Tale as Old as Time


Lea-Ann Niven was raised in Wellington, New Zealand but moved with her family to Auckland, as a child where she now owns her own hair salon. What people don’t know about Lea-Ann is that while she plays a hairdresser by day, she moonlights as a fully blown Disnerd – particularly during the holiday season!

The Disney dream began for Lea-Ann at a young age:


“A boy in my class at primary school went to Disneyland on holiday and I remember being so envious and very happy when he bought me back a pencil sharpener which I still have today.”


Lea-Ann has been married to husband Craig for 21 years, and has a 13 year old son Lucas who both happily follow her on her trips to Disneyland, and help her celebrate a Disney style Christmas every December in their Auckland home. Lea-Ann jokes:


“My family are very supportive of my obsession, although my husband threatens that when I die it will all be on an on-line auction site before my funeral”


Lea-Ann goes onto admit that she is very lucky because her family enjoy Disney also and are supportive of her passion for everything to do with the Mouse House.  As well as the two main men in Lea-Ann’s life, two other residents inhabit the Niven home – her two cats, “Walt” and “Disney”.




The Bare Necessities


Lea-Ann’s collection started as innocently as anyone’s – when her best friend brought her back a set of hanging decorations from Disneyland. Graham, who has since passed away, had no idea that these Donald Duck and Goofy decorations would be the start of an entire Disney Christmas collection that would one day light up Lea Ann’s home each December. Years later, these ornaments have come to inhabit a sentimental place in the Niven family home and a special place in Lea Ann’s heart. Lea-Ann’s Christmas collection is now the largest collection of Disney items that she owns. 


“Every year they are hung at the top of the tree and bring a smile because they mean so much.”


Lea-Ann’s beautiful Disney inspired Christmas tree is now laden each year with Disney ornaments, with every character from Jiminy Cricket, to Tinkerbell to Winnie-the-Pooh. Her Christmas collection also includes beautiful pieces by Jim Shore and Romero Britto which are packed away during the year, before being brought out at Christmas and bringing the house to life with the magic of Disney.

As well as her Christmas pieces, Lea Ann has a few treasures that live in the house all year round. Amongst these prized pieces are a Kermit the Frog, from the Walt Disney Showcase Collection – a piece gifted to her by her friend Adrienne for her birthday, as well as a collection of Mickey Mouse ornaments which celebrate the years in which she has visited Disneyland. Other items include Disney coins, jewellery, clothing, bags, cups and soft toys, as well as her photos and autograph books from her time at Disneyland.


“How wonderful Walt Disney was to take an idea and create a place for generations to enjoy together, and a legacy long after you go – a place for millions to enjoy and keep smiling. He's my hero.”



The Princess and the Frog

Like all Disnerds, Lea-Ann has a favorite character: Kermit the Frog.


“My granny and grandad gave me a Kermit soft toy when I was around five years old. He was my favourite friend and has travelled everywhere with me. He still travels with me. He's old but still loyal.”




A Whole New World

Lea-Ann has been lucky enough to visit the Happiest Place on Earth not once, but three times! All three of these trips have been to Disneyland California, because according to Lea-Ann ‘there is no other!’


“I have been lucky to go twice with my husband, son and my mother, and once with a girlfriend. Every experience has been so different and of course, magical.”


Lea-Ann’s first trip came about when her husband had the opportunity to take a business trip to the states in 2008, which his family was able to attend. Craig then organised for a holiday to be added onto the end of the trip, and took his family to Disneyland.


“I was 37 and was like a kid in a candy store. Downtown Disney was amazing and the “World of Disney” store blew my mind. I remember standing outside the gates of Disneyland - tears flowed and I just couldn't believe I was there.”


Lea-Ann and Craig’s son Lucas was just six years old on this first trip, and her mother who was able to accompany them on the trip was also seeing Disneyland for the first time. Lea-Ann felt so pleased to be able to expose them to such an amazing experience.


 “It was so great for mom to come with us she enjoyed it just as much and we all joined in the Disney tradition - Disney t-shirt’s and Mickey ears!”

 While in the parks, Lea-Ann missed no opportunity to enjoy the culinary experiences that Disneyland had to offer, dining at Goofy and Minnie’s kitchens as well as trying everything in the park from cotton candy on a stick to the quintessential Mickey Mouse shaped ice creams. This first trip has retained a special place in Lea-Ann’s heart, creating family memories that will remain forever,


 “My husband Craig always promised to make my dreams come true and take me to Disneyland… Craig will never know the gift he gave me.”

Once Lea-Ann had been to Disneyland, there was no going back. Not two years later, the family was back in the park, and more recently, she was able to experience Disney again, with her friend Adrienne. 


I feel a part of my heart is in Disneyland”



 When You Wish Upon a Star

 When Lea-Ann is at home, unable to go to Disneyland, she gets her ‘fix’ by going to Disney on Ice and to every Disney and Pixar movie that comes to the cinema, but her love for Disneyland is never far away.


“There is something that is unexplainable… that is magic. Disney people have Mickey shaped hearts”


1 comment

  • Paula Wortley

    Visiting Lea-Ann, Craig and Lucas at Christmas is like a mini Disneyland in their home … Lea-Ann’s favourite time of year is Christmas and to incorporate that with her passion for Disney makes for a little piece of magic right there. xxx

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