3 Money Saving Tips for Your Walt Disney World Vacation

The cost of a Walt Disney World vacation continues to rise, which means you need to find ways to stretch your dollar while in the Most Magical Place on Earth. That’s why your old friend Turkey Leg Jeff has put together these money-saving tips to help you get the most out of your vacation without breaking the bank.

Eat Off-Property

It’s no secret that you are paying a premium when you dine on Disney property. You are a captive audience and Disney isn’t sympathetic to your budget. Getting a rental car and hitting up the local Waffle House is a common way to save. Rental cars can get very pricey though—the gas, the insurance, and the parking fees add up pretty quickly. So forgo the rental cars in favor of a free option: a simple teleportation spell. All you need is a 10-foot circular area, a hooved quadruped, a vial of salt water, and 2 – 6 ounces of virgin blood.

Use a stick to draw your circle, wet the ground with the salt water, and smear the virgin blood on the animal while crying to the heavens “Auferas me de hac infernalis nocturnaque mundi!!” There’s no telling where you might wind up (though Myanmar, Bolivia, or southern Mozambique are some common places), but one thing is certain—the food will be cheaper than in Disney World. Stay tuned for a future blog post detailing how to get back to Lake Buena Vista.

Befriend a Duck

Lyle the Duck

Lyle can often be found in EPCOT’s China Pavilion.

Ducks have enjoyed a free ride at Disney World for over 40 years. They don’t pay for food or admission, and they are so thrifty… have you ever seen one sporting a set of mouse ears? Befriending a duck is a sure-fire way to learn the ins-and-outs of gratis Disney magic. An affable quacker can teach you tricks such as waiting patiently under counter service seats for dropped food, preying on the stupidity of children who don’t know how to read the “Don’t Feed the Ducks” signs, and fighting skills so you can grab the corndog nugget that was OBVIOUSLY MEANT FOR YOU from usurping ducks. Go to the China pavilion and find Lyle. Tell him Turkey Leg Jeff sent you and you’re in.

Sacrifice Livestock in the Name of Walter Elias Disney

The headline is pretty self-explanatory but very few tourists know this. If you sacrifice some of your local livestock in Walt’s name, his spirit may bless you or a member of your family with a counter service dessert, an extra FastPass (usually only good for Fantasyland attractions), or a strong Wi-Fi connection inside a Caribbean Beach Resort standard view room. Be sure to pick a member of your livestock community that you don’t have an emotional attachment to, as the ROI on this one can be pretty low.

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The Bay Lake Society Fight Club: Stump Crunchin’

There is a place beneath the Magic Kingdom, in a corner of the utilidors long-abandoned by the park’s cast members, where the mines of sulphur burn in the hearts of the people—where malice is the common tongue and blood is the currency. It is here, amid the water-stained concrete and the terrified rats, the dusty crates of old costumes and multiplying roaches, that the Bay Lake Society Fight Club meets.

The club’s weekly feasts of pain and truculence are a hovel for hatred itself. Bookies exploit the desperate-hearted looking to make ends meet. The aggressors combat for glory and the honor of fulfilling violence’s commands. And in the air, the heavy wrath of mankind sits and waits: waits for the offerings, waits to be fed. Tonight it will consume a repast of fear and despair.

******

She stands in the center of a ring of zealous belligerents, all of whom are chanting her name: STUMP! STUMP! STUMP! Her grey 2009 year merchandise sweatshirt is caked with the blood of her past victims. Her fuchsia leggings are ripped from the countless times that past sufferers had clung to her, begging for a mercy they were never shown. One such fool knelt at her feet even now—battered and bloodied, drained of will—with the audacity to beg for hope. Defiantly, Stump scans the faces in the crowd. Did any of them dare ask for clemency for this pathetic waif? More egregious, had any of them dared to bet against her? She knew that look well. The look in the eyes of an unbeliever, as if they’d fallen off the edge of a great precipice, that said their choice was folly and now they would plunge eternally into a chasm of despondency from which there could be only one sickening end—faith in her, the Stump Cruncher.

