Anyone who visits Walt Disney World knows this dreaded question: “Wouldn’t you like to go somewhere new?” I don’t know, Karen, did you fail to realize that the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened up in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or that there’s a new gondola system called Disney Skyliner connecting Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot? Those are new experiences!
I grew up going to Walt Disney World, and I’ve gone every year since I was a toddler. It was the first vacation my family ever took me on and it’ll be the last I’ll ever have as I creep up in age. To a Disney fanatic, the desperately needed updates to Tomorrowland pale in comparison to the originality and cheerfulness that comes with singing along to “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” on Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Perhaps the biggest misconception that my friends – and many people across the world – hold is that Walt Disney World is just for kids. They’re wrong; they’re so, so wrong.
When Walt opened Disneyland back in 1955, he did so with the intention that the park would transport any person back to an age of innocence, back to a time when they held whimsy toward the world and could escape from the confines of the stress and the rudimentary tasks surrounding them.
“Everybody in the world was once a child. So in planning a new picture, we don’t think of grown-ups, and we don’t think of children, but just of that fine, clean, unspoiled spot down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget and that maybe our pictures can help recall.”
Whenever I walk down Main Street, U.S.A., I fall into that place of magic and whimsy staring at the massive force that is Cinderella Castle. It’s that happiness that I feel in Walt Disney World that keeps me coming back year after year.
Walt Disney World holds a special meaning to me. It’s where my husband and I got married, happily becoming a member of Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings club. It’s where we spent our honeymoon, including our first Disney Cruise Line experience, and it ended up being one of the best vacations we’ve ever had. It’s where we dream about taking our children. Walt Disney World has played such a significant role in my life, both as a child and as an adult, that I don’t really want to vacation anywhere else. When it comes to visiting new places, my husband and I tend to take sporadic weekend trips. We’ll visit places like Boston, Portland or Las Vegas, and don’t get me wrong, all of those trips are memorable and enjoyable in their own unique way. However, when we’re looking to get away from the daily grind, we know our week-long vacation is always going to be spent in our Happy Place. It’s just too magical to ignore.
There’s something to be said about reconnecting with that part of yourself many of us lost as we grew up. Life can be messy, unpredictable and stressful, and Walt Disney World offers adults an opportunity to not only take a break from that, but to connect with their loved ones in a way that isn’t always easy to back at home.
Walt said it best, “To all that come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America… with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
Walt’s idea behind Disneyland still rings true today, regardless of which park around the world you choose to visit. I think back fondly to one of my earliest Magic Kingdom memories: Tinkerbell emerged from Cinderella Castle like a shooting star during the nighttime fireworks and my wide-eyed, gaping mouth self watched in awe at the entire scene. Three weeks ago, when my husband and I took a spontaneous day-trip to the Magic Kingdom, we stood in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. and I was still that wide-eyed, gaping mouth woman staring at Tinkerbell in flight in the nighttime sky. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, there’s something about watching it again and again and again that simply transports me to another world. That’s what makes Walt Disney World so incomparable to any other place in the world. There, you’re a member of Walt’s incredible vision. There, you’re on a wild journey of imagination. There, you’re a part of a larger, fantastical story.
It’s what my friends simply don’t understand about the Happiest Place on Earth. But that’s okay. I’m perfectly content with keeping the magic all to myself.