Nerd of the Week

Meet Andrea, a Disney Nerd

Interview by Terra Olsen

You’re somewhat of a ‘Renaissance Nerd,’ but your love for Disney is pretty apparent. How did Disney first spark the nerd in you?

I loved Disney A LOT as a kid. You could say obsessed. It was classic nerdery. I watched all the movies and cartoons, listened to the music, and drew pictures. As I got older I continued to expand on my Disney fandom by reading everything I could about Disney, the music, the movies, the parks, everything. I was even a subscriber to the now-defunct Disney Magazine and would pore over every article to make sure that I knew everything I could about every new movie or theme park ride. Disney was my first love and my first nerd-out.

When did you first realize that you’re a Disney nerd?

I grew up in a house that loves to laugh and was naturally drawn to Disney movies as I grew up. My love of all things Disney was something that started very early with reenactments of scenes from Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan. But what really made me realize that I was a nerd? It was the fact that I always arranged our Disney collection in chronological order. I knew it by heart and made sure that it stayed that way.

What areas of Disney do you nerd out on?

Nowadays, I nerd out on what it means to be a Disney fan and how Disney has made itself different things to different people. As part of my thesis for my undergraduate Asian Studies major, I wrote about the impact of Tokyo Disneyland on Japanese culture and how Disney localized its starting concept (the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World) to best fit into its new surroundings. It was a fascinating project that gave me incredible insights into both Japanese culture and what it took for Disney to create a park that simultaneously felt different and incredibly familiar to the Japanese.

Of course, not every part of my interest is solely academic. I make a killer Disney karaoke partner and will never say no a Golden Era movie marathon. 🙂

Andrea as Hipster Ariel for Halloween

Andrea as Hipster Ariel for Halloween

How has Disney impacted your life (daily or philosophically)?

There are a couple answers to this question, one is a more direct impact and the other is an overarching feeling. The words of Walt Disney himself I find to be a font of inspiration. Whatever you may think of him, there is no doubt that the man was a genius at what he did. One of my favorite quotations from him actually has a lot to do with how I approach learning and being nerdy about things: “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage.”

Disney sparked a love of imagination for me that made me aware that it was ok to pretend, to reach, and enjoy something for the sake of enjoyment. That’s what I think being a nerd and owning it is all about: enjoying and doing what you like for the pleasure of doing that thing. You can know everything there is to know about a topic, but if it doesn’t light a fire in your soul, what’s the fun in that?

Do you have a favorite Disney artifact or object?

I actually have a number of them, but I’ll tell you about my favorite. It’s a pin that my grandmother gave me from her first trip to Disneyland in the late 1950’s. It’s from Adventureland and I love it. I keep it with my fancy jewelry where it makes me smile when I’m reaching for a cocktail ring and reminds me that life is more fun with a little whimsy.

1950 Adventureland  pin

How do you feel about the future of Disney?

I’m optimistic. I’m loving the return to a focus on music, as seen in Tangled, as well as the experiments they’re doing combining fun of CG with the tradition of 2-D animation. I loved the short Paperman that premiered before Wreck-It Ralph. It was whimsical, funny, romantic, and above all, a great story. I’ll be the first to admit that Disney made a series of movies that lacked a certain sparkle that only exquisite writing can provide, but I see that changing. I also loved the decision to put Joss Whedon at the helm of The Avengers and I’m optimistic about the LucasFilm acquisition.

Favorite moment or memory involving Disney?

This is a telling story about my family. One time when I was home from college on winter break, I was sitting on the couch after dinner and my dad walked in and asked if I wanted to watch a movie. I said yes and that I didn’t have a preference. He then went over to the videos and turned back to me and asked, “Aladdin, Lion King, or Little Mermaid?” I answered Aladdin, but halfway through the trailer for The Lion King, my dad decided that it had been too long since we’d seen The Lion King and switched movies then and there. Favorite Dad moment ever.

Andrea at Disneyland

Andrea or “Bunny” is a Community Manager with Wizards of the Coast for the Kaijudo TCG and TV show. She grew up in Cleveland watching Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and Disney movies. Nowadays, she lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and kitty, Nyota. She loves cooking, sewing, and finding the next cool thing to nerd out on. Follow her on Twitter!
Do you know a self-proclaimed nerd we should interview? If so, please contact Terra at terra@haveyounerd.com and tell us about them.
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