Her eyes locked with a young man dressed in white, tears in his eyes. His eyes begged for tomorrow, but tomorrow was not a gift that she was willing to give tonight. She raised her voice to the crowd and asked, “Who wants to see Hermioknee Painger?” The crowed roared its approval and the young man let loose his soul in a howl of unbearable anguish.

In a single move, she grabbed the waif’s head with both her hands and thrust it into her swiftly rising right knee. A revolting, wet crunch. A soft crumple as the limp body hit the floor. The deafening cries of elation from the maddening throng. A brief twitch. The man in white ran to the corpse to savor one last moment of warmth before the cold of goodbye. And then the insignificance of death.

Stump turned to face the bookie as the crowds parted to giver her a wide berth. He inclined his head to her, flashed a smirk and threw her a towel. She wiped the sweat from her forehead and tossed it to a member of the crowd, who clutched it fanatically to his cheek.

“How’d we do tonight, Drunkie?” she asked the bookie, then turned to a boy in tattered rags and snapped, “Get me a Kungaloosh, kid.” The boy scurried off as she gave him light kick.

“A record night, babe. We’re rolling in it. Give me a minute to count out your cut. Should be over two grand.”

“Make it quick, Drunkie. I want to get outta here before the fans are up my ass.”

“Yeah, yeah, be right back,” he said and walked over to the flimsy folding chair.

The boy returned and handed her a skull with a straw sticking out of the left eye socket. She grunted a thanks to the kid and gave him a light shove, signaling to leave her alone. The crowd had begun to calm and gather at the board at the far end of the room, which listed the night’s schedule. The next match was the main event. Bets were in for the night, so she knew she had maybe five minutes before the throngs descended on her, asking her for her autograph. Some of them would beg her to name them her next opponent. Fight or be excommunicated—a fate worse than the pain of The Circle. She entertained the notion of staying, of giving the people her attention. But she was tired, hungry, and ready to indulge the triumph of her victory alone. She walked over to the buffet and grabbed a turkey leg, sinking her teeth into the salty flesh. She felt the grease run down her chin and onto her sweatshirt. She turned as Drunkie approached with a sweaty wad of green. She snatched it out of his hand and began counting it, getting it wet with the sticky juices of the turkey leg.

“$2,153. It’s all there.”

“Yeah, don’t blame me for checking your math, Drunkie,” she growled at him through a plentiful bite of turkey.

“Your call, Stump. Hey, you staying? Glover’s gonna slay Burgen, I bet. Should be fun to watch.”

“Nah, punk. I told ya. I’m outta here.”

“What are you off to do?”

“Same thing I do every night: Stump Crunchin’.” Then she clubbed him playfully across the face with the turkey leg, slapped him on the back, pocketed her money, and strode down the long utilidor hall into the darkness.

Behind her, the crowd began to amplify as the announcer called out, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Bay Lake Society Fight Club, where we fight to live and live to fight. Tonight’s main event is a duel to the death between two of the club’s most fearsome competitors. Let them do as demons do and all your wishes will come true!”

The crowd roared into the night, formed The Circle, and gave theater to the next two fighters.

Tipsy Ducks in Love: A Romance

I was recently in the China pavilion of EPCOT’s World Showcase, when I spied a most heartwarming site: tipsy ducks in love. I came to know them and found their story quite sincere and worthwhile…

Lyle was not your ordinary duck. For starters, he was an accountant. He was an accountant who worked for the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation, a company that specialized in Doing Business with money and firm handshakes. Lyle had to wear a tie to the office, and because he was the point person on many things that had to do with money and business, he had many Important Papers that required him to carry a briefcase. He was always busy stamping Important Papers, affixing his signature to Important Documents and The Contracts for the Big Money Clients, giving firm handshakes, and Being Serious. Some days he might spend 12 hours at the office Being Serious. Lyle was very well respected by his superiors, and was generally seen as the finest example of a gentleduck.

