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The couple who met at Disneyland

(CNN) — Renata Bastos at all times questioned if she may discover romance at Disneyland.

“On one hand, it feels almost impossible and surreal. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. Where else was I going to meet the love of my life, if not at Disney?” Renata tells CNN Travel at present.

For Renata, Disneyland California is a home-away-from-home. She grew up some 20 minutes from the Anaheim resort. As a child, she loved many sunny household weekends absorbing the magic. As a teen, she spent lengthy Saturdays wandering the park along with her faculty pals.

By 2012, 20-year-old Renata was at a crossroads. She’d simply received again to the US after an prolonged trip to her delivery nation of Brazil. Reconnecting along with her Brazilian tradition and household was therapeutic and revealing. Renata determined concentrating on herself, her household and her friendships was key to this stage of her life — romantic relationships had been firmly off the desk.

With that in thoughts, Renata organized an enormous journey to Disneyland along with her prolonged group of pals — a chance for a catch up after her time away.

On the morning of Friday, January 13, 2012, Renata and her pals streamed via the Disney gates. They spent many of the morning folks watching on Main Street U.S.A, and laughing and screeching as they rode the park’s curler coasters.

By mid-afternoon, Renata and her pals broke off into smaller teams to accommodate everybody’s pursuits, however deliberate to reunite at Jungle Cruise, the water-based trip in Adventureland. The pals figured there was sufficient of them to take over an entire boat, to maximise the enjoyable.

When the group ultimately reunited within the Jungle Cruise line, they’d grown in quantity. One of Renata’s pals had received chatting to some guys she vaguely knew whereas ready for the Pirates of the Caribbean trip, and he or she’d invited them to affix within the day’s enjoyable.

Among these newcomers was Brian Mehl.

Brian grew up in a Disney-loving household, and, like Renata, spent a lot of his free time as a child and teenager at Disneyland.

Renata and Brian really grew up in the identical city. But as Brian was a bit older, and so they’d attended totally different excessive faculties, the 2 had by no means crossed paths,

Like Renata, Brian was at a crossroads in his life in January 2012. He’d simply left his job, and was questioning what got here subsequent.

Brian and Renata met in 2012 at Disneyland California.


Waiting in line for the trip, the 2 teams of pals began chatting with a 3rd group, the solid of a neighborhood manufacturing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” In the tip, the three teams boarded the boat in tandem.

“So we did succeed at having our own private little cruise on the Jungle Cruise with just our now extraordinarily large group of friends,” remembers Renata.

Swept up within the enjoyable of the trip, and the joy of assembly a bunch of latest, like-minded folks all at as soon as, Renata solely zeroed in on Brian when the group disembarked the boat.

“I was like, ‘Oh, wait a minute, I decided I wasn’t gonna date anyone, but he’s kind of cute. I’m going to talk to him,'” she says.

But there have been so many individuals within the group, and a lot happening, that her efforts weren’t very profitable.

“He couldn’t care less about me. He was completely oblivious. It did not work at all,” says Renata, laughing.

Brian insists this is not true. He remembers assembly Renata that day. He thought she was “a bubbly fun person,” he says.

As the day drew to a detailed, plans began to kind for the group to observe their new pals in “Rocky Horror” the next night.

Renata jumped at the prospect to host a pre-show celebration at her home, hoping Brian may come alongside.

But the next day, as she received prepared for the night, prepping her costume — a silver corset, denims and cat ears — Renata started to have doubts.

“He’s not just going to show up to a complete stranger’s house,” she remembers pondering.

But he did.

‘Rocky Horror’ romance

“I decided to go because it sounded like a fun time,” says Brian. “Meeting new people is always a fun thing to do.”

Renata was thrilled.

“I was shocked to see him. I didn’t actually believe him when he said he was going until he showed up,” she says. “It wasn’t until then that I thought that maybe I had a chance with this guy.”

“So we went to ‘Rocky,’ and again, I orchestrated so I would end up sitting next to him.”

Amid the raucous viewers interplay at “Rocky,” Renata and Brian flirted. As the evening went on, it was clear the curiosity wasn’t simply on Renata’s finish.

“There was definitely a physical connection,” she remembers.

“If I’m going to be honest here, there was not a lot of chatting. There was some dancing and some kissing. But he had my number and started texting me the next day.”

It was over textual content that the 2 realized how a lot that they had in frequent. The messages began, and did not cease.

“I think that’s what started our big connection, that we started talking constantly right after ‘Rocky,'” says Brian. “I don’t think I ever had anyone truly communicate with me so much day to day.”

As nicely as a mutual ardour for Disney, each Brian and Renata shared a love of winter sports activities. Over textual content, Brian informed Renata he was making an attempt to get a bunch collectively to exit to the mountains for a day journey the next weekend. He invited Renata to return alongside.

When nobody else dedicated and it ended up simply being Renata and Brian, alone, they had been each secretly happy.

“We did a lot of the typical first date stuff, the getting to know you stuff, but instead of having those conversations across a table from each other we did it on a chairlift,” remembers Renata.

“It was a really fun first date. I remember just talking,” says Brian.

After the day of snow sports activities, Renata and Brian made plans to go see “Rocky Horror” once more. This time, it will simply be the 2 of them. Afterwards, they frolicked all night.

“For me that was the moment,” says Renata. “We stayed up all night talking, and that was when we really connected, and we realized that we both have the same goals in life, the same interests.”

“That was that,” says Brian, who says that assembly Renata gave him a sense of certainty and readability he’d by no means felt earlier than.

