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December Column Glo Magazine: Aren’t You a Little Old To Be a Disney Princess?

She is the 59-year-old wife of a former Corellian smuggler, the mother of three, a politician, revolutionary and trained warrior. Although she is a far cry from the doe-eyed ingénue I first saw in the summer of 1977, when she returns to the big screen this month after a 32-year hiatus, she will become my favorite “Disney” princess for all time. She is Leia Organa of Alderaan.

Now, before you purists out there start sending in the hate mail disputing whether or not Leia qualifies as a true Disney princess, let me ask you this: Has she ever gotten lost in the woods? Is she missing at least one parent and have strained relations with the other? Does she have an assortment of cute, comical sidekicks? Does she have a rogue boyfriend? Does she sport a trademark hairstyle? I rest my case. Let’s move on…

Leia           I was five-years-old when I “met” the adopted daughter of Bail and Breha Organa and believe me, it was love at first sight. I was among that first wave of kids who stood in line to see Star Wars at the local single-screen movie theater back when there was only one movie and before George Lucas redefinied numerical order as we knew it. Like a lot of little girls I had been raised on a steady diet of traditional fairy-tale princesses who sang to woodland creatures and cleaned house until their prince came to carry them away but Leia was a princess for a new generation. She had the bravery of Merida, the moxie of Mulan, the beauty of Belle and understood difficult hairstyles better than Rapunzel herself!

Leia may have been a damsel and she may have been in distress, but her reactions to peril are anything but conventional. She had no trouble talking back to authority. She could take charge of any situation. She knew how to wield a weapon when necessary and Lord help the scruffy-looking nerfherder who got in her way. She was an iconic character who was everything I wanted to be when I grew up: strong, courageous, independent and vital to the storyline. She was the epitome of a feminist role model long before I knew what the term even meant.

Leia2          I find it interesting that my mother introduced me to classic “house of mouse” royalty such as Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but it was my father who first took me to see Star Wars. My dad gave me a princess who didn’t need a ball gown or a great pair of shoes to make an impression on those around her, but possessed a spirit and spunk big enough to outshine any fashion statement including buns, braids and even a metal bikini. She may have been a princess in need of rescuing, but throughout the course of the original trilogy, she does a fair amount of rescuing herself. Not only does she blast her way into a garbage chute in order to escape certain death, she co-pilots the Millennium Falcon twice, rescues Han from carbon freeze, kills the creep who objectifies her, and still manages to take down her enemy after getting shot in the shoulder. What more could a little girl want?

Leia 3            How about a princess who knows how to age gracefully? That’s right folks, according to the latest trailer for Episode VII, it appears that the good people in charge of the Star Wars universe have decided not to give Leia a Disney makeover. Based on the footage I have seen it’s obvious that after 40 years, the clock is well past midnight, the glass slipper no longer fits and it’s OK to be a little older, a little wiser and yes, even a little grayer. While all of the other princesses have been restored, remastered or digitally enhanced so that they look as good as they did when they first arrived, Leia proves you don’t have to look as you did a “long time ago” even if you do live in a galaxy far, far away.

Although I initially struggled with the idea of Disney owning the rights to the Star Wars franchise and making new movies, I’ve made my peace with it. I am even OK with Leia taking her rightful place as a Disney princess. She is one of the most well-written female characters of all time and no doubt she paved the way for people like Hermonie Granger, Katniss Eberdeen and even Mia Thermopolis (The Princess Diaries.) She is a personality who stands the test of time and proves over and over that she is still a “force” to be reckoned with.

Welcome back, your highness. It’s good to see you again.

Follow Julie Young on Twitter: @JulieYoung14

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Fabulous Fridays: Seven Special Memories of Walt Disney World

Last year, I did a FF post about my favorite experiences at Walt Disney World and I thought that I would do it again in commemoration of my latest sojourn to the Happiest Place on Earth. So here are the seven most magical moments of my trip:
Disney wedding       1. My Wedding: Getting married at the Grand Floridian Hotel (the last hotel that I stayed at with my mother) was a wonderful experience made even better by the presence of my oldest friend in the world, Robi. I often joke that I have only known my parents longer than I have known her and she is truly one of my BFFs because when you go through as much as we have been through together…it’s the kind of friendship that is birth to earth!
wedding 3        2. The Castle Photo shoot: For some brides, the pinnacle of the wedding day is the reception, the cake, or some other big splurge and I am no different. However my big splurge was a castle photo shoot. To my surprise and delight, we not only took photos at Cinderella’s castle, but also the fountain behind it, at the Be Our Guest Restaurant and in other areas of Fantasyland! (This entry is tied with my wedding reception which was held at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian and was attended by Cinderella and Prince Charming.)
It's a small world   3. Celebrating “It’s a Small World’s” 50th Anniversary: Yes, it’s a cheesy song and if you aren’t into little marionettes, it’s probably not the kind of ride for you, but it is historic and in my opinion, the kind of ride you have to go on…it’s a true Disney classic
Mickey Jedi   4. Jedi Mickey is a Doctor Who Fan: While at our “Fantasmic” dinner package that coincided with Star Wars Weekend, we spent a little time with the Mouse who not only started pantomiming the actions of a Weeping Angel, when he realized how much my youngest son looked like Tom Baker, I thought the poor rodent was going to come out of character! We campaigned hard to get a TARDIS in EPCOT (Mickey agreed with us, by the way) and Mickey even asked us (in his own non-verbal way) where a certain “scarf” was. He also indicated that he thought bow ties were cool….now, some may say I am crazy, but in looking at the photos, I can’t help noticing that Mickey’s smile grew a little bigger after he made the connection between my kid and the Guy from Gallifrey.

Brave         5. Meeting new friends: I love a good character and Lord knows Disney is full of them. It’s always nice to get pictures of some of your favorites, but it’s even better when you get to see some friends you haven’t seen before! During this trip, we were able to meet the Beast, Woody and Jesse, Pocahontas, the Mad Hatter, Buzz Lightyear and Merida from Brave! (I love her hair.) I wanted to meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen, but after hearing that their Fast Passes were booked six months in advance and the stand by line was five HOURS, I decided to “let it go.”

EPCOT people6. The People: Disney does their job like no one else in the world and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the numerous men and women who made our trip so special. From our housekeeper Norma who left me flowers and other little gifts throughout our stay to the monorail gentleman who told us how John Lennon signed his “Beatles break-up” contract at the Polynesian Hotel and the woman in Ariel’s grotto who was born in the same hotel as Paul McCartney, it is so cool to meet people from all over the world and learn more about them. Trust me on this…if you are in Disney World, take the time to strike up a conversation…you never know who you might meet.

Be our Guest            7. The Be Our Guest Restaurant: I managed to book a reservation for this place on a last ditch effort at 2 a.m. a few days before we arrived. This is the only place in the Magic Kingdom in which you can meet the Beast and I am here to tell you…it’s impressive. The dining room looks just like the ballroom from the famous animated movie and the food is fantastic! I think it may have been the best steak I have ever eaten. Desert is included with the Disney Dining Plan and I highly recommend the Grey “Stuff”…it really is delicious!

What do you like best about Walt Disney World? Share your special memories below!

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