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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Power of Disguise

In my Mythology class a few years ago, my College Professor explained that you can learn a lot about a person by their disguises. Halloween itself is an archetypal holiday where people dress up as someone they admire, fear or want to be like. This lecture stuck with me as I learned about theatre, writing and the choices I've made for my costumes. Every character I have dressed up as is someone I admire or aspire to be.

When I was ten, I wanted to be just like Sailor Moon. She was brave, powerful, kind and beautiful. I dressed as her for Halloween because I admired her courage, kindness and her ability to overcome any obstacle thrown at her. Sailor Moon was my favorite character because I wanted to be just like her.

Belle has always been my favorite Disney Princess, and when I read the original fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, I admired many elements of Beauty or Belle's character. Belle is kind, true to herself and very smart. Her love of stories is something I relate to. Belle is also brave, and made the decision to stay at Beast's castle on her own to protect her father. I can't even count how many times I've dressed as Belle for Halloween. She's been a role model of mine for a long time. 

Yuna is my favorite Final Fantasy heroine, because she taught me how to find my own path, despite what I believed people expected of me. Yuna is a character that represents hope, courage and wisdom. Her difficult path made her stronger, wiser and insightful. As Yuna learns how to overcome obstacles, she discovers who she wants to be. I look up to Yuna's ability to face adversity and create her own path.

Serah was only in Final Fantasy XIII for a short time, but I was able to relate to her. Not only did we share the same name, but we have similar fears. Serah was afraid of becoming a burden, and even though she couldn't change the past, she guided her sister and the lcie to change their fate. In FFXIII 2 Serah is a main character with a difficult quest ahead of her. She makes the decision to do something instead of sit and wait for things to come to her. Serah doesn't let fate control her, she creates her own. This is why I dressed as Serah for a convention.

Alice has quite the story in the Tim Burton film. During the time when the movie came out, I was facing a big decision about facing fears, living my own life and not focusing on the expectations of people my age. I remember watching the film, and feeling exactly like Alice the entire time. All I wanted to do was run away. I didn't want to solve my problem. I wanted to run from it, as far as I could. But by the end of the film, I realized, just like Alice, that the only person who could solve my problem was myself. If I never faced that fear, I would never grow and change into the person I wanted to be. I dressed like Alice because I admire her bravery, and I believe that one day I will slay my own jabberwocky.

Lizzie Bennet is my current role model. She's smart, creative and cares for her family. Lizzie is even my age, or turns my age at the end of the show. Lizzie's character is a beacon of hope for my generation. She lives at home, and has a hard time deciding what she wants to do in the future, but she never gives up, and stays true to herself. She knows that she's not perfect, but she accepts her flaws and learns what she wants to do in her life. As a modern day Lizzy Bennet, Lizzie's character is a wonderful role model for the twenty something generation fresh out of college. I hope to be as creative, clever and true to myself as Lizzie is.

Every Halloween, I dress up like a character who inspires me, or who I aspire to be. A few other characters I remember, but couldn't find pictures for are : Megara from Hercules, Queen Amidala from Star Wars, and Mulan.
What about you? On Halloween do you dress up as a character who inspires you, frightens you or who you aspire to be?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Writing Prompt 56: 10 favorite words

Prompt: 10 favortite words

1. Sanctuary: a small, safe place in a troubling world. (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

2. Constellation: a pattern made of stars.

3. Fantasmic: the fantastic power of the imagination. (A Disney term)

4. Yume: the Japanese word for dream.

5. Saranghae: the Korean word for love

6. Ohana: family in Hawaiian language

7. Hope: light in darkness

8. Belle: French for beautiful

9. Fable: a fairy tale

10. Verisimilitude: creating the sense that something is real (Influenced by the Lizzie Bennet Diaries)

What are your favorite words?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The art of letting go

It's not just letting go of someone
It's letting go of pain
It's not letting go of memories
It's letting go of feelings
It's not letting go of anything precious
if you know you need to let go.
Letting go isn't an act of losing something.
It's the act of gaining awareness.
To live in the past
is to lose the beauty of now.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Writing Prompt 55: Fall

I knew I would change eventually. It is inevitable. Some look forward to the change, while others rebel against it. Either way, change will happen. First the green fades, and then a dull yellow takes its place. The yellow turns to gold. The gold turns to orange, and the orange eventually becomes red. Fall. Fall takes place, and I will fall, crumpled on the ground. 
Sure, I can worry about the change. I can be angry about it, and think that it isn't fair. My time is ending, but at least I can shine bright. I will be the best green while I can. I will try to turn the dull yellow into a sparkling gold. And that gold will become a red that is almost flaming. I will live before I fall. I will cherish the moments tied to this tree, and I will try to fall gracefully. Maybe I will land on a child's head, or be raked in a pile to create a fragile fort. I could be plastered in a collage, or flatened between the pages of a book. I could be a souvenir of a fall vacation. But until I am left to the mercy of the world, I will be the best at one thing. I will be the best version of me. 

