Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happiest Blog on Earth - Integrity

Integrity. Man, that's a word, isn't it? Integrity means a lot of different things to a lot of different folks, but one thing that's pretty much universal is that integrity is not something we should take lightly. 

I like to believe that, for the most part, I live my life with integrity. Over the length of my long life (never mind how many years!), I've developed some very specific definitions of integrity, and I hold myself to these standards quite seriously. Let me expound on this a little.

Nearly two years ago when Joyce and I came to the pivotal point in our lives where we felt it was important to share our love for the Disneyland Resort, and Walt Disney, with others on a larger scale. We had experienced a very real magic throughout our numerous visits to the Happiest Place on Earth and we found that when we returned to our "real" lives (work) and answered the inevitable question that all co-workers feel the need to ask - "Did you have a good time?" - we were sharing with folks in a way that honestly made some envious, some curious and some ask for more! Eventually, it got to the point where people were asking us for advice on the whats, wheres and whens for their upcoming Disneyland adventures. So, we did what any normal couple would do: we started the Tales From The Mouse House Disneyland podcast! 

Ok, so what does that story have to do with integrity? Good question. The answer: EVERYTHING! You see, Joyce and I feel very passionate about the Disneyland Resort and the incredible vision of Walt Disney that we want to share honest information with people. This is what I was referring to in my last blog. There are a great many people in this world that share information that's not always true, or, twist it to a point where even though it may be true, it doesn't represent their topic very well. Now, I'm not advocating the "spin" machine at all. If you have something to share that's possibly negative, then by all means, share the negative information, but do it with tact. That's how we present everything we share about Disney in our podcast, in our blogs, in our social media postings, heck, everywhere. 

To me, integrity means honesty...honor. In all things, do with honor. It is possible to deliver negative news with honor, trust me. If you listen to our podcast, you'll discover that. There are many times that Joyce and I've reported on things about Disney that rubs us the wrong way, a not so magical experience we had, or yes, even reviewed an attraction or restaurant we didn't like. But we presented it with integrity, with facts and with tact. Few things irk me more than to listen to a podcast or read a blog where the presenter goes off on something in a very disrespectful way. To me, that shows a bit of ignorance and quite honestly lowers my opinion of them and removes a great deal of their authority on the subject. It is possible to say something negative in a positive way without doing the spin dance. 

Our good friend Lisa Robertson from the Babes In Disneyland blog is part of this wonderful group called The Three Disneyland Moms, and they've started a pledge for this very thing - integrity. It's available to folks who blog, and I believe it adds a great deal of authority to what you offer, as long as you mean it. It's called the "I blog with integrity" pledge, and if you agree with it, and if you truly blog with integrity, they offer a badge to proudly display on your blog site. Joyce and I are proud members of this wonderful community and we proudly display this badge. 

So, in parting I'd like to leave you with a little advice. Share. Share your passion, share your love for whatever you want to share. But do it with honor, do it with integrity. If you find yourself thinking if what you're about to say or write may be a little too...well, nasty, don't post it.  Or if you find yourself really CHEESED off about something and want to share, write it down on a piece of paper, set it aside then come back to it when you've cooled off. Then rewrite it to take the sting out of it. If you do this, if you share with integrity and honor, trust me, you'll have much more magic to offer and others will respect that! 
Thanks for reading...  ~~~ Al 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happiest Blog on Earth - Quirks...

