Celebrating Life at Disneyland

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Welcome to those of you joining me from Capturing Magical Memories and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail. This month we are talking about Celebrating at Disney. I have chosen to focus on celebrating life at Disneyland.

Disney Hippo Dance

Like many Disney Nerds my Dad’s favorite place on earth was Disneyland. Sadly my Dad passed away in April 2014 after a battle with brain cancer. My heart aches every day because I miss him so much. I was at Disneyland just a few days after his passing and it was such a conflicting time for me being at the Happiest Place on Earth while feeling so sad. However, I am grateful that I was there because I think it helped me through some of the pain.

My Dad was such a character and I even wrote a blog post about his performance at the Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue that you can read here “My Favorite Walt Disney World Memory

Traditions

When a loved one passes the grieving process can take a long time and that is ok.  One of the things that you can do to help heal is to continue a tradition that you did with your loved one.

If the Disney Parks played an important role in a loved ones life who has passed how can you pay tribute to them while at the parks? Don’t even think about walking through the front gates with Aunt Emma’s ashes because Disneyland wont allow you to spread her ashes like pixie dust around the parks.

What you can do is continue the traditions that you used to do with your loved one at the Disney Parks.  You can go on their favorite rides, eat at their favorite restaurants, take pictures by their favorite spots and visit their favorite land.

In my Dad’s case this means doing everything in the Disney Parks because he loved it all.  However, I know for sure that he did have some very favorite places to eat and attractions to ride.  I will be riding on Indiana Jones Adventure, eating at Big Thunder BBQ,  taking a picture in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle and visiting New Orleans Square when we are at Disneyland.  We will be visiting Walt Disney World later this year and will attend the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review and go on Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress as ways to honor my Dad.

Creating New Traditions

While at the Disney Parks you can start new traditions to honor your loved one.  One thing that I am planning on doing when I visit Disneyland next is to visit Snow White Grotto.  This area can be found on the right hand side of Sleeping Beauty castle (before crossing the draw bridge into Fantasyland).

The area includes a Wishing Well, marble statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a waterfall and you can hear the song “I’m Wishing” played softly in the area.

SnowWhiteGrotto

Snow White Grotto is a nice peaceful spot and a great place to take a break from the Disneyland chaos. Snow White and the Wicked Queen can also be found here from time.

SnowWhiteGrottoDopey

Instead of making a wish in the wishing well, I will say a prayer as I toss a coin in the well.  I will thank my Dad for always being there for me and of course taking me to Disneyland a lot so we could experience the magic together.  All money tossed into the Wishing Well is donated to children’s charities.

Snow White Grotto Wishing Well - #Disneyland

Honoring Walt Disney

During the construction of Disneyland Walt had a private apartment built on the second floor of the Disneyland Fire Department in Town Square for him.  He used this space as an office so he could keep an eye on the construction of Disneyland.

It is a small space, about 500 square feet but just enough room for him to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Disneyland.  From time to time his family would also join him in the apartment.  Cast Members would know when Walt was in the apartment because a lamp in the window was lit; sometimes the lamp was still lit well into the late evening hours as Walt worked.

If you want to take a peek inside Walt’s apartment you will need to sign up for the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps or take a virtual tour in this video taken by Inside the Magic – Walt’s Disney Private Apartment Above the Firehouse.


Walt's Apartment at Disneyland

Since Walt Disney’s death on December 15, 1966 the lamp has stayed lit 365 days a year as a tribute to him.  Paul Hiffmeyer the Chief Photographer for Public Relations at Disneyland took a fantastic photo of the lamp from inside Walt’s Apartment.  You can read more about his experience in Walt’s Apartment on the Disney Parks Blog.

Photo Credit - Paul Hiffmeyer Disneyland

Photo Credit – Paul Hiffmeyer Disneyland

 

Other Ways to Remember

Give KidsThe World VillageOutside of the Disney Parks there are other ways that you can honor a loved one.  My friends at the Magical Blogorail gave a donation to Give Kids the World in my Dad’s name. It was such a touching gesture and I plan on continuing this every year in his honor.

Give Kids The World is a non-profit organization that exists only to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village for as long as there is a need.

What are some ways you can think of or have done to honor the passing of a loved one?

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Frontierland Station.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Disney with Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers
2nd Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories
3rd Stop ~ I Am a Mommy Nerd
4th Stop ~ Frontierland Station
Final Stop ~ Journeys from a Follower

  • Julie Bigboy

    Lovely article. I am sorry to hear of the passing of your Dad. My father also passed away in April, on the 5th, after a lengthy battle with renal cancer. We took a weekend trip to Disneyland in May and so many happy memories of Disneyland with my Dad came flooding back to me while there. :)

    • http://www.IAmADisneyNerd.com/ Dawn Cullo

      @julie_bigboy:disqus thank you for your comment and reading my post. Our fathers died on the same day, what a sad day we share together. Thankfully we will always have Disney to help life our spirits.

      • Guest

        Yes,

  • Becca_LoveOurDisney

    I could have sworn I commented on this but it must not have gone through.
    This was such a lovely post. I teared up a bit. How beautiful that you will have this new tradition to honor your father.
    I have heard of guests that buy a balloon and release it near the partner statue to send to their loved ones who are not able to be in the park with them in body, but in spirit.

    • http://www.IAmADisneyNerd.com/ Dawn Cullo

      @Becca_LoveOurDisney:disqus thank you for coming back to comment – yes there was an issue with my commenting plugin when I first posted so I really appreciate you coming back.

      That is a great idea to release a ballon at the partners statue – I am going to add that to my list of things to do when my mom and I go to the park together.

  • http://www.magicalmouseschoolhouse.com/ Jodi / MagicalMouseSchoolhouse

    What wonderful ways to celebrate life, Dawn! My mom and stepdad accompanied us on our 1st 2 WDW trips. When she passed unexpectedly in ’09, we were hesitant to plan our next trip. It was weird to go without her, but now every time we’re at the Parks, she’s with us in spirit. We often say, “Grandma would love this!” I love the tributes you’re doing in your dad’s honor.

  • http://www.capturingmagicalmemories.com Capturing Magical Memories

    What a wonderful post Dawn. It is so touching to hear how you will be honoring your Dad and it is the perfect remembrance of a man so full of life. I can imagine though when you are at the Hoop-Dee-Do review he will be smiling down on you and may even hope you get pulled up on stage. And he will laugh if you do.

  • http://heidi-strawser.com Heidi Strawser

    Dawn, your post breaks my heart and lightens it all at the same time. How well I understand this roller coaster of emotions. I remember my first visit to Walt Disney World after my friend Sue passed away from cancer. We had never had the opportunity to visit together, but knowing her as well as I did, I knew what she loved and I felt somehow guilty being there, knowing that she would never be there again. Each trip gets a little easier. I just love your ideas of paying tribute to your loved ones while at Disney. Your dad must be very proud of you!

  • http://www.adisneymomsthoughts.com Beth Green

    Such a sweet post Dawn! I love how you find positive ways to celebrate his life. I know he’s proud of you! :)

  • JenniferLissak

    Great post – all of it is so touching! I could NOT find that wishing well when we were there – I either would take a wrong turn or just get distracted, but at least it gives me something on my to do list for next trip!

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