Sunday, June 02, 2013


May 31, 2013

So, I'm coming out of Be Our Guest restaurant, and making my way back over the entrance bridge, passing beside the still-packed line of people waiting to get in, and I decided to do a bit of entertaining. So I slowed in my scooter and announced in an announcing voice, "All the food is gone. We are now closed. Thanks for coming. Have a good day."

This brings on some laughs and banter and back and forth among the waiting guests, the attending CM's, and myself and my lunch companion, Kathy, but then I am suddenly brought to a complete halt by a strikingly familiar face.

I stop and stare, and wait for some greeting- and nothing. It is a beautiful woman, and she is enjoying all this, but keeping her face aimed straight ahead, as if waiting for me to recognize her. The problem was, I did, but I couldn't remember from where! I have done the parks with a lot- dozens, maybe scores of different people- added to hundreds I have talked to on-line, and I was wracking my brain trying to remember who this was and how I knew her. I had no doubt that I knew her, that I had spent time with her, but I just could not place it!

I long ago lost any shyness or embarrassment about my limited ability to remember people's names and such, so I flat out asked her, "Who are you?"

She just smiled.

I took off my hat, not the one I usually wear, thinking maybe that was keeping her from recognizing me, and said, "I'm Jud. How do I know you?"

She said "Hi Jud," -along with a many others around us- remember, this had all started with me teasing the line- and I realized they were all reading my rather prominent name tag. 

I asked again, "How do I know you? Did we do a park together?"


"Are you on the boards?"

Flat out denial.

"How??? How do I know you?"

She said, in an almost throw-away tone, "The Mickey Mouse Club."

Well, I watched the Mickey Mouse Club and this wasn't any of them- and way too young anyway, so I took this as a throw-away line to end the question; and I was getting the feeling that she was becoming a bit bothered-maybe even offended- by my efforts; and that I wasn't going to get anywhere, so I accepted defeat, bid her a puzzled adieu, and moved along.

As we exited the dedicated pathway that is the entrance to BOG, my lunch mate Kathy said, "I think that might be XXXX from that TV sitcom...???"

We went back and forth a bit and came to agreement on what show it was and that indeed that was who she was. (Even though we got the show wrong.)

I now felt an explanation was due, so I scooted back to the line, only now I couldn't spot her; however, several other people in the line remembered me, and pointed her out- this had become a "queue adventure" for some- and then I caught a glimpse of the back of her head, her blond pony tail between two men, as several people had formed a phalanx around her to hide her from view. I called out her name.

Immediately, I heard one of the men say, "He figured it out."

While in the same instant, a hitherto unseen Disney VIP Guide rushed to the rope and said "Shhhhh!"

I suddenly realized that this pretty lady was going incognito.

But, she had also come over to the rope, and I immediately dropped my voice to quiet tones and explained to her what had happened, that I had honestly thought she was someone I had a personal connection to, and that my friend had figured out who she was, and I just wanted to clear it up, and that I wasn't hassling her or trying to out her, just an honest mistake.

She was wonderful and understanding and quite friendly- and had been through the whole thing- and I now knew her apparent reserve I had seemed to sense earlier was her trying to maintain some anonymity!

Anyway, she had an incredible smile and kindness, we chatted briefly as I explained, and she shook my hand and thanked me, and given the circumstances, I made the conscious decision not to bother her further with asking for a photograph.

But, as the day went on, this was still sticking with me- and growing. I wondered why. I am by no means a person  who gets star struck, so it wasn't that. And simply naming her still didn't quite work for me, because my memory was quite distinct in spending some personal time with the person behind that name.

And then it hit me!

I had never watched that TV show she starred in... but I had watched her on another show- every Wednesday night- for 39 days!

Now I really bemoaned not getting that photo!

I carried on with my plans for this day's visit, and by 4 o'clock, had moved over to Epcot, for some time there, and to close off the day with my beloved Illuminations at 9pm.

The matter of the mystery lady and my reaction to the encounter continued to gnaw away at me- and the thrill of it all, grow, along with my wondering why.

As evening approached, I did figure out one big piece of it: I had actually bonded with her on those Wednesday nights. Personally.

Having thus resolved that much of the matter, and laughing at myself, I headed out for my viewing spot for the show, and as I was working my way carefully through the crowds in front of Mexico, I heard my name called. I wasn't quite certain, but thought about it and realized, yes it was quite distinct, so I stopped and looked around, and there across the walkway and through the crowds- there she was! 

I was thrilled!

I scooted over and I told her how thrilled I was and please excuse me but could we do a photo? She laughed and said certainly. We chatted a bit, and it was all good.

When I got home, I hit the net and found out- for one thing- that she was indeed in the Mickey Mouse Club! Just not the one I knew: the "new" one! This, and the still growing recollection of the time we spent "together" on those Wednesday nights just keep making this encounter more and more magical for me. This is a special woman, and this was certainly a very special day for me at Walt Disney World.

Jud with Lisa Whelchel
Lisa Whelchel is an American actress, singer, songwriter, author, and public speaker. She is known for her appearances as a Mouseketeer on The New Mickey Mouse Club and her nine-year role as the preppy and wealthy Blair Warner on The Facts of Life, (not Saved by the Bell). In 1984, she was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance for her contemporary Christian album, All Because of You. Since 2009, she has been a regular speaker with Women of Faith Christian conferences. In 2012, Whelchel participated as a contestant in Survivor: Philippines, the 25th season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor, reaching the finale and tying with Michael Skupin for second place.

see also

Enjoyed your "brush with fame" story. Lisa looks like a nice, down to earth person. Great pic :)
How cool was that!! Awesome experience and glad you got a picture with her.
What a thrill Jud and she sounds so nice!
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