Despite its name, the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation was owned and operated by rabbits. Rabbits, as you know, are the most businessy of all the animals in Far Farthington, Near Nearington, Away Awayington, North Northington, Isle Islington, and all the vast reaches of the Animal Kingdoms that reside across the Blue Space. If you did not know that, it means you have a great deal of reading to do about the Animal Kingdoms. There is no shame in that, but as the rabbits like to say, you best get hopping. Just to give you a quick primer, though, I will tell you this: rabbits are very businessy and they do not like to get into business and money things with other types of animals. So you see, it was not at all common to see a duck work for a rabbit. Rabbits, to be quite blunt, don’t like ducks, as ducks are mostly carefree, preferring to shake their tail feathers and quack and quibble their days away while eating crackers and joyously looking for their next thrill. Thus, to re-iterate: Lyle was not your ordinary duck.

But as I said before, Lyle was very well respected by his rabbit superiors, and for that reason they had decided that he should go to talk about Important Things with the Potential Business Partners who the QQQC hoped would Do Business with them. The Potential Business Partners asked that Lyle meet them in Disney World, for Very Specific Reasons. Neither Lyle nor his rabbit bosses seemed to know what the Very Specific Reasons were, but since they all wanted to Do Business, they didn’t care.

And so, Lyle found himself on a bench in the China pavillion in Epcot, waiting to meet the Potential Business Partners. That bench was where he met Clara.

Clara was your ordinary duck. She was a free spirit, carefree, and always looking for joy. She never focused on the ullage of life, but rather on its amplitude. She loved nothing more than to sit on top of a calm lake and eat crackers all day, quacking contentedly with friends, and napping in the sunshine.

“Hello there? Hello, darling? Darling? Is this seat taken?” Clara asked as she approached the bench that Lyle was sitting on, indicating the spot to his left.

“Oh no, ma’am,” Lyle replied as he scooched over, giving Clara more room.

“Ma’am? Oh don’t be silly! We’re the same age, I bet! Don’t call me ma’am. I’m Clara and I am just the most fabulous person you’ll ever meet!” She said this with a little flip of her bill and a wink that perplexed Lyle. Who was this duck?

“Umm…” Lyle felt utterly perplexed by this seemingly loquacious duck.

“I think this is where you tell me your name,” Clara suggested.

“Oh, uh, my name is Lyle.”

“Lyle? Oh how perfectly droll! Lyle Lyle Crocodile! Though your teeth don’t look menacing at all, darling. Not like those fearsome crocodiles that they have in some of the waters around here. Oh, they’re just dreadful! I was out in a lake somewhere near Tampa—St. Petersburg, Pinellas—oh who knows? Florida all looks the same doesn’t it? Sunshine and palm trees and what was I saying? Oh yes! Crocodiles! Well I was out on a lake and there was this other duck sitting there just a few feet away—a real waif of a thing, probably hadn’t had a cracker in weeks by the look of her—and this crocodile came along and just gobbled her whole. Oh now isn’t that just awful? But you aren’t like that, are you darling? You’re not a Lyle Lyle Crocodile at all. You’re a Lyle Lyle Adorable Duckling. Well, darling, I’m Clara and I am just the most fabulous person you’ll ever meet, but I said that already, haven’t I? Oh, jellyfeathers! I’m just a fantastical mess, aren’t I? It must be this stunning little drink they concocted for me over at that tea stand. Would you like a sip? Oh, but you must try it! It’s just divine!” And with that Clara shoved her drink right in Lyle’s face.

“Now, no. No! Listen here, ma’am—”

“—Clara! Clara St. Quack. I’m just the most fabulous—”

“—Clara. It was lovely to have met you, I’m sure, but I must be on my way. I have to Do Business and most certainly cannot partake in the drink.”

“Do Business? What are you? Some sort of rabbit?” Clara laughed. “Oh. Oh, now I see that you are. Or at least you think you are, with your adorable little briefcase and your oh-so-sensible glasses. Oh, Lyle darling, you’re just the living end! What a pair of cat’s pajamas we are. You’re all rabbity and I’m just… I’m just ducky!”