Prompt: You are a leaf, and fall has started. Explain how you feel about this.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Human Condition


Warning: This post is seriously philosophical and probably too detailed for its own good.

When I was in college, I decided to do research on happiness? Why? Because I was comparing myself to everyone else, and they all seemed happy, so I felt there was something wrong with me and it was time to do some research on happiness.
I started a routine whenever I went to the bookstore, and I went to the dreaded self help section to find books that just focused on being happy. It was not an easy task, and quite frankly, I was embarrassed to even be seen in that section of the bookstore.
But there I was with a pile of books, wondering what they could possibly know that I was missing. One thing is for sure. I wasn't happy.
So I begin reading. I don't remember any of the books' titles, but I did remember some of what they said.
Happiness is a choice.
I pondered that for awhile. Can someone really just choose to be happy? Is it possible? How?
Well, there are a few habits that some books told you to break. What was number one?
Comparing yourself to others.
Now this is something I'm still guilty of. I compare myself to people that are my age all the time. And I don't mean just friends or family. I compare myself to authors, actresses, producers, bloggers and even book characters.
So, according to my Happiness research, that one habit alone is a sure fire way to being completely miserable.
How can my path even compare to others? Even if I put myself on a scale with people on their career paths and compare how far I've gotten, what good does that do me?
Here's why. According to the books, or what I remember from them, all people are different and no one has the same life or career path. Now, there are a few techniques I can use, and ways to learn how to put myself out there as a writer, but that's not the same as comparing my life to someone else's life. Here's why. I have been through different experiences, and I don't know the same people they do. My personality is probably different, and the way I view life will never be identical to any one else.
I know that many people in my generation believe that in elementary school, the way they tell you that you are different and unique is a lie, and you don't learn that until you're actually out in the real world.
The people who say this don't really understand what it means to be different or unique.
I think they confuse the word unique with special and privileged.
I also think that the human race confuses the word happiness with contentment.
The human condition is to always strive for perfection, but there is no such thing as a perfect life, a perfect relationship or even a perfect person.
There's a quote in Sarah Dessen's book The Truth About Forever that really sums up this revelation.
"I like flaws. They make things interesting."
Without flaws, who would we be? Without challenges, obstacles, conflict and fear, what would the human race be like? Possibly robots.
I guess I'm rambling about this because most of my generation is very jaded about their situation in life, and to be honest, I slip into a rut from time to time. Apparently we were promised the world on a silver platter, and life didn't deliver.
But if the world really was handed to us, how motivated would we be to make something great?
If we never had problems, what would life be like? Would there even be a purpose to anything anymore?
Just as characters grow from struggles and fear, I believe that the purpose of life is to get past all those obstacles. To face our fears, overcome conflict and reach our goals.
So I hope that the next time I feel jaded, I'll remember this.
Another secret to happiness is knowing yourself and what you want.
If you just keep going, maybe the path will be revealed. But this path won't be smooth. It will have cracks, hills and maybe even mountains. Sometimes we want life to be easier, but if it was, would the goal be worth it?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Books that I would recommend to anyone, no matter what

There are no classics in this list. I will make a separate list for classics later.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I recommend this book at least once a day at work. It's my favorite YA novel and I agree that once you read it, you look at life differently. It's not a predictable book either, and it's the best slice of life novel that I've read in a long time.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

In my opinion, this book is a charming coming of age and adventure story.  The voice in this novel reminds me of Jane Austen. 

Dune by Frank Herbert

This novel is a must read! People aren't joking when they call this the best SciFi novel of all time. The story has layers, and it's deeper than it appears to be.

Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie

This book is another philosophical reflection in disguise. The story also revolves around the marvel of stories and how powerful they can be.

