My Disney Bucket List

Many people have a “bucket list” made up of things they want to do before they shuffle off the mortal coil. Things that will lead to exciting stories that you can then tell your grandkids (or random strangers on the bus). Things that, when you sit back and reflect upon your life, you can say “oh yeah, I totally did that”.

The other day, my wife asked me what would be on my Disney bucket list. Like, what specific Disney experiences do I want to see when my life someday flashes before my eyes? I mean, I’ve done a lot at Walt Disney World over the years, and with every trip I do more, but what else would I want to do before I become a grim grinning ghost?

I gave that some serious thought (way more than I ever had for a non-Disney list). Some of the things are very possible, and it’s even somewhat likely that I’ll get the opportunity to do them someday. Others are improbable but feasible, and then there are those which are just really not going to happen. So, without further ado, here’s my Disney bucket list:


Visit every Disney park in the world

So far I’ve seen both domestic parks–Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California–but I have yet to travel beyond the borders of this country for any sort of international pixie dust experience.

I’d love to check out the unique attractions to each park, like the Tron roller coaster in Shanghai and Mystic Manor in Hong Kong, as well as their unique takes on the classics–like Phantom Manor in Paris, for example, which is a much spookier version of the Haunted Mansion. Plus, there’s DisneySea in Tokyo, which I’ve heard is amazing and I would love to experience it firsthand rather than just in photos and videos online. It’d be cool to see a bit of the other countries themselves too, of course — I’ve been to France, but it was over twenty years ago — but mostly I want to spend time in the different parks.

I think, out of everything on my list, this is the top. It’ll take considerable amounts of money and time, but it’s not impossible, and someday it’ll be great to look back on my life and relive memories of traveling to the different Disney parks around the world. It would also be cool to check out other Disney experiences, too, like Aulani in Hawaii.

Stay In Cinderella Castle and/or The Dream Suite

I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend the night in Cinderella Castle? This hard-to-achieve experience usually involves winning a contest, but it would definitely be something to remember if I were ever able to make it happen. It’s the same with the Dream Suite at Disneyland (which I had the chance to see on the Walk In Walt’s Footsteps tour), in that it’s only really available to guests that win it and even those opportunities are very rare.

This one is highly unlikely (even less so than seeing every Disney park in the world), but it’s a fun one to think about. Getting to see the Dream Suite on the tour was really cool, and getting the opportunity to sleep there would be incredible. Really, it would just so I could say that I did. Maybe snap a few photos of the park from the window of the Cinderella Castle suite, forever be upset that my bathtub doesn’t have fiber optic lights twinkling over it like the one in the Dream Suite, things like that.

Of course, since there’s a lot of switches and buttons in the Dream suite that cause lights or sound or movements to happen, I’d spend the entire night just poking at things to see what they do.

Take More Tours

Reasonably recently, I’ve discovered the joy that is taking tours at the Disney parks. We’ve done a few over the last few years, including the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour at Disneyland (you can read about that one here) and Behind the Seeds at EPCOT (here is my write-up of that one). We’ve also got reservations for our next trip to go on the Caring for Giants tour at Animal Kingdom.

There are so many cool tours offered. In particular, I’d like to do the UnDISCOVERed Future World at EPCOT, the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom, and the Keys to the Kingdom at Magic Kingdom. Plus, of course, the seven-hour-long Backstage Magic tour that takes you to multiple locations within the Walt Disney World resort property. Each one offers something different, and each one would be an awesome experience and offer unique opportunities to learn more about the parks.

Honestly, this one is pretty doable, much more so than staying in the Dream Suite or traveling all over the globe. We tend to look to see if there’s any tours we can do pretty much every time we plan a trip now. Some are definitely more expensive than others (both the Wild Africa Trek and Backstage Magic are over $200 each, per person), and there are time constraints to take into account as the tours can be hours long, but really it’s quite feasible to do them with advanced planning and saving. I fully expect that someday, while laying on my deathbed (which will hopefully be a pirate ship one like at the themed Caribbean Beach Resort rooms), I will be able to say that I did all of the tours I wanted to.