“Yes, well, ducky indeed. Good day, Clara. I must be going.” He got up and took a few steps.

“Oh but don’t go. If you leave, I’ll be all alone here on this bench with nobody to enjoy the view with!”

Lyle turned and looked at Clara. “I don’t really see how that’s my problem.”

“Problem? Well who said it was a problem? It’s no problem at all to sit on a bench and look at a lovely view alone. But… well… it’s no problem, but it’s no solution either. The world always looks better when there’s another person blocking part of the view, don’t you think?”

Now for whatever reason, this caught Lyle’s attention. Lyle, who was so often focused on work, never had time for friends and certainly no time for dating. He looked at Clara and saw her for the first time. She was quite beautiful. Her brown feathers looked so soft, and her long black trail after her eyes wrapped all way back around her head. Her tail feathers were perfectly straight. Clara was lovely, Lyle realized, and he slowly re-approached the bench.

“I’ve never had anyone to block my view,” Lyle said softly. He found that as he said this he was a bit sad about that fact.

“Never? You’re pulling my paddle!”

“No, I’m not. I spend all my time Doing Business and I just haven’t found the time to…”

“Well, jingo jambo, you really are a rabbit! Oh, Lyle honey, why don’t you sit down and have a look around? Everything here is so fabulous. Listen to the music! Oh, I just love the music in this pavilion. It is the most divine thing in the world.”

Lyle sat down next to Clara and listened to the mandolin music playing in the background. He looked out across the lagoon and realized that it was, in fact, a beautiful day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the bright sun gleamed appealingly off the metal railings all around the water. He breathed in the clean air.

“See? Isn’t it great? Here, try this!”

“What is it?”

“They call it a Panda Blaster. What a silly name, right? Well, it’s coffee, tea, milk, chocolate sauce, and bourbon. It’s just the whisker’s wiggle! Go on, try a sip. Just one sip.”

Lyle was a bit unsure about having a sip of something with bourbon in it at 11 in the morning, especially when he knew that he would have to Do Business later. Clara, though, was having an intoxicating effect on Lyle. He found her to be a delightful and a buoyant spirit. He found her thoroughly irresistible, actually. He took the Panda Blaster from her hand and took a long swig.

“That’s… that’s…”

“Isn’t it just the best thing you’ve ever had in your life! I’ve never tasted anything so sensational ever. I could drink them by the gallon. Here, have the rest of mine! I’ll go get another one!” And before he knew it, Lyle was on the bench alone with a Panda Blaster, watching Clara waddle back over to the tea stand as fast as her little feet would carry her. He loved the way she walked, with her tail feathers swishing furiously and her had turning from side to side. She let out little quacks of excitement here and there. She was beautiful.

As he waited for her, he looked at the many people walking around. None of them were alone. There were families with little children, groups of friends around Lyle and Clara’s age, and older people too. The older people were all couples. He wondered how long had they been together. They all seemed so happy. Lyle continued to drink his Panda Blaster. It was so good. Perfectly cold on this warm day. Sweet, just like the color of the flowers next to him. Lyle wondered if Clara liked flowers. He wondered if Clara liked these flowers. He wondered if Clara would like it if he picked one of these flowers and gave it to her when she returned. He decided that she would like that very much and was just about to bend down and pluck a petunia when his phone rang.

It was The Potential Business Partners. Lyle immediately answered.

“Lyle J. Duckbill here.”

“Mr. Duckbill, this is the assistant of The Potential Business Partners. We are ready to Do Business with you. You must come inside the China pavilion immediately.”

“Oh, um. Well, my friend just stepped away for a moment. As soon as she returns, I will come inside. It shouldn’t be more than a minute or two. I’ll be right there.”

“A minute or two? That is not acceptable. The Potential Business Partners want to Do Business right now! They are ready to give firm handshakes and discuss Important Things. You must come immediately.”

“But my friend will not know where I am, and she will be worried if I have suddenly gone missing.”

“This is unimportant to us. You must come inside now, or else we will not Do Business with the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation.”