A Walk to Remember by Nicolas Sparks

This story is an amazing tale, not only about love, but about the choices you make without even noticing. Landon's voice rings true and his honesty makes this book even more refreshing.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

This story grows with you, and appears to be a celebration of myth and folklore. Whether or not you read children's literature, Harry Potter is a timeless tale.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

This story is intense, but I think that it's an important statement about how the world works, what power can do, and how life changes you.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

No matter how old you are, The Hobbit is an adventure story that is structured like the great myths and legends in history. Bilbo's journey from a Hobbit to a hero is another timeless story that you can enjoy no matter how old you are.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A psychological tale of the way life is. This novel is another story that is deeper than it appears to be. The boy's journey is a reflection of your own journey.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

This story is a wonderful example of a layered tale. The book follows three different generations, and ties them together with one book of fairytales.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This series is underrated. Percy is not only an entertaining narrator. He is also a wonderful character who faces many difficult obstacles and struggles to discover who he is. As his battles become more epic, and as he grows from a sarcastic kid into a true hero, (no pun intended) Percy learns important lessons in life.

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

I don't care if you hate anime or if you've never even heard of a manga. Fruits Basket is the best slice of life tale that I have ever read. Every single character has a story that is believable and relatable, and the series itself has its own unique charm. Of all the books I read growing up in middle school and high school, Fruits Basket was the one that changed my life for good.

Full Metal Alchemist

Again, if you judge this story by its format, then you are missing out. Full Metal Alchemist is a philosophical journey that reflects on the human race. There is so much to learn from this series, about fear, power, culture and countries.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dreams, Wishes and Goals

(Inspired by the Emma Approved blog)

What is your dream? What do you wish? 
Did you know that they aren't the same thing?

A wish is a longing for something you don't have. It's a powerful want that is usually driven by the way you view the world. Some people wish for little or don't wish for anything. Other people wish for the most dramatic and life changing events to occur in their life. Regardless of what you wish for, it's important to know that wishing is one thing, and working toward what you want is another. 
That's where dreams come in. Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten? What are you doing currently to get there. That's right! Dreams are goals that you set and begin working toward. But dreams are not predictable or constant. 
People change. And, as a result, what they want and where they want to be changes. 
So how do you recognize what's a dream and what's a wish?
Easy. Which are you willing to work toward? 
You can wish for a perfect life, but are you willing to work for it? What do you believe you can do to get there? And let's be honest. There is no such thing as a perfect life. 
So the first step to discovering your dream, is to look at what you want, and decide what you are willing to do to get it. 
Once you recognize your dream, the next thing to do is set a goal. 
This could be a daily goal (like mine of writing every day) or a goal over months or years at a time. 
I know most of us don't want to remember school, but what did you have to get the work done? A deadline. Setting a certain amount of time is an important structure to check your progress and feel accomplished once the goal is met. 

Now here's the tricky part.
Once you have your goals, you have to stick to them, and this can be difficult. 
There will be days you want to avoid it. Days you may even want to give up will test your patience, expectations and overall view of your life. 
So once you set goals, you have to make sure that they are realistic. Can you write a book in a day? Probably not. A week? Maybe a short story? How about a month? (There is a contest to do this in November) 
So before you set your goals, check your motivation, time and realistic expectations. 

Once you have a goal, it's time to give yourself a pep talk. Don't Give Up! Keep Moving Forward! 

This has been (hopefully) an inspirational post.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Reflections on Life's bumpy road

