April 17, 2014

4 Tips to Make Your Birthday with the Mouse even Better

Visiting Walt Disney World means a fun day of celebration all by itself. Visiting while celebrating your birthday can be even better if you know how to set the magic in motion. Here are 4 tips and a bonus for doing just that.

1. BIRTHDAY BUTTON
See guest services at any Disney park and tell them it's your birthday. You'll be given a large birthday button or sticker to wear. Cast members are trained to put effort into randomly creating extra special moments for guests, so when the birthday button is spotted, you may be in for a surprise. It may be as simple as a cheery "Happy birthday!" accompanied by a wave and smile. However, you may also be handed a special fastpass or asked to participate in a show as a result of wearing it. Either way, your birthday button adds fun and recognition to your day so wear it with pride.


2. DINING ON YOUR BIRTHDAY
Many times, when making reservations for dining, you'll be asked if you're celebrating an occasion. The answer is, "Yes, it's my birthday!" When checking in at the restaurant, explain to your hostess that it's your birthday and you've been looking forward to dining with them. Whether you’re staying on Disney property or at a Disney Good Neighbor hotel, make sure to let the front desk know that it’s your birthday before making reservations. You may be given a special dessert following your meal or treated to a rousing sing-a-long involving the other diners or both. Confetti could be sprinkled on your table along with a balloon or a signed birthday card from the head mouse himself.

3. JUST ASK FOR IT
Say you're in line at Big Thunder Railroad and you've always wanted to be in the first car behind the engine. Find a cast member and explain your wish. Although you may have to wait a cycle or two longer, they will do their best to accommodate as well as send you off with a loud, "Happy Birthday!"

4. NOBODY THROWS A PARTY LIKE DISNEY
If the birthday boy or girl is between 4 and 10 or 11, consider having a birthday party by the pool at your hotel. Order a large sheet cake and give out presents such as balloons, Hula-Hoops, beach balls and rubber ducks to other kids. The lifeguards, if notified in advance, will have games and contests ready making the party loads of fun for all.

BONUS – BIRTHDAY OR NOT – BE HAPPY!
Disney cast members are trained to spot happy guests; you’d be surprised at special treatment you may encounter just by having fun. So be kind and cheerful regardless of the occasion and enjoy the magic of Disney and that alone often brings about extra magical treatment. Have a magical Happy Birthday!



Michelle Rise is a homemaker and pretty good cook according to her 5 kids and travel enthusiast. With many years of experience trekking through Disney parks with her Family, Michelle has become an expert on navigating families through Disney. She also enjoys travel to most other destinations worldwide and when not writing about her experiences or teaching her children to drive, Michelle can be found chasing the family dog up rainbow mountain with her husband of over 25 years, Ben. You can follow Michelle on Twitter, @Rise7Up, for all of her latest writings.

April 16, 2014

Juniper's Journey ~ Her Wish to be Cancer-free Came True!


We are so pleased to have Danielle back with us to give us an update on her daughter, Juniper. When we last spoke to Danielle, Juniper was in the midst of chemotherapy treatment for Retinoblastoma. You can read that initial interview here. Juniper has since finished treatments and has some happy happy news to share with all of us...

We last spoke in October, when Juniper was about half-way through her treatments. Can you recap what's occurred over the last 6 months?

We finished up chemotherapy in December just in time for Christmas. We had a lot of celebrate! In January, we had her last eye exam under anesthesia (EUA) as well as a last hearing test as one of the chemo drugs she was on can cause damage in that department. She passed both with flying colors. Her port-a-cath was removed in January & our car broke down on the freeway on the way! It was definitely a day of ups & downs for us. We also received results of her blood work to look for chromosomal deletions which would tell us the likelihood of reoccurrence & if there is a hereditary link she would pass on to her children in the future. We couldn't be more thrilled to of received the news there is absolutely no deletions and no hereditary links. Juniper's chance of reoccurrence in her remaining eye is less than 1% & those are the same odds of her children having retinoblastoma "passed" on to them. We just had our 3-month follow up & her vision eye is still clear of tumors & the socket of her prosthetic eye is healed completely & settled in. She is CANCER-FREE & THRIVING!!