Renata says she felt the identical means. And this was solely cemented after they launched their mother and father at, in fact, Disneyland.

“It just felt comfortable and natural,” says Brian. “It wasn’t work.”

A Disney proposal

Renata and Brian spent a day enjoying snow sports on their first date.

Renata and Brian spent a day having fun with snow sports activities on their first date.


The first check of Brian and Renata’s relationship got here two years in, when Renata accepted her dream function with the Disney College Program. The job concerned her relocating to Florida, to work at Walt Disney World, for six months.

“These six months apart are going to be the ultimate test,” Renata remembers pondering. “If it doesn’t work, then it’s not supposed to work, and it’s fine, and we’ll break it off — and good thing we found out now, instead of investing, you know, another three more years.”

Brian helped her transfer, and the couple turned the drive throughout the nation right into a two week highway journey, stopping off at landmarks and profiting from the time collectively.

“But if it does work, if after six months apart, we come to the conclusion that we still want to be together, then that’s kind of it, that we found the person and from there on, our relationship is going to shift into a much more serious tone,” Renata remembers pondering.

During their six month separation, the 2 busied themselves with work.

“Life just happened and we just rolled through,” says Brian.

When Renata got here again, the connection did shift. The couple determined to maneuver in collectively, and Brian began cooking up plans for a memorable marriage ceremony proposal.

Brian proposed to Renata in a creative, Disney-themed way.

Brian proposed to Renata in a artistic, Disney-themed means.


The location was a no brainer: Disneyland, in fact. The Californian park was the place the 2 met, and it had a particular resonance for his or her households, too.

Renata had informed Brian she favored the concept of an enormous proposal, with all her family members in attendance. So when Renata’s prolonged household had been on the town from Brazil, it was the right alternative.

The group made reservations at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel for a “character breakfast,” the place diners brunch accompanied by actors dressed as beloved Disney characters.

Brian received Renata’s sister concerned, and the 2 did some analysis. They discovered that if folks suggest at Disneyland, the characters are instructed to maneuver out of any photographs.

Brian knew Renata higher than anybody, and he knew Renata would love her favourite characters to be a part of the second. So Brian and Renata’s sister cooked up an concept: Brian would make a “marry me” signal and whereas Renata took a photograph along with her favourite Disney characters, cartoon chipmunks Chip and Dale, Brian would maintain up the signal within the background.

In the second, these logistics proved a little bit sophisticated. Renata missed the signal altogether, and solely realized what was taking place when Brian received down on one knee with the ring.

Still, when she put two and two, she was delighted.

“It was really cute,” says Renata now. “And then we all went to Disneyland.”

Renata and Brian enjoyed a Disney-themed wedding at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel.

Renata and Brian loved a Disney-themed marriage ceremony at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.


Fast ahead two years, and Renata and Brian returned to the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel to get married.

It was a dream come true for Renata.

“Since I was little, I used to say that I was going to get married at Disney,” she says.

Her dad used to level out that she’d must marry somebody who beloved Disney as a lot as she did.

“If they don’t want to get married at Disney, they’re not the right person,” Renata would reply.

Now, right here she was. She’d discovered the “right person.” She was marrying somebody who beloved Disneyland as a lot as she did. And Disneyland was the place their romance had begun.

“Everything was perfect,” says Renata, who took Brian’s title, turning into Renata Mehl.

“It was awesome,” agrees Brian.

At the marriage, the 2 had a number of Disney characters in attendance, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, in addition to Renata’s favorites Chip and Dale.

Afterwards, the couple took benefit of Renata’s Disney worker low cost to fly to Walt Disney World Florida and honeymoon at the park’s Grand Floridian Hotel.

They loved a morning prepare tour earlier than the park opened, a firework cruise and dinner inside Cinderella’s Castle.

10 years later

Renata and Brian on a recent trip to Brazil together.

Renata and Brian on a latest journey to Brazil collectively.


This yr sees Renata and Brian rejoice 10 years since they first met at Disneyland. They’ve grown up collectively in that point, supporting each other as they’ve discovered their means.

They nonetheless take pleasure in going to the theater collectively, and getting out in nature. They lately took up paddleboarding, and loved a climbing journey to the Grand Canyon.

And they nonetheless love Disney. The couple nonetheless reside near Disneyland California and say they by no means get sick of going there.

Renata chronicles their Disney adventures on her Instagram account, @MagicallyRenata. Their aim is to go to all of the Disney parks internationally, with Disney Tokyo and Disneyland Paris topping the checklist.

Renata and Brian hope to have children collectively sooner or later, and they want Disneyland to be as a lot part of their future kids’s lives as it’s theirs.

“I think for me, there’s so much nostalgia, when it comes to Disney,” displays Renata. “I grew up on it. I was very lucky to get to go to Disneyland from a very young age. And so every time I’m there, there are just all these little callbacks to my childhood. But also, I’ve formed a new respect for it as an adult.”

Brian agrees, suggesting the magic of Disneyland is it is a spot the place adults can indulge their interior child.

That stated, the 2 admit they may be a bit biased. Sure, Disneyland was particular for them earlier than 2012. But then it grew to become the place the place their romance started, and took on a brand new resonance.

While Renata suggests “right place and the right time” performed an element of their assembly, she’s additionally a Disney lover, so fairytale endings are her factor. She likes to suppose there was extra at play than simply coincidence.

“I think we still would have met. I think there’s a little bit of destiny there,” she says. “It was meant to be. One way or the other we were going to run into each other.”



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