I took a walk today. I tried to listen instead of think. I tried to clear my head as I watched the people walk by or walk past me. I tried to focus as the wind whipped around and shoved my hair in my face. 
It was sunset again, and I was just following a daily routine, but I felt guilty. 
You see, I am not exactly content with anything in life right now, and I feel like I have a lot of work to do. This feeling started right after college, and grew to become a horrible habit that turned into a daily practice. 
Maybe I'm too hard on myself, or maybe I really am not trying hard enough to find where I need to be. It's not a horrible situation either, just a difficult one. So I guess the best way to deal with it is to plan one day at a time. 
I'm not the only one feeling this way. Most of my friends and even some of my family are in the same boat. It may be a generation thing, or it may be a coming of age mentality. As I've listened to people talk about where they are, I've learned that the best way to prepare for the future is to accept that everything will not go according to plan. There is no guarantee that life will just come to you and offer you your dream. Especially today, it's the way of the world to favor the survival of the fittest, and the persistence of the driven. But then there is that fine line of a person's limit. Doing too much or going after too many dreams can be exhausting and disappointing. 
It's very difficult to focus on the positive when you are too busy focusing on the negative. 
There are also many important skills you have to learn in the big, wide world. How to present yourself, how to market yourself, how to focus on your goals, how to prioritize and how to work under pressure. All through this process, you go through many changes. You become more independent and responsible. You're at that stage where you are actually an adult. 
There's even a new genre of books emerging from this twenty something stage of life. The stories focus mostly on self identity and coming of age. 
So, I have to be honest, I don't feel like an adult yet. I still feel like I have a long way to go. So many goals to accomplish. So many career opportunities to go after. So many people to meet, and so many places to see. 
But how do I get there? What is that one piece that I'm missing to get me where I feel I should be?
Or is that the problem? Is self criticism more of a trap than a resource? 
There are so many things I want to do in life, and at times I feel really selfish about it. I know that the world will never be handed to me on a silver platter, but I also know that I don't really fit in to the mentality of my generation. 
I am struggling with becoming jaded or breaking free. Such a strange place to be. It's not really a crossroads but more of a swirling dust devil in front of me. It makes the air unstable and hard to navigate.    

I'm probably just complaining, but at the same time, there has to be a reason why I feel this way. Why I feel like people are moving on and leaving me behind, or maybe I just never noticed the way they were until now.
I'm told to make myself my number one priority, but when I do, it causes so much conflict and more trouble than it should. So soul searching is my number one priority now. I hope it's not too selfish, and I hope I don't lose more people as I walk this road.
I hope that there is light waiting for me at the end of the path. I have to create the faith in myself to overcome this nonsense.
Life is a bumpy road, so I'll try to focus on the scenery and not the rocks or hills, or even the times when I trip over my own two feet.
Focusing on the positive is not an easy practice, but I will try, and I hope whoever reads this does the same.
Don't give up.
Just Keep Going.
Your goal will be reached sooner than you think.
Remember the people who support you, and ignore the people who look down on you.
Focus on the good and learn from the bad.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How to not write

(A list of various truths from many different writing observations)

1. Claim to have writer's block: This is usually a reasonable excuse, unless the amount of time is too long to be believable anymore.
2. Focus on other things: Cleaning, working and of course "doing nothing" are the things that are normally prioritized when a writer isn't writing.
3. Whine and complain: Usually about not being able to write.
4. Read other's writing: This includes random gossip on the internet, your favorite classics, ads, and various titles of different genres.
5. Play video games: What better way is there to distract oneself from writing then bashing buttons and yelling at the screen during boss fights? Wasn't that relaxing?
6. Watch movies: Ah yes, the classic way to observe a story without reading anything.
7. Watch TV: This depends on your criticism of the characters, plot and over all story, versus what is actually on screen.
8. Take a walk: Every now and then, this gives you some ideas, like wearing a warmer jacket, or deciding to eat ice cream for no reason.
9. Talk to friends and family: Try to avoid bringing up writing.
10. Force yourself to write: You know reverse psychology? Maybe it is best to tell yourself not to write, and you may find yourself writing again.
11. Sing: But avoid songs like "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles, "Unwritten" by Natasha Beddingfield and other songs about writing.
12. Sit and stare at a blank page or computer screen: Trust me, many writers have done this.
13. Tell yourself that you will write eventually: Other ways to spout similar nonsense include, "I will write when inspiration strikes," or "I haven't found my Muse yet"
14. Tell yourself that this time will pass: You'll be writing again soon . . . maybe in a month, or a year.
15. Read your own writings: Hey, at least you're doing something with them!

There are many other ways to procrastinate, avoid and attempt then fail to write. These are a few that I have noticed.

What other "Writer's Blocks" have you faced?


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The power of Magical Moments