Photo by CayS Photography.
You compared Juniper's Journey to running a marathon. What was it like to cross that finish line knowing it was a successful "race"? Does Juniper understand that it's 'over'? How excited is she?
Unreal. As the parent, you get so used to "the grind" or the routine of treatment if you will. It's a very real thing for parents to go into a depression or have anxiety because after 6 months of running on caffeine, cafeteria food & pure adrenaline in fight-or-flight mode, everything just stops. Of course, we are elated that Juniper's cancer was easily treated by removing her eye & the chemotherapy treatments were 6 months vs. years. But there will always be the underlying fear she could develop a secondary cancer later in life which is common for youngsters who have chemotherapy treatments so young. We as a family currently are attending counseling in order to help us cope with these emotions & move past what we've been through.

Juniper doesn't quite understand it's over - but she loves not having to go to the hospital as often, especially having to be put under anesthesia. Another very real consequence of childhood cancer is post-traumatic stress for the child (parents are also absolutely victims of this as well). We are very fortunate she doesn't seem to have a fear of doctors or entering the hospital, so while we aren't battling the aftermath of emotions from her -- that could change suddenly as she grows older, more mature & more able to fully grasp what she has been through. Her & her sister both are very much enjoying returning to the social butterfly ways now that we are not restricted by the low blood count weeks that put Juniper at risk of catching anything viral.

While Juniper has beat cancer, there still may be struggles ahead now that she only has vision in one eye… What's ahead for Juniper? Continued check-ups? Prosthetic fittings? Any sort of vision therapy? 
Now that the hereditary tests are back & we know she is not at much risk of reoccurrence, our eye-exams under anesthesia will move to every 4-months until mid-2015, then every 6-months until mid-2016 & then we will have one more in 2017 before we are deemed truly DONE with this cancer journey & she will be considered a survivor.

She will continue to visit her ocularist for work on her prosthetic every 6-months as well as a good cleaning to remove built up protein deposits.

She won't go through any vision therapy. She does have a little bit of balancing issues & gets dizzier easier. Her Big Sister (& obviously other kids she meets out in public) don't fully grasp she does not have vision in her prosthetic eye & so it's often a struggle when all those little bodies are running & romping & having a good time -- but Juniper gets knocked over because someone came at her from her "blind side' (particularly her rough & tumble big sister). So, as she grows older, we will continue to work with her on turning her head to expand her view. But right now at her age, she is easily distracted & there's always something new & interesting to see... So it'll be a process as she continues to grow & learn how to maintain herself out in the world & interacting with others. This is definitely something we will have to address as she begins learning to read & write as her right eye isn't there - & she is right handed. Driving when she hits that magical age of 16 will also have to be handled more carefully. We will have to make sure her car of choice has as few blind spots as possible, includes fish eye mirrors on her side-view mirrors & a wider rear-view mirror. And definitely working on protecting her vision eye! She isn't too peachy keen on keeping her glasses on currently, but we hope it'll become easier in the future when she realizes sand, dirt, dust particles can all bug her vision eye leaving her - literally - in the dark. We've also been discussing sports as her Big Sister prepares to start soccer this fall. While we would never stop her from doing what she feels confident in doing, I really hope she'll choose something like swimming, tennis or track; an individual sport that doesn't require too much potential of collisions like basketball or soccer would.

How is Juniper doing? Hair growing back? Energy levels picked up? Allowed to go out and be around others more often? Are you all getting back into a 'normal' home-life routine?
Juniper is doing fantastic! Her hair is growing back in beautifully. She has become accustomed to everyone wanting to touch it. It's no longer peach-fuzz. It's actual hair now & is a shade or two lighter than when she was born. It's no longer the dark chocolate brown of her daddy's. It's more of a medium brown. Hair texture and color changes after chemo are common. She absolutely has all her energy back -- plus some it seems! And she does adore being the center of attention & visiting with others. It's to be expected after being cooped up in the house all last summer, fall & winter long. She has a fantastic sense of humor & is on average, a very happy, active, friendly little girl.


The routine is... slowly coming back. It's difficult. She became so accustomed to sleeping in our bed, she now just comes into our bed while we're sleeping to crawl in with us. Luckily for her, I don't mind co-sleeping so much but boy she is a bed hog! She is having some difficulties with potty training due to the effects of the chemo on her digestive system but we continue to work on it & let her go at her own pace -- something we will probably do all of her life. Her prosthetic is currently far too small & more round than it needs to be, so we are constantly having to rotate it the right way before leaving the house or having visitors or anything like that. She still isn't comfortable with that & cries & fights every single time. I personally am suffering from a lot of anxiety & physical symptoms that range from chronic pain to full blown panic attacks -- & sometimes that means dinner is sandwiches & the house isn't always ready to be featured on Better Homes & Gardens because priorities have to come into play.  It's a process. A very slow, very trial & error, play-it-by-ear, take-it-one-day-at-a-time process. When your world has been shaken up so badly for half a year, cannot expect anything but at the very least a half a year to rebuild.

