Aloha, Jambo, Hi! I’m Kristi, the Social Media Director for The Kingdom Insider and the face you’ve been seeing all over their social media and website. It’s been a few months since I signed on with The Kingdom Insider and my number one goal is to make all of you feel like, you got a friend in me (Sorry, my kids are watching Toy Story right now, I couldn’t help myself). In the typical “Influencer” terminology, I strive to be my authentic self and to be as transparent as possible with all of you. Now, In “Disney Mom” talk- I will show you the good, the bad, and the meltdowns. I’ll share my personal stories, experiences and all my Disney Mom tips and tricks along the way. I’m constantly referencing being a “boy mom,” but that doesn’t make me any better than every other mom out there. Listen up mamas, we’re all in this together (Yes, I said that in my Disney’s High School Musical voice).
I want you to be able to ask me anything and feel like you can always relate to me. To do that, I need to open myself up to all of you and let you know a couple of things about me. I want you to know where my love of all things Disney comes from, my family (including our happy times and the struggles that most families have, especially ones with little kids), and I’ll give you some interesting facts about me.
Before I get into my family and the details of my life, I have to explain my love for Walt Disney World, the man who created it all- Walt, and the Mouse. I’m a born and raised Disney girl and have been coming to the happiest place on Earth since I was 3 years old. What started as one simple family vacation, turned into our yearly family trip (often, much more than once a year). Although I’ve stayed at most of the resorts, the Polynesian (or as I call it, The Poly) is my home. I blame the magic of Disney nostalgia for my obsession, so much so, I once wrote an entire article about the magic of its nostalgia. You can read that article, here- https://thekingdominsider.com/59146-2/
Walt Disney World is the keeper of my happiest childhood memories, and in this particular season of my life, I find myself having what I call- “Circle of Life” Moments. As I take my children to Disney, I’m experiencing things with them that I did as a child and with my family, on top of the fact that we are creating our own Disney traditions and memories as a family. It’s a magical thing.
My husband and I both grew up in Connecticut. We met in college at the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). When he met me, it didn’t take long for my Disney side to show. He hadn’t been there for years and was probably taken back by my love for it. Luckily, it didn’t scare him away (because let’s be real, what girl would rather Spring Break with a mouse than on a tropical island?), and our first trip together was to Disney World. Needless to say, he was hooked and understood why I loved it so much. From there on, we continued to vacation at Disney and when we were getting married and had to choose a honeymoon destination, I don’t think we even considered anywhere else but Disney. Does it get any better than Club Level at the Grand Floridian for a honeymoon? In the words of Olaf, “Nope!”
After our wedding, we purchased a home and settled into married life in Newtown, CT. In the Winter of 2013, I found out we were expecting our first child. I was thrilled. I had always wanted to be a mother. It’s not that I’m not a career woman, and I certainly don’t lack ambition, I just always felt in my heart that I was meant to be a mommy and it’s what I was put on this Earth to be. The exact day it was confirmed by my doctor that I was pregnant was December 14, 2013. I don’t expect most women to remember the specific date their pregnancy was confirmed to them. I remember it because that was the day our lives as Newtown residents changed forever. I came home with my first ultrasound picture in hand, to find helicopters flying around our house, news vehicles from all over the country lining the streets, and to the news of what just took place at Sandy Hook School. I had just been given this amazing news, news I wanted to hear since the moment we were married, and within minutes happiness left my body and fear took over. How could I bring a child into this world, what is happening with humanity?
The tragedy changed our lives, but being the eternal optimist I am, I always look for the bright side or silver lining. A town, maybe even a nation, started to teach our children about kindness. Yes, I know, we’ve always shown our kids how to be polite and nice. But I mean, really instilling in them at an early age how to accept everyone no matter their differences and to always be kind. Kindness can be helping a friend out, sitting with your classmates on the bus when no one else is, or even just a simple smile to someone could change their day. Needless to say, kindness is huge in our house and I tell my kids it’s free- we should be sprinkling it everywhere!
Sandy Hook came and went, the country moved on and so did our family. In January 2015, we were expecting our second child and couldn’t be happier. I went through the normal second-time mom thoughts like, “how can I love another child as much as I loved my first?” Trust me, you can and you will. It’s a different love, but equally as wonderful. One child made me a mother, the other child completed our family and made us whole. We continued to raise our children and after a few years, my husband and I started talking about potentially relocating our family to Florida. Sure enough, and with after having to say some hard goodbyes to our entire family and life we created in CT, we packed up and moved to South Florida. We had always talked about living in Florida and both felt like if we were ever going to do it, that was the time. Both of our kids hadn’t even started school at this point.
Here we are, a year and a half later and settled into our new life. I returned to work full time for a few months, but my kids needed me and stuff got real when I realized the cost of childcare basically costs the same as yearly tuition at an in-state college. I searched for a position where I could utilize what I went to school for, which was Communications and Marketing, while also working from home. I’m an elder Millenial and social media comes naturally to me which is what lead me to the social media side of companies and businesses.
To quote Disney, “fate steps in and sees you through,” perfectly describes how I came to be apart of The Kingdom Insider. It’s been a dream come true for me. I’ve always wanted to work for Disney in some capacity and The Kingdom Insider provides me with those opportunities. Now that you know a little about where I come from, and why I’m suddenly living in your phone through social media, I’d love to share some fast facts about myself with you!
1. I Performed at Walt Disney World
For 18 years of my life, I was a professionally trained dancer. My dream was to always be a performer at Walt Disney World. I wasn’t able to achieve that dream, at least not in the traditional way of walking through those doors at Casting and being cast as a performer.
