Epcot—for a ride on my favorite attraction—Soarin’! See ya real soon!
Please enjoy the slideshow of the Whisenhunt family favorites!