I still can’t believe it, but 2022 is gone, and 2023 is officially upon us. It was one heck of a crazy year, and I hope you and your loved ones were able to create some truly magical Disney memories. There was a lot of chaos and divisiveness this year, but, in the end, kindness and love always came out on top. As you enter this new year, here are some of our favorite Disney stories that are sure to put a smile on your face.
Be careful, you may want to have a tissue next to you when you read some of these!
Every year, some Disney fans dress up in their best dress from the 1920s through the modern day and visit Disney Parks. Women will wear fun and beautiful dresses and men will wear suits. These are known as Dapper Days, and they are getting more popular year after year. This year, one Guest not only dressed up for Dapper Day, but also pulled off one of the best Disney cosplays we have ever seen.
Bill Burns bares a similar resemblance to the man who started it all — Walt Disney. So, for Dapper Day, Bill dressed up in a suit, styled his hair, and put a smile on his face. As he walked around Disneyland Park, he saw Mickey Mouse, who literally stopped in his tracks. Mickey could not believe what he was seeing! After staring at Bill for a while, he then gave him a hug, and the rest is history.
In November 2021, Disney released one of its most successful animated films to date. Encanto told the story of the Madrigal family, where everyone born a Madrigal has magical powers. Well, everyone except Mirabel. However, Mirabel learns she doesn’t need magical powers to be an important part of her family. What made this film so successful was how diverse the casting was and how it represented people who usually don’t see too much of themselves on screen.
This feel-good story introduces us to Manu, a young girl who truly believed that she was young Mirabel when the character first appeared on-screen. Then, Manu thought she had grown up into adult Mirabel. It was truly a heartwarming reaction to such a powerful movie.
This was a very rough year for Johnny Depp — as the Pirates of the Caribbean actor sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation, and the two locked horns in a heated courtroom battle. During the trial, Depp revealed that he was dropped by Disney, and it was unlikely that fans would see him on the big screen as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Even though Depp likely won’t work with Disney again, he was more than willing to become Captain Jack for a young fan. 11-year-old Kori lives in the United Kingdom and has undergone two unsuccessful heart transplants. Kori is not sure how long he has left to live. Kori loves all things Pirates of the Caribbean and even has a YouTube channel dedicated to them, called Kraken the Box. Depp donned his iconic dreadlocks and pirate hat to filmed a video for Kori — fulfilling one of the young boy’s dreams.
We’ve already said that Encanto allowed so many different types of people to see themselves represented on-screen, and Kenzo is no exception. Kenzo’s mom shared a wonderful video of Keno watching Encanto and being absolutely shocked and delighted when he saw the young Antonio Madrigal come on-screen. Antonio looked just like Kenzo and Kenzo’s mom was so excited to see her son represented like that. She noted how she didn’t see that much growing up and that it means so much to her that her son can experience something so magical.
Avengers Campus has only been open at Disney California Adventure Park at Disneyland Resort for a year and a half, but it is one of the most popular areas of the Resort. One of the great things about it is that there are characters around every corner, from Spider-Man to Captain America, Black Widow, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and more. And one young teen had an experience that she will never forget.
Lili Jae was visiting Disneyland and decided to check out Avengers Campus. While there, she ran into Shang-Chi, one of the MCU’s newest superheroes. Now, Lili Jae is deaf, and her family helps her communicate, but you wouldn’t believe how shocked she was when Shang-Chi began signing with her! He admitted that he wasn’t fully fluent, but the two were able to have a conversation, and he told her how much he loves learning American Sign Language (ASL)
Disneyland Resort is called The Happiest Place on Earth, and this next story may be one of the happiest stories on earth. Mr. Good is a 100-year-old veteran, and Isaiah Garza is a 49-year-old YouTuber who makes videos showing kindness toward others. Garza teamed up with Mr. Good’s care team to surprise the veteran with a trip to Disneyland. To say that Good was shocked would be an understatement. The two enjoyed an incredible day, filled with rides, snacks, dancing, and Minnie ears.
In the end, Mr. Good told Garza that it was one of the best days of his life, as he had thought those kinds of days were over. Good even breaks down in tears, telling Garza how much that time together meant to him. A truly heartwarming moment between two amazing people.
Encanto is not the only Disney film that has children seeing themselves represented on-screen. Next year, Disney will release its newest live-action remake, The Little Mermaid. In this new version of the film, Ariel is played by Halle Bailey, a young back woman. While there was a lot of controversy surrounding Disney’s choice, the trailer really changed things. Bailey seems perfect for the role, but more than that, young black girls around the world were so excited to see themselves in the iconic princess.
One of those girls was Sienna, who didn’t know that Ariel was going to be black. When she first saw The Little Mermaid trailer, she was shocked and told her mom that Ariel looked like her. A truly special moment for Sienna and her mom.
9-year-old Alexis just loves Disney and loves visiting her local Disney store. During 2021, Disney Stores required all Guests to wear proper face masks when visiting the store. Unfortunately, Alexis was born with Microtia — a birth defect that caused her right ear not to form fully. Because of that, Alexis was unable to wear a traditional face mask with ear loops, and she was not allowed inside the Disney store. That decision devastated both Alexis and her family.
When Alexis’ story went viral, The Small Wonders Foundation — a nonprofit organization that helps children born with facial deformities — stepped in and offered to give Alexis the reconstructive surgery she needed to have a full ear. Alexis and her family were overwhelmed by the generosity.
Earlier this year, a young woman named Molly went on Amazon to order a couple bows for her Disney outfits. Instead of sending her just the bows she ordered, Amazon sent her 40 — yes, 40 — bows. Molly tried to return the bows, but Amazon told her to keep them. So, she decided to take the bows and spread some Disney magic. Emily visited Disneyland and gave the bows to adults, children, and even Cast Members. Molly’s act of kindness is truly something none of them will ever forget.
And there you go, some of our favorite heartwarming stories from 2022. We hope you enjoyed reading these stories as much as we love writing them for you. We here at Disney Dining wish you a new year filled with peace, love, happiness, and, of course, lots of Disney!