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Sue Kruse
The Cinderella Effect

Princesses on Parade...
Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora in the parade

Sometimes one forgets that there are magical moments at Disneyland. 

Going there all the time, it’s easy to become a little, what adjective shall I use, jaded, familiar? Yes, I believe either of those will work. Once you cross that threshold into the Annual Passholder world, you begin to take things for granted, even if you mean not to. Yes, Mickey’s always there making small children smile. Yes, a friendly Cast Member’s kind word at just the right moment makes your day a little brighter. Yes, those churros smell darned good (Eau de Churro, sometimes I think they should bottle it).

Every once in a while though, something flies up and knocks your senses back into place and then you remember exactly why it is that you love this place so much. Forget that there are plastic forks in Plaza Inn tonight, that certain something you were witness to makes everything right with the world and puts a big old smile on your face. This past week something knocked my senses back into place and for a moment in time, I was, once again, a first time weepy-eyed visitor to the Magic Kingdom and it truly was the Happiest Place on Earth.

I am not too fond of large crowds, folks pushing, shoving, short tempered because they are hot and hungry and they have to wait in a big old line to ride Dumbo. My people meter goes way off the boards and I just want to escape. I felt like this the other day as I navigated through the madding crowd heading toward Fantasyland from Big Thunder Trail. I rounded the bend, cutting through the outdoor dining area of Village Haus to avoid what appeared to be a stroller convention and I came upon a huge group of people gathered around the character greeting area near Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. Normally this would not be unusual, but it was a little after 6 PM and I was curious to know why so many folks would be gathered there, as the characters are usually gone from that spot at six. There must have been at least 20 adults clustered there, watching something.

I could see a couple of Disney Cast Members standing near the entrance to the character area, but no guests were in line because, of course, it was closed. I edged my way up to find out what was of such interest. What I saw was a miniature Cinderella being taught the correct way to hold out her skirt for the camera by Cinderella, herself. The little girl, all decked out in a tiny Cinderella dress with her blond hair held back by a little matching crown, stood by Cinderella’s side. She was, quite simply, charming.

“She’s really cute, isn’t she?” the Cast Member blocking the entry said to me, “We were cutting off the line as she came up and we just couldn’t turn her away.”

I watched mesmerized, as Cinderella bent down to readjust the little Cinderella’s blue marabou feathered crown and smooth her tousled hair so Mom could get a good picture. The little girl, who couldn’t have been much older than three was transfixed on Cinderella who patiently continued to smooth and adjust the crown until it looked just right. 

As she stood up, I heard her give instructions to the tiny Cinderella to place her foot just so and hold out her skirt. The little girl didn’t quite understand, so Cinderella gently placed the girl’s hand on her little skirt and taught her to hold it aloft in a very princess-like manner. When she got it right, the two Cinderellas turned toward Mom, tilted their heads slightly and holding their skirts prettily to their sides, smiled big Disney smiles.

There was an audible sigh from the crowd and a good deal of camera shutter clicking. The camera session ended, Cinderella bent down to tiny Cinderella and began to talk to her. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but tiny Cinderella nodded her head and smiled. Cinderella stood up and motioned for the girl to watch and follow along and she began to twirl. “Ahhhhhhhh,” the crowd sighed again as the two princesses twirled, twirled some more, and Mom snapped, I am sure, an entire roll of film.

Mind you, it was now at least 20 minutes past the time Cinderella should have been through with her greeting duties, but there she was, still taking time to make a magic moment for this little girl and her family. Considering that it must sometimes be tough duty to be a character, it was even nicer to watch this Cast Member continue to give so generously. She took an enormous amount of time that she did not have to give with no hint of wanting to leave. 

I don’t know about you, but when I’m through with work, I’m through. I want to go home. This Cinderella was kind, and sweet, and giving. It wasn’t enough that she taught the child the princess pose and twirl, she continued to chat with the girl and then asked if tiny Cinderella would like an autograph, which of course she did.

The child’s family will probably never forget this. It’s the kind of thing that sticks in your memory and brings a gentle smile to your face when it comes to the surface again. It’s the kind of thing that Disney is famous for but you don’t always see. It’s the kind of thing I like to tell people when they ask me why I go to Disneyland so much.

Shortly thereafter, the crowd began to disburse and I was amazed to find that no one there belonged to the tiny Cinderella’s family, they were all passers-by, just like me, caught up in a moment of Disneyland magic. 

As I started to walk off toward Sleeping Beauty Castle, no longer remembering that my people meter had gone off and I was a bit on the grumpy side, I overheard a woman saying, “That was worth the price of admission.”

Yes, it was.

There are more magic moments to share.  

Maybe next time I will tell you the tale of how I got to help provide some magic for a little girl who loved Snow White or perhaps I will share the story of how a Disneyland Watch Artist made one family’s day when he persuaded the entire Emporium to sing Happy Birthday to their little boy.

Until then, may you discover some Disney magic of your own!



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