Disneyland Wisdom

45 Life Lessons from the Happiest Rides on Earth

by Deanna Washington | Release Date: December 11, 2017 | Availability: Print

Messages from the Mouse

In addition to the hidden Mickeys scattered throughout Disneyland, there are hidden messages in every major Disney ride, show, and even iconic foods like Dole Whips. These messages are meaningful: they will guide you to a better life.

Deanna Washington has studied the symbolism of Disneyland, and interpreted what she found into 45 motivational lessons. Discover your hidden talents with Dumbo. Let the happy haunts of the Haunted Mansion help you discard the baggage attached to your corruptible mortal state. Find redemption with Pinocchio.

This is your E-ticket to enlightenment!

Table of Contents


Lesson 1: Alice in Wonderland

Lesson 2: Astro Orbiter

Lesson 3: Autopia

Lesson 4: Big Thunder Mountain

Lesson 5: Buzz Lightyear

Lesson 6: Casey Jr. Circus Train

Lesson 7: Churro

Lesson 8: Corn Dog

Lesson 9: Disneyland Railroad

Lesson 10: Dole Whip Soft Serve

Lesson 11: Dumbo

Lesson 12: Enchanted Tiki Room

Lesson 13: Fantasmic

Lesson 14: Finding Nemo Submarine

Lesson 15: Fireworks

Lesson 16: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

Lesson 17: Haunted Mansion

Lesson 18: Horse-drawn Streetcar

Lesson 19: Indiana Jones

Lesson 20: It’s a Small World

Lesson 21: Jungle Cruise

Lesson 22: King Arthur’s Carrousel

Lesson 23: Mad Tea Party

Lesson 24: Main Street Cinema

Lesson 25: Mark Twain Riverboat

Lesson 26: Matterhorn Bobsled

Lesson 27: Mickey’s House

Lesson 28: Mickey’s Ice Cream Bar

Lesson 29: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Lesson 30: Parade

Lesson 31: Peter Pan

Lesson 32: Pinocchio

Lesson 33: Pirates of the Caribbean

Lesson 34: Popcorn

Lesson 35: Roger Rabbit

Lesson 36: Sleeping Beauty

Lesson 37: Snow White

Lesson 38: Space Mountain

Lesson 40: Star Tours

Lesson 41: Storybook Land

Lesson 42: Tarzan’s Treehouse

Lesson 43: Tom Sawyer’s Island

Lesson 44: Turkey Leg

Lesson 45: Winnie the Pooh

Index of Attributes

Let’s cozy down together. I’m going to tell you a story about a silly woman, a woman who, for no practical reason at all, fell in love with Disneyland when she was in her 40s.

She starting going to support her teenage son’s dream to become a Disneyland Imagineer...but she kept finding reasons to sneak down the seven-hour drive to Anaheim by herself. She told herself it was because Disneyland is “a good place to write” but really, it was a place to tap into her Peter Pan instincts, to play and have no responsibilities.

Yes, she got a lot of writing done. But she also soothed her soul as she drank in the Disneyland details, the artistry, the music, the characters, the nature, the ambiance.

She tried to stay away, telling herself it was silly, but she would get such longings in her heart that her crazed mind would negotiate ways to sneak down after all, so that she braved the desert freeway and ventured into that magical world at least every six weeks.

December 17, 2015 was the second anniversary of her dear mother’s passing, and of course she spent the day at Disneyland. On that day, her soul (or perhaps whispers from her angel-mother) gave her the idea to create paintings of her beloved rides, and then write about what each ride meant to her. She would paint and write one a week for the next year. Perhaps someday she would share her paintings and writings with someone. But in the painting and writing she got to extend the feeling of being there just a little longer, and that was enough.

Dear reader, can you believe it? Here we are, two years later to the date, and her book of paintings and writings is as real and complete as Disneyland itself. If you would like to see the illustrations in color you may view them at: www.disneyZest.com/ride-reviews.

With a grateful heart, she shares Disneyland Wisdom with you. And, well, so do I, for I am she.

The happy haunts have a message for you from the other side. Their mansion isn't about fear and jump scares; it's about forgiveness and letting go.

More is written about the Haunted Mansion than any other Disneyland ride. Its laborious 12 years in the making, its multiple premise and repeated refusal by Walt, disagreements about whether it should be funny or scary (which was a discussion still in flux when Walt passed away), the invention of the people conveyor, as well as its multiple interesting characters all add to the mythology, backstory and delight of the Haunted Mansion.

Walt wanted the mansion exterior to be pristine in his park. The grounds, including a people and pet cemetery, comply with the well-manicured pillared mansion.

You start with the cast who usher you into the elevator and then the Doom Buggies; they are the only Disneyland cast instructed to NOT smile to guests.

After the entrance hall, you ride from the séance room with Madame Leota to the banquet room with ghosts dancing, hanging from chandeliers, blowing out candles, swooping in through the walls from the room next door. Then to the attic with the opportunistic bride who somehow gets a new string of pearls when one after another of her husbands meet their untimely, peculiar deaths. Then to the graveyard with ghosts playing, singing and drinking, disembodied parts all greeting you with grins. And finally, you’re visited by the hitchhiking ghosts—which one will follow you home? Gus, Ezra or Phineas?

Message from This Ride

This ride asks how many haunts might be following you around, and how quick are you to add one more? What ghosts have you allowed to come home with you? What old, dead, decayed ideas, thoughts or conclusions take space in your life?

Are you a person who sighs a lot? Have you considered that those sighs might be the ghosts that haunt you? Your regrets, embarrassments, moments that have escaped that you would do anything to recover and do over. These are the haunts of self-anger and even hatred.

Every time we forgive ourselves for a perceived wrong-doing—or forgive others for hurting us—we send a haunt away from us. Next time you catch yourself sighing, see it for the ghost-of-the-past that it is. Then take in another deep breath and sigh out release.


Are you someone’s ghost? Do you refuse to let people forget the wrongdoing they did to you? How many years of punishment do they have to endure before you let them go?

Think of this: negativity directed at another is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.

Free yourself by allowing yourself to forgive. Do it for your own sake. It is a matter of life.

Continued in "Disneyland Wisdom"!

It's just popcorn, right? You buy a bag, maybe even spring for a souvenir container, and then eat it till it's gone. But there's a kernel of profundity down there at the bottom: popcorn represents potential and preparation.

Disneyland popcorn is some of the best in the world. It is popped with coconut, corn and canola oil, but that’s just the beginning. Every one of the eight popcorn carts throughout the park is bedecked with “Roastie-Toasties,” little mechanical people that turn the drum of full popcorn. Each cart has its own Roastie-Toastie theme: there is a Rocketeer in Tomorrowland, the Abominable Snowman from Matterhorn in Fantasyland, on Main Street you will find Dapper Dan, and Davy Crockett is in New Orleans Square—unless it is Halloween. Then the Ooogie Boogie picks up the crank. You find the rest!

Message from This Snack

Popcorn is a miracle of nature. Not only is life trapped in the seed, but a totally different form is waiting to burst out if put to the fire.

Popcorn symbolizes positive growth, new ideas and potential, and Disneyland popcorn adds the benefit of a little help, a little bit of magic. If you notice the unexplained, know that your little “Roastie-Toastie” is helping you out.


There is so much to enjoy in just watching good things happen to popcorn. We are happy spectators: oh the sound! the smell! the anticipation! Your preparation and hard work is paying off. There isn’t much you have left to do but to enjoy the process.

Continued in "Disneyland Wisdom"!

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