It's also been hard to get back into the normal life routine when we have so many great friends & family members who have been so patient & so understanding about Juniper's restrictions during treatment. We've met so many awesome people & other families going through their own cancer battles, retinoblastoma & otherwise. We are constantly on the go to playdates, events & soaking up every ounce of living we can daily.

What are you currently involved in to help support others or spread awareness?
Right now, as a means of getting my mind off things to thwart off that anxiety, I make greeting cards & other paper crafted items under the name of NOTEstalgia Handcrafted Stationary on Facebook. I do a once a month auction-style comment game & half the money goes to a charity of choice each month while the other half helps to keep the supplies coming in so I can continue doing what I do. We are particularly excited to raise money for Relay for Life - Everett next month & walk the Survivor Lap to kick off the Relay with our little fighter. September will also be huge as that is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month & the funds will be donated to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. In October we are also walking in CureSearch & fundraising for that along side another great family who is also battling retinoblastoma. And finally in November/December, the funds will go towards Juni & Mommy's big shopping spree to help spread holiday cheer to the kids (& siblings) who will be stuck in the hospital during the most wonderful time of the year. Juniper's favorite Minnie Mouse came from Jared's Joy Cart given to her by a hospital volunteer & I want to return that favor of a wonderful memory during a very dark time by continuing Jared's mission.

We still maintain the Juniper's Journey :: A Retinoblastoma Fight Facebook page with updates about Juniper & what we are doing to give back. I've had a few people reach out to me regarding concerns they have of family members or friends who they think they might of seen "the glow", that reflection of camera flash off the tumor, in photographs. And recently there was a story that ran on the news about a family who experienced a "glow" photo, so awareness is spreading!!

Going through a cancer fight takes you to a new level of understanding for others & remind you that everyone is fighting a battle you know absolutely nothing about. We aren't just supporting cancer-researching & funds & family... This month we raised funds for & walked in the Million March Against Child Abuse in honor of a relative who was a victim. We are currently raising funds for March of Dimes in honor of all the premature babies we've known. We'll be visiting the Hoh Rainforest on the Washington Peninsula & so, we'll be raising money for rainforest conversation during that time. And we are always happy to spread great pages of other little fighters on Juniper's page, like Violet Brielle who is another RB fighter & whose amazing mom knits hats that can be purchased or sponsored to be donated to a child fighting cancer or Support for Zac, who is fighting moebius syndrome & making loom bracelets to raise money for a trip to Disney because his condition, while very difficult to live with & expensive to support, is not considered life threatening so he does not qualify for Make a Wish & A Princess with a Purpose, probably THE absolute most inspiring fundraising family for leukemia & support of Mary Bridges Hospital & Make a Wish Alaska-Washington.

There is truly so many amazing people out there doing so many amazing things to create awareness & spread joy to these families. We love to support them in their efforts because no one should have to fight cancer alone. It just makes us feel good & like what Juniper went through was not in vain to see so many banding together to lift others up in support.

Thanks to Make A Wish, you're headed to Disneyland!! Tell us what each of you are most excited for...
I personally am most excited just to see that brilliant light of Juniper's shine. This is something we've talked about doing for a long time. As she laid in the hospital bed waiting for her diagnosis, I told her -- if you can pull through this, I promise, we'll go to Disney. I don't care if I have to sell everything I own. We'll go. You just gotta fight this, baby. And she did. Luckily for me, Make a Wish exists so we don't have to let go of anything in order to get there.

We met with our volunteers, Jan & Mellissa, who are both just really sweet & genuinely eager to help get us to Disney. When asked what Juniper wishes for, it was without a doubt to see Minnie Mouse. So, I imagine that'll be the highlight for her: getting to hug Minnie Mouse & probably the fireworks as that's a favorite of hers on the Disney Vacation Planning video.


Juni's Big Sister, Ember, is without a doubt most excited for Radiator Springs Racers & visiting CarsLand. She'll also tell you for hours how she can't wait to go swimming in the big pool with the really cool slide. And both girls are absolutely going nuts over Frozen right now, so I imagine the Elsa and Anna Meet & Greet will be a huge hit with them as well.

