1. It truly is the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Whether it’s because Orlando sits in some weird dimensional time shift or the laws of physics are suspended there, it is physically impossible to be somber at Disney World. In fact, even frowning is frowned upon.
2. The minute you arrive, you become part of a fairy tale. Unfortunately, when you get home, it’s hard to come back to reality. In fact, I’m still trying to convince my boss that I’m King James and have a Princess Daughter. Though it’s not as hard to convince my daughter.
3. Walt used to love walking through Disneyland in the morning before anyone else had arrived. When we take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and walk down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, before the park has officially opened, we know why he did, and what he was probably feeling.
4. Watching old B-movies with our kids at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. After all, where else can you be harassed by carhops, dunk French fries in your shake, and tell your kids to stop poking each other in the back seat, all while enjoying the nuanced storyline of “The Giant Gila Monster”?
5. The Kitchen Sink dessert at Beaches and Cream in the Beach Club Resort. Eight scoops of ice cream covered with fudge, fruit, caramel, nuts and candy bars – with an entire can of Whipped Cream on top. But don’t worry; I always ask for a diet drink.
6. Every time you go to Disney World, something will happen that you’ll remember the rest of your life. On our most recent trip, my nine-year-old daughter forgot her purse – with her cell phone inside – on the monorail, which meant that life as we knew it stopped. After sharing our story with Security, they radioed the train we’d been on, and asked the conductor to drop it off at the next station, so another train could pick it up on the way back. Within half an hour, I was giving Alexandra’s purse back to her. While Disney had given her something even more important – the belief that magic does exist.
7. Watching my family’s faces as they try the different Coca-Cola products at Club Cool, especially the ones they don’t like. As for me, when I drink “Beverly” from Italy, I end up looking like Yoda. Or Ernest Borgnine.
8. The Friendship boats that take you between the parks and resorts. In fact, just saying “Friendship” makes you feel good. It’s definitely better than “Acquaintance Flotilla.”
9. The miniature village and trains in the Germany Pavilion at the World Showcase. I don’t care how old the man, the minute he sees those trains, he becomes seven again. And he doesn’t even want a refund on his adult ticket.
9-1/2. Why a half? To remember that you can’t do anything halfway at Disney. You have to commit, like Walt did. After all, he’s the same man who bought a first class train ticket for Hollywood, to try to become a director, after his Laugh-O-Gram company in Kansas City failed. When his wife Lillian was asked later why Walt would buy such an expensive ticket when he had almost no money, she said it was because “he always liked the best way.”* And, all you have to do is ride “Peter Pan’s Flight,” watch “Illuminations,” listen to the detailed “backstory” behind the Tower of Terror, or sit wide-eyed on the Kilimanjaro safari, to realize that Walt’s commitment to perfection endures.
What are your reasons?
*“Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination” by Neal Gabler, pp. 77. (2006, Vintage Books)
Copyright 2010, James R. Warda. All rights reserved. James R. Warda, author of Where Are We Going So Fast?, is a Speaker, Writer and Workshop Presenter on finding meaning in our moments. He has written and spoken for Chicken Soup for the Soul and the Chicago Tribune.