A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….Halt. Wrong opening. Let’s try again. A long time ago in the late ’70s my parents relocated to Baton Rouge and we settled in a brick house in a cute neighborhood. Down the street and around the corner lived another little girl the same age as me. Her name, Jerri. I remember going to her garage sale when I was three or four – before we officially met – and my mom bought me a bag of Little People. Anyway, in 1980 we started kindergarten at the same school and continued on until eighth grade. Jerri was always fun and lively and simply put, a really, really nice optimistic person. She was and still is the kind of person about whom others say, I wish I had her confidence. I moved to Dallas in 1989 and lost track of most of my childhood friends but fast forward to today and, thanks to Facebook, Jerri and I (and most of our other school friends) are in touch. Following Jerri I realized not what an inspiration she has become to others (keep reading for more on her amazing running feats) but she is an absolute Disney fanatic. True: Disney isn’t just for kids. Oh, and she takes the most fun #selfies ever. I’ve been wanting to interview her about her love of Disney World/The Most Magical Place on Earth and figured what better day to post it than her 40th birthday! Happy Birthday, Jerri! Here goes…
Tell us about yourself
My boyfriend and I have two cats, named Mickie and Tigger. Of course they have Disney names, but Mickie is named after Mickey because she has a Mickey Mouse birthmark right on her nose! And Tigger is very bouncy and fun!
How many times have you been to Walt Disney World and when did your adoration
I have a Mickey Mouse birthmark on my leg, so I was born to love Disney! I’ve always loved Disney movies, characters and cartoons. And I always wanted to go to Walt Disney World, but never had the chance to go until March of 1998. I was hooked! It was so amazing, so much fun, and so magical! I have been 24 times, and will be going back in one month for my 25th trip, when Magic Kingdom will be open for 24 hours!
I enjoy from the moment you enter Disney property, you feel like you are in a completely different place. It’s like you’re somewhere else, where everyday things and worries do not exist. Each park has such attention to detail that you become a part of the Disney magic and storytelling and find yourself ready for whatever comes next! There are so many things to do, so it’s not the same trip every time, trust me! Of course, I always make time for my favorite rides, attractions, and treats, but every time I go, I always make sure to do something new or something I haven’t done in a long time. And I love how Disney celebrates the holidays like Halloween and Christmas. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party is so much fun, and dressing up is a treat! Seeing the Disney parks decorated for Christmas is wonderful – so much to see and experience!
Do you have any Disney collections from your visits?
Yes, a LOT of pictures! And I like to collect pins that celebrate something new, a holiday, my favorite rides, or my favorite characters. But I don’t trade pins, they’re all mine, LOL!
You’re a runner. How many races have you run and tell us about your RunDisney experiences.
I have run six half marathons (13.1 miles), one 10 miler, nine 10-ks (6.2 miles) and 42 (!) 5ks (3.1 miles). My first and last half marathons were both RunDisney races, and there is nothing like it! I have been running since 2011 and my favorite races are definitely RunDisney races! My first half marathon was Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November 2013. My running partners Amber, Amy and I were Huey, Dewey and Louie! It was an amazing race! Disney always finds so many ways to make your experience magical! My most recent RunDisney races in February 2015 were the Enchanted 10k (I dressed as Ariel) and the Princess Half Marathon (I dressed as Princess Leia). They were on back-to-back days. Running through and to the Disney parks, meeting characters and meeting other runners along the way makes a RunDisney race unlike any other race experience. I highly recommend a RunDisney race to any Disney fan! But sign up as soon as the event goes on sale, space is limited and they sell out FAST! www.rundisney.com
Is there anything you haven’t done at Disney that you want to do?
YES! I have not had the courage to ride the Tower of Terror. It’s the one ride at Disney that I have never been on. But I will be riding it next month to celebrate my 25th trip and my first Star Wars weekend! My friends Sharon and Amy will be there to hold my hand, LOL! There are several other rides and attractions that I haven’t experienced yet at the different parks, so I always try to work another one in during each trip.
On my last trip, I thought it would be fun to get the characters to “take” the selfie with me. Of course, since Mickey doesn’t have fingers, we got a little help! I have been taking selfies for 20 years, I called them self-portraits back in the day. I think the key to a great selfie is to hold your camera a little higher than you, not lower than eye level. I like to get the park icons in my selfies, but I also like special spots that not everyone thinks of – like right after touching down on Splash Mountain, while waiting in line for Star Tours, making scary faces in and around the Haunted Mansion, our feet during Soarin’ and any time I find a Hidden Mickey!
What are your most valuable tips for the most magical experience?
Plan ahead and do your research! I’m not saying you need to have your trip structured down to the minute, but take some time beforehand to talk to people who have been to WDW, study the park maps, know the park hours, make a couple of reservations at places you would like to eat at, and get your FastPasses in advance! Make sure you do a few things you’ve always wanted to do for your first trip. And anytime you need help, call 407-WDISNEY because they can answer ANY question about Walt Disney World! The best tip for a magical experience is to travel with people you love! Whether it’s with family, friends, or both, or even a girls’ weekend, Walt Disney World is best experienced with people that mean the most to you in the world!
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