I’m also putting the Lunch with an Imagineer experience into this category as well, which just sounds like it could be a really cool thing to do.

Travel Back In Time to Visit EPCOT Center Again

OK, less feasible. But c’mon, spending one more day at EPCOT Center (circa late 80s/early 90s) would be an incredible experience. Getting to ride Horizons, World of Motion, the original Journey Into Imagination one more time. Soaking up that sense of enthusiasm and inspiration that the park once embodied. That would be something to do.

I just think that someone should invent time travel while I’m still alive so I can check this one off the ol’ bucket list. Not too much to ask, right?

As a variation on this, I’d love to live long enough to see Disney get EPCOT back to its original theming. Even if it’s all new attractions and I never get to see those old ones ever again, seeing a newly revitalized EPCOT with its focus back on inspiring the future… well, I could die happy knowing that I had seen that happen.

Be the Grand Marshal of the Magic Kingdom Parade

Every morning, cast members pick a family (or two) to act as the Grand Marshal of the day’s parade. These guests of honor wear special Mickey ears, wave to the crowd from the lead parade vehicle, and then watch the rest of the parade from a VIP viewing spot.

It’s kind of silly thing to want to do, but at the same time it would be a really cool thing to say that I’ve done. Sitting up at the front of the parade, being a part of the parade, would be a memory worth sharing looking back on and sharing with unsuspecting people in the line at grocery stores.

Is this one possible? Well, the guests are chosen at random, so it’s really up to some cast member. Generally, what I’ve gathered is that they pick someone early in the day (from that first burst of people through the gate, as I understand it), and since we’re usually there right at rope drop that part isn’t an issue. So it would really come down to standing in the right place at the right time and catching the eye of the right cast member. Long odds, but hardly impossible. Slightly less improbable than time travel, even!

Become a Cast Member Again

I’ve brought it up a lot, so it’s not really news that I was once a cast member at Walt Disney World (that saga can be read here). It was brief, it was a long time ago, and it’s an experience that I’ve obsessed over ever since.

Lots of cast members, former and current, will probably tell you that it’s a tough place to work and it’s not nearly as magical being an employee and that you’re better off never getting a job there. That may be true for a lot of people, and I know that I’m seeing the past through pixie dust coated glasses here and that it’s probably not nearly as amazing as I think I remember it being, but the fact is I would love to do it again. Whether it be to retire there and be a happy old man working attractions at EPCOT (if you ever meet me in person, ask me about that story), or working there as a theatrical stagehand like I do for my career when I’m not writing about Disney, there’s a part of me that wants nothing more than to don a nametag again and go back to helping make magic for people.

Will it ever happen? Who knows. There are a lot of logistical reasons to say no, and the fact is that we’re happy where we are and uprooting everything to chase a dream is kind of insane. But, we’re talking about things I’d love to do before ending up as a happy haunt, so it’s only fair to include this one.


Is this a complete list? Probably not. I’m sure there’s more that I’d love to do, and as Disney keeps creating new experiences the list is only going to get longer. As it is I can think of a lot more I probably should have added to this: like being the rebel spy on Star Tours (I’ve already been “that guy” on the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor), finally doing a Dapper Day, and attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. So even if/when I do get the chance to check something off, there’s definitely another thing waiting to take its place.

The fact is, too, that even getting to go to the parks and go on attractions and eat Dole Whip floats is exciting and I hope to do it a lot more in my life. Even if I never get to do any of the things on my “bucket list” I’ll still have a life full of magical pixie dust. It’s fun to think about doing these other things, though, and imagine what it would be like to look back someday and have those memories. It’s cool to have these goals, improbable as they may be (or impossible, in that one case), partly to have something to work towards and partly to realize that as much as I’ve done at the parks there’s so much more to do.

So what about you? What’s on your Disney bucket list?

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Funny Pages

When Disney acquired Marvel back in 2009, there was a lot of speculation as to what it would mean for both companies. Would superheroes be found at Disney parks? (Yes, though mostly at Disneyland.) Would Marvel movies now include musical numbers? (Probably not.) Was Mickey Mouse going to join the Avengers?!? (I would pay to see that.)