I thought I’d like to share with you some of my, well, quirkiest quirks in this installment! Joyce and I’ve been listening to the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson on audio book for the last couple of weeks, as we travel back and forth to work, and hearing some of the more intimate details of the Apple wunderkind has made me reflect on my own life and, well, quirks. I know, weird. But hey, that’s what massively, incredibly creative people do!
I started to think back to when Joyce and I started the Tales From The Mouse House – Disneyland podcast, almost two years ago now. Early on we decided that we wanted our podcast to be something special, not just a “product”. Please don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with folks who monetize their podcasts, blogs, websites, etc, but I felt that would not be right for what we wanted to accomplish. I feel that we shouldn’t be profiting off of the Happiest Place on Earth at all. Disneyland is the result of many hard working folks, and I have no right to make money off of someone else’s work.  In fact, the decision to seek a financial sponsor wasn’t easy! I was afraid that by having someone help us with the financial requirements of the podcast (web hosting costs, maintaining recording equipment, contest prize give away goodies, things like that), some people may get the idea that Joyce and I are profiting off the show. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! So, when Randy Crane answered our call for a sponsor,  and we found out what a true Disney spirit he is, we were elated to have him as our sponsor.
 Anyway, from the beginning, we’ve adopted this protective approach to the podcast and everything involved with it. We’re usually pretty careful with what we post out on the social networking sites, not because we have no opinions, but because we feel that by doing a Disneyland podcast, we in essence are representing Disney. That’s not to say that we’ll only post pro-Disney stuff. Nope. That’s not my style. BUT…I REFUSE to post anything, especially negative, unless it’s been fully confirmed, and then we present it in a non-partial way.
We also try to separate ourselves from those who claim to be true Disneyland and Disney fans, yet continually bash or admonish Disney for things that they (the “fans”) may not like or agree with. Of course, if someone doesn’t like something Disney does, (like say, a certain parade down Main Street U.S.A. that should have been thought through a little more…) they certainly have the right to discuss their dislike…but do it in a way that’s positive, not negative. I mean, be constructive in your criticism, don’t just bash.  If you’re going to call yourself a true Disney fan…be one.
That leads me to our podcast itself. Now, again, when we started planning out our podcast, we wanted it to be something special. At the time, there really weren’t many Disneyland Resort specific podcasts out there. There were many that encompassed the entire Disney Theme Park world, many dedicated to Disney in general but I think there were only two (if that many) that were dedicated solely to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. And, being that this was the only Park I had visited, we thought it best to concentrate on what we knew. A wise podcast mentor once told me, record what you’re passionate about. Well, I was passionate about Disneyland and my wife! What better to record than a podcast dedicated to all the wonderful, magical and HAPPY times I spent at Disneyland with my soul mate?
Now, there are a lot of Disneyland Resort podcasts out there for you to choose from, which means that what we attempted to get out there must have worked. Others took notice and decided to share THEIR love as well. So, our podcast may not have the best content in the podcasting world but it does have something all the others don’t: Al and Joyce’s view and passion! And bottom line, that’s why we started this podcast. Certainly not for the fame and fortune because really, there’s none of that. In fact, we put in just about as much time researching, writing, editing, recording, editing, more editing and publishing this podcast that we put in on our day jobs! But we wanted to share our love and our passion and our BELIEF in the Magic of Disneyland.  
So, that’s my semi-coherent entry for this blog! Hopefully I haven’t bored you to tears, or made you reach for the bottle of aspirin. If you haven’t already heard our podcast, why not hop on over to http://www.talescast.com or iTunes and check us out. We offer audio and video podcasts that help fill that gap between visits to the Happiest Place on Earth, and, if you’ve never been there…well, here’s your chance to experience the Magic! We’d love to hear from you too, you can send us an email to talespodcast@cox.net, and if you want to see if what I said about social media is true, you can follow us @talespodcast on Twitter, or “like” our FaceBook page at http://www.facebook.com/talespodcast.
~~~ Al

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pixie Tales - “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”- The Fox and the Hound

