It’s hard to believe the New Year is approaching again. It seems like yesterday we were all catching our breath and holding on tight to each other jumping into 2021, a bit relieved, confused and exhausted from 2020. Where did the time go? So much has changed within all of us and so much has also stayed the same that, as we head into 2022, we can all just keep on pushing forward, learning, growing, and holding hands in our Disney community. We are one.
Our Disney parks have changed this year, things have reopened, and many of us were able to revisit. Those that weren’t can look forward to possibly returning in 2022. We’re celebrating our golden 50th at Walt Disney World, we wave to our brave friends on Disney Cruise Line, we’ve welcomed our Disney College Program friends and cast members who have returned and we’ll see more things reopening as we move ahead.
On Thanksgiving, we thanked and appreciated people and events and memories and during our winter holidays, we felt blessed. For New Year’s, I asked myself what will I never take for granted again at our Disney parks. As more of our special magical touches opened this year and will continue to offer as park guests, I appreciate some things I actually took for granted before.
What’s at Disney that you won’t ever take for granted again? That you saw leave our parks and resorts and really appreciate now more than ever? Here are my top ten Disney “I will never take it for granted” list that I personally will hold onto and as we celebrate our New Year:
A good meal out: Sitting down at a Disney restaurant, enjoying a moment of relaxation with friends and family inside a park or resort restaurant is bliss. From Epcot’s escapism into a different world to feeling like you leaped into a storybook land in the Magic Kingdom, sitting down for a wonderful Disney-themed meal is never to be taken for granted by me again.
Characters: I really don’t need to be up close and personal to appreciate a character sighting. Just the idea they are roaming around the parks is enough for me to not take these rich experiences for granted. Heading into 2022, the new year will bring even more characters within our Disney parks with a daytime parade, shows, and new cavalcades.
Annual Passes: To expect something to always be available and then it’s not can be jarring. So when Annual Passes returned, I did not hesitate to purchase mine and I do not take it lightly that I was able to have the opportunity to purchase one. Now it’s gone temporarily, but when they return, we will value the options they afford us.
Cast Members: I took them for granted for many years. I was so busy in my “mom mode” of watching my kids, always harried by the demands of parenting children that I didn’t look up and appreciate those around me in the parks that make that experience so unique. I no longer do that. I let them know I appreciate them and am present and mindful with my cast member interactions and conversations. Lesson learned.
Us: The people. At first it seemed “Wow, there’s no one in the parks!” I didn’t experience that in 2020 for myself, but while I don’t want crowds, I like being around my fellow Disney parks fans. It’s the shared experience that makes part of any live event special. I loved sitting on the Skyliner with strangers this year offering to take their picture together, and they were over the moon I offered. Welcome back, people!
The Classics: For the 50th anniversary at Walt Disney World, I realized I took for granted the classic attractions that stared right at me. I ignored them for years. Why do I walk past the Enchanted Tiki Room? It reminds me that I should take time out and value the oldies.
Hard-Working People: I can’t believe I am placing this on my list, but working staff/cast members that make our vacations is my part two of the cast member experience. The short staffing issues are a pandemic itself and when I see a Disney cast member, I appreciate they are lending a hand to the efforts to stop our staffing issues that are plaguing us all in so many areas of our lives.
Originals: Whether it be the new original song “The Magic is Calling” or The Mandalorian on Disney+, anything that is created with new content I will never take for granted again. Something that is new and fresh is so hard to create these days, with shortages of everything and the sickness of the past two years. It is so exciting for me when anything original is unloaded into our Disney laps. Sitting in a movie theater! I can’t wait for everything new coming in 2022!
Bob Iger: Oh boy, I said it. How I look back on his legacy and do not take him for granted as I did before the new regime heading Disney. A strong leader who remembers that the company is only as good as the fans. The fans are the backbone of the shareholders and investors and banks. We uplift all of you. Bob Iger understood that because he was a fan, too.
Lastly, #10, I do not take for granted our Disney family, the DIS Unplugged, our Dreams Unlimited Travel agents, fellow contributors, friends on our community threads and boards, podcasters, YouTubers, pre- and post- production crews; you are all important and just like my real family whom I never took for granted. I thank you and appreciate each and every one of you as we don’t know what 2022 will bring, but we do know that we will share it together.
Happy New Year! What will you go into 2022 thinking you will never take for granted again?
Shari Kessler loves the Disunplugged and all things Disney. She has imparted her passion for the parks along with her husband of more than 25 years to their three young adult children. Their family vacations have included Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Aulani but their home base is Walt Disney World as she resides from New Jersey. Shari also loves her cats Ricky and Lucy(RIP Lucy 2021). As a former early childhood educator she is now assisting at an animal hospital in NYC. She enjoys the Disunplugged community and hopes her articles connect with the Dis family.
You can find her and all of her articles at:
Thanks for reading!