One really cool thing that has happened since the merger is the creation of the Disney Kingdoms line of comic books. Published by Marvel, these comics expand upon the stories of characters and attractions from within the Disney universe.

Each of the Disney Kingdoms stories are presented as mini-series, usually five issues released monthly. Generally, after the run is concluded, a book collecting all of the issues will be released. So if you don’t want to go hunting down individual back issues of a series after it’s done, waiting for the collection is (usually) an option.

The question is, are these comics any good? Here’s a look at the series that have happened so far, one that’s still happening now, and a glance at some of the other Disney-related comic books that are out there.


Figment

The Figment comic book series stars Dreamfinder and his companion–it’s an origin story of sorts. At its start, Dreamfinder is just an imaginative scientist with an overbearing boss and Figment hasn’t even been thought up yet, but not long into the first issue we finally get to meet the titular purple dragon, and the young scientist becomes the character we know and love from the EPCOT Center days. Over the course of the five issues, the duo meet other strange creatures on their adventures, and all sorts of hijinks ensue. Imagination, of course, is a prevalent theme throughout.

The setting has a sort of steampunk vibe, and the story is really weird but a lot of fun. It’s a bit of a stretch at first to mentally mesh the idea of the cheerful bearded gent from the old Journey Into Imagination ride and this adventurous young scientist, but it’s also cool to get a look into the backgrounds of beloved characters and expand upon their stories. There are, of course, some references to the ride tossed into the mix as well, but the series has less to do with anything EPCOT-related and is more just a romp through a fantasy world. With robots.

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Figment put the beloved characters of Dreamfinder and his dragon companion into a cool steampunk setting. If they ever really revisited the characters in the parks, it’d be neat to see that aesthetic carried over.

What’s exciting about this series, in addition to it just being a fun story, is the fact that it stars Dreamfinder and Figment. These characters still have a pretty faithful cult following, despite Dreamfinder not being a part of EPCOT for years (Figment was all but cut for a while too, but has been reincorporated into the newest iteration of Journey Into Imagination and some of the special festivals). Hopefully this means that there’s still interest in them on the Disney side of things, and maybe the popularity of the comics will prove that there’s still definitely still a lot of love for them from the fans.

Figment 2

As the name suggests, this five-issue series is a direct continuation of the original Figment comics. Dreamfinder and Figment now find themselves in a future version of Florida and at a scientific academy created in their legacy. Not long after arriving, they embark upon another adventure.

In all honesty, I liked this series a bit more than the first. It’s more focused on the power of imagination, and the fact that the academy looks suspiciously like the glass pyramids of Journey Into Imagination is another (very much appreciated) nod to the EPCOT Center roots of the characters. This series was darker, with our heroes going up against the Doubtfinder–essentially the opposite of Dreamfinder. The story focuses a bit more on Figment this time around, as well as introducing Dreamfinder’s niece and her own created-by-imagination companion. If Disney ever opted to push this Dreamfinder/Figment character “reboot” further I could see her being a big part of that.

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This series introduced Dreamfinder’s niece Capricious and her own imagination-based companion. Disney should really consider doing more with these new characters–it’d be a good way to bridge between the beloved classics and a younger generation.

Whereas the first Figment series was a big adventure through a strange realm and in a steampunk-inspired London (plus robots), the second run was in many ways smaller in scale and focused more on the characters and their emotions. Plus, there were brainwashed schoolchildren being used as mindless pawns by the villain, which is always a good time.

 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

 The Old West, bandits, trains, and a mine full of gold. Hang on to your hats and glasses…

This five-issue series centers around a small frontier gold mine in the town of Rainbow Ridge (which, incidentally, is the name of the Frontierland town in Disneyland). Abigail Bullion, the headstrong daughter of the mine’s owner, gets tangled up in an adventure that includes bandits and gunfights and–of course–runaway mine trains. The story is more or less a straightforward Old West tale, with some mystical aspects thrown in as the mountain itself appears to create hazards for the miners as they dig deeper into the rock.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a pretty good Old-West tale. The lead characters are fun, the writing is entertaining, and the story is exciting. There are even a few good references to the attraction thrown in (including a brief appearance by everyone’s favorite T-rex skeleton).