“Then you will not do business with QQQC. That is that and that is my final word on the matter. Goodbye.” It was unlike Lyle to think of anything other than Doing Business, but strangely the words came out of his bill before he could really comprehend their magnitude. He didn’t care about Doing Business. He only cared about Clara. He had decided she would like one of the lavender flowers next to the bench and so he bent down and picked one. He looked at it closely. It was a lovely flower, Lyle thought. It was the first time he had ever thought about the beauty of flowers, but he thought that maybe thinking about beautiful things should be a more important part of his life. He smiled and it was something his face was unaccustomed to. It felt marvelous.

“Well look at you! All smiles and sunshine today, Lyle!” Clara exclaimed as she returned with not one, but two, Panda Blasters. “Here, I got you a full one. I figured you would just guzzle down the other one while I was gone and boy howdy, looks like I was right. Lyle, I just might make a wonderful lush out of you yet! Here you go!” she said as she pushed the drink into his hand.

Lyle grinned and realized that, sure enough, he had finished the first Panda Blaster—and he wanted more.

“Bottoms up!” said Clara with a smile, as she raised her cup.

“To beauty,” said Lyle as they toasted. He took a long gulp of his drink and let the sweet chocolatey liquid fill him.

“Beauty? Well, Lyle, it looks like the rabbit in you might be fading away. But you’re right. Isn’t it just ravishingly beautiful here?”

“It is beautiful, Clara, but not nearly as lovely as you are. Nothing I’ve ever seen has been. Not even this flower. Here, have it, Clara. It’s for you,” Lyle said sincerely as he handed the little lavender flower to Clara.

“What’s this now? Oh, Lyle! It’s just lovely. I do love lavender. It looks so nice against my brown feathers. How sweet of you to think of me like that. Now look. Does it look nice?” she asked as she tucked the flower into her breast feathers.

“You look like a dream.”

And so their day together started. Clara and Lyle drank their Panda Blasters and talked all day. They sat on that bench for hours, mining the depths of each other’s life, soaking up all there could be to know about the other. They kept refilling their drinks and as the day wore on, they decided it would be nice to stroll around the lagoon and visit all the different pavilions. They listened to drums in Japan, sipped wine in Italy, and watched the little movies in France and Canada. They talked about how they wanted to visit the different countries, and planned dreamlike escapades along the way. Clara wanted to see if the Loch Ness Monster was real, and Lyle wanted to lay in the sun in Cancun and drink pineapple juice and rum. They had a lovely dinner of crackers and cheese sitting on the side of the lagoon in the France pavilion. Lyle bought champagne from a little cart and they watch the day turn into twilight and then to night, toasting to life.

They continued their little stroll around the showcase until they found their way back to the tea stand and the bench in the China pavilion, where the day had started. It was nearly 9pm.

“Oh, Clara,” said Lyle. “This day has been so worthwhile. I feel like I’ve never felt before. I’m thrilled and tingling with vivaciousness. I feel like the wind is blowing straight through me and that the only way to stay upright is to dance with joy. I feel lightheaded and gay as a daisy in May. I feel… I feel…”

“Tipsy!” laughed Clara.

“Yes! Tipsy! Oh, what a sensational word that is, Clara! I do feel tipsy and spritely and… in love. Do you hear that?” he shouted. “I’m a tipsy duck in love! I’m a tipsy duck in love and I want everyone to know it!” And with that, he grabbed Clara and kissed her, just as the first of the night’s fireworks went off overhead.

“I love you too, Lyle,” said Clara breathlessly, when at last they pulled away from their long, passionate kiss.

And as they sat, hand in hand and watching the fireworks, those who passed them couldn’t help but smile at the sight of these two tipsy ducks in love and be curious about the strange drink that they shared while the show in the sky illuminated their little kisses. They wandered over to the tea stand and asked about the ducks and what they were drinking. “I’ll have one of those tipsy ducks in love drinks,” they would say, and the staff knew exactly what they wanted, because after all, everybody wants love.

 

How I Met The Disney Hipsters

I met The Disney Hipsters in a sweaty bar in Harambe in the summer of ’97.

