Every time I enter DisneyLand, Walt Disney World or one of the Disney cruises, pixie dust fills my lungs, families get giddy and stress is stomped like a marshmallow. Not this year. Like most of us, hugging Mickey has not been in the cards due to pandemic travel bans. Sometimes, even with being showered with love and good fortune, I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t always recognize the blessings around me. I allow myself to get stampeded by life and *gasp*, complain sometimes. In past travels to California and Florida, Disney taught me several things, and my goal for 2021 is to incorporate as many of the lessons into my own life as I can. Even when I can’t go there at the moment. Here are my 12 Disney-inspired New Year’s resolutions.
1. It’s good to be scared sometimes. A little push to boost the adrenaline can remind you that you always survive risks. At times we forget to truly ‘live’ and ‘feel’ when we get bogged down with the day-to-day. I’m getting back into live TV and cooking demos, which makes my heart thump while I can’t get the same rush from the Radiator Springs Racers, or Expedition Everest.
2. Even if you can’t travel you can still explore cultures. Epcot features countries from around the world and the people working at each pavilion are actually from the countries represented. You can create cultures and experiences with your kids at home by exploring foods, languages and styles of dress – even if you can’t hop a jet to China or anywhere else. Here’s a great list of pandemic activities that includes resources for learning about other cultures.
3. Stimulate all of your senses. My favourite ride in both parks is ‘Soarin’. The magic happens when you soar over California in a simulated hang glider and odours pumped into the air correspond to the images you are seeing on-screen. Orange orchards, the pacific ocean and cedar forests bring all of your senses to life. Listen to music, smell things in the kitchen. Stimulate the senses.
4. Learn from the animals. Of all of the experiences I have had with Disney, the Animal Kingdom is still a favourite. I like to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in a room that allows me to watch the animals in the Savannah all night long. The kids are given special checklists so they can find and learn about the animals during breaks from the parks. Giraffes rarely sleep and the interactions between the antelopes and other animals is mesmerizing. On the Kilimanjaro Safari in the Animal Kingdom you learn about habitats of the animals and see something different every time. Take some time to brush up on animal knowledge for when you can see them in person.
5. Don’t complain. One of the joys of being at Disney is that the staff are smiling and happy all the time. Even after long days and hot hours they treat each person like it’s the vacation of a lifetime. I’m going to try and do this every time I get gas, have a parking spot nabbed or am in the grocery checkout line.
7. It’s ok to make mistakes. Whether it is the Beast being nasty to Belle, Ariel agreeing to give up her voice or Woody being jealous of Buzz – we all make mistakes. Realize them, apologize, sing a song or two and move on. You’ll be much more fulfilled in life.
6. Dance often and spontaneously. The parades and dancing never stop at Disney and even the least co-ordinated visitors find their feet tapping. Every time there’s a show a whole community is created through the arts. Everyone is equal and experiencing something together. So hop on over to Tik Tok and get your dance on!
8. Lighten your plate. Disney has taken a strong stance on healthy eating over the past year with their Mickey Check icon on nutritious menu choices and they even have healthy downloadable recipes to try. And squirt the ketchup in a Mickey shape once in a while.
9. Be a kid. Go ahead – dress like a princess, try to win a stuffed toy in a makeshift living room game, and stage a Cinderella’s Castle brunch at home. It’s ok to have fun and recreate the innocence and playfulness of childhood.
10. Go all in. If you’re going to do it, give it everything you’ve got. As an actor playing a role I’d have the proper coins in my pocket even when the audience would never know. But going all in made me more authentic. This is what Disney does at every turn.
11. Holidays are special. Whether it’s Mickey’s Halloween Party, Star Wars Weekends, or Pirate Day, Disney gives each celebration their heart and soul. Let’s all try and do this at home. Our kids will remember it always.
12. Corporate can be fun. I’m going to take special care to throw some magic into even my most mundane business activities.