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When you read Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, you may want to hang on to your hats and glasses. Could make it tough to turn the pages, though.

Interestingly, when I first read the series I thought it was good but that it was only loosely associated with the ride. Take out the name “Big Thunder Mountain” and it seemed to me like just a Western yarn with some mystical stuff tossed in, with really nothing Disney-related about it. Then I did a bit of research and learned a lot more about the story that the comics tell and how much they really have to do with the roller coaster beyond just the name. In 2012, Disney created a new backstory for the Magic Kingdom version of the ride that unveiled the mine’s owner, Barnabas T. Bullion, who is Abigail’s father in the comic series. In the ride’s “plussed” story, Barnabas comes from a rich East Coast family but went West with the gold rush. However, the mountain appears to be very protective of its gold, and disasters (which locals claim are supernatural) plague the venture. All of this plays heavily into the comic, which makes the series essentially a telling of the ride’s updated story. That really upped my appreciation for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The Haunted Mansion

In The Haunted Mansion, a young man named Danny enters a haunted house to find his late grandfather’s spirit and save it from being trapped there forever. Along the way he meets a variety of grim grinning ghosts and some less-than-happy haunts.

OK, full disclosure: the Haunted Mansion is one of my all-time favorite Disney attractions. So going into this comic series I was very excited, but also knew I’d probably be more critical of it than any of the others simply because I wanted it done right. Fortunately, The Haunted Mansion was exceptional. From the very first page it not only sets up the story but makes it clear that the writers are fans of the attraction, and there are some clever nods that people who know their Haunted Mansion history will really appreciate. Many of the characters who inhabit the attraction–Madame Leota, Constance Hatchaway, the hitchhiking ghosts, and Pickwick–all play into the tale, as do familiar settings like the swinging wake and the attic.

The core of the story is about young Danny and him having courage and facing his fears, taking place in a haunted house with a pirate ghost, a bride with a penchant for beheadings, and a spirit in a crystal ball. I never felt like the story was too focused on just Danny or just the ghosts, and the fan service is great but never gets too over the top. Someone “in the know” on a lot of the Haunted Mansion lore will definitely find a lot of references peppered throughout the narrative, but they never derail things or cause any confusion. You don’t have to have ever been on the ride to follow and enjoy the story.

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The Haunted Mansion really offers up a lot of fan service in the form of nods to the attraction’s history. In fact, page one of issue one cleverly touches upon a handful of unused story treatments for the ride.

I think that The Haunted Mansion is my favorite of the Disney Kingdoms series thus far, and not just because it’s based on my favorite attraction. It really hits this great balance between the new tale they wanted to tell and being true to the ride’s story, with plenty of references to the ride rolled up into a pretty cool adventure.

The Enchanted Tiki Room

There’s an uncharted tropical island, inhabited by singing birds and Tiki gods. People are brought to the island to find what it is they truly seek. The comic series follows the stories of one particular group: an old Hollywood starlet trying to regain her lost glory days, a young man recently single hoping to sort out his feelings, and a rich family who believe that money is the answer to everything. A mysterious girl shows up, a selfish employee causes trouble, the birds sing words, the flowers croon, and Orange Bird randomly shows up now and again. Also, there’s a volcano.

The Enchanted Tiki Room is my least favorite of the current Disney Kingdoms offerings. I never connected with any of the characters, for starters. I found the humans annoying, and while that may be the point early on I never got invested enough in their story arcs to care about what happened to them as they developed. The birds themselves, the focus of the attraction, were just supporting characters and I wasn’t really enthused about their narrative either. Also, since the series tried to be an ensemble piece and bounced around between so many characters I didn’t feel like it was really able to highlight anybody’s journey well. Truth be told, I found Orange Bird’s appearances to be the best part of the series.

