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Who are we, and how did we get here?

Read along as members of the Disney social media community

tell stories of how they came to love Disney and where that passion has taken them!


 

Janice Brady

Owner, The Adult Side of Disney & Free At Last Mom

(Me and my good friend Gayle Turner from the Disney Gals site

enjoying the Magic Kingdom for the 24 hour event this past May)

 I was born and raised in New Jersey but once my children were grown, my husband and I retired to South Carolina. We are fortunate that both adult children live in South Carolina too so we see them often. Our daughter is an Executive Chef and our son is a music producer/DJ. The love of our son’s life is a wonderful photographer and we have a beautiful six year old granddaughter, Madison.

 I retired in 2005 at age 50. After spending several years in a part-time job just to keep busy (I wrote the obituaries for the local newspaper), I decided to give up working all together and enjoy my retirement. Within a short time I was bored once again and started writing for a few Disney blogs. After a year of writing for others, I took the plunge and started my own site, The Adult Side of Disney.

I have only been to Disneyland once. My first trip to WDW was in 1973 and I get back there now that I am retired at least 8 times a year. I would estimate that I have probably been to WDW 150 times.      

I own two sites, The Adult Side of Disney and Free at Last Mom. I am very fortunate that The Adult Side of Disney enjoys an average of 1.2 million views per month. I started the site as a hobby and it has grown into so much more!! Free at Last Mom is fairly new and I am still working on building the site. Both sites have Facebook pages.

 I have attended just about every special event WDW offers – My favorite is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and I try to attend at least twice each year.

 My favorite Disney character is Mickey Mouse – after all, it all started with a mouse!

 My favorite Disney movie is Snow White – I can still watch it over and over again!

 My favorite Disney World memory is my very first trip will always be my most vivid memory – it is when my Disney passion began!

 I have been a lover of all things Disney since my very first trip to Walt Disney World in 1973. I was a teenager and my single Mom drove me, my older sister, my Aunt and 2 little cousins from New Jersey to Florida in her old beat up Studebaker! It was an adventure for sure! There was nothing there except the Magic Kingdom. The five of us stayed in a ratty hotel in Kissimmee.

When we were growing up, my Mom was always the "fun" Mom in the neighborhood. She would fill the tub up with snow when we were young and she thought it was too cold to play outside! She was always the first Mom in the neighborhood to take a whole troop of kids somewhere - then, suddenly it all changed - divorce - Mom had to go to work. Mom worked 6 days a week - Mom was tired - Mom was sad. What stands out the most in my mind about this very first trip to the Magic Kingdom was seeing my Mom smile and laugh for the first time in a really long time. To this day, I still feel that the Magic Kingdom gave me back my Mom. From the moment we entered the Magic Kingdom she smiled and she laughed. So, from that day forward I was a huge Disney fan! My love for Disney has carried over to my children so even as adults they still look forward to family vacations. It has also brought me into a wonderful community of friends, many of which I may never have known if it weren’t for Disney.

 My best tip for guests visiting Walt Disney World: Don’t try to do it all – you will be extremely disappointed. The size and amount of things to do can be overwhelming. Before going decide on what’s most important to you and your children and fit the rest in if you can.

 My favorite attraction: I love them all. Each attraction has a wonderful memory attached to it from when my children were growing up. I have hours of video tape of almost every attraction, show and character with my children. If I had to choose one – as corny as it sounds – “it’s a small world” since I first saw it at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and it is “tradition” ride for my family when we arrive at the Magic Kingdom.

 Amy Leto

Owner-Operator, Pixie Dust Delivery Service

(Me, husband Tony, and son Matthew at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2013)

 I am a happily married mom of two amazing boys, age 13 and 20. Originally from Buffalo, New York, I moved here to Orlando, Florida about 15 months ago. I own and operate a personal shopping and delivery service. I’m a blogger, podcaster, and all-out Disney expert!  I am also a former Disney World Cast Member.I became active in the Disney social media community about 7 years ago when I first applied for the Disney Parks Moms Panel! I've had so much fun getting to know these incredible people who share my passion for all things Disney, and so many of them have become such amazing friends!

 I have visited the Disney World theme parks literally hundreds of times, vacationed there dozens of times, and have been on several Disney Cruises on both The Dream and The Magic.

 You can also find me on Twitter  @AmyLeto1, on Pinterest under Amy Leto, on Facebook under Amy Kovacs Leto, and under Pixie Dust Delivery Service.