I've always been a huge Nightmare Before Christmas fan & that has naturally passed on to my girls. They love Jack Skellington & so I'm pretty excited to take them through the Haunted Mansion Holiday & to see Jack MC for the Halloween Fireworks. We are huge Halloween fans in general in this house - so trick or treating at Disneyland will be a highlight of their lives, I'm sure.

My husband is simple... food. He's excited to see there are many a blogs dedicated just to the food at Disney.

It's definitely going to be a much needed & much deserved chance to relax, reconnect & celebrate life together. We can't wait!

-----

We're certainly thrilled for Juniper's cancer-free outcome and the message that Danielle makes clear - no one should fight cancer (or other medical conditions) alone! Congratulations Juniper & family!! We hope you have a wonderful time in Disneyland, and can't wait to hear all about it and hopefully share some of your vacation highlights and pictures with our readers shortly after you return!

April 14, 2014

Bring on Spring! Purex Crystals Packing Tip, Giveaway & Sweepstakes!

While I almost always use Purex laundry detergent, I have been using a different brand of 'crystals' to boost and enhance the smell of my clean laundry. Truth be told, I didn't know Purex made their own Crystals… now that I know - I won't be switching back! Check out my product review below, a fun Disney packing tip, check out the $1000 Shopping Spree Sweepstakes from Purex, AND then enter our Giveaway for a chance to win 3 free bottles of Purex Crystals!

Product Review
Purex sent me a container of their Fabulously Fresh scented Purex Crystals. It was quite the hefty container! The packaging is attractive, but the scent is what gets you! The first time I tried it, I didn't put in the full amount of crystals needed for my load of laundry - Oops! (I didn't see the line indicators on the cap on 'how full' to fill it for each sized load of laundry.) My clothing still came out smelling fresh and clean… but the *other* brand of crystals I had been using, was still my preference. Of course, I wasn't going to let my free container of Purex Crystals go to waste. So, on my next load of laundry, I realized the cap had indicator lines for your load size, and I used it! I filled the cap almost to the line (yes, I still wanted to conserve my supply - it seemed like quite a bit of crystals for one load!) This time, my clothing came out of the dryer smelling so clean and fresh! Loved it! But I was still skeptical… could it hold the scent? Three days after doing this particular load of laundry, I put on a shirt and it still held the fabulously fresh scent! All day long, I'd get 'whiffs' of that clean-smelling scent! The *other* brand of crystals didn't hold it's scent for that long. The next day, I pulled my shirt out of the dirty-clothes hamper, just to see if it still smelled nice… and it DID! I had worn it all day the day before, I wasn't going to put it back on… but it smelled as if I could! So… Purex has convinced me - this is a product I'll continue to use!

Disney Packing Tip
Because most clothes seem to be able to 'hold on' to that Fabulously Fresh scent of Purex Crystals… next time you head to Disney (or travel anywhere with your clothes packed in a suitcase) wash your clothes using Purex Crystals before packing them! They'll smell clean and fresh, and you won't smell like you've been living out of a suitcase all week.

Bring on Spring with a Fabulously Fresh Wardrobe Sweepstakes!
Enter for a chance to WIN a $1,000 shopping spring plus a one year's supply of Purex Crystals Fabulously Fresh! Full details and entry form for this great Sweepstakes are found right here. Plus, there will be 100 2nd prize winners that will each receive a coupon for a free bottle of Purex Crystals Fabulously Fresh. (Sweepstakes ends on April 28, 2014.)

Enter to WIN three (3) containers of Fabulously Fresh Purex Crystals (via coupons).
You can wear clean smelling clothes all day too, and one of my lucky readers will! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win three (3) coupons each for one free container of Purex Crystals. This giveaway is open to persons 18 years of age or older that are residents of the USA and Canada. Winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway begins on Tuesday, April 15 (2014) at 12:01 a.m. (eastern) and ends on Thursday, April 17 at 11:59 p.m. Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Purex® provided me with a free bottle of Purex Crystals to try in exchange for an honest review. All opinions express here are my own.

April 7, 2014

#ILikeVeggies! Do You? Look at what Birds Eye and Disney are up to now...

Last month, Birds Eye® and Disney announced that they are teaming up through a program entitled Step Up to the Plate in order to encourage kids to consume more vegetables! Did you know only 10% of children in the United States get the proper amount of vegetables needed in their diet on a daily basis? Not good! And I know my kids are part of the 90% not eating enough veggies.

