Woman shares unforgettable encounter with Disney cast member after death of brother: 'I have no words'

Alex Lasker
·6-min read

A California woman’s unforgettable encounter with a Disney cast member dressed as Peter Pan is tugging at heartstrings on social media.

Rachael Edlow, a 29-year-old actress in L.A., recalled the emotional 2013 experience in a Jan. 28 TikTok that has since been viewed over 549,000 times.

“About seven years ago, I lost my brother,” Edlow shared of her beloved sibling, David. “He suffered from depression and it ended with him taking his life. The year he died, I went to Disneyland and I really wanted to meet Peter Pan because I’d never met him before and he’s one of my favorite characters.”

Upon spotting Peter Pan roaming through Disney’s Fantasyland, Edlow, who was 22 at the time, says she sprinted toward him for a meet and greet — but she ended up with a little more than just a keepsake photo.

Credit: Rachael Edlow
Credit: Rachael Edlow

“As I’m doing my character meet and greet, I mentioned, ‘Hey, I lost my brother this year and it’s really special for me to meet you right now, because somehow in my mind, I always thought that his version of heaven would be Neverland,'” Edlow said she told the character, noting that even in her brother’s adulthood, “he was always a kid at heart.”

To her surprise, the Disney cast member knew the exact right words to say to console her.

“This Peter pan goes, ‘You know, we did just get a new lost boy, that’s his name, and he looks a lot like you — I think your brother made it to Neverland,'” Edlow recalled. “I have no words to express what that meant to me. All I can say is I hugged him, I cried really hard and I’ll never forget it.”

TikTokers were understandably blown away by the moving story, as well as with how the cast member went above and beyond to comfort Edlow.

“I didn’t expect to be crying but here I am,” one user wrote.

“That wasn’t a cast member… that was Peter Pan,” commented another. “Magic making is the best part!”

“It’s especially fitting because J.M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan to help process his grief about losing his older brother,” noted a third.

Edlow told In The Know that she has always heavily associated her brother, David, who was 35 when he died in 2013, with Peter Pan, considering him a Lost Boy in his own right.

“[David] was the most playful, youthful person,” she said. “His whole life, you could ask him his favorite color, he’d say, ‘all of them.’ His favorite animal? ‘All of them.’ He played pranks, teased and did gross things like eat bugs to make his sisters and nieces say ‘ewww!’ He was a Lost Boy and he’s why I loved Peter Pan growing up.”

Credit: Rachael Edlow
Credit: Rachael Edlow

Edlow and her brother had a 13-year age gap between them, which she says made her look forward to adulthood so she could spend more meaningful time with him.

Tragically, David died by suicide in September 2013, just after Edlow had graduated college and was set to move to L.A. to pursue her acting career.

“He was gloriously funny and playful,” she recalled. “He dealt with real demons and depression his whole life, but I only ever saw the good side of him. He made sure of that. He loved being a big brother.”

Months after losing her brother, Edlow was able to relocate to L.A. and went to Disneyland to celebrate the move with her best friend, which is when the magical moment took place.

“We were having a great day and had just ridden Peter Pan’s Flight,” she said. “As we were walking through [Sleeping Beauty’s Castle], I saw him and my heart stopped. We followed him because we had to meet him.”

While waiting in line, Edlow says she began to second guess whether she should tell the cast member about her brother, due to the nature of the tragedy.

“I was incredibly nervous,” she shared. “I didn’t want to make the cast members uncomfortable with my story. But as soon as I met him, I had to explain.”

“First, he wiped off all my cooties with a leaf,” she joked. “And then I told him. When he told me about the new Lost Boy, I immediately started pouring tears. And he hugged me and whispered in my ear ‘I’m so sorry.'”

“Not only was I able to meet Peter and ‘know he was taking care of my brother’s spirit,’ but I shared a real human moment with this other person,” she continued. “I know the story isn’t real, that Neverland isn’t real. But in that moment, I was able to believe. The magic and trust were there. I was able to imagine my brother being a little boy forever with no pain and only fun. I’d genuinely like to believe his heaven is, in fact, Neverland. He was a real-life Lost Boy.”

Credit: Rachael Edlow
Credit: Rachael Edlow

Since Edlow’s storytime has gone viral, with its second part racking up over 1.2 million views on TikTok, she says she has heard from many “friends of Peter” from parks around the world, including Disney World, Disneyland and even Disney Paris.

“They’ve been lovely and said the story has circulated between them,” Edlow shared.

She even said she was contacted by the husband of Cathy Rigby, who starred in Peter Pan on Broadway, offering to meet up once “things are safer” in regards to the global pandemic.

Although she has yet to find the exact Peter Pan with whom she shared the magical moment, Edlow says that through TikTok, she has actually heard from some of his friends and hopes to someday connect with him.

“I did have someone recognize my specific Peter, he’s known as ‘Frosty Pan,'” she said. “I’ve been connected with the name of his ‘friend’ but I’ve yet to be able to find him or connect with him. I really hope I can so that he can know how amazing this moment was for me and how many other people love him for it.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor at no charge by texting the word “HOME” to 741741. Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to learn more about the warning signs of suicidal ideation.

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