By Ally O'Connor
Over Christmas break, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Disneyland with my parents. Our family of three has been “Disney-obsessed” for as long as I can remember, taking any break in work or school to visit a Disney park. While I have met numerous other individuals with a similar love for the Disney company and its theme parks, I have never met anyone like Peter Tu.
Tu has visited Disneyland almost every day for the past sixteen years. Since his retirement, Disneyland has become a part of his regular daily routine. When my parents and I spotted him for the first time this trip and asked Disney cast members about Tu and his habits, we were shocked to have never noticed him in the parks before. We discovered that he typically visits Disneyland for two hours in the morning before the larger crowds arrive, and is easy to find as he skips every line and has a secret handshake with all of the Disney cast members. First, Tu claps rhythmically as he approaches a ride, then is joined in the clapping by surrounding cast members, and finally once at a ride’s entrance, Tu executes a short secret handshake with a nearby cast member that culminates in a double thumbs up and the biggest smile.
Tu makes everyone happy and has truly become an integral part of Disneyland. Every cast member knows him by name and Tu can always be seen on his specific loop around the park. After the first morning that my parents and I both encountered and learned about Tu, we began to see him everywhere. Still shocked that we had never noticed him before, the small, fedora-wearing, elderly Asian gentleman was suddenly everywhere!
Months after my trip, as I think back on Peter Tu, I smile knowing that he is still enjoying Disneyland. I do not know much about retirement, but I believe that he is one of the happiest retired people that I have ever seen. Tu puts a smile on the faces of those around him and takes such delight from a walk down “Main Street” or a ride on “The Jungle Cruise.” I have always been a strong supporter of Disneyland and love seeing what joy that special place can offer, and in Peter Tu’s case, I love seeing all of the smiles that a kind elderly man can give back.