BURBANK, Calif. — If you ever wanted to jump off a ride at Disneyland and join the animatronics, this might be your chance. Burbank resident Tina Schaefer and fiancé Arnulfo Padilla love Disney and the holidays so much, they decorate their home year-round, but this time they have a special guest: Good old Walt Disney himself.
“If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have no Mickey at all,” said Padilla as he unveiled a life-size statue of the venerable Walt Disney. “This is where the magic starts.”
Located near the The Walt Disney Studios, it’s a fitting display. They call it “Holiday Fantasies Come To Life,” and they invite everyone to come enjoy their home-grown attractions. It’s a joint effort and a lot more work than you can imagine.
“I feel even when we do complete it, we’re never done because creation never stops and imagination never stops,” said Schaefer.
With everything closed due to COVID-19, they felt building a mini-Disneyland would bring a lot of joy to their community. They’ve converted their car into a float. Winner of numerous Burbank Holiday Decorating Contests over the years, their display attracts families from all over.
“We’re really inspired to do this, because we want everyone to be able to just feel like a child and just bring back all those happy memories,” said Schaefer.
It’s a sentiment everybody shares and one that "Uncle Walt" would likely agree with.
“It has so many things!” exclaimed one young visitor.
For Schaefer and Padilla, “Holiday Fantasies” is more than their home. It’s a timeless love story for the ages. When Schaefer canceled a date to decorate her house, Padilla surprised her with some pasta and his tool bag. He wanted to help.
“You’re never too old to be a kid, and I always tell everyone these are the toys we play with,” said Padilla.
After spending their life savings, they have no idea how many toys are on display or how many they’ve collected. Many are one-of-a-kind.
“You don’t necessarily have to buy all the time everything, because there’s a lot of things that you cannot buy. You have to create your own,” said Padilla.
“You have to create it, repurpose things,” said Schaefer.
From their imaginations to their front yard, it really is a holiday fantasy come to life.