When Walt Disney World shut down with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, it was a shock to all. The parks had only closed for a handful of days previously in its almost 50 year history. As the parks started to open, people were skeptical on if they’d have the same magic with some attractions closed and other experiences cut. However, the magic is still there. In my last article, I discussed the benefits of visiting Disney World now. It’s actually a great time to go. However, one thing I did notice were the seemingly smaller things that I didn’t realize I’d miss.
Part of what makes Disney the magical place that it is are the extra touches. One of those that we stumbled upon during our last visit was the spontaneous character dance parties. It brought me so much joy to see my kids to just let loose with their favorite characters and interact with them. Just watching them laughing and showing off their moves was enough to make you forget any worries outside the Disney bubble… and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Speaking of interactions, does anyone else miss hugs? I mean, seeing people for the first time in a while that you would normally hug, but then you stop because you’re not sure if they’re cool with hugs right now. Well, I miss hugs at Disney, too. When one of my kids is just so excited to see their favorite character that they run up to hug them at a meet and greet. While they can still have the thrill of seeing their favorite characters from a distance (which they did love), it seems much more sterile without the affection and personalized interaction. A favorite Disney memory of mine with my children at Disney World is when the Princess Elena kissed my six month old’s cheek, prompting my two-year-old to do the same. But now that we’ve lived through the pandemic, those times feel so far away.
Keeping with the character meets that are missed, I miss the unique souvenirs that are made with character autographs. Back when I took everything for granted (pre-COVID), I thought I couldn’t wait until the kids were old enough to not care about getting character autographs. We would take the Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters around to our meet and greets to get it signed, but now I see what a wonderful keepsake that was. My kids still love looking through the book so much we had to get a new cover and binding put on.
I definitely didn’t think I would miss all the features that cost much extra, but I do miss the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique as well. The magic of getting a princess makeover in the castle for our girls would have been the perfect experience for them this year. Last time we visited, our younger daughter wasn’t old enough to go so we decided to wait until next time, naively thinking we will always have this opportunity for them. I know there are cast members from Ear for Each Other that can do this outside the parks, but we were hoping for the whole experience for our daughters.
There are many lessons we learned in this pandemic, and one of those lessons is that we won’t always have next time. Places close. Times change. Kids grow up. So here’s our big takeaway – take the trip. Experience what you can. Cherish the memories. You don’t know when life can pull a 2020 on us.
Sara is a Marketing Specialist by day, but her true passion is writing. She's been a freelance writer for 11 years and uses that side hustle money for traveling with her husband and three young children.