I’ve been to Walt Disney World a lot. When you take into account going to Orlando during almost every school vacation for years, living there for college, going back as an adult when I can, and even being a cast member in those college days, there have been bunches of Disney visits.
While it never got old or not fun in any way, a pattern did start to develop. Absolutely a good time every time, but it also hit a point where each trip was very much like another.
So it’s been fascinating to me, over the years, to bring new people there and see Walt Disney World through their eyes. They notice things that I simply haven’t seen or find experiences I haven’t done even after all these years, and it sort of makes it fresh again.
My daughter is 17 years old now, getting closer every day to graduating high school and then starting college, but I first took her to Walt Disney World when she was just a few years old. If you’ve ever taken a child there, especially for the first time, you’ll be familiar with this experience. Things that I’ve seen a hundred times were wonderful to her, eliciting excitement and laughter. I hadn’t done character meet & greets or character breakfasts in a considerable amount of time, but of course did these with her and it was a lot of fun.
Amusing side note– when she was very small, she was afraid of most of the costumed characters. This is not uncommon. What was weird was that she was never scared of any characters from Winnie The Pooh.
As she grew, it was exciting to see her appreciation for the experience change. Haunted Mansion, which she was afraid of, became one of her faves. She went on Barnstormer, her first roller coaster experience, which eventually led to Big Thunder Mountain and then Space Mountain and the other thrill rides. Of course, now she knows the parks almost as well as I do, but there was a time when everything was new and exciting to her and it was pretty magical to be a part of that.
There was a girlfriend that I went with, several years ago, who was obsessed with those squashed pennies. So I learned… that Walt Disney World has a whole bunch of those penny machines on property…
In early 2012, I took my future wife (by which I mean I would propose a few months later, and not that it involved time travel in any way) to Walt Disney World. This trip was her first time there since she was ten years old. She had vague memories of Magic Kingdom, none of the other parks were there yet, so for all intents and purposes this was her first time.
She’s a graphic designer, and as such has a knack for seeing the design in everything. From the design of signs to the details on a light fixture, she saw things that I’ve just never noticed before. She also brought a curiosity to see everything, and over the years I guess I had sort of put “blinders” on when I went– go see the attractions I want to see, not really notice anything else.
On that first visit to Magic Kingdom together, she noticed a sign in front of the Firehouse. This led us to discover Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which was in a final test phase and was scheduled to be publicly rolled out later that month. I’m not sure I would have seen the sign in my desire to get to Pirates of the Caribbean or whatever ride I was beelining for if I were alone, which could have meant missing out on Sorcerers– one of my favorite things to do now at Magic Kingdom.
Wanting to experience everything Disney World has to offer together (combined with her great eye for detail) allowed me not only to show her these things I’ve grown up with but also see them in a new light.
On our honeymoon we did Fantasia-themed miniature golf, a horseback ride on a secluded forest trail, and Typhoon Lagoon. I had done none of these before in all my times at WDW. We went on attractions I had been skipping over for a long time (like Carousel of Progress). Plus, she loves researching things online and she discovered things that I had never even heard of, like the “Singin’ In The Rain” umbrella at Hollywood Studios and the Kiss Goodnight at Magic Kingdom.
It’s pretty cool that I got to show them this magical place that has been such a big part of my life, and they were able to show me new ways to experience it all.
So some advice: if you’ve been to Walt Disney World a lot, and you think you’ve seen it all, go with someone who has never been before. If that’s not an option, then go online before your next Disney trip. Do research. Find books (I recommend the incredible “Imagineers Field Guide” series) and learn about things you may not have known or may not have seen.
It can make “The Most Magical Place on Earth” even more so.