The Magic Behind the ‘Company’ – Getting to Know Debra

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Name: Debra (D.K.) Peterson

Where do you live: When I’m not traveling to Disney…Pittsburgh, PA.

How long have you been with Chip and Company: I wrote a couple of guest blogs in Fall 2010, then began writing more regularly in January 2011.

What topics do you write about: I’m primarily interested in interactive, immersive Disney experiences and in Disney theming. I’ll cover a little bit of everything, from Downtown Disney to Disney attractions to Disney cult foods to special experiences.

Favorite C&C Writer: Oh, no! I’m not falling for this one. My favorite C & C writer is our newest writer – you! Come join us.

Do you have a Blog or Website? I’m the National Disney Travel Examiner, where I write news and information on Walt Disney World and Disneyland. To commemorate Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary in 2011, I’m doing a series called “Memories of the Magic Kingdom.”

Have a Facebook Page or Twitter? On Facebook as Kungaloosh! On Twitter as @deekaypee (phonetics of my initials D.K.P.).

Favorite Disney Website other than Chip and Company: As if there’s only one. They all feed my addiction. For the pure pleasure of Disney details, I like DisneyShawn or Main Street Gazette. For a quirky view, I visit Magical Trash.

[For the Disney fan community, I turn to the WDW Info (The DIS) forums; I’m a member of its W.I.S.H. racing team and listen to DIS podcasts during training, as well as WDW Radio. But I love the communities at WDW Magic, Discussion Kingdom, Disney Driven Life, Laughing Place, and the WDW Fan Zone. And Touring Plans, AllEars and MouseSavers help me plan my trips. For photography or video, the Magic In Pixels or Inside the Magic. I could name dozens, but you get the idea.]

What % of your clothes and house is decorated with Disney Gear? I don’t know? 10% of the clothes/house, including three Disney production sketches. 75% of my books are Disney, though, with lots of  history and academic studies.

Chip or Dale? I didn’t realize they were separate identities! Chip in the cartoons, as he’s clever. Dale in the parks, as his nose is cuter.

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Debra takes a spin around Mickey's Toontown, Disneyland.

About the Parks:

What’s your Favorite Disney Park: Disneyland Park, the original!

How many times have you been to the Disney Parks? You know, I’ve lost count. Dozens. My first trip was in 1993.

What’s your first Disney Memory? “Sleeping Beauty” at the drive-in with my parents. Afterwards, I re-created the movie, but I was always the prince fighting the dragon. Apparently, Maleficent gave me nightmares but I don’t remember that.

What is your favorite Ride, Show, and Event? Arrgh. How can I choose? Ride – Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Show – Muppet Vision 3-D. (Can I count Streetmosphere at Disney’s Hollwood Studios?) Night show –  IllumiNations, although I have yet to see World of Color. Event – WDW Marathon Weekend, when me and my running-walking friends gather for the ultimate park hopper! I suspect Destination D might become a new favorite.

Where is your favorite place to get your grub on? California Grill for fine dining – it’s where I got engaged – and Rose & Crown Pub, for casual meals and IllumiNations. Or Boma and Jiko, for their tasty vegetarian options.

What’s your favorite snack? That’s like asking me to choose my favorite ride, character or movie. Oh, wait. You’re doing that. Let’s say the classic ice cream cookie sandwich at Magic Kingdom. Followed by a Dole Whip.

You have the whole park to yourself tell us what park it would be and plan of attack? Disneyland or Magic Kingdom. If I had either park to myself, would I need a plan of attack? Okay, I’d tour every ride/show in each land to see the land’s theming as a complete whole. Right now, I bounce back and forth across the park to avoid long lines. I’d also linger more to notice the details.

Least Favorite Disney Ride or Attractions? Stitch’s Great Escape. No, wait. Journey into Narnia. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loathe the latter.

What’s missing from the Parks? A working animation studio, a Blue Sky Cellar for Walt Disney World, the rest of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Which thing do you wish Disney would bring back? Adventurers Club. Kungaloosh! Bring it back, Disney, bring it back – to Hyperion Wharf, Adventureland, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. (Re)build it, and we will come, martinis in hand.

What do you bring to the park with you? My sense of humor. That, and my Annual Pass, are the two most important things for enjoying the parks.

Do you fly, drive or take a Magic Carpet to the Disney Parks? Fly, although if you know where I can get a good deal on a used magic carpet….

What’s your most and least favorite Disney character and why?

Decisions, decisions. Most ­– Eeyore or Br’er Rabbit, a storyteller and trickster figure. Or Figment. Least – Wendy from “Peter Pan.”

Dining Plan, OOP, or Bring Food with you? Out of Pocket, with a Tables in Wonderland discount. There’s too much food on the DDP for the two of us, and I’d rather score a room discount. I also bring food with me for breakfast and post-running healthy snacks. (Not that the healthy snacks replace my Disney favorites.)

To ADR or Not to ADR? A mix, depending on the season. In peak season, I always make ADRs. At other times, I’ll make ADRs for a few favorites when the dining reservation window opens, then wait a couple of weeks before the trip and see what’s opens. It encourages me to try new things. I’ll even try day-of dining for fun. I tend to nosh around Epcot on at least one day of a trip, too, rather than do a sit-down. I do try to mix table service and counter service meals.

Events at the park that cost extra good idea or should be included with park admission? I like special hard-ticket events for the smaller crowds and more relaxed atmosphere; the price, not so much. But you know what I’d love? If Disney offered a one-day or multi-day wristband, one set price, for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. And more advance notice for AP events.

When is your next trip to WDW or DL? May 2011 for WDW. August 2011 for DLR.

Everything Else Disney:

What is your favorite Disney Movie? It depends on the day. Today it’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” I’m just drawn that way.

Do you do any Disney Collections? Pin trading for the trading experience, not the collection itself. Lots of books and media.

Have you been on a Disney Cruise or Adventures by Disney? Not yet.

Ever been to DLRP or TDL? DLRP is tentatively planned for 2012, combined with another trip to Europe. If that doesn’t pan out, we’ll try a Disney cruise.

Finally what does Disney mean to you? I’m still trying to figure this one out – hence so many trips. On the most personal level, it’s where I’ve marked numerous events in my life: an engagement, a diagnosis and recovery from ovarian cancer, my first marathon, milestone birthdays, family reunions…

Personally and professionally, this is a lifelong obsession, and trying to understand the relationship between Disney and American culture. I’m drawn to animation (hah!), impressed by Imagineering, and interested in the Disney details – all with a critical eye.

To me, though, the Disney difference isn’t primarily the place. It’s the people – Cast Members and fans alike ­– who make the magic happen every day. One of my goals n this writing life is to contribute to that magic in some small way, to walk in Walt’s footsteps and not in his shadow.

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