Apr 16

Why I Love Walt Disney World

We are just six days out from our next Walt Disney World vacation. Our personalized magic bands have arrived, one purple and one green. I have made a few, tentative FastPlus+ selections and thought I’d share some of my excitement in a post.

We are going to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival next weekend for the first time. I’ve done my research, and read that they will have outdoor kitchens “around the world” where guests can sample food and drinks in addition to viewing their elaborate flower and topiary arrangements.

I am a true Disney fanatic, and my husband Brad has always been baffled by my enthusiasm. A few weeks ago, I remember saying to him, “life is short, I’m going to Disney.” He shook his head and said “I don’t get it.”

I am able to drag him to this event because he does like flower shows. And he does enjoy Epcot’s Wine and Food Festival in the fall because it’s more about the event than Disney or the parks proper. But it’s an understatement to say that he hasn’t embraced the magic.

I’ve tried to explain the brilliance of Disney to him many times without success. He DOES do an excellent Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse impersonation, so there might be hope for him yet. And I thought I saw a glimmer of appreciation when we went through the One Man’s Dream attraction, a museum and short film about Walt Disney’s life, narrated by Julie Andrews, in December. But the closest I can get to explaining it is by borrowing the words of Helen Keller, who supposedly said:

The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen nor even touched. They must be felt by the heart.

It’s a feeling I get when I go to the parks that keeps me going back over and over again. You either feel it or you don’t. And the build up starts long before you get there. Thinking about going there, and the roadtrip across the state, is part of the experience. It reminds me of many similar family quests for fun with my Dad channeling Chevy Chase from the wheel of the wood-paneled station wagon, with my sisters and I torturing each other in the backseat. It’s also like a visit to grandmother’s house, with all of the warmth and familiar sights, smells and sounds

Wall-E and Jud-E

Wall-E and me at the Franklin Institute

that conjure up lots of great memories.

For me, the seed was planted at a very young age. We watched all of the Disney classic movies religiously and listened to the classic Disney album over and over again until we knew the words to every song. My Mickey Mouse blouse and denim dress ensemble was in constant rotation when I was five. Disney was always a part of our household.

I devoured all of the fascinating books about Walt Disney’s life, was there when Epcot Center debuted, read Disney Magazine and even watched the Disney Channel. I used to practice drawing the characters, and was thrilled when one of the sketches I submitted to the Disney Channel was featured on the air. I was hooked.

When I was in college, I had a chance to interview for the Walt Disney World College Program. I was absolutely ecstatic when I was accepted, and jumped on a plane two days after my graduation from Penn State. Disney apparently loves Penn State students. I spent a humid summer working in the ever crowded bakery and cone shops on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. And loved exploring behind the scenes, eating up all of the insider information and trivia. So, when I go to Disney World, it really is like going home.

Disney started the magic by taking our favorite, childhood fairy tale characters to the big screen. If that wasn’t enough, they brought the pivotal movie moments to life, frame by frame, just like the movies, on their attractions. They created a special world where the characters dwell among us.

Fairy tales went from being in a place in our minds to a physical location in Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California. Disney makes it possible to get your picture taken with the princesses and villains, get their autographs, and even enjoy breakfast with them. Now that’s cool.

They keep stepping up their game, and finding new ways to make the parks and surrounding areas more magical. I’m a little envious of children today who can get a royal princess treatment at Disney Springs. Their attention to detail and theming is second to none. It is possible to blissfully avoid reality and stay on theme throughout your stay. This is especially true if you are staying at a Disney resort hotel.

And, finally, it goes without saying, but it’s just a really cheerful place. You really can buy happiness, at least for a few days, at the Walt Disney World Resort. jt