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I mean, it could have been worse. They could have tried to shoehorn Iago into the story…

The Enchanted Tiki Room had its moments, and it was hardly terrible, but I didn’t get into it nearly as much as the other comics. Had it brought the birds and the Tiki gods into it more, maybe just focusing on a couple of the humans (like the rich family and the obnoxious employee, my fave of the story arcs) it could have felt more like it was a part of the attraction’s mythology. It was fun at times, but when comparing it to the other Disney Kingdoms comics I just can’t say it holds up as well.

Seekers of the Weird

A pair of siblings embark upon an adventure to save their kidnapped parents, a quest that takes them into the bizarre Museum of the Weird. Along the way, they team up with their uncle Roland (see what they did there?) and battle some supernatural foes.

Seekers of the Weird is based upon an attraction that never happened. Called the “Museum of the Weird” and designed largely by Imagineer Roland “Rolly” Crump, it was going to be a walking tour through some of the strangest things you could ever imagine. Now only concept art exists as well as some descriptions of what had been planned for the attraction, which was going to be a part of (what became) the Haunted Mansion. The comic series takes this concept art and brings it to life, as many pieces of Rolly’s art become a part of the story in some way. So just for that, just for the glimpse of what could have been and for incorporating this Disney history, Seekers of the Weird is pretty cool.

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The Seekers of the Weird book, which collects all five issues into one volume, has an intro by legendary Imagineer Rolly Crump!

It’s also a fun adventure tale with entertaining characters and a plot that takes some neat twists and turns as it plays out. It moves pretty quickly, sometimes almost too fast as they try to cram as much into each issue as possible, but it’s never hard to follow. The main characters of the boy and the girl are a bit archetype-y in their personalities and their journeys in that you’ve got one really into books, one really into sports, and then they learn the value of each other’s pursuits along the way (with help from the gruff-but-well-meaning uncle who guides them), but it works in this setting. Their search through the Museum of the Weird is the real focus of the tale, and in that sense it’s a success and well worth reading.


As an addendum to all of this, there’s more Disney in the comic world than just what Marvel has been releasing. IDW Publishing releases a handful of different titles, generally focused on specific classic Disney characters. If you’re looking for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck stories, for example, you’d want to check out IDW’s offerings. They release semi-regular issues of the Mickey and Donald comics, and they also occasionally put out a mini-series like Donald Quest (which dropped the classic characters into a medieval adventure). You can also find some Disney comics published by Joe Books–they put out the (sadly short lived) Darkwing Duck series and they’ve been releasing a Pirates of the Caribbean line based on the movie franchise. They’ve also done a princess series, as well as one based on Frozen. Finally, Disney Comics released a Space Mountain graphic novel a few years back, a weird sci-fi adventure in which a group of school kids from the future travel through time on an adventure. When it came out in 2014, word was that it was intended as a trilogy, but I haven’t seen anything about subsequent releases.

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Each issue of the “character” comics by IDW features a few different short stories, heavy on slapstick and comedy.

Marvel has been doing some great things with the Disney Kingdoms line, and beyond that there are a bunch of other options out there if you’re a fan of both Disney and of comics. If you want the classic characters in funny situations, or if you want to discover more of Jack Sparrow’s adventures, there’s probably a book for you to check out. As for Disney Kingdoms in particular, I’m really looking forward to seeing how they’ll continue to expand upon attractions. Disney parks are full of great stories, and using comics to tell these tales (and new ones) is a great way to use the medium and engage fans in new ways. Plus, it’s been remarked by some powers-that-be that all of the Disney Kingdoms stories happen within the same universe, so who knows–maybe we’ll see some crazy crossovers in the future! I have to say, I’d be very interested in seeing the Tiki Birds take a tour of the Haunted Mansion…

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Defending Disney

Recently, I took a break from watching Horizons ride-through videos and funny cat gifs online and I read an article in which the author basically questioned why any rational adult couple would ever go to a Disney park. She said that she was there when she was nine years old and thought it was fun, but couldn’t imagine how people in their twenties and thirties could ever have a good time at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. I’m not going to link to the article, but it–and others like it–probably isn’t too hard to find if you really want to read such things. Honestly, if you’re a devoted Disney park-goer you’ve probably read things like it before, and have even heard similar thoughts from friends who just don’t understand why you keep going back. And hey, they’re obviously entitled to their opinions. On some level, I suppose, I can even see why someone would think that Disney isn’t their idea of fun. It’s often oppressively hot (and, in Florida’s case, grossly humid). It can be extremely crowded and loud, and there are children everywhere. You sometimes wait for a long time in a line to go on a ride, and then go wait in another long line for another ride. These are, truth be told, all reasonably valid points.