Never underestimate the power of bringing a smile to someone. As a former cast member, I missed bringing a smile to someone's face, but I never thought that it would happen to me after I worked for Disney. My first magical moment was dancing with Dale when I was seven, and finally meeting Minnie at the fifties themed restaurant at what was once MGM studios. My next magical moment was getting a picture with Stitch on the last day of my vacation, thinking I wouldn't see him before we left. I was able to cheer up little kids who were scared or sad during the Disney College Program, by giving them a Tinker Bell pin or a free ice cream. One couple was extremely excited to get free Mickey Bars on their honeymoon and thanked me more times than I could count. I really miss doing things like that, and every now and then, I'm able to cheer kids up with a good story or help parents with a recommendation at the book store. 
While I was visiting Disneyland with my friends, I really wanted to take a picture with Belle. Mom and I missed her last time when we went to Disneyland shortly after my dog died, and before going to an event for ShineOn magazine.  I had seen the Beauty and the Beast show, but I still wasn't able to see Belle or get her autograph. So I asked my friends if they were ok with me going back to give it one more try. They said it was fine and watched the Aladdin show at California Adventure while I ran over to Disneyland.
I was in line with the people to meet the princesses when some pin traders around my age noticed my Keyblade  necklace and we chatted for awhile. Eventually I told them I was hoping to meet Belle, since I kept missing her. They told me to tell a cast member my story: it was my last day and I had already tried twice to see her. I took their advice and asked the cast member if there was anyone I could talk to. They told me the Beauty and the Beast show was starting, and if I got in before it closed, I could see Belle and get a picture. (I wish I had known that when I saw the Beauty and the Beast show the first two times -_-)  So I went over to the theatre and the cast member guarding the entrance told me that theatre was full, and the last one for the day. I repeated my story, telling her that I literally just wanted to see Belle. She told me she'd talk to her manager. So I waited, watching the audience get excited about the show, and while I stood there a cast member came up with a glass slipper and told me "Cinderella says she's sorry."
By then the show started, so I decided to stay and at least watch the show for the last time. During the show, another cast member came up and told me the same thing, giving me another glass slipper. So there I stood with two glass slippers I didn't need while watching the show. 
Close to the end of the show, the same people I met in the princess line came up to me and asked me what the cast member said. I told them. They walked away and I finished watching the Beauty and the Beast show. After the show ended, one of the guys from the group came back and asked me, "Do you still want to see Belle?" I said yes, and he introduced me to a nice lady who told me to follow her. She had given up two seats to other people so they could watch the show, and her husband and son were already inside, so she told me I could reclaim one of those seats. She told the cast member she had seats inside and said that I was also with her. As we were standing in line, I thanked her and actually began tearing up, because I had never experienced a reverse magical moment. With the people from the princess line cheering me on, I stood in line with the nice lady and her husband and was able to take a picture with Belle. It was a very magical moment, and I was really touched by how kind and generous that offer was. After the guy took my picture, I thanked him. He shook his head and said it was nothing, and the lady and her husband told me that they try to use their powers for good. The guy told me to have a great last day and I told him to have a great vacation as well. I'm so grateful that they were willing to help me see Belle before I left!
As for the Cinderella slippers, my friend and I found some little girls dressed as Cinderella and gave them away. That was another magical moment. I found my Cinderella getting her face painted close to the Toy Story Mania ride. I asked her father if I could speak to her and showed him the slipper. He grinned, but explained that she didn't know English. I asked him if he would tell her that she dropped something and give her the slipper. He did and the girl grinned from ear to ear. That moment reminded me of when I used to work at the parks, doing my best to make someone smile.
My friend found her Cinderella after the Toy Story Mania ride. She tried to give the slipper to a girl in a Cinderella jacket, but she didn't want it. Behind my friend, another little girl in a Cinderella dress ran to catch up with her. Once she got the slipper, she was so excited. That was just a few of the magical moments my friends and I experienced at Disneyland.

Another magical moment was meeting Russell and Dug after graduating as a Wilderness Explorer. My friend really wanted to see Dug, and she is his greatest fan :) We got our badges (stickers) and she took a picture with Russell in the signature Wilderness Explorer salute.
As we left the wilderness area, she looked at the pictures on the wooden sign and saw that Dug was in the photos. We decided to ask the cast member standing at the entrance if Dug would be out and about for the day. He told us to check the fallen tree, and while we were on our way, we saw Dug, and my friend was so excited. He was very interested in squirrels and had an itch that only my friend could scratch as they posed for a picture. It was fun to do the puppy pose, and the wilderness explorer pose as Dug gave us hugs and kisses. That moment really made my friend's day.
We were also able to (miraculously) get reservations to Blue Bayou and had a very nice table by the water, where we waved at the Pirate boats going by. One guy yelled at us to toss him a roll. We all had Mint Julep's and enjoyed the restaurant's tranquil atmosphere. It was a perfect break from the hustle and bustle of the parks.

