Character performers bring joy to Guests of all ages at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. Trained to perfectly imitate fan favorites from Sleeping Beauty to Mickey Mouse to Peter Pan, they appear to step out of the television screen and into the Disney Parks before Guests’ eyes.
Meeting a beloved childhood hero is memorable for every Guest, but it can be life-changing for some. Recently, a military veteran shared the story of a time when meeting Tinker Bell in City Hall at Magic Kingdom saved his life. (*Editor’s Note: The following story contains discussion of suicide.)
Reddit user u/Finally_Smiled shared that he was on a Walt Disney World Resort vacation with friends after a non-combat deployment. None knew, but he had been struggling with mental health and felt extremely suicidal.
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“The thoughts. The anxiety. The depression. The plans to do it,” the Guest wrote. “All of it. And I masked it all as best I could.”
On the final day of his trip, the Guest struggled to mask his emotions. His friends encouraged him to join in at the Tinker Bell meet-and-greet to cheer him up. “Throughout that day, I believe I had a few teary eyed moments by myself and I was visibly depressed,” he recalled. “I honestly probably had red puffy eyes, too.”
“I don’t know if the Tinker Bell knew I was depressed, or it was something I or a friend said, or she just gives cheek kisses every now and then, but she gave me an unexpected smooch on the cheek and I proceeded to light up like a Christmas tree,” the Guest said. “To me, it was just the act of unexpected generosity, kindness, and affection from a complete stranger that made me feel like the lingering gray cloud disappeared, even if it was for a brief passing moment.”
The act of kindness from a Disney Character changed his life. After the trip, he enrolled in therapy, started medication, and eventually bought a house he now shares with his wife. “That actress… her brief moment… just in passing helped me,” he recalled. “She unknowingly saved my life.”
He still keeps the picture with Tinker Bell on his fridge. “My wife also loves this picture because she knows this story behind it. She also thanks this Tinker Bell for saving my life.”
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Please note that the story outlined in this article is based on a personal Disney Parks Guest experience. No two Guest experiences are alike, and this article does not necessarily align with Inside the Magic’s personal views on Disney Park operations.