Thanks so much for stopping in to find out about moi, the gal behind This Happy Place Blog. I’ll keep it short and sweet; I promise!
I’ve traveled to Walt Disney World once a year since my first trip in 1996 with my family. I was a moody, bookworm of a teenager who thought she was way too mature for theme parks, Disney characters, and Mickey Mouse. Oh gosh. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrong about something in my life; it turned out to be one of the best vacations we ever had. As soon as it was over, we couldn’t wait to do it all over again and I distinctly remember my mom starting a list for next summer’s trip on our car ride back to New Jersey.
Pretty soon after I was wearing Disney t-shirts to school, got a part-time job at our mall’s Disney Store, and found any excuse to compare local landmarks to something WDW-ish. (It was my thing!) My parents filled our house with Disney snowglobes, kitchen decor, and even redid their bathroom with an Animal Kingdom theme. Our love for the parks and this place was absolutely everywhere.
Going to Disney World in August (so hot, I know, but it was the only time we could travel as a family) always felt like a true escape. I went right before my grandma died, before I graduated from high school, before I started college, before I switched schools, when I was facing breakups… it became a place where I could detach from the real world and reflect on all these things happening in my life. It was a place for me to regroup and I always felt like I was reentering reality with a brand new energy and positive attitude.
If anyone told four-eyed Estelle in the oversized, tie-dyed Minnie Mouse t-shirts that she would be writing about her childhood trips to theme parks when she was married and “grown up”, she would have thought you were nuts. So nuts. But in the three years since I’ve started writing on this platform, I feel so lucky to have met a community of people who feel so strongly about THIS place and what IT MEANS TO THEM because when I was a kid, I felt alone and even a little ashamed of my love for all things WDW and Disney.
So here I am! Still going strong with my Florida trips years later — though now I travel down there with my husband, James, and some lovely people I’ve met through this community. (My parents jet to MCO twice a year too; I hope we can make a family vacation happen sometime soon!) Despite all the theme park changes in the past couple of years, it is still my happy (and safe) place.
I’m not all about Disney 24/7 though. (Seriously!) I love reading (and blog at Rather Be Reading with my best pal), discovering new craft beer bars around our neighborhood, taking in a musical or a play now and then (I wish I could do it more often), and spending time with friends and family. Someday I’d love to write a book. I’d also like to buy a new couch and have a wall full of bookcases (ala Beauty and the Beast!). Oh, I also love summer and the ocean, or any body of water. (Is this an Aquarian thing?) Country music and Zac Efron. I shop a lot and have a sweet tooth. (Cupcakes, ice cream, pies, oh my!)
quick wdw favorites
- theme park: Animal Kingdom (almost tied with Epcot)
- park to be at night: Hollywood Studios.
- must do (by park): MuppetVision 3D, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Kilimanjaro Safari, Spaceship Earth
- fancy reservation: narcoosees @ the grand floridian
- quick service must: fresh market @ animal kingdom
- drink stop: dawa bar @ animal kingdom (runner up: crew’s cup @ yacht club)
- resort: boardwalk resort (runner up: pop century — shocking, I know)
- travel tip: don’t feel like you have to see EVERYTHING. take it in; relax.
- sound advice: spend a whole day in Animal Kingdom. okay? give it a chance!
- more sound advice: look under the mat when you enter MuppetVision.
- how I deal with post-trip depressing: listen to theme park audio loops; plan another vacation; write this blog.
- memorable moment: getting “married” by chip & dale during our honeymoon.
- something you have to do at least once: take a disney cruise. (runner up: wild africa trek @ animal kingdom.)
quick estelle facts
- i starred in the first full-length movie to be made at my college. (sigh; i’ve burned all copies.)
- i majored in writing at college and managed to write two pieces about my love of disney.
- i went on a pretty terrible date about Downtown Disney / Old Key West during a family vacation.
- since we road tripped to florida every summer, i didn’t go on my first plane ride until junior year of high school when i went to london with the marching band.
- i was a majorette in our high school marching band. (we did a routine to “friend like me” during my senior year.)
- i’m still best friends with two girls I’ve known since kindergarten.
- i haven’t been back to 50s prime time cafe because my little sister was too petrified during our first meal there.