For those of us who carry the self-proclaimed title of Disney Fan, how many of us hear this type of question on a regular basis? As we draw close to each of our trips, oftentimes either friends, colleagues, or even family members will ask this question. How often do your loved ones ask you, “Disney again?”
Sometimes, the silent shaking of the head replaces the vocal questioning, as almost to show a sign of disgust that we continue to travel frequently to the sunshine-soaked seasons of Central Florida to visit the home of the Magic Kingdom. The short answer would, of course, be “yes”; but hopefully a more detailed answer below may help to answer one of the most dreaded questions asked of us all.
What is the draw of Walt Disney World and why do so many perform their pilgrimage there so often? Fans of WDW, myself included, often cite three specific reasons for their return to one of the largest vacation resorts in the world: the magic, the memories, and the “munchies.”
Magic exudes from the very first time you set foot onto the grounds of WDW. As we would travel from Orlando International Airport to the WDW grounds aboard Disney’s Magical Express, our bus drivers often slowed down just slightly and allowed us to grab that perfect shot of the Walt Disney World sign as we crossed onto the property. As you make your way further into the grounds of Walt’s “Florida Project”, you sense the overwhelming separation from the normal grind of life. The sign above the entrance onto Main Street, U.S.A. says it best: “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”
I work in a very high-stress job with a great deal of responsibility; however, upon my reaching WDW, I escape all of my cares and worries back home, albeit for a short time. When I return home and back to work, I feel refreshed and recharged — a magical transformation. The goal of Disney seems to center around drawing the guest away from their hustle-and-bustle and immersing them in a magical world, whether spending time in the quaint Main Street, U.S.A. discussing the local happenings with the "Citizens of Main Street" or seeking out an out-of-this-world adventure riding the back of an Ikran at Pandora’s Flight of Passage.
The magic continues not only in Disney’s amazing theme parks, but also within the resorts of WDW. Our most recent trip landed us in the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge. The sights and sounds of Africa permeated our experience and we often forgot that we were in Central Florida and not in the middle of an African savannah. The smells of African cuisine filtered throughout the resort as well. Once again, Disney overwhelmed all of our senses and drew us away from the worries of home.
Not only just magical experiences, Disney also excels in providing families with great memories. Magical experiences occur regularly in both the theme parks as well as the resorts, and some of the most precious memories center around the ones you share with your family. Whether it is trying to find that special rare character for a picture or even completing the four-parks-in-one-day challenge, some of my greatest memories include my time with family at WDW.
My wife and I spent our 25th anniversary in the Magic Kingdom, sporting proudly our “Celebrating 25 Ears” buttons. We created some very special memories as we had our PhotoPass pictures taken together in front of Cinderella Castle. As we walked down Main Street, U.S.A., we spotted the Mayor as well as other Citizens of Main Street. I asked my wife, “I wonder if the Mayor would renew our vows on Main Street for our 25th?” As we approached, several other Citizens began to gather around us and the Mayor graciously renewed our vows with Cinderella Castle in the background. One of the Citizens recorded the event with our camera so that we always kept a keepsake. Little did we know that a separate cast member witnessed the event. He approached us afterward, asking if we were busy later that afternoon. He then asked if we would be interested in serving as Grand Marshals for the Festival of Fantasy Parade that afternoon. Our answer was obvious. Needless to say, we led the Festival of Fantasy of Parade down the very street we had just renewed our vows on. Truly a magical, memory-filled day thanks to this special group of cast members. The Disney cast members often are at the center of the magical memories.
Meals may make magical memories. When someone considers eating at a theme park, often the idea of burgers, pizza, and chicken nuggets comes to mind, and the WDW experience contains those items; however, Disney far exceeds the standard theme park menus. While in certain cases — especially in the case of selective eaters or children — the traditional theme park fair such as burgers, chicken, and pizza does prove beneficial, times arise when a more special menu becomes the focus. The Disney parks, Resort hotels, and even Disney Springs evolved into a food-lover’s paradise. Some of the best meals that our family have partaken of have been within Disney.
As stated before, our most recent trip included a stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and we enjoyed an excellent meal at the Lodge’s buffet, Boma. There, we discovered our enjoyment of African cuisine and a certain little dessert called a Zebra Dome. Evidence of a good meal is the amount of time that you continue to talk about it. Yes, we still talk about our meal at Boma and we are searching endlessly upon the internet for a suitable do-it-yourself recipe for the lovely Zebra Dome.
If the hamburger is your meal of choice, Disney takes the simple sandwich to the next level with the restaurant D-Luxe Burger at Disney Springs. EPCOT rises to the level of one of the greatest places to eat due to the World Showcase and the international treats that one finds during their exploration around the World Showcase Lagoon. This even exceeds the baseline during a personal favorite, the Food and Wine Festival. The Baseline Taphouse at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also becoming a favorite stop during a trip to the parks.
As one considers the magic, the memories, and the munchies that coincide with a trip to WDW, their friends and family may still ask, “Aren’t you tired of doing the same thing over and over going to Disney?” The answer is simple, as we have yet to do the same thing over and over. With the tremendous size of the Walt Disney World Resort and the endless activities that come with the size of the resort, families find it easy to do at least a few new things each time they travel to the Disney Parks. The resort includes four major theme parks, two water parks, many resorts, and a large shopping/restaurant district. Granted, rarely do our family trips not include multiple Pirates of the Caribbean excursions and Haunted Mansion tours, but we still possess a large bucket list of new things that we still wish to do as well.
In conclusion, the answer to the question above is a resounding “Yes” — and we now have a question for you, “Want to go with us?”