Allow me, however, to offer a rebuttal.

If you focus on all of those negative points, you miss what a Disney park really has to offer: magic. I know that sounds a lot like a company tagline (hey, I was a cast member, remember), but it’s the truth.

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There’s something about Cinderella Castle that can cause a grown-up to smile like a happy child. The official Disney reason is “pixie dust” and I’ve found no reason to argue.

The thing is, being an adult can be a challenge: you’ve got bills, you have to work, and you’re generally encouraged to not wear hats with ears on them. Being a grown-up isn’t the worst thing ever, but it does require a certain amount of playing by the rules. That is, you probably can’t cheerfully sing the “Winnie the Pooh” song around the office without getting a few odd looks from your coworkers (and if you can, then congrats on having an awesome job). Yet, at a Disney park, you can let all that go and sing along and have fun and be a kid. Sure, somewhere in the back of your adult brain you know that you’re not really on a tour of a haunted house and that the characters are just actors in suits, but with just a little bit of childlike wonder you’re frolicking among the grim grinning ghosts of the Haunted Mansion and meeting the real Buzz Lightyear. It’s a rare place that lets you get your photo taken with a giant duck and doesn’t offer judgement, and it’s my opinion that many adults could use that type of escape once in a while.

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When we were at Walt Disney World for our incredible honeymoon, we totally met the REAL BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!

A common misconception is that Disneyland and Walt Disney World are just amusement parks, with just a bunch of random rides like you’d see at any local carnival. That isn’t the case at all. In fact, I’ve been more able to really appreciate the work that goes into creating the Disney parks as an adult than I ever did as a kid.  The rides are experiences. They tell stories, using music and technology to take guests on journeys. The lands around them are beautifully themed, allowing you to immerse yourself in the fantasy (or the frontier, or the jungle, or the future). You’re not just riding a roller coaster, you’re speeding through the wilderness on a runaway mine train; you’re not just riding a boat through a diorama, you’re sailing through pirate-infested waters. It’s the characters, the details, and the stories that set Disney attractions apart and make them special to so many people. The shows, too, are equally amazing: Fantasmic uses incredible effects such as fireworks, water bursts, and projections on water screens to tell an epic tale, Voyage of the Little Mermaid retells the classic story with puppets and live performers, and the Muppets perform their own irreverent version of American history. The Disney parks are a lot more than just a collection of carnival rides. Though, if that’s your thing, the Paradise Pier area in Disney’s California Adventure is themed after a classic boardwalk and does feature such amusements.

Maybe you think that rides are OK, but you want a bit more out of your vacation than sitting in a boat while animatronic children sing around you? How about fine dining, spas, golfing (miniature and full-sized), shopping, or swimming? Particularly at Walt Disney World, there’s a lot more than just the theme parks. In fact, on our honeymoon my wife and I only did two days at the parks during our six-day trip. We also spent an afternoon relaxing on a lazy river and hurtling down water slides at Typhoon Lagoon. We ate a great meal at a character breakfast, and had a romantic (non-character) dinner at Shutter’s restaurant at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We took a horseback ride through a secluded nature trail at Fort Wilderness. We spent a morning playing Fantasia-themed miniature golf. We even watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks from a pirate-themed cruise. We’ve also gone on educational journeys: at Disneyland we took a tour that delved into the history of the park and the man who created it, and at EPCOT we once went “behind the seeds” on a walking tour of the Living with the Land greenhouses. Sure, the focus of most Disney vacations will probably be the theme parks, but if you’re an adult couple looking for a bit more on a trip there’s actually plenty to do. Even just wandering EPCOT’s World Showcase can be a lot of fun, whether it be to shop the international products, try some different and exotic foods, learn more about the countries, or all of the above–and you can do it with an adult beverage in hand. I’m personally a fan of the green tea plum wine slush from China. 

