Have you been “pixie dusted” while on a Disney vacation?
The term “pixie dusted” refers to those magical moments when a Disney Cast Member shows a guest a bit of extra attention, gives them a little extra something special or treats them to a unique experience.
We have been blessed with pixie dust several times on our many Disney adventures. Some of our favorites include opening Magic Kingdom Park, playing mini golf with Max on Disney Fantasy and opening the Disneyland Parks four times. Some of the smaller magical moments include the gift of an extra FastPass and little tips for new adventures.
On our most recent vacation to Walt Disney World, we decided to try all of the Kidcot Fun Stops in Epcot’s World Showcase. This experience is geared toward children, but anyone can participate. Each of the eleven countries has a Kidcot Fun Stop station.
I have officially earned my wings! I ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland! This is something I have been working towards for the last 2 years and I am over-the-moon with joy!
My Tinker Bell Half Marathon journey started several years ago when I would go on walks with my youngest daughter in her stroller. I loved to hear her squeals when I would run a bit and the wind blew her hair. “Faster, mommy! Again!” Sometimes it really took everything out of me to help my little one feel like she was flying, but I loved the exercise. My little one grew and graduated to being able to ride her bike on our walks. We never went far, but her little legs sure could pedal and that left me trotting along to keep up with her.
I have been a runner for several years and when I first heard of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland I squealed like a little girl! I couldn’t believe there was a race at Disneyland where you could actually run in the parks, meet characters and get a really cool medal. Thus began my Tinker Bell race journey in 2013. I had full intentions of signing up for the 2014 race, but due to knee and ankle injuries, I had to pass. I was really sad and friends asked why I didn’t just run a local half marathon. My response was simply, “If I am going to complete a half marathon, it is going to be at Disneyland!”
With much rest, tenderness and therapy, my injuries healed and in 2014 I was back to training and feeling very excited that 2015 was going to be my year to complete a Disney half marathon. It was even better that the races were being held over Mother’s Day weekend!
I showed my family photos of all the amazing costumes and videos of past races. They loved the race start with fireworks and Tinker Bell flying overhead. Soon everyone was on board with the idea that we would run the 5k as a family.
Registration opened for the 2015 Tinker Bell race weekend on August 12, 2014. There was a lot of social media hype about how these races fill up within a matter of minutes sometimes, so I made sure I was on my computer and ready to go before 12:00 noon EST. Thankfully, I had no problem registering the 5 of us for the 5k and myself for the half marathon.
So that left us nine months to train, prepare and get even more excited. I joined the Facebook group and took in as much information as I could from veteran runners. Every time I took a training run through my neighborhood, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like when I actually got to run through the parks! I would even tear up with excitement. Two years is a long time to wait and train!
Overall, my training went really well. I did have some set backs with my ankle and knee, but was able to keep progressing. My husband even learned to experience the joys of running and has become quite the athlete! My three girls, however… that’s a different story.
At race time, my girls were ages 14, 12 and 9. I knew this was a “family fun run”, so there was no pressure for us to set any records or even to run the entire distance. I also knew that completing 3.2 miles was going to take some effort. My girls, being the ever-wise tweens, “knew” differently. “Mom, I dance three days a week. I am in shape!” Yes, my girls are very strong and athletic. Yet, running is an entirely different sport than dancing. I wasn’t going to force anyone to train, but really tried to stress the importance of regularly getting out for a walk/run session. I shared the Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method with them, put great songs on their playlists and hung a count down calendar.
After several months, we decided to go for a 1 mile walk/run as a family. “Mom, that’s so easy!” they said. My girls quickly discovered the need for good posture and calm, regular breaths. A few more weeks of regular family runs and all 5 of us were going the distance, plus some, with shrieks of excitement as they too began to imagine running through our Happy Place and getting pictures with characters. Soon enough, the countdown calendar showed that our Tinker Bell races in Disneyland were right around the corner.
As a huge Disney Parks fan, I get butterflies and that giddy feeling all through the planning process, but it definitely peaks after walking through the entrance to any of the Disney Parks. I have learned that surprises can be around any corner. I have also learned that more surprises come my way when I make an extra effort to engage with Disney Cast Members.
I love chatting with ride operators, restaurant servers and hotel staff. They all have different stories to tell about how they began their career with Disney, their favorite parts of their job, experiences with guests and fun hints and tidbits of information you may not know about.
My philosophy on how I spend time in the parks has changed over the years. Initially, our family was all about the rides and characters. How many autographs we can get in our book, how many rides did we go on, how many shows did we see? Not that we won’t make time to hit all of the attractions, even doing our favorites 4 or 5 times, but we also like to seek out the lesser known gems and soak up all the magic that Cast Members can offer.
On our last visit to California Adventure Park, we walked into a shop called Off the Page.
Magical Moment on Disney Fantasy ~~
This long awaited moment is no longer a dream, but sealed in her heart forever. Thank you, Captain Jack, for creating this magic.
Magical moments abound on Disney Cruise ships! You can plan your sea days around the pools, kids’ clubs, spa treatments, fantastic live shows and character greetings. You will have thrills galore during your port excursions. However, some of the Disney magic is not listed on your Personal Navigator. This is the kind of magic that just happens to find you as you are soaking up the sun, in line for a free ice cream cone or playing a round of mini-golf.
Magical moments are all around the Disney parks! You can plan your day around the exciting parades, fireworks and character greetings. You will have thrills galore on the rides and attractions. However, some of the Disney magic is not listed on your park map and schedule. This is the kind of magic that just happens to find you as you are taking a break on a bench, in line for a Mickey bar or walking to the next attraction.
This is exactly what happened to our family as we were walking in Tomorrow Land. We were leaving Space Mountain and heading toward Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Ever so quietly a “street sweeper”, really an artist in disguise, used his broom and a bucket of water to paint Goofy on the pavement. He never said a word, but went about his work thoughtfully, pausing to assess his art. A few guests stopped to admire the magic, but many guests kept walking. Sadly, the art lasted only a short time before drying up.
I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to watch this spontaneous Disney magic unfold. These are the little moments that bring happiness to my day, the times when I say, “Only in Disney!” For this reason, I hope you will be on the look out for little bits of Disney magic that bring an extra smile to your day.
Concierge Agent with Wishes Family Travel, Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Agency
Enjoy the Wishes Family Travel Blog!