We've accepted the challenge from Disney and Birds Eye to eat more veggies! Throughout the Spring and Summer, we'll be trying Birds Eye products and increasing our vegetable intake. Birds Eye will begin displaying Disney Characters on their product packaging and also be bringing Disney Channel and Disney XD stars onboard to help promote healthy eating.


So, where does one start when trying to add more Vegetables into their diet? Start with small goals that you can easily achieve:

  • Keep a tray of veggies within reach so you (and your kids) can grab a few veggies when you're hungry. Allow dressing or dip to help boost flavor.
  • Buy packaged, ready-to-eat fresh vegetables. This cuts down on prep time.
  • Use the microwave to quickly cook vegetables.
  • Cut up raw veggies and keep them in your refrigerator. If these veggies are ready to eat, you're more likely to grab them than something else.
  • Keep a food log! You are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables if you write down how many servings you're getting each day.
That's our starting point for increasing our vegetable intake. Join us next month to see how we're doing and what other ideas we've come up with!

Want to Join in on the Fun?
Families can follow @BirdsEye on Twitter for more information, ideas, exciting prizes and find out which Disney stars will be participating in this campaign. Parents can use #ILikeVeggies to share their ideas for getting children to eat more vegetables! 

Special thanks to Krista from DisneyWays for introducing our family to this campaign! 

April 1, 2014

Disney 'Sing into Spring' Giveaway!!

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary set of Disney Music CDs to review as part of Entertainment New Media Network. All opinions expressed are my own. The giveaway is sponsored through the network by WDW Hints with prizes provided by Walt Disney Records.

Disney Sing into Spring!
Get ready to sing and dance!! Walt Disney Records has put together some fun CD music sets for you to enjoy and sing along with as Spring finally makes its appearance! 

We received the 'Preschool CD set' which includes:
  • Doc McStuffins - the Doc is In
  • Disney Jr DJ Shuffle
  • Jake and the Never Land Pirates / Yo Ho Matey
  • Frozen sound track


The 4 CDs arrived in an Easter-themed gift bag (thank you Walt Disney Records!) and my children couldn't decide which CD to listen to first. Over the course of a few days, we have listened to them all, and there has been a lot of kid-dancing going on in my living room. The opening song to DJ Shuffle sets the mood for the rest of the CD - upbeat and very lively - which provides a great variety of songs from all of your favorite Disney Jr shows; Doc McStuffins is short and sweet with mostly familiar tunes (although, there were a few jingles that were new to me); Each and every song on Jake the the Never Land Pirates "Yo Ho Matey" is sung by none-other-than Sharky & Bones! That was a pleasant surprise. Finally, who can resist the sound track to Frozen?

Two of our lucky readers will be winning their own 'Sing into Spring' sets of Disney CDs! Check out the titles included in both sets below and let us know which one you'd prefer to win (you'll be prompted for your choice in the first option of the Rafflecopter.)



Once again, the Preschool Set includes:





The Tween Set includes:



Enter the Sing into Spring Giveaway!
Enter for a chance to win either CD set by completing the Rafflcopter form below!! This giveaway begins Wednesday, April 2 (2014) at 12:01 a.m. (eastern) and ends Tuesday, April 8 at 11:59 p.m. Open to Legal Residents (18 years of age or older) of the US only. Two winners will be selected by Random.org via Rafflecopter and notified by email on Wednesday April 9, 2014. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Editor's Note: This post does contain affiliate links. Items purchased using affiliate links do not increase the price for you, but do allow us to earn a small commission in order to continue bringing great hints to you!

March 30, 2014

The Pirate Fairy - Coming to Blu-Ray/DVD on April 1st

We had the privilege of seeing an advanced screening of The Pirate Fairy this weekend. The Pirate Fairy is the fifth film in the DisneyToon Studios' Tinker Bell series. It will be released on Blu-Ray/DVD April 1, 2014.

Any Tinker Bell or Captain Hook fan will appreciate this film as it shows James Hook (pre-Captain) and a bit of his story before meeting Mr. Smee. It also shows how Tick-tock Crock came about. But the main storyline is about Zarina, a dust keeper fairy, who makes a mistake and feels as though she can no  longer stay in Pixie Hollow. She leaves, but returns as a pirate - causing mayhem, of course; stealing the blue pixie dust, switching-up the fairies talents and creating more pixie dust for new uses. With the help of Tinker Bell, and the other fairies, Zarina learns she really does still belong in Pixie Hollow and her new talent (creating new pixie dust) is accepted and appreciated.