DCA Paradise Pier

Whether you prefer slow rides, or the excitement of a roller coaster, Disney parks offer a wide range of experiences that bring people to the parks for their first time or back for their hundredth.

Also, there’s something nice about being somewhere where almost everyone is pleasant. Cast members will smile and chat with you, congratulate you if you’re wearing an event button, and take an extra moment to help add a bit of magic to your trip. Not only that, there’s something about being at Disney that often makes fellow guests extra friendly. I’ve had people in front of me in line offer us their Fastpasses (back when paper ones were a thing) because they couldn’t use them and didn’t want them to go to waste. I’ve had great conversations with fellow tour-goers simply because we all share a love of Disney. Personally, I tend to avoid many social interactions in daily life, but at Disney even I will stop to help confused strangers with their map or chat with folks while in line for an attraction. There’s something about breathing in that pixie dust that just makes people smile. Yes, there are plenty of rude guests too, or people who just look like they’re not having any fun, but there are also adults wearing Mickey ears and laughing and getting their photo taken in front of Cinderella Castle. It isn’t just a few odd adults who like to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, either–there is a global community, made up of millions of people of people of all ages who love Disney and who consider time spent at a Disney park as a magical experience.

Here’s something else to take into consideration, too: the fact that when you visit a Disney park you’re in a self-contained world. They’ve eliminated a lot of worries, allowing you to focus more on having fun. Particularly at Walt Disney World, the need to stress over every aspect of your trip is really minimized. Don’t want to deal with renting a car or finding transportation from Orlando International Airport? Disney’s Magical Express (if you’re staying on-property) will take you to your hotel and back and will even pick up your luggage from baggage claim and deliver it right to your room, and then check it for you when you leave. You don’t need a car, since Disney’s transportation system–monorails, buses, and boats–can get you anywhere within their magical world for free. You don’t need to make sure to have cash or credit cards with you, since you can set up your MagicBand to charge food and merchandise right to your room. Have questions, need help, or even just want some advice about what to do? Ask any Disney cast member and they’ll be more than happy to help, and will usually do so with a smile that will brighten your day. You can book dining reservations right from the My Disney Experience smartphone app, have purchases delivered to your resort if you don’t want to carry them around all day, and (if you’re so inclined) even pre-purchase a dining plan so you don’t have to fret about buying each meal. Less stressing out about every little detail means more time to have fun. True, all that does come at a cost (a Disney trip isn’t cheap) but for many people it’s well worth the money to be able to put the outside world on hold for a bit.

I’ll admit that a Disney vacation isn’t for everyone (even I know a few people I would never recommend it to). Maybe it really is too hot, too crowded, too loud, and there are too many singing robots for some people to handle. If you’re not the type who can suspend their disbelief for a while and lose yourself in a fantasy, then it’s true that going to a Disney park may not be your cup of tea. If you’re going to let all of the aforementioned issues cast a little black raincloud over your fun time, then it’s probably best to vacation somewhere else. I’ve seen plenty of people at the parks (with and without children in tow) who just look miserable and probably should have opted to go elsewhere. I’m not saying that it’s the perfect choice for every couple. Just as some people wouldn’t want to spend their time in an art museum or at the beach, a Disney park trip just isn’t the right choice for everyone. What I am saying, though, is not to discount it as a place just for kids and families and assume that grown-ups would have no fun there. Especially if, as at least one author admitted in her “why would you go there” article, you haven’t been there since you were a kid yourself. If it’s not your thing, that’s cool, but there’s no reason to (as the kids say) throw shade on those of us that love having fun at Disney parks.

bub-rachael-me-2007

Three generations of Disney fans, for whom the magic of the parks didn’t wane as we all got older (this pic is about nine years old now) but has only grown with us.

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