Disneyland has always been a family friendly place and created so many lifelong memories.  There are a few chapters in my life where I did not visit the Happiest Place on Earth but my love for Disney was always apparent.

Since 2007, when visits to the Park became a regular part of my life, Al and I have met so many awesome people who share the love and understand the Disney magic and as a result, our friendships have grown. Some of these friends started out as “virtual” friends and are now some of our closest friends. Not only do they share our love for Disney but never forget Walt’s vision and walk in his footsteps just as we do.

As we start a new year, it is natural to reminisce about the previous one.  Wow what an awesome time we had at Disneyland in 2011.  We attended the D23 Expo and finally met our good friend, Lisa from Babes in Disneyland in person, met Mr. Daps, and reconnected with old friends and formed new friendship.  One of the most magical memories was our October 2011 trip.  We were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary and planned in advance to join the Sunday Sweeper Crew on their traditional final train ride of the night.  This was one of the most awesome experiences and was above my expectations.  I could write an entire blog on this experience so will keep you in suspense for now.  :) 

2012 is going to be an awesome year; In about 5 weeks, I am going to be a grandma for the first time and can’t wait to take baby Isaiah to Disneyland.  I hope I get to take him for his first visit and we will let his daddy and mommy, Eric and Ali tag along, too.  It is leap year so I am creating a leap list of things to do in 2012:  I want to attend one D23 event like maybe the Studio tour, and my all time goal is to participate in one of the Disney Adventures and tour Walt’s apartment.  Anyone out there want to donate to my Leap List fund, let me know.  Just kidding….

Disney is creating lots of memories for their guests this year and I think it is so awesome that they are staying open for 24 hours straight not to mention the daily giveaways. 

Stay tuned for my next Pixie Tales: “Turn right to go left! Guess what? I tried it, and you know what? This crazy thing happened - I went right!”  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Happiest Blog On Earth - My Favorite Thing about Disneyland

This is a question that’s asked a lot of folks, isn’t it? What’s your favorite thing about the Disneyland Resort? We’re guilty of asking that question of every guest we have on our Tales From The Mouse House – Disneyland Podcast, and typically, we get answers like, “Pirates Of The Caribbean”, or “Small World” and even “Corn Dogs”. All very nice answers but if you really take time to consider the question, you may come up with something more.
Many of you know my story: I didn’t discover the Magic of Disneyland until late in life – 2007. And I was born in 1964! So yeah, one could say, late to the party. BUT, I made it to the party! So for me, the question posited earlier has a dual-layer answer. Yes, I LOVE Pirates, Small World and, well, I think you know how I feel about CORN DOGS (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THEM!!), but for me, there’s a much deeper answer. My favorite thing about Disneyland is…Disneyland.
Ok, let me get deep for a moment. Disneyland is many things to many people. It’s an amusement park that’s ever changing and yes, very fun. Disneyland puts the thrill in “thrill rides”, and then some. But if you really think about it, it’s really just a theme park, isn’t it? Roller coaster, check. Carousel, check. Water rides, check. Over priced amusement park foods…check. So, in that regard, what’s the difference between Disneyland and Six Flags? The answer of course is…Disneyland. That’s what Disneyland has that no other theme park in the WORLD has or will ever have. The magic of Disneyland is…Disneyland.
When Walt sparked the idea of creating a place for families to be together and have fun, it wasn’t just so folks could spend the day on rides. No, it was so families of the day, and 100 years in the future could share the same thing –experience. There’s a feeling, no, more like an emotion, that most people feel when they enter the gates to Disneyland. As odd as it sounds at a thrill park, (at least for me) that feeling/emotion is relaxed. I feel relaxed when I walk into Disneyland. Every ounce of concern, irritation, anger, disappointment that I harbor in my everyday life melts away when I’m at the Disneyland Resort. I don’t think that was an accident. I think Walt was very conscience of that fact when he designed the place, and that’s what he strived to achieve when he opened Disneyland in 1955.  No other place in the world can offer me that same feeling, even when I’m not there. When, in my “ordinary life”, I find myself getting overly stressed about something, I’ll close my eyes and visualize Disneyland and I smile. Disneyland is a feeling, an experience. I challenge all of you NOT to feel something on a very emotional level when you visit the Disneyland Resort. ~~~ Al

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Happiest Blog On Earth - Welcome 2012

