Find a Happy Place

First and foremost, I wanted to once again thank the lovely and talented Heather for steering the good ship NGN while I was away. The posts she wrote while I was gone were fantastic, and if you haven’t read them yet, I suggest you do so ASAP.


About a week ago, I returned home from another fabulous trip to Walt Disney World. I’ve said many times that I see WDW as my personal “happy place”—the place where I am the best, brightest, and happiest version of myself. Every time I visit WDW, I feel encouraged to be unashamedly enthusiastic about the things I love, and if that’s not balm for a fangirl’s soul, then what is?

I’ve written about Star Wars Weekends at WDW before (and I’m sure I’ll do so again at some point this summer), so I’ll try to keep this brief, but I think there’s no better representation of the way WDW fosters a true sense of community and joy among nerds of all kinds than this annual celebration of all things Star Wars. From the impassioned cheers when the movies’ theme begins playing before the park opens to the thunderous applause after the fireworks end at the conclusion of the day’s festivities, my Star Wars Weekends experience this year was once again filled with a sense of shared excitement and fun unlike anything else I’ve ever felt as a fangirl.

This year more than any other, though, I was reminded that all of WDW—not just Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends—is a place where people come together to experience what I feel is the very essence of fandom: celebrating what makes you happy and sharing that happiness with those around you.

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Fangirl Thursday: Favorite Fan Experiences

Today at NGN, I’m kicking off what I hope will turn into a fun weekly feature: Fangirl Thursdays! This was inspired by some of my lovely commenters/Twitter followers (you know who you are), who always seem to find Thursdays a particularly good day for being enthusiastic about our fandoms (especially when Thursdays meant Once Upon a Time sneak peeks). It was also inspired by how much fun I’ve been having discussing the happiest of fandom topics over at TVexamined during Heather’s “Month of Love.”

Every Thursday, I want to celebrate the enthusiasm that comes with being a fangirl (or fanboy—don’t think you’re excluded from the fun, guys). I’ll start with a story about something that gets me excited about fandom—whether it’s about TV, movies, books, or the general experiences that come with being a passionate fan. But what I really want these posts to be is a place for you to share your stories. We have some great discussions here at NGN, so let’s carve out some time every Thursday to have even more of them!

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

Those words from F. Scott Fitzgerald speak to the essence of being a fan. Being a part of a fandom is like finding a little place in the world where you feel accepted; it’s like finding a community of people who understand you on a fundamental level because they understand what it’s like to love something that you also love. No matter the fandom—whether it’s for a book series, TV show, video game, or sports team—what makes these communities so special is the sense of belonging they instill in their members. When you’re around fellow fans, you don’t feel judged for caring the way you do about the things that you love; you feel welcomed and encouraged to be as passionate as you want to be.

When members of a fandom come together, it’s a truly special thing. There’s a sense of unity and enthusiasm that can’t be matched. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in more shared fandom experiences than I can count—from midnight releases for movies to playoff sports games—and they all share one common trait: excitement.

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My Disney Side

First of all, I just want to take another chance to thank Heather for the brilliant job she did over here while I was enjoying my little hiatus. Everything she wrote was excellent, so if you didn’t check out her posts, stop what you’re doing and do it now!


As many of you know, I recently returned from a blissful Walt Disney World vacation. Last year, I wrote about how a trip to WDW always brings out my best self. It’s my “happy place,” the place where I find myself acting closest to the person I always want to be.

This years theme around the Disney Parks is “Show Your Disney Side.” For some people (including many who rocked their Disney sides with my sister and I at the 24-Hour Disney Day last Friday), their Disney side is represented by a specific Disney character: Mickey’s joy, the Evil Queen’s poise, Elsa’s strength, Rapunzel’s enthusiasm.


What’s my Disney side? That’s a question I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I think my Disney side is the side of me that is at its strongest when I’m within the confines of Disney World. It’s my happy side, my positive side, and my enthusiastic side. In short, it’s the side that I also try to bring to everything I do here at Nerdy Girl Notes.

