I’ve said this before and I don’t doubt I will say it again: I never knew how my life would change when I pressed publish on my first Disney post for this blog. I’ve learned so much more about these theme parks and company I love, and more than that, I have met so many people who have inspired me with their creativity, enthusiasm, sincerity, and generosity of spirit.
I hate and he would probably hate that the first post I write after a year long hiatus is about him. But I also hate that he is gone. I realized this weekend, when I received word that he had left us, that I “met” Alan back in 2012. Ryan from Main Street Gazette had formed a roundtable where we would frequently all answer a question and he would post it on his website. I was so happy to be a part of this group because I respected Ryan and his site so much, but also because of the people it put me in contact with. I wish I remember more about the specifics of our first official chat, but in the age of the internet, I think it’s likely those first conversations can blur together because we have so many of these kinds of conversations every day and you just don’t know if they will grow into more of a friendship.
Alan touched so many people with his kind words. He was always around to lend support through tweets and direct messages. He was always the person to check in when he hadn’t heard much from you. I consider myself so lucky that my friendship with Alan went beyond our love of Disney and the occasional check-in tweets. I realized when I first cut my hair off, he was one of the first people I sent a photo to. I was so nervous I had made a horrible decision but as he was known to be, he was incredibly sweet. That’s a superficial example but he was the same when I was running THPB. Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.
Over the years, we talked about being parents (well, him being one and me worrying about if I would ever be ready), we talked about our jobs, he always asked about my husband, he recommended beers he liked, and, this summer, we both talked about our goals to get healthy and fit and we shared a lot of our proud moments with one another.
Alan truly did not have a mean bone in his body and cared so much about people.
But most of all, I am so grateful that we were able to meet in NYC over a year ago. He was just as wonderful in person, and most importantly, I found out what a great hugger he was. I am so sad we will never share another beer, or plan a successful meetup in Disney, or hear his helpful advice on his great podcast. I loved his brotherly chemistry with Keith and Sean (and I’m happy to call them friends because of Alan) and it was beyond sweetness overload when little Grace joined her dad for a few of the recent recordings of Enchanted Tiki Talk. As one of my very smart friends said on Saturday night, she was glad that Grace would have a record of how much Alan loved Disney and helping people. She could go back and look at the love and adoration her dad had for her through his countless Instagram posts, and his lovely tweets. It just breaks my heart that she will never get to go on a trip with him to her dad’s favorite place.
We can all agree that this community lost a special human over the weekend. But we can also agree that Alan was someone who made us appreciate this passion we all share so much more; he inspired us to appreciate each other and our varied opinions. I will miss his cheerfulness, I will miss his thoughtfulness, but most of all, I will miss my friend.
With the new year approaching, I hope we can all be a bit more positive, a bit more loving toward others, and make the most of our time — in Alan’s honor.
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“That’s the real point of all of the Walt Disney World vacations we take. It’s not about the newest attraction or show; it’s about the family and friends that are traveling with us and the memories we make together. So, the next time you’re running to your next scheduled Fastpass+, stop for a second. Listen for the background music. Look at the smiles on the faces around you. Savor that time because it’s worth it.” – Alan
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If you would like to donate to Alan’s daughter’s college fund, you can send a check to:
Grace Mize College Fund
2209 Fairview Rd
Raleigh, NC 27608
or contribute to GoFundMe.
Also, in the spirit of all things Alan, please consider passing his love of others forward today or sometime soon. #RAKforAlan