Most, if not all of you, have experienced the magic of Disney. Perhaps you experienced it when you met Mickey Mouse for the first time, spinning as fast as you could on the teacups, had snow fall on you during the fireworks, or maybe you even got engaged in front of the castle. Whatever it was, you got that fuzzy feeling in your tummy and you couldn’t fight that smile spreading across your face. It’s undeniable.

I’ve felt this magic too, but not on any Disney property.

My magic started with an interview. And no, it wasn’t my Disney College interview.

It was my “Action Team” interview. I had applied to go on a mission trip through my university, and Kenya was my top choice of location. Except when I went into my interview, all I talked about was the projects that were going to take place in Tanzania. I have no idea why I didn’t talk about Kenya, but to no surprise I was placed on the Tanzania team.

Stay with me folks, it’s about to get good.

Then I got a friend request on Facebook, from Danielle. Did I know her? Why was she sending me a friend request? Oh that’s right, she sat two people away from me in my Communication Theory class last semester. Friend request accepted.

Guess what? Communication Theory wasn’t the only thing Danielle and I had in common, turns out she was the leader for my trip to Tanzania! Turns out we would be spending a month together in East Africa, helping out at a children’s feeding center and building a house for a teacher.

What a small world, right? But it’s about to get smaller.

During our first meeting, about five months before the trip, I noticed Danielle had a Jungle Cruise phone case. Wait a minute, was she a Disney fan too? I quickly complimented her on it and we had a side conversation about Disneyland. She told me about her blog, Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member, and I already knew we were going to be best friends.

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So that’s what happened. We became best friends. We would go to Disneyland, take pictures, have a churro, and talk about all of the fun we were going to have in Africa.

Well you know how when you become best friends with someone and then you go through their Instagram account and like all their pictures? Or is that just me? Anyways, that’s what I did with Danielle. That’s when I stumbled on this picture from the 2013 D23 Expo…

A photo posted by Danielle Ernest (@deemagicgurl) on

Wait hold on, let’s take a closer look at that.

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That’s the back of my head in Danielle’s photo! Months before we started to go to the same school!

Keep in mind that this was during the Live Action Movie Presentation during the 2013 D23 Expo where thousands of people were sitting in this hall, and we just happened to be sitting a few feet away from each other. What are the odds (Please don’t tell me the actual odds!)? It still blows my mind to this day how close we were, but we had no idea how much we would mean to each other in just a few short months.

So in May of 2014, we were off to Tanzania with a quick layover in Dubai (and a quick rendition of Arabian Nights from Aladdin) to spend about a month there.

We had a lot of good times, a lot of challenging times, and a lot of Lion King references.

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After our trip, we returned back to our university and began the Fall 2014 semester, but Danielle was hit with a challenging financial circumstance that made her unable to remain at school. (Thankfully, she was able to return to school in the spring and is graduating with honors this December!)

It was rough not having one of my best friends on campus, but the funny thing is, the next semester I was unable to return to campus due to issues in my financial aid.

So here Danielle and I were, unemployed college dropouts (to be dramatic about it), with nothing to do. We wanted to be productive with all the free time we had so we came up with an idea that included our love of media, communication, and Disneyland. That’s when Disney Darlings was born.

We put our heart and soul into this website. We want this website not only to be a tool for Disney fans, but we also want to make it a place for Disney fans to connect, share their stories, and inspire others.

So despite this magic hardly taking place on any Disney property, this wonderful site and community of fans would have never been created if not for that fateful meeting. Disney has that power, to bring all different types of people together through their art of storytelling and the magic that brings that storytelling to life.

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