When I was 13, my competitive dance team entered a dance competition that took place in Walt Disney World. We ended up taking the title of National Champions for the entire competition, and I got to perform my dance solo on the stage at Tomorrow Land (where the dance parties are currently being held). The competition was also the 25th Anniversary of Walt Disney World and we got to march in the “Remember The Magic” Parade. Disney had sent the studio the parade choreography six weeks before the competition and I practiced those few simple steps of choreography like it was my job. It was a magical experience, something I will treasure forever, and was the closest I got to being a Disney performer.
2. I’m Obsessed With Disney History
No, but really, I’d love to be locked in the Disney Archives and look through anything and everything. The thought of getting a tour of Walt’s actual office in Burbank is enough to bring me to tears. I think what makes my love for Disney so complex is my love for Walt and how everything began. I can spend days on end learning about him, his Nine Old Men, Mary Blair, The Sherman Brothers, the stories of the original rides and attractions, and all aspects of how the Disney Company came to be. I’m a 90’s Disney kid and product of their renaissance era, so of course the Michael Eisner years intrigue me and I’m constantly reading books and articles about Disney through the nineties.
My love for the Disney Company’s history is so deep, I was once compelled to write Diane Disney Miller a letter to let her know. I had watched the documentary, “Walt: The Man Behind The Myth,” and wrote her immediately after. I explained to her how her father created something so special for so many families, and how it felt like he and Mickey were actually our family. I mentioned how one day I hoped to get out to Disneyland and then visit the Walt Disney Family Museum, a museum she had started. To my surprise, a month later, a letter arrived in the mail, from Diane. She thanked me for the kind words about her father, encouraged me to always carry Disney in my heart and she enclosed two tickets of admission to the museum. I haven’t made it out to California, but when I do, I’ll be buying tickets. I can’t bring myself to use the ones she actually gave me, especially since her passing.
3. Disney Bucket List
This goes hand in hand with my love for Disney history. My number one Disney bucket list item is to visit the studio in Burbank. Specifically, Walt’s office. As someone who loves Disney history, visiting his office and the other iconic places on the Disney Studios Lot would make my entire life.
I’d also love to meet Bob Iger. I know, that’s certainly reaching for the stars, so maybe just be in his presence and take a picture with him. Most think it’s odd that I have such an adoration for a CEO, but meeting him would be like meeting Walt Disney. I admire everything he has done during his time at Disney and I’m dreading the day he leaves. I worry about who they will replace him with, but that’s a whole other topic and article for another day. It’s so interesting to me his first few years as CEO, taking over everything Michael Eisner had in place. Bob Iger single handedly repaired a fractured relationship with Steve Jobs and Disney, and if it weren’t for him repairing that, we might not have all these beloved Pixar movies.
4. Disney’s DAS Pass is a Lifesaver
DAS stands for Disability Access Service. It allows for guests with disabilities to receive a return time for the rides. It’s been a lifesaver for our son. Our oldest, Jack, is on the spectrum. I’ve actually struggled to talk about this. It’s not that I’m embarrassed, it’s that our situation compared to others who have children on the spectrum, isn’t the same. Jack is verbal, he’s affectionate, he plays with other kids, he’s extremely mild on the spectrum and I know many other parents go through much worse things than we do. However, this is our unique situation and it’s our reality. Jack will still have his meltdowns, he will have a hard time with crowds and the heat, and many other obstacles we face during a Disney vacation. If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.
DAS has allowed Jack and our family to experience rides, we normally wouldn’t have been able to. Don’t kid yourself, it’s not a Fast Pass. We’ve gone up to rides (specifically Slinky Dog, his favorite) and been told to return in an hour. Fine by us, but for Jack, he has a hard time understanding why we are at the ride he wants to go on but has to walk away and come back in an hour. Think of DAS as a restaurant giving you a buzzer to return when your table is ready. I’m forever grateful to Disney for creating DAS and it just reaffirms my opinion that Disney is the most inclusive environment for families with a disability in their party. I have never felt judged, looked down upon or anything at Walt Disney World. When Walt said “To all who come to this happy place,” he really meant ALL people and Disney World lives that every day.
5. Elsa taught me to “Let It Go”
There is so much pressure on parents, especially mothers. There, I said it. It can weigh us down, affect how we treat our loved ones and can keep us up at night going over the events that occurred that day (and the to-do list we create ourselves for the next day). We are constantly surrounded by social media, Pitnerest, and all these other things that make us as mothers feel less than. I haven’t necessarily felt judged, but I have put unwanted stress and unrealistic expecatations on myself.
I wrote an article for The Kingdom Insider telling parents to channel their inner Elsa and to just let it go (You can read the article here- https://thekingdominsider.com/to-my-fellow-disney-moms-just-let-it-go/). Let everything go, especially when you’re in Walt Disney World. You can plan out your family’s matching outfits and your toddler will decide they want to wear the same t-shirt they’ve been wearing for three days that’s covered in churro sugar. You can plan your dining reservations 180 days out and actually get one of those coveted Ohana spots, but one hour before your child will decide they want a Mickey pretzel for dinner. If you hang onto the memories you thought you were going to make and spent time planning for, you’ll miss the ones you didn’t plan on. It’s been my experience that the moments you don’t plan for are the very best ones.
Mom life is hard. I wake up every day trying to be Mary Poppins and by the time I lay my head down I’ve turned into Maleficient. It happens. Things happen. But you have to channel our favorite Ice Queen and let it go.
That wraps up this article about me. It’s not exactly a quick read, but I hope you have a better understanding of myself and my goals with The Kingdom Insider. I’m always within reach and here to answer any questions or comments you have. Remember, you are enough and if you’re a parent- you’re doing a good job.