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Disneyland Article
A Walk In Jenna's Shoes
Steven Orsinelli
As pass holders to Disneyland I know there are times when we get a bit tired of the park when we have experienced the same rides and attractions for the millionth time around. If you have been reading any of past articles, you know how I feel about the subject. When I get these feelings I usually stay away from the park until I have to go back, and when I say "have to go back" I mean I literally "Have to go back" to escape reality for a short while to regain my sanity.

I have been a film instructor for the past 14 years or so teaching High School children in all aspects of basic filmmaking with an eye on the creation of short films. One of my lessons is the history of Walt Disney, including his Family, Animation, Television, Live action film, Parks, Music and more. After a week of the students learning the facts on the subject, I usually follow the lesson with a coveted trip to Disneyland Anaheim where the kids can experience the facts come to life.

My students as you can imagine get very excited about the idea of attending this trip, first off they get a day off of school, second they get to spend the day with close friends from class in the greatest place on earth. After the trip they are put into small production groups of 5 or 6 with a goal to write and produce a short Disney themed fairytale. They have about 5 weeks to write, produce edit and show the final film to kids in the film department, then the best go to our film festival held at the local digital theatre at the end of the year.

This year I have one student that had never been to Disneyland since she was baby. Her name is Jenna and she is 15 years old. Jenna was so excited about learning about Disney, that I think it made planning the trip really fun for the rest of us in class. Even those of us that have been to the park a thousand times started to get excited seeing the experience thought her eyes.

After talking and teaching her the historical facts, I soon realized that Jenna did not have a clue about what was in store for her. As a girl that has many talents in the way of performing and imagination, I knew that her visit there would be one she would never forget.

5:30 AM was the meet time at the school to load up the bus and head down the freeway. Most of the kids were tired, but a thread of excitement still ran though the crowd as the bus revved it's motor to get up to speed on the freeway. Next stop was Disneyland. As we entered the Mickey and Friends parking structure all the kids were out of their seats and ready to seize the day.

I quickly explained that they needed a partner or needed to be in a small group to be able to roam the park freely. They chose their comrades for the day, Jenna was with my son Blake, her friend Amanda who also had not been to the park since she was six, and another friend of theirs, Zack.

The mission was to have fun, but to keep on eye on what made the park amazing. I prepared them to be on the lookout for the tidbits of education I had given them about the history and secrets of the park. As I roamed the park that day with Jenna's Mother, I would see my students now and again running by me, or in line to a ride, or them yelling at me from the top of the double decker bus Mr.O, "we having so much fun!" All of them with smiles from ear to ear, it made me glad of all the planning I went through to make the trip happen.

A couple of hours into the trip Jenna's mother informed me that it was time for Jenna to take her shot. Jenna is a type one diabetic, after and hour or so we tracked Jenna and her motely crew down, she was having so much fun she did not want to leave the rides she had planned for the day. As Jenna's mom gave her the shot, Jenna looked at me almost tearfully, and said Mr.O thank you for taking me, this is the best place ever! I had no idea it would be this amazing, I never want to leave! I have to tell you folks, at that moment it made me feel like a million dollars. As I was basking in her statement I realized right then and there that Jenna had become a fan and would most likely start attending Disneyland allot more often than she previously had.

I started to think, wow from this first time visit by Jenna, on this first day in the park, it would probably spawn countless trips with future boyfriends, a husband and later children, and then maybe even her children's children. She would consume countless corn dogs, popcorn, sodas, ice cream, rides, music and a big helping scope of fantasy. All my fault? Gulp! That kind of set hard on me for a moment, had I created another die-hard Disney Freak like myself!

Woe to her future husband who if is anything like my wife, will dam the day my Mother first took me to this most amazing place. After about one minute I got over it and relished in that cute face of hers with the silly 5 year-old smile crisscrossing her face. It was all she could do to run away from us to get back to where she left off in the park to continue her new journey with the other students.

We met with Jenna another 8 times that day at various places in the park so her mom could give her the needed shots, normally Jenna did this herself, but she had been having a hard time with the doses and was forgetting when to administer the medicine. My admiration and heart went out to her mother Julie for her devotion to her daughters well being. As a fellow who has been to the park thousands of times, that day I had one of the best times ever at Disneyland. Just seeing and experiencing it all through Jenna and my other students eyes really made my year.

Students ran past us at times like little kids giggling and laughing, and I had to stop to steel a look at myself now and again. It was me that had the silly childlike grin on my face, and I was really, really happy to be there on this day with my kids. As always when I am experiencing a new feeling, it put me into "overthink mode" wondering how many impoverished children or kids whose parents that were barley squeaking by would never have the money, transportation and more to experience Disneyland in their young lives?

Wouldn't be a great job to have or start an organization that did just that! Kids apply to your company to visit the park, and you take them there to be their host and tour guide! Now that would be a perfect job for many of us eh?

In closing, the kids had an amazing time, they all thanked me on the bus very loudly, my chaperones Chris and Julie were amazing, Julie kept me in stiches all day long and was the perfect sidekick for the day. We returned home late that evening with the kids mostly asleep. As we speak, they are in their production groups making a "Disney type" fairytale short film, I'll share the outcome of their films more at another time.

If you know someone out there at any age that has not experienced the park, buy them and ticket and see Disneyland though their eyes, it's like seeing it for the first time yourself. It was cool seeing it from Jenna's perspective, it gives me chills thinking about it.

Until then .see you at the corn dog stand!

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