Five Years of Happiness

by Chris Barry, contributing writer

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life." – John Lennon

I was looking for a quote to start off this article celebrating my fifth year writing here on MousePlanet and I have to say… I had a tough time finding something that I liked. Nothing quite fit. Then I came across this quote from John Lennon. Despite being a lifelong Beatle fan, I had never actually heard or read this quote before. It didn't exactly fit the whole five-year anniversary thing, but I was just struck by the simplicity and genius of the words. I realized that this quote fits my feelings about the past five years perfectly.

Indeed, it fits my own feelings about life perfectly. After all, life is about being happy, and life should really be about making other people happy. Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and, of course, Walt Disney himself, have all truly embodied that thought as a philosophy for many years now. Writing for MousePlanet has made me quite happy—and I hope, over the past five years, I've been able to help spread a little bit of that Disney happiness your way. That's why we're here doing this and that's why you're out there reading this. So, once again, with a nod to my fellow MousePlaneteer Steve Russo who gave me the idea to write a yearly wrap-up article, let's take a look at some of the happiness that we've shared over the last year here on this amazing little celestial body known as MousePlanet.

On the Top 5 front I started off my fifth year with a look at the "Top 5 Things That I'll Miss About Snow White's Scary Adventures." I'd have to say that I hit the nail on the head with that one. On our last trip we all missed this Magic Kingdom classic.

Three of the Seven Dwarfs inside their cottage provide a happy respite to an otherwise truly "dark" ride. Photo by Chris Barry.

I took on a very difficult task with choosing my "Top 5 Favorite Pixar Films." I still stand by Toy Story 3 as my all-time favorite.

The main gate at Pixar's headquarters in Emeryville, CA. Photo by Alex Stroup.

As I was packing for my summer trip to Walt Disney World, I dissected and talked about the "Things I Always Pack for My Walt Disney World Vacation."

The Mickey ponchos are ready to be packed. Photo by Chris Barry.

Once I came back from that trip I lauded the "Top 5 Things I Love About Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort."

Jamaica, as seen from the nearby bridge to Caribbean Cay. Photo by Chris Barry.

One of the easiest articles I ever wrote was the "Top 5 Things to Love About Epcot."

A slightly different view of Spaceship Earth. Photo by Chris Barry.

Walt Disney World is always on my mind when I write, and that's evident from the rest of the articles this year. I counted down the "Top 5 Things to do at Walt Disney World During the Christmas Season."

Let the crowds thin out and enjoy the "snow." Photo by Chris Barry.

My favorite things about Tom Sawyer Island were next.

My boys sit in the rockers on Pappy's Pier. Photo by Chris Barry.

Winter got the best of me and I yearned to be laying poolside at the best Walt Disney World Resort pools.

Who needs a water park? Photo by Chris Barry.

Character Meals were on my mind and I counted my family's favorites.

My boys with Tigger and Pooh, and lots of empty tables at 1900 Park Fare. Photo by Chris Barry.

I closed out my fifth year of Top 5 lists with "Things to Love About Disney's Animal Kingdom." This article, of course, brought out the usual argument between those of us who love this remarkable park and those of us who feel it's a "half day at best." I stand by my love of Walt Disney World's fourth gate.

A waterfall on Discovery Island. Photo by Chris Barry.

As one would expect, there's still plenty of Disney Stuff to talk about. I accumulated more Disney collectibles, finally got around to talking about others and most recently unearthed some great old Disney toys of mine from my parent's attic. Here are some of the great pieces of Disney Stuff that we talked about over the last year:

The Mickey Mouse 80th Anniversary Pez tin. Photo by Chris Barry.

My collection of Disney Pop! Vinyl Figures. Photo by Chris Barry.

Walt Disney World Pooh and Tigger throws. Photo by Chris Barry.

Runaway Brain Mickey from Park Series 13. Photo by Chris Barry.

Kingdom Hearts Mickey. Photo by Chris Barry.

The 1936 Walt Disney Company Christmas card. Photo by Chris Barry.

The front cover of Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal. © 2012 The Jim Henson Company.

The chest badge from Mission Space G.I Joe. Photo by Chris Barry.

The straightforward Pal Mickey. Photo by Chris Barry.

My recently resurfaced Disneykins collection. Photo by Chris Barry.

One of the things that I love most about writing articles here on MousePlanet are the responses and emails that I receive from you, the readers. Back in November I wrote about a favorite Disney video game of mine, Walt Disney World Quest Magical Racing Tour and was thrilled to get an email from someone at Disney that actually worked on the game. It's great to be able to actually thank the people who are involved with bringing all of us the magic—so once again Michael… thanks for all of the fun!

The title screen features the chipmunks, Jiminy Cricket and Cinderella's Castle. Photo by Chris Barry.

Sometimes the act of writing about all the magic and wonder of Disney functions as an outlet of sorts. When I'm feeling down or having a particularly crazy day, turning to these Disney memories that I write about or reading my friends and colleagues articles can certainly put a smile on my face. Nowhere was this outlet more evident or needed than in December when I sat and wrote about a little stuffed Mickey Mouse at the Newtown, Connecticut memorial.

A stuffed Mickey lies peacefully and innocently at the Sandy Hook Elementary School memorial. Photo by Chris Barry.

All in all, my fifth year here brought out 22 different articles and dozens of reader responses and emails. I've heard from readers that live right here in New York, I've been giving Walt Disney World vacation advice to a family in South Africa, and I've heard from all sorts of people everywhere in between. As MousePlanet writers, all we have to do is listen to you readers out there and we know that we're doing our jobs—making all of our days a little bit happier by bringing the Disney magic to you firsthand.

Thanks so much for reading my thoughts and checking out my piles of Disney stuff over the past five years. There's plenty more where that came from—and as long as you'll have me, I'll keep bringing the happiness to you.

Thanks again. Please click on the link below, and let me hear your thoughts about the past year of articles—and I'll see you soon with another Disney Top 5 and more and more great Disney Stuff.