If you've got a Tinker Bell (or even Peter Pan or Captain Hook) fan in your household, they'll enjoy this computer-animated film. Parents will appreciate it too, as the run time is only 78 minutes. In short - it's a cute movie, has humorous moments, attention-keeping plot, and a few other favorite faces make an appearance as well! The Pirate Fairy can be purchased on Amazon or in most retail stores beginning April 1st. 


We were offered to attend a free, advanced screening of The Pirate Fairy on March 29th. All opinions expressed are my own. An affiliate link, where the Blu-Ray/DVD can be purchased, has been provided - but done so of our own volition. All of our affiliate links do not raise the price of products for our readers, but they do allow us to earn a few cents back in order to allow us to continue providing you with great Hints!

March 21, 2014

Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Any fan of the Muppets is sure to be pleased with this latest movie! It's full of fun and laughable moments - a lighthearted movie that will put a smile on anyone's face. Starring Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey along with The Muppets - your favorites and many other Muppet characters making appearances - Muppets Most Wanted is a crowd pleaser!

Party Central
Before the movie even begins, all guests are treated to the newest Monsters University short "Party Central." Mike, Sulley, and the guys of Oozma Kappa (OK) use a door station to 'steal' several other parties in order to end up throwing the best party on campus:



Muppets Most Wanted
Starting right where they left off from The Muppets (2011), Kermit and the gang sing a hilarious, toe-tapping song entitled "We're doing a Sequel." In which part of the lyrics, Kermit and Fozzy sheepishly sing the line "and everybody knows that the sequel's never quite as good!" Right off the bat, they make people laugh… and in my opinion, this sequel IS better. Bunsen also makes a comment that it's technically not a true sequel, as 7 other Muppets movies have already been produced. Check out part of the opening song:



As you may have gathered from the previews, Kermit and the gang go on a World Tour with Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) working as their Manager. Constantine - the world's most #1 wanted criminal - has Kermit locked away while he poses as Kermit. There are many fun-filled moments, great jokes, catchy songs, and a lot of laughable cameo appearances along the way, as Kermit tries to escape and does his best to return Constantine to where he belongs - behind bars!

If you're looking for a fun, light-hearted movie to enjoy (and one where you don't have to think too hard about the plot) - Muppets Most Wanted is what you need to see! An excellent movie for the whole family!


Thanks to the folks at Disney and the Owens Group for giving us complimentary tickets to see the film in advance!

March 13, 2014

Book Review: Every Guest is a Hero

Having the chance to intellectually engage with a theme park is rare and fantastic. This opportunity is offered to readers through Every Guest is a Hero: Disney’s Theme Parks and the Magic of Storytelling by Adam M. Berger. Every Guest is a Hero is not your average Disney theme park book—It is not intended to be touted around the parks in order to dissect and categorize the attractions. Every Guest is a Hero is better read once the reader is home and snuggled up with a coffee after a Disney trip, ready for some intellectual stimulation and some “Ah-ha!” moments.


Every Guest is a Hero exists to reveal “hidden levels” of the parks to readers and visitors, “adding a new dimension of enjoyment to your visits.” Every Guest is a Hero exists, ultimately, so that park visitors may view their experience in an entirely new way. It is therefore aimed at guests who are curious as to what is going on beneath the surface at the Disney parks; finding the “’mythic source code’ that is hidden in plain sight” throughout the parks, as Berger puts it.

Berger accomplishes the dissection of this “mythic source code” first by psychologically identifying what makes Disney parks so enjoyable: Their ability to make each guest feel like the hero of their own story. Berger then guides the reader through the “Hero’s Journey,” popularized by Joseph Campbell, and relates each part of it to specific elements that are present in one or all of the Disney parks. Finally, Berger zones in on ten individual attractions throughout the Disney parks that he feels represent the Hero’s Journey most fully. These attractions range from Mission: SPACE to Pirates of the Caribbean to Radiator Springs.

Recommended to English majors and casual readers alike, Every Guest is a Hero is an excellent way to intellectually engage with the Disney parks, as it manages to capture very succinctly what makes the parks so enjoyable to so many people on a psychological and literary level. The simple reason for this lies in the title, and it is that Disneyland and Walt Disney World transport each guest into their own tale, and casts each guest as the hero of their own story—Every guest truly is a hero at the Disney parks.

~Grace


Editor's Note: We received a complimentary review copy of Every Guest is a Hero. Our reviews are not influenced by receiving a review copy, nor are we compensated any other way for reviewing books. We may provide affiliate links where books can be purchased, but do this of our own volition.