 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Epcot Food & Wine Festival are my favorite special events at Disney World.  I have been to several events with exclusive Disney social media groups. I am hoping to be invited to one of the Disney Social Media Moms events this year.

 My favorite Disney characters are Alice and Tinkerbell. Alice is very curious, and a little cross, just like me.  And I just love Tinkerbell's sassiness. She's a girl after my own heart!

 My favorite Disney movie is Alice in Wonderland, the original animated version. I could watch it over and over again. I probably drive my family nuts every time I say "Mister Raaabbitttt...", just the way Alice does, in her innocent little voice. I am constantly quoting that movie. On the same token, my husband drives me crazy with his recent affinity for using "Mufasaaah!" everytime something surprises him, sounds cool, or whenever the mood strikes him.

 My favorite rides are The Haunted Mansion; because of it's history, back story, and all the sillyness. I can sing all of the Grimm Grinning Ghosts song, which I do every single time!  And, the Rock n Roller Coaster. I absolutely love Aerosmith, and I am a total adrenaline junkie, so there's nothing I like more than to rock that roller coaster full throttle over and over again, all day long. My hair is fairly short and it sticks straight up during the take-off, so it always looks like it's on fire when we view the ride photos. I can sing/scream every song on that ride. It's a good thing the music is so loud, or everyone in the limo would hear me! My whole family loves Rock n Roller Coaster, but for my son Michael and me, it's more of an obsession. And, when I'm sing/screaming those Aerosmith songs, I'll look over at Michael and yell "sing it, Leto!" and once in a blue moon he'll indulge me and sing along with his mom's craziness.

 One of my favorite Disney memories was celebrating my 40th birthday at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. I wore one of my favorite dresses, had dinner with two of my favorite people in the whole world - my hubby Tony, and our 13 year old son Matthew. The only thing that would have made it better was if my 20 year old son Michael could have been there. Sadly, he's still way up in Buffalo. I'm still dreaming of the day that the wish my heart makes will come true, and Michael will move down here and our family will be whole again.

 As a kid, some of my fondest memories were watching Disney movies, Disney cartoons, and The Mickey Mouse club. I fantasized about the day that I would get to visit Disney World. But, my father died when I was 5 years old, leaving my mom to raise 3 girls all on her own, so we were very poor. Vacations just weren't an option for us back then. My first visit to Disney World was with Magic Music Days waaaay back in high school. I came down to perform with my school marching band. I went a couple of times after that, but it wasn’t until November of 2000 when my husband and I started taking our kids that my addiction began. We went every year after that, sometimes more than once. We’d plan our next vacation before even leaving the current vacation! To me half the fun is in the planning. We’d have lists, and lists of lists, and couldn’t get enough of reading blogs, checking out Disney websites, and watching the planning DVD’s over and over again. (we still do sometimes!)  Our vacations to Disney World have meant everything to me. It's a time when we put aside everything else in the world and focus on reconnecting as a family. To this day, if we are at the parks and someone mentions a chore to be done, bills to be paid, or anything else from the daily grind that is life, one of us will shout "vacation!",  then we cease the discussion and get back to the magic that is Disney. I may have missed out on Disney World as a kid, but boy have we made up for it, and then some!

 Seeing how happy all of the cast members were, and how happy they made their guests over the years made me realize how much I wanted to be a part of that some day.

 I came down here mainly to work for Disney, but after many months it wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. For me, it took away some of that magic, and I wanted it back! I had some great ideas of how I could share my Disney passion, without working for the Mouse. After 25 years of vacations to Disney World, and hundreds of visits to the parks, I realized that I could use all that knowledge and expertise to make other’s visits to Disney so much more magical! So, now I deliver groceries, gift baskets, cakes, balloons and what ever else my guests want directly to their resort hotels. I also do personal shopping for folks out of town and ship Disney World merchandise to them. It really does combine my two favorite things: shopping and Disney! I hope to one day expand my business in to a travel agency and tour guide services.

 My best tip for guests visiting Disney World:   Bring snacks and drinks in to the park with you to save time and money! You can bring a small cooler with ice packs and drinks – anything non-alcoholic and not in a glass container. You can bring any food in to the parks as well!  My family does this every time we go to the parks, and it saves us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every year. It also saves us time, because we aren’t debating about what to eat, where to find it, and then standing in line to get it.