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Memories, experiences with Disney, from movies to theme parks to internships
Lara Steed Barenz is Snow White but don't tell, from left, Rachel Jepsen, Summer Young, Laila Young and Lindsey Ball. Lara is Summer and Laila's cousin and former family assistant, so they knew her well. When she came as Snow White to the birthday party six years ago, they didn't recognize her and were amazed Snow White knew their names. It's the magic of make believe! - photo by Sherry Young
Think of wonderful thoughts like princesses, pixie dust, boys who fly and what do you get? Disney.

Walt Disneys Mickey Mouse and all things affiliated have captured the hearts of old and young alike. You go to a Disney movie to feel good, said Joe Alfuso, a Los Angeles-based composer, in a quote in Andi Steins book, Why We Love Disney." Theres always a feeling thats great love, compassion, hope, belief in the future. The whole idea of falling in love ultimately, its what we all want, its what were all looking for a life full of love and fun and excitement and hope.

That wasnt how my first experience with Disney turned out. One of my early memories, because emotional situations get embedded in our brain, was seeing "Bambi" when I was about 3. In my minds eye, I see a sobbing 3-year-old staring at a fan on the dashboard of the Model A Ford her daddy was driving knowing she had ruined their night out. A man had shot Bambis mother. Ive had much happier memories about Disney since then.

Since then the Disney movies turned out to be some of my favorites growing up, and I still like to watch them. Many are multi-generational movies. My parents loved them, I enjoy them and now my children and grandchildren have gone beyond movies with the ever expanding world of Disney through watching TV shows and attending theme parks.

What got me thinking about Disney was a conversation I had with my brother Bob's wife, Peggy Steed. They have three children involved with Disney. Their son, Mike, works for ABC, which is owned by Disney, daughter Lara was a Disney princess for about eight years at Disney World in Orlando, and daughter Krista is now there participating in the Disney College Program. The program is something I never knew existed.

Peggy told me thousands of qualified young adults flock to the various Disney sites for the programs each year. They are paid minimum wage, but the experience they have and the work ethic they must maintain is helpful for future employment.

The Steeds feel that their children's experiences at Disney changed their families' lives for the better. Lara gained independence and much self-confidence and made many friends. Lara believes that having participated in the Disney college program on her resume has been a door opener for several jobs as that's something that frequently comes up in her interviews. She is convinced she has gotten jobs because employers have so much respect for her work with Disney.

Krista has learned about merchandising and marketing, making people happy, as well as gaining self-confidence working in the World of Disney store. As a lowly CP, a nickname given to the participants of the college program, she applied to be a trainer to new employees in merchandising and got it because of her skills. The experience has focused her in the direction she wants to take in her life.

It is one of the places when appearance matters. The Disney Look is a classic look that is clean, natural, polished and professional, and avoids "cutting-edge" trends or "extreme styles. They look for good judgment as well as stage presence.

Fourteen years ago during medical school in Southern California, our son Tom and wife, Stacy, bought Disneyland yearly passes for their family. With Tom so busy in school, Stacy especially enjoyed the evenings when they could pop down for a while or when she took her daughter, Sydney, in the afternoons for princess story time. Sydney has earned money for her skills as Elsa at birthday parties.

My son Steve and his wife, Barb, have been generous to invite family and friends to join them on Disney trips for enjoyable bonding experiences. It is so much fun that the day after is a bummer. She calls it the Disney hangover. It's a lot like a Christmas hangover missing all that magic.

The nice part about Disney is, if you dont live close by, dont enjoy crowds or visiting the parks isn't feasible, you can see or rent movies or watch shows on TV. Friends and family can be invited to join in, young and old, and only a curmudgeon would complain.
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