Our trip to Disneyland ended with a nice view of the World of Color, which we all agreed was phenomenal and well worth the wait.
All these moments are powerful memories that capture the power of a magical moment. When things work out by chance, when someone is kind to you unexpectedly, and when something happens that brings a smile to your face. Magical moments are precious, sometimes rare, and should never be taken for granted.
What magical moments have you experienced?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Park at Sunset

Setting the scene: A crowded park, with the sun beginning to set
It's absolutely Autumn now. A soft glow of gold outlines everything.

I walk past the crowded field of grass and playground, heading for the bridge for a nice view. I walk with my ipod. The music mellows the atmosphere from crowded to comforting. I walk past the swing set and a boy on a tricycle waves at me with a smile.
"Hello." He says, and I notice that he's missing a tooth. I smile, wave and say hello as well. He pedals past me and I can see the bridge now. A few joggers can be seen on the path. They eventually pass by me with their bright jackets and steady pace. Near the bridge a couple is walking their dog. I smile and wave, but the lady looks away. I shrug and keep going. 
It's a nice walk, and I always enjoy stopping at the bridge to admire the view. It reminds me of a scene in one of my favorite stories, where a couple meets at a bridge in London, if only to talk for a few hours. Circumstances separate them, but they both stay true. 
I begin to wonder if I'm waiting for destiny. The bridge is rickety and unstable beneath me. A few couples walk past me holding hands while taking a stroll, biking and just out enjoying nature. 
I walk on.
It's a peaceful moment, and I'm caught in my music. I'm enjoying the late sun, the beautiful gold, red and orange hues. I'm with nature, yet I'm typing all this on my iphone. Whoever sees me could suspect me of texting, which I find amusing. Some people actually do stare, and I try to suppress a giggle as I smile and wave to each person passing by. 
A pink haze brushes the horizon. Sunset. My favorite time of day.
The music on my ipod varies from classical instrumental to drums and lyrics. Each song affects my pace and helps me keep moving, staying distracted by the steady rhythm of footsteps, music and fresh air. 
Every now and then I say hi to the people who walk, jog or bike by me.
The first star pokes out of a blue and purple sky. To me, this is the most enchanting time of day. In about thirty minutes, it's all over. The sun sinks lower in the sky, and I'm no longer in Twilight Town. I'm in a dusty neighborhood just walking home.

More than a provincial day: A Disney Designer experience

So I realized that Belle and Beast were being released today at the Disney Store, and I decided to take advantage of my day off. I did want this doll set if possible, and when I dropped by the Disney store after my writing observation, I was told that the store would release the Belle and Beast dolls, and to be there at ten. Well, the actual raffle for the dolls didn't start until noon, but I was there to witness a magical moment.
Today is the anniversary of the Magic Kingdom Park, and in honor of that day, two kids from the crowd waiting at the store were selected to open the store and call for TinkerBell to get the store up and running.
This entire event reminded me of when I worked at Disney, and I got to see the Safari opening of magic kingdom while getting the coffee stand ready for business.
The cast members set up a pole with a giant lock, and started asking everyone if they had the key. The kids looked around, and finally another cast member, hiding behind the PeterPan display held up a giant key with the Disney trademark intial. The kids were so excited, and they held the key, and unlocked the store.

This is when the cast member at the door announced that the first major event was the release of special edition Eric and Ursula dolls. She told me to come back for the raffle for Belle and Beast, so I spent some time wandering around the koi pond at the front of the mall. It was nice and quiet, and I noticed many different quotes etched in the stone.
"We must not only act, but also dream; not only plan but also believe." - Anatolie France
"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are." - Bernice Johnson
"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life." - John Burroughs.
I think that quote was my favorite.
So I walked around and enjoyed the early morning sun, and the koi fish that swam up to the bridge and poked their heads out of the water. I debated making a wish at the fountain again, or going in to window shop, but I enjoyed the quiet walk in a place I normally knew as a bustling walkway.
Mom met up with me later, and we both waited until noon to put our name down for the raffle.
Now, for those who haven't done this before, the raffle isn't free. It's a chance to purchase the dolls. And this was my first time experiencing a Disney Doll raffle for sure.
In the end we each got a doll, and our names were called one by one. A few names were called, but no one claimed them.
What really made this day special was a couple who had put their names down the same time me and Mom did. The girl was there for her birthday, and Belle was her favorite princess. Her boyfriend put his name down too, and in the end her name was called!
So the event went much better than I expected it to. I had heard some horror stories of the last doll set, but in the end, I had a great day, and now Mom and I have doll sets to display. :)