Adam smelled musky — like the feral cats that American tourists hope to see on their African safaris. Andrew sparkled like a Norwegian pop star slathered in a sweet, honeyed milk custard. Jamie announced her presence with an exuberant caterwaul, while Keith’s piercing blue eyes penetrated the room with a frozen gaze of doom. They wore indifferent faces, caked with sweat, grime, and weariness. They were a long way from New Jersey, mouths dry and desperate for anything to whet their whistles.

I said to them as they approached, “Jambo, y’all. Yins lookin’ fer a beer, eh?”

“Fuck. YES.” Keith blurted out, looking at me as if I were a saint. I gave him a Bud Light, the last of my stores of American lagers. He looked down at the swill, back up at me, and to his wife. Jamie raised her eyebrows, shrugged her shoulders, and said, “Well, boys, I think we just found out that beggars can be choosers, after all.”

Adam and Andrew put on their Ray-Ban’s, straightened their bowties, turned on their heels, and left my little bar. Jamie looked me up and down mercilessly with her eyes, shook her head disgustedly, and followed the boys out the door.

Keith asked me a question like a dagger piercing a defeated man’s chest. “What’s the name of this worthless dump?”

“D-d-d-dawa Bar,” I stammered, taken aback by this reaction to the Bud Light.

“You got a long way to go, pal, before this place is a bar I’ll ever give my money to,” he said as he locked eyes with me, grabbed the Bud Light off the bar, and poured it out over the floor right in front of me. He held his intense gaze for a few extra seconds, straightened his shirt, and followed the rest of the Hipsters out of the bar and out of my life.

I have been an avid listener of their podcast ever since.

Consuelo In the Treehouse

Consuelo and her family were leaving the Magic Kingdom. Consuelo did not get her hug from Merida, and she did not have any fun. Mother and Aunt Lola had made her ride each attraction alone. Consuelo was happy to do this, since she really didn’t want to be around them, or Father, or her brother, Juan. She sat rather dejectedly on Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean and let each moment pass her by. She just wanted to go home. She was going to wait patiently for this vacation to be over, then go home and sleep in her own bed and dream of being anywhere other than with her family.

This was their last night in Disney World, and tomorrow she would happily get on a plane and return to her normal, hopeless life. There would be no more dreaming of a hug from Merida. There would be no more believing that she had even one single friend in this world. She would go back to being Consuelo, the sad girl from Brookfield, IL.

But first she must endure one last night of this cruel journey. Consuelo and her family stood on the boat launch outside the Magic Kingdom, waiting for the little motor boat that would take them across the lagoon and back to the Polynesian resort. A little down the dock, Consuelo noticed an egret resting standing on a wooden post. It was slender, tall, and an almost shimmering white. She walked toward the bird, a short way away from her family.

As she approached, the egret spoke to her. “Why are you so sad, Consuelo?”

Now Consuelo was quite surprised at first that the animal spoke. But she quickly reasoned that she was in Disney World and if Mickey and Donald and Goofy could all speak, why not this magically white egret as well? She blurted out the full story of how she came to Disney World with her family and hoped to meet Merida and get a hug from her and how her hopes were now tragically dashed.

“My name is Johanna,” said the egret, “and I know of one Scot in this magical place who loves you and would like to meet you. Would you like to meet her, Consuelo?”

“Yes, very much!” Consuelo exclaimed with hope in her heart. Could there really be somebody out there that would love her and give her a hug?

“Then you shall meet her in your dreams,” said Johanna. And with that, the great egret spread her wings and flew off, back into the Magic Kingdom, over the train station and far out of view.

Consuelo was confused and a bit upset. She did not want a make believe friend in her dreams. She wanted a real friend she could hug and laugh and joke with, just like everyone else she knew had. Why had the bird taken off like that? She had many questions, not the least of which was how she would find this magical friend. Soon the boat arrived and Consuelo’s family climbed in. There wasn’t enough room for her, so she had to wait for the next boat. She knew her family well enough to know that they would take the time without her to run off to dinner, leaving her behind. But Consuelo was okay with this, since she hoped Johanna would return and answer her questions. Johanna didn’t reappear though, so Consuelo boarded the next boat and sailed off across the lagoon, quite puzzled by the entire situation with the egret.

