I think there is one company in this world that has set the marketing and branding bar for all others. You can go anywhere in the world and say, “I am going to see the mouse” or “I am going to the most magical place on Earth” and everyone will know what you are referencing. I honestly think Disney has impressed everyone in some form or fashion whether it is through merchandise, theme parks, cartoons, or movies. I always enjoyed Disney movies and cartoons through my youth, but that joy continued into my adulthood with the addition of Pixar.
My first Disney experience occurred when I was around 6 years old. My family visited Disneyland in Los Angeles. I am sad to say I do not remember any of it. The faded pictures in my mom’s photo albums revealed I had a fantastic time.
When I was 13 years old, my family visited Disney World in Orlando. I was really excited about this trip because I could take a friend with me. I was school aged at the time and we could only visit during summer break. My memories of this trip were that it was hot, hot, and did I mention it was HOT! My friend and I wore our Goofy hats and waited in long lines, which to a teenager, were lame. I think a Fast Pass, Park Hopper, or a waterpark would have been a bonus for this trip, but these options were not available at the time. I do remember being terrified on this one ride called Space Mountain. The fear lasted for 10 years!
My husband and I decided to go to Disney World around our second anniversary because he had never experienced it. We did not have kids at the time, so we planned our trip between Spring Breaks. We wanted to avoid the crowds and the heat. It was wonderful! He wanted to ride everything. I was okay with that until we approached Space Mountain. He grabbed my hand, and we entered the queue. Let us just say I was a nervous wreck. I felt queasy and my palms were sweating. I really did not want to ride this ride!! There was a lady with her two kids in front of me. She was pale and I could tell that she was as nervous as me. While waiting in line, we started talking about how much we were not looking forward to repeating this childhood nightmare. As the conversation progressed, she stated she had ridden the ride in her teen years too and was scared spitless!!! We all approached the rockets of doom and I have to say I am glad the lady went first. I watched her enter the tunnel of blackness knowing she was currently seeing her life flash before her very eyes. In less than 5 seconds, I was buckled into my own rocket of doom and I was launched into the inky blackness of space. I screamed and screamed, but not in terror. Space Mountain was unbelievably AWESOME!! The element of darkness added so much to the overall experience. We exited our rocket, and I was ready to go again!
My husband and I had reservations for a week, so we took a little time to visit the waterparks. While in the wave pool, we noticed something in the sky, but it was not an airplane. It was the Shuttle taking off from NASA!!! Overall, this trip to Disney was positively memorable.
My son was 2 years old when we visited Disney World again. This time we took grandparents with us. It was interesting to experience the magic of Disney through the eyes of a toddler. He was fascinated by the littlest things, such as ducks, splash pools, and anything he could climb on. He was unsure of the characters especially Goofy. Surprisingly, he stood beside Sully from Monsters, Inc. and posed for a picture. Taking the grandparents on the trip was beneficial to my husband and I too. When they all were tired and wanted to go back to the resort, the hubs and I went to ride the big kid rides like Tower of Terror and Rocking Roller Coaster. At the time of this visit, Disney World still had Extra Magic hours available for resort guests. We rode these rides over and over until 2 in the morning. I do have to say I did get tired of eating chicken nuggets, pizza, and hamburgers, but I never got enough of the Mickey Ear ice cream bars!
When my son was 6 years old, we visited Disney World with grandparents and my 10-year-old cousin. I am proud to say Space Mountain scared the pants off her! Maybe when she visits again at 25 years of age, she will love it. Everyone enjoyed the larger than life shows such as the Fantasmic Show at Magic Kingdom. Honestly, I teared up during the Magic Kingdom fireworks when Jiminy Cricket spoke, and Tinker Bell flew from the castle. My son enjoyed the parades and characters a little more this time around. His favorite ride was Big Thunder Mountain. I know my family got so aggravated with me because every time we visit, I make them ride It’s A Small World. I remind them it is TRADITION! The kids enjoyed the Rainforest Café and T-Rex Café during this visit. I enjoyed the break from chicken nuggets, pizza, and hamburgers.
I am saddened to say my son is too cool for Disney World at 16 years of age and chose not to go this time around. My husband and I decided to upgrade from our traditional value resort stay and we made reservations at one of the moderate resorts on property. We chose The Caribbean Beach Resort for this trip. Our room was in Aruba which was the closest access to the Sky Liner. This trip marked a lot of “firsts” for us. We had never experienced the Sky Liner, Magic Bands, sit down dining, and moderate resorts. The Magic Bands were simply fantastic, and I appreciate the fact they are reusable. I wish the cruise industry would adopt these types of bands. The Sky Liner was very relaxing, and I really hope Disney expands it to service Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. One of the goals for us on this trip was to try as many restaurants as possible and to reduce the quick service options. We were impressed with the quality of the meals and of course Disney has customer service down to a tee. I think our favorite experience was the family style dining at Biergarten Restaurant at Epcot. The food was plentiful and delicious, and it was accompanied by a dining show. A helpful tip is to not ride Mission to Mars after eating such delicious and plentiful food. Magic Kingdom was our favorite park just because of the nostalgia. Of course, we rode It’s a Small World and my husband made the sweetest comment to me during the ride. He said, “this was the first time you were introduced to traveling the world.” The one thing we did differently in our mid 40s that we never did in our 20s, we rested! If we were tired, we went back to the resort and took a nap or shower and then we hit the parks again. I think this was the first trip to Disney that I could say was relaxing.
Next on the agenda, a Disney Cruise! My son might be too cool to visit Disney World, but he is the one requesting the cruise. I know it will be just as fabulous
as everything else Disney has marketed. Stay tuned!
(Photo taken by Amy Marble at Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida 2021)