This is Why I am Thankful for Walt Disney World

This is Why I am Thankful for Walt Disney World The DIS thankful (7)

Every Thanksgiving, when I think about what I’m thankful for, Disney is always high on the list. The theme parks have changed my life and played a massive part in who I am today. I guess you can say I’m one of those Disney Adults.

My earliest memories are all from Disney World. I remember doing the pony rides at Fort Wilderness Campground, having a birthday at Chef Mickey’s, and being terrified of the characters and what Christmas was like at EPCOT. Disney means a lot to my family, and I am forever grateful that the love of the parks passed to me.

This is Why I am Thankful for Walt Disney World The DIS thankful (3)  This photo was taken when I was about 11 years old visiting the BoardWalk Inn
This photo was taken when I was about 11 years old visiting the BoardWalk Inn

The parks got me through some of the most complex parts of my life, from getting bullied to struggling with anxiety and trying to find my place in life. We lived three hours away from the parks, so we would come up twice a year, sometimes three, and I would always have a countdown going because I couldn’t wait to be in my happy place. The minute we passed the welcome sign, I felt relief because I knew I was home.

Anxiety isn’t easy to handle, but whenever we went to Disney, I would feel my anxiety slowly disappear. It’s like the magic in the air would calm me down. It’s sad to say, but the parks have become one of the only places I truly feel safe to be myself. When I’m there, I feel a sense of safety that I don’t feel anywhere else, which is why it eases my anxiety.

Disney gave me my first opportunity to perform professionally after college. Even though it didn’t end the way I wanted, I am still thankful for that opportunity. I had the chance to bring beloved characters to life and impact guests’ vacations in a way I never thought I could. So many performers brought me joy as I was growing up, and I used to think, how did they know I needed a hug like that? Once I stepped into their shoes, I realized it’s not hard to tell when a hug can change the course of a person’s trip or day. I am forever grateful that I was able to do that. I miss it every day.

The parks also gave me so many new memories with my best friend and my wife. We celebrated our one-month dating anniversary at the Magic Kingdom; I can’t believe that was almost six years ago. Our wedding had hints of Disney scattered throughout the event; of course, it was Beauty and the Beast-themed. After we got married, we spent the next day admiring Cinderella’s Castle and showed Mickey our rings.

My best friend and I met when I was in high school, and he hadn’t really experienced Disney the way I did, so I convinced his parents to let my mom and I take him to Disney. Now he has an annual pass, and we still go to the parks together. I am so grateful that I can continue to make memories at my happy place with my two favorite people.

My love for Disney led me to where I am today, The DIS. It brought me to my dream job. It brought me to the channel I would watch when I was missing Disney and just needed a little magic to get through the day. It led me to this website, where I planned everything we would do on our next trip. My love for the parks led me here to be with all of you, which I will be forever thankful for.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and Disney is one of them. I could write for hours about how much the overall company has impacted my life, but I don’t have that kind of time. Now that I shared a tiny part of my story on why I’m thankful for Disney, I’d love to read your reasons.

If you have a few extra minutes in your day to leave a comment explaining why you are thankful for Disney, please do.

Hi, I'm Erica, and I write about all things Disney. Before working for The DIS, I was a theme park performer at SeaWorld, but I also performed at Disney. I have such an immense love for theme parks to the point I studied them in college.


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