Being Present at Disney

We all know that Disney World is one of the most, if not the most, magical places in the world. You can spend months or even years planning a single 7-day trip to The World, but if you’re not careful it will go by in a blur and the only memories you’ll have will be the photos.

Look Away From the Lens

I know, I know, you bought that shiny new DSLR or that new lens or even that cool new filter specifically for this trip; but if you spend the entire time looking through the viewfinder/LCD screen trying to capture every breath and bite then what was the point in actually going? You could just as well have looked through Google images, or better yet hit up the DisBoards, and enjoyed some of the beautiful images available there. Don’t leave the camera in the room of course but if you’ve been shooting and using your “photographer’s eye” for three straight  hours then just put it down for a bit and take a look around.

You’ve been waiting for this trip for who knows how long so take a deep inhale and fill your lungs with that sweet Disney smell, watch hilarity unfold as Gaston appears outside his Tavern, just watch and laugh along with everyone else….alright maybe take just one picture as he is one of the best new characters around.

It can be difficult to disconnect from your camera since Disney is a very photographable destination, but you’ll be amazed at what you see once you take the time to look around and bask in the Disney Awesome Sauce™. If you can afford it, go for the Memory Maker package and let the PhotoPass folks burden some of the picture load. They may not all be the best photographers around but you’ll get some great shots more times than not. Let them do some of the grunt work while you vacation.

It’s Happening Right Now

On our last trip I can’t count how many people were on a ride and were working their phones trying to book another fast pass or check wait times for the next ride…YOU’RE ON A RIDE PEOPLE! TAKE A LOOK AROUND! Have you ever gotten into your car to drive somewhere, and then when you get there you don’t even remember the drive? You will most likely have this same experience here playing this “What’s Next” game at Disney. You get on every ride in the Magic Kingdom and later can’t recall any specific details about a single one.

I feel that you can’t fully appreciate what’s happening right now if you’re constantly worrying about what’s coming next. You just waited 30-45 minutes to get on the ride, some rides even have beautiful interactive queues which you may have also missed out on if you were checking wait times/parade schedules/peanut prices, and now that you finally get there you still can’t fully disconnect and appreciate the beauty that is The Voyage of the Little Mermaid (tough to beat Under the Sea on a warm Florida night).

Even the super planners among us should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor. As I see it, you have two options to help with this:

  1. Plan your park route beforehand and make small adjustments as needed throughout the day;
  2. Use your designated food breaks to adjust fast passes or other scheduled events.

You’re basically scheduling an “adjustments” period into your park day rather than constantly checking your phone to see what you’re missing out on. It’s happening all around you! Just stop and really look around, you’ll be amazed at what you see.

Let Go

Disney is one of the few places where you don’t have to worry about what’s socially acceptable, for the most part. If you hear your favorite Disney song, sing along to your heart’s content, chances are you’ll get some big smiles and fellow singers to join in. Move It! Shake It! Parade cutting through Main Street? Let your hair down and dance along to the beat baby!

Once you get past the age of 9 (two numbers wooohoooo),  you risk getting strange looks from people if you’re caught splashing in puddles while it’s raining, but when in Disney it’s fair game. Of all the things we’ve done and the money we’ve spent while on vacation, my daughter’s favorite memory is when her and I snuck out while mommy was in the shower and jumped in the pool in our PJs.

These are the types of things you wouldn’t normally do when you’re at home, take advantage of these opportunities and live outside the box of normalcy; just let go (that was dangerously close to a Frozen reference).


This one is simple and pretty much summarizes everything above, just stop and:

  • Feel the ground at your feet;
  • Listen to the music in the background;
  • Check out the interesting architectural details;
  • Smell the blend of food, park ride, and palatable human joy in the air;
  • Look at the floors (some cool stuff hidden there sometimes);
  • Enjoy the fact that you’re eating a ½ gallon of ice cream for lunch.

You can’t really capture this in a picture or even with words, you just feel it.

Disney is a great escape from reality but you have to be willing to leave reality behind. Give it a try for just a few minutes on your next trip, put the camera down, block out the phone, and just dance to whatever song is playing. Welcome to Disney!


Move It! Shake It!

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