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The Force Was With Me

How can you make a Disney World vacation even more wonderful than usual? By adding Star Wars characters, of course!

Jango Fett did not seem impressed by my winning smile.

Jango Fett did not seem impressed by my winning smile.

If you love Star Wars, you have to get yourself to one of the Star Wars Weekends held at Hollywood Studios every May and June. It was an experience I’ll never forget and probably one of my favorite days spent in a Walt Disney World theme park (and that is high praise coming from me!).

Our Star Wars Weekends experience began before the park gates officially opened. A fantastic preshow to the day’s festivities happened along Hollywood Boulevard, with two Stormtroopers standing guard over the guests waiting to be let into the rest of the park. One of the best parts of Star Wars Weekends is the cheeky personality given to each Stormtrooper, and this preshow introduced them in a great way.


Before entering the rest of the park, we had to pass by this guy.

At the end of Hollywood Boulevard—in front of the iconic Sorcerer Mickey Hat—there was a giant stage that was the center of the action during Star Wars Weekends. As the day began, the classic Star Wars theme music blared from the park’s speaker system and a narrator gave an overview of the day’s events—from the afternoon parade featuring beloved Star Wars characters to special interview shows with celebrities held throughout the day.

My family and I attended one of those interview shows—Stars of the Saga—which featured guest emcee James Arnold Taylor (the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Star Wars: The Clone Wars) interviewing two giants of the original trilogy: Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian). Held in a special theater near the Streets of America, this is one Star Wars Weekends event I would recommend to everyone. Even if you only have a passing knowledge of Star Wars, it’s pretty cool to tell people you were in a room with Chewbacca.

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Where Magic Lives


I have a lot of interests, a lot of passions. Some I’ve only developed recently (I’m looking at you, A Song of Ice and Fire), and some have been with me for most of my life (my devotion to books). But a select few have been a part of my life before my earliest memories; they are such an intrinsic part of the fabric of who I am that I can’t separate my identity from their influence—not that I would ever want to.

Walt Disney World is one of those passions.

Having some fun in the new Tangled bathroom area of the Magic Kingdom on my latest Disney World trip.

Having some fun in the new Tangled bathroom area of the Magic Kingdom on my latest Disney World trip.

I’ve been traveling to Disney World with my family since I was a toddler, and it’s beyond just my favorite place on Earth. It’s my happy place. Everyone has one—the place where you feel most like the best version of yourself. Disney World is a place where you’re taught that you’re never too old to hope for happy endings, where the possibility of magic is around every corner. And in the words of the great Rick Castle:

If you don’t believe in even the possibility of magic, you’ll never ever find it.

I found magic in Disney World when I was a little girl, and the beauty of that place is that I still find it more than two decades later. I find magic in everything from the smiles of kids meeting their favorite characters for the first time to the music they play as you exit the park at night. Magic lives in the lobby of every hotel, in the light from each firework, and in the kindness of each Cast Member.

Nerdy Girl Notes was started as a place to celebrate the unironic enthusiasm we all have for the things that mean the most to us. Disney World has always been the best example of something that—no matter how old I get or how cynical the world around me becomes—I will always be unironically enthusiastic about.

I don’t remember a time in my life before I knew what it was like to ride on Dumbo, hug Mickey Mouse, and turn the corner on Main Street to see Cinderella’s Castle in all its glory standing before me. My childhood was filled with memories of character meals, learning Spanish on the monorail, and waiting in line for Peter Pan’s Flight. My adolescence was filled with adventures on Star Tours, first times on Space Mountain and Test Track, and trying all kinds of new foods around World Showcase. And now, as an adult, I still find joy in the little moments—from the first bite of a Disney cupcake to the last drop on Splash Mountain.

I was a Disney kid, and now I’m a Disney kid-at-heart. I believe in happily ever after, the power of wishes, and that a dream can be a dream come true—with just that spark in me and you.