My name is Mark Peters and I am on Disney stage #5. Now this isn’t the stage that you might think it is, when it comes to Disney. I believe that we all go through 6 stages in our Disney life. My first Disney stage started when I was just a youngster, watching The Wonderful World of Disney on television. As a child, my chances of getting to Disneyland in California from a small town in South Jersey were slim to none. Through the magic of Disney and television, I got my first taste of Walt Disney and he captured my imagination.
These days it is much easier for folks on the East Coast to get to Walt Disney World in Florida. This is when stage 1 usually begins. It’s when our parents take us to experience Disney for the first time in our life as small children. We are amazed as our favorite characters come to life before our very eyes. We can get our pictures taken with them, talk to them and actually get to hug them. Everyday is so magical and is an experience most of us will never forget.
We are seamlessly transferred to the second stage as we get into our teen years and start to discover Disney on our own, with our friends and peers. Mom and Dad let us lose in the parks to do what we want, when we want. Many travel and experience the parks on their senior class trip. It’s the ultimate chance at freedom to experience the parks in our own way with our best friends. An experience with your high school friends that will probably never be duplicated.
Stage 3 occurs when we share the parks with our new found love. Many honeymooners have found their way to the parks to spend their first days of wedded bliss. Each shares their favorite rides and restaurants with the other during this joyous time. If you are lucky enough, you can even get married at Disney — the ultimate fantasy wedding. It’s a different experience sharing the parks with the one we love.
Before you know it, we are on stage 4. Sharing and enjoying the look of amazement on our children. We now feel the joy that our parents felt, as we watch our children experience Disney for the first time. Our hearts fill with joy as our children now see their favorite characters come to life before their eyes. We are now experiencing and enjoying Disney through the eyes of our children.
Time passes quickly, and before you know it, you have caught up to me in stage 5. It’s a different experience going back to the parks without your children as an empty-nester. Now, it’s just you and your wife again. You don’t get to the rides as quickly as you use to. Things move a little slower, including you and wife. You start to realize the attention to detail Disney imagineers have taken in every aspect of the parks. The architecture, the names on the windows of Main Street U.S.A., the change of music as you go from land to land, and the fact that once you enter one land, you really can’t see or hear any other lands. You now experience the parks in a different way, and appreciate and understand the magic on a deeper level.
Hopefully, I will soon be entering stage 6. Returning to the parks as a grandparent. Sharing all my experiences, and enjoying the amazement all over again, with my grandchildren. I’m sure that this will be a new way to enjoy the parks as I watch a new stage cycle begin.
So, no matter what Disney stage you are on, take the advice from a stage 5 veteran: slow down, take it all in, and enjoy the spotlight on each stage as you go. You will soon see that each stage will hold a special and magical experience of its own — and together, when you look back, you will have created your own Disney stage story.