I was in third grade when I went to Disney World for the first time. It was a birthday present from my grandfather, who took our whole family in late October. We live in New England, so the trek down to Orlando represents a significant cost and time commitment to really make the most of everything.
It was the most incredible time of my young life. It was my first plane ride (awesome), my first time leaving New England (awesome), my first time going to an amusement park (awesome). For a kid, going to Disney World is like walking right into a story book. It’s magical.
Back in ’99, the Disney characters stood outside under pavilions, or walked around and waved to you. These days, they’re tucked away inside and there are certain times when they appear. I understand the benefit of reduced crowds, not to mention it’s cooler and easier for the character actors, but it does take a little magic away. Our family home video shows my brother chasing Chip and Dale around in circles, me hugging Pluto, and the both of us hiding under a table from Genie. The whole park was a playground, and although we stood loyally by our parents… we had the time of our lives.
I’ve been able to relive our Disney experience for years through family videos. Growing up, my family was poor and this opportunity was a blessing. While my peers went to Hawaii and Europe, we were lucky to go camping. As I’ve grown, I’ve held on to these precious memories, especially as my grandfather passed away in late 2000.
Since my childhood, I’ve always wanted to go back to Disney World. It didn’t matter how old I was – those stories were still magical to me and reminders of happier, easier times. So, in 2013, my husband and I went back. I was 23 and he was 29, and we still had an incredible time.
You know, Disney World has a wonderful menagerie of folks. We went during the Flower & Garden festival in 2013, and I would absolutely go down during that time again – the topiaries are incredible. But you see families with children, you see professional couples letting themselves have fun, you see refined adults in the nice dining establishments. You see everyone from infants to the elderly, and you see everything from designer shoes to ratty flip flops. Disney openly embraces everyone, and everyone – even the parents trying to corral their children – look happy. Because despite the lines, the crowds, the hassle, the cost… if you allow yourself to sit back enjoy it, Disney World is just plain fun.
It’s my favorite place in the world. I feel like I can wash my troubles away and relax in the house of 999 haunts (there’s always room for one more!). I can hide in the Hundred Acre Wood. I can enjoy the overpriced glitz and sparkle because it calls to the child deep in my soul and it helps me remember the magic.