Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Disney Rewards of Volunteering

Last weekend my family had a Holiday get-together at Disneyland. We've done Disney at Christmastime a few times and I have to say it's a great way to get yourself in the mood. No one does Holiday decorating any better and they have a way of making it all quite magical.

Earlier this year Disney ran a program called "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" encouraging one million people to get out and give a day of volunteering. The program started in January and as I recall they had fulfilled all one million offers by the end of March. Since SAFE has daily volunteers, I signed us up for the opportunity to give something back to those who give SAFE so much and I think we had about 15 folks who participated in the program. I was among them.

When I got my reminder to make sure to print my ticket I looked at the calendar and decided I'd like to go at the holiday time since it's so beautiful and I hoped that my family would get excited about it. It turned out that about 12 of us ended up going & we had a great could you not!? It's "The Happiest Place On Earth" according to the sign leading into the park!

What would make the Happiest Place, the most perfect place on earth for me??? Horses!

I gave myself a project of finding as many horses as I could so my post tonight will not be as wordy as usual, it will be more the Horses Of Disney...

Once you get in the front gate, the horse you're most likely to see is one of the Trolley Horses

See this interesting article about the Disney Trolley Horse Herd . Their job is to travel down Main Street between the entrance and Cinderella's Castle.

At the center of the park is a round-about with a statue of Walt Disney, who was reportedly an avid equestrian, and Mickey. Surrounding the round-about are these white horse head posts.

At the far side of Disneyland is the attraction "It's A Small World". While I did catch a few horses in the various country displays (which were difficult to photograph without flash photography) I did capture this equine topiary as our Small World boat traveled through the gardens on it's way in.

Just inside Cinderella's Castle are two beautiful horse head's atop a couple of souvenir displays

They're not far from what I call the Coconut Carousal. Every single horse on the carousal is white, much like my horse, Coconut Macaroon.

I've noticed that not all in positions I would call "well behaved" so I chose my steed carefully. I found a Coconut who seemed somewhat collected...

In a rare moment, my family joined me on a horseback ride...

Larissa's Coconut seems to have a little head tossing issue, but it appears she had a good time...

..and Les' Coconut appears to have been pulling on the bit....

Corey was "Benched" :-/ but at least he went on the ride. (I opted not to take a photo of him on his bench). I, however, was very happy to ride...

Many of the popular Disney films have horses in them. I believe all of the Princes in the Princess themed movies have had a horse and then there was even a whole horse themed animation film, Spirit: Stallion of Cimerron. But one of the most beloved horses is Bullseye, Woodies trusty friend in the Toy Story films. The first "Bullseye" I met didn't exactly seem "trusty"

But a little later I met this charming young man playing with his "Bullseye". It wasn't until I approached his Mom to ask if I could snap a photo of him playing with his new pony friend that I noticed he was actually dressed AS Woody.

I just loved the smile on his face as he played with Bullseye but when my camera came out his brother showed up with mickey ice creams and so I missed the adorable playing shot but I did get this one where he asked Bullseye if he wanted a bite!

There's a new Disney animated movie coming out, Tangled, that tells a new tale of Rapunzel and features a white horse named Maximus as a main character. In one of the shops I found a whole Maximus herd

I carried one around until I could find a place to get a single shot for detail

This next horse is not a Disney horse but it was on the shoulder of my Sister-in-law, Tonya. It held snacks and sweaters for my nieces, Nya & Quinci

Ok, Yes, I gave it to them....

Just to show how much Disney loves horses, I ran across this random mural in Frontierland

...and finally...while there's no horse in this shot I thought I'd share this one last Disney Horse moment...

When I turned in my "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" volunteer voucher they gave me a button to wear during my visit. Disney has this great program for helping people celebrate things like birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoon, first time to Disneyland, etc...and when you wear these buttons (some with your name written on them) the cast members will say things like "Happy Birthday " or Happy Anniversary, etc... for me I was both thanked for volunteering and asked what I volunteered to do.

In California Adventure I waited in line to see Santa & he actually asked me what I had done to volunteer. When I told him I work with a horse rescue group, he gave me a very appreciative smile and said "I love horses, myself...they're a bit like my reindeer!" So there you have it....Santa loves horses too!

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