Well, what can I say? The 2011 Holiday Season has come and gone, and 2012 is now here. Wow. I’m sure this is being said well over a million times today…I just can’t believe it’s 2012! Still, it’s true. I can’t believe it. Seems like just 365 days ago I was saying the same thing about 2011. Sorry, my attempt at a little New Year’s humor.
So, now that it’s a brand new year, I’m sure many of you have some lofty ambitions and resolutions, huh? Lose weight; spend more time with family; get organized; visit Disneyland more; be nicer to people; stop sending angry signals to the aliens living on the dark side of the moon (ok, just checking to see if you’re paying attention!). Making New Years Resolutions is fine and I certainly don’t want to disparage anyone from setting some goals for themselves, but I personally don’t partake in this annual tradition. Why? Thanks for asking…because the way I look at it, making a resolution in the heat of the moment, and let’s face it, making a resolution to do something in direct response to reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the new year, is really the heat of the moment, is just a bad idea. I feel it’s just setting some unrealistic expectations that I know will fade away within a few months at best. And yes, I’ve seen this not only in myself but many, many, many of my family and friends as well. We always set these resolutions (perhaps at times under the influence of some Holiday beverage?) and have the best of intentions, but once the newness of the new year (and that Holiday beverage) wears off, well, so does the drive to complete your daunting task. Did you know that according to statistics, that the odds we will stay faithful to our resolutions are pretty slim:
·         75% make it through the first week
·         17% make it to the six month mark
·         8% actually successfully complete resolution by year end
Interesting numbers, but please don’t get me wrong. Making a New Years Resolution is actually a good thing, even if the odds are stacked against you. It’s a start. Puts you in the right frame of mind and actually helps you set more realistic goals. I for one like to just make changes, and not because it’s a new year, but because they NEED to be made. How about you? What’s YOUR take on the whole New Years Resolution thingy? If you’d like you can send a comment to us at talespodcast@cox.net. And yes, we’d LOVE to hear from you and share it on our podcast.
So, that aside, Joyce, Kate (the pup) and I had a pretty nice Holiday Season. Christmas was awesome – just the three of us – and New Years was awesome as well – again, just the three of us. Christmas dinner was our traditional honey baked by Al ham and homemade macaroni salad, Hawaiian rolls, veggie and for dessert, cherry pie! Then we watched Elf, or as Joyce calls it…Buddy The Elf. Great Holiday movie. Then topped off Christmas Day by turning out all the lights and just watching the Christmas Tree glow. Awesome!
We took some time off work and just relaxed around the old Mouse House, but one day we decided to find some snow. Now, many of you may remember that we live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, so snow is sort of scarce. We piled up in the car and drove about two and a half hours north, to Flagstaff. And snow we found! It was awesome. We decided to go to this place called, cleverly enough, the Snow Play Area, and pay $12 per car load to, well, play in the snow! It was worth it. Kate had a blast, which kind of shocked us. The last time she saw just a little snow she hated it, but not this time. She romped, hopped, jumped, and generally had a great time. So did Joyce and I. By the end of the day, we were all three pooped out, but grinning ear to ear.
Now, we’re back to work and digging in to a new year. We’ve got a lot of plans for our website and podcasts in 2012, so we’re busy planning those out, but rest assured, they’re going to be EPIC. If you enjoyed Tales From The Mouse House – Disneyland Podcast in 2011, you’re going to LOVE it in 2012! And if you haven’t heard the show yet, now’s a great time to give it a try. If you like Disneyland, you’ll love our podcast.
Well, a blog that looks back (sort of) on the previous year wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention some names of those who played special parts in our lives in 2011. These folks epitomize to us what it means to be true friends and family, folks who’ve helped us, prayed for us, showed us that Disney Magic IS real and CAN be given away. So, in closing, I’d like to say thanks and send lots of love and stuff to the following awesome people:
·         Joyce – my beautiful wife of course!
·         Rick and Amy Moyer – awesome friends I consider family.
·         Lisa Robertson – a TRUE Disney spirit if there ever was one
·         Mr. Daps – ANOTHER absolute True Disney spirit
·         Kenny Mittleider – my adopted little brother, fellow geek and now Disneyland buddy
·         Simon “Hawkeyemeds” Meddings – my UK brother and awesome creative talent
·         Steve Jobs – For creating the many cool and useful toys that I use everyday!