She returned to the hotel room and sure enough, her family was nowhere to be seen. She popped on her headphones and cranked Three Dog Night and waited, and waited, and waited. She was growing quite tired and while she listened to her favorite song, Shambala, sleep washed away her sorrow…

Consuelo dreamt…

Johanna greeted her on the balcony of her hotel room. Johanna spread her wings and Consuelo knew she wanted her to do the same. But Consuelo didn’t have wings, or did she? Yes! She had a pair of hot pink, glittery wings! She spread them and, having never flown before, nervously jumped off the balcony with Johanna. But she soon realized there was nothing to be nervous about—flying was as easy as breathing to her now. She and Johanna sped across Seven Seas Lagoon toward the Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland. Johanna motioned for them to land at the base of the tree.

“Climb to the top of the tree, Consuelo. There you will find her,” said Johanna.

Consuelo was a bit hesitant—after all, it was night and she didn’t know what exactly she would find a the top of the tree—but she did as she was told and began to climb the steps into the tree. The impeccably themed staircase seemed impossibly high.

Consuelo climbed and climbed and climbed. She was unsure of how far she had gone or how far she had to go. She stopped briefly to take in the view of the castle and Space Mountain. Consuelo found herself aching to stay in this magical place forever. But she knew that this was only a dream and that dreams can only endure if you sleep through life. So, Consuelo began to climb again. Finally, she reached the top of the tree and waited. Where was the friend Johanna spoke of?

Rather slowly, the tree began to pulse with light. The leaves became a white and soothing glow, the branches radiated with warmth, and the floor grew brighter and brighter until it was finally a blinding light. Consuelo had to close her eyes. When she shut her eyelids she heard the sound of a woman.

“Welcome to my home, Consuelo,” said an ethereal, soothing voice from behind the downtrodden girl.

“Who are you?”Consuelo asked, her eyes still clamped shut, though she could sense that the light had diminished.

“My name is Tilda—Tilda Swinton—and I am Mother of all creatures that call Walt Disney World home,” said the woman.

Consuelo was confused and curious and opened her eyes slightly. Standing before her was a slender woman dressed in white with piercing eyes and a very… modern… hairstyle. She wore a long, flowing nightgown that shimmered and sparkled just like the egret, Johanna. Consuelo knew immediately that she could trust this woman named Tilda.

 “Johanna brought me to you, but why am I here?” asked Consuelo. “Why aren’t we awake and sipping tea or playing with beach balls like the girls in my school?”

“You are here because you are unloved, and I am love. I love all unloved things, like Stitch’s Great Escape, George Clooney, and Consuelo. But we are here in your dreams because that is the only way you have to reach me, Consuelo. I exist only here, in Disney World, and in the beyond,” Tilda replied with a graceful wave of her hand.

“The beyond?” Consuelo asked.

“That place between reality and dreams. That is where we are now, Consuelo. You aren’t actually dreaming, though I’m sure that is what it may seem to you. We are here, in that space in between, where the things that you wish for so hard become very nearly real. So what is it, Consuelo, that you have wished for so much that you have spun into reality?”

“I… I think… maybe… I think maybe that I’ve wanted a friend so badly that I am here because you and Johanna are now my friends and this is the place where we can be together.”

“Yes,” said Tilda with a knowing smile. “Yes, I do believe that is the case. You are here with friends now, Consuelo. What would you like to do now?”

“May I have a hug, Ms. Tilda?”

Tilda nodded and opened her arms wide. Consuelo rushed forth into the loving embrace.

“Now listen to me, Consuelo. You are beautiful and wonderful, and if you ever need love, simply dream of this happy place and I’ll be here.”

Tilda kissed Consuelo on the forehead and vanished into white light.

Consuelo woke up and smiled. She had a friend at last. Consuelo found love. Consuelo found Tilda.