Disney Stuff - Disney Journals

by Chris Barry, contributing writer

Welcome back to Disney Stuff.

In the glorious digital age that we now live in, everything is available instantly. With the push of a button or tap on a screen, we can have just about any information we desire right in front of us immediately. For example, our kids will probably never know what it means to wait for a photograph. You're on vacation. The camera is ready and the kids just took that first run down the ski hill, or dove into the deep end of the pool or even hugged a seven-foot tall costumed mouse for the first time. You snap away and what are the first words that come out of their mouths? "Let me see! Let me see!" And there they are: your vacation memories delivered to you instantly, with little or no effort. We've certainly come to expect this level of immediacy in our lives, and documenting our vacations is no different.

One of the more popular places here on MousePlanet is the trip report forum on our MousePad discussion board. Posters can instantly regale us all with their Disney adventures—where they stayed, what they ate, which attractions they experienced. I'm sure some are even posted during the trip and not after they return home. It's instant. It's on a computer. It's high tech. It's the year 2013, almost 2014 for Pete's sake. It's how we live our lives.

A few years back, however, my lovely wife presented me with a birthday gift that practically harkened back to the dark ages in comparison to the aforementioned technical wonders.

We had a Walt Disney World trip coming up in less than a month. A week at the Polynesian Resort was ahead of us. Needless to say, I was pretty excited and when I opened my gift, I was both thrilled and surprised. It was a journal… with Mickey Mouse and friends emblazoned on the cover, of course (more about that later).

The cover of my first Disney Journal. Photo by Chris Barry.

She stated to me, with the perfect succinctness that she's known for: "You're a writer. Write!" That was quite a notion, indeed. Her sentiment was accurate of course. I am a writer. I can't say that I earn my living through writing, but I've been expounding my thoughts and observations here on MousePlanet and elsewhere in cyberspace for nearly eight years now. But when was the last time I actually put a pen to paper to record my thoughts and… actually wrote? Way too long was the instant answer.

I was never a journal keeper, per se. Back in my crazy college summers, in the crazy house I lived in, we used to leave a journal book open in the house for everyone to sit and write down their thoughts and "report" what was going on at that moment. I would sit and pontificate about life and such as only a crazy college student in a crazy "enhanced mood" could do (the last surviving journal was recently ceremoniously burned to protect the lives and reputations of the otherwise innocent). But that was probably my last dalliance with journal keeping. The computers and laptops we all have now have long since put my pen to rest.

My wife is a graphic designer, and despite the complete proliferation of the computer in her industry, she still takes out a pencil and sketchpad when she begins a new project. Following her lead, I relished in the thought of putting this old school recording device to use on our upcoming trip and thus, a new tradition was born.

We typically arrive at Walt Disney World late afternoon. After dinner and maybe some resort exploration or a dip in the pool, we return to our room. Inevitably, Diane and I have a glass of wine out on the balcony as the kids settle in. Stacey Aswad and her "Disney World Top 7 Must Sees" is on TV as everyone drifts off to sleep and mentally plans the days of fun and frolic that lay ahead. That's my time. I can be found cracking open the journal and documenting the trip details so far.

Each night, around the same time, I'll add to it, trying to remember everywhere we've been, where we ate, if there was anything new to see, what worked and didn't work in our plans, and so on. I put it all down on paper, including my feelings and thoughts that come along with being in one of our favorite places in the world. Each day gets an entry, and I can fill pages and pages at a time. After all, there's so much to report on, isn't there?

At the end of the trip, I'll dedicate a page or two to lists. I'll write down every park we went to and what attractions we saw and didn't see. I'll list every character we met and the ones that we just saw from afar. I'll list the restaurants and the counterservice meals we had. I'll list the resorts we visited and what we did there. Finally, I'll list what was new on this trip and how it differed from any other.

As you can see, Disney's Hollywood Studios is not well represented on our last trip. Photo by Chris Barry.

It sounds obsessive, but it's not really that intense. It's just a way of remembering what we did and loved, and what we missed and didn't care for. It's a snapshot of what we were into at Walt Disney World at a given time. Plus… it's fun to document all of this stuff. After all, I write for a Disney website that pretty much does just that on a grander scale, don't I? So, why shouldn't I do the same on my own time, in my own way?

My wife found the first journal at the Disney Store. Whenever you can find something paying tribute to classic Disney at the Disney Store lately, consider it a find. This one is covered with vintage Disney animated short posters.

The back cover of the Disney Store journal. Photo by Chris Barry.

There's a nice subtle design on each page.

Artwork from the journal's pages is taken from classic Mickey Mouse short posters. Photo by Chris Barry.

It also comes with a cool little bookmark which has the poster for the Mickey Mouse short Wild Waves attached to a ribbon.

The Wild Waves bookmark. Photo by Chris Barry.

This book has two trips worth of details in it. I had room for more, but a big screw-up on our last trip this September left me with this journal sitting at home on my bureau. I was flipping through it the night before our departure and wouldn't you know it – I forgot to pack it! Never fear… the Main Street Emporium is here! I treated myself to a new journal. This one, as you can see below, is much simpler than my first one.

The Walt Disney World journal. Photo by Chris Barry.

I do like the subtle classiness of this new journal as much as I like the full-blown wonderful world of color of its predecessor. I've even got the next one all lined up, courtesy of my D23 membership. This was the annual member gift a few years back and it's ready to be written in.

The D23 annual gift journal. Photo by Chris Barry.

I'm quite fond of the character sketches on each page…

Mary Poppin's penguins adorn some of the D23 journal pages. Photo by Chris Barry.

Figment is featured on other pages of the D23 journal. Photo by Chris Barry.

… and the Walt quote on the back.

A great quote on the back cover of the D23 journal. Photo by Chris Barry.

They're all great, and each one will end up being a treasured piece of my Disney collection… perhaps the most treasured. After all, these books are more than just bits and pieces of Disney vacation memories. They are the memories. They're the stories behind the souvenirs and the details surrounding all the photographs.

Inside each of these journals, I'll be able to find all the Disney memories from our trips from start to finish and from cover to cover. And what can be more treasured than that?

I hope you liked these Disney journals. A big thanks goes out to Diane for launching this new Disney tradition for us. One day when we're old and grey, I hope we sit down to look through these journals and relive some of our great Walt Disney World family memories together. I'm sure they'll be good for a laugh or two and maybe even a choked-up tear as well.

Do you have a Disney journal of your own? Perhaps I've just inspired you to go "old school" and actually write down your thoughts on your next trip? As always, let me hear what you have to say by clicking on the link below.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you next time with more of that great Disney Stuff.