It’s day one of Disney Obsession week!
I posed the question to a few of my equally obsessed friends: why do we love Disney so much? What is it about the parks that keeps drawing us back?
Each day this week I’ll be posting a different response, and today is my own entry.
There was a moment, on the Walt Disney World honeymoon, that stands out to me amid a week full of amazing experiences. We were watching the parade at Magic Kingdom, and as the Cinderella characters were dancing by one of the mice happened to pass close enough to us to notice our “Happily Ever After” buttons. This cheerful mouse ran over to us and pointed to the buttons, hugged us both, then motioned for us to hug each other and clapped her hands when we did. Then she skipped away, continuing on with the parade.
That’s Disney magic, and it’s one of the reasons I love Walt Disney World so much.
We still would have had a great time watching the parade if that moment had never happened. But it was that extra bit of interaction, that extra few seconds, that turned a “great” experience into a “magical” one. Disney is full of these magical moments. Whether it be interacting with a character, riding through a haunted mansion full of grim grinning ghosts, or just eating a burger at a “space age” restaurant while an alien lounge singer entertains you, being at Walt Disney World means being immersed in an incredible world.
It’s that special feeling that makes you believe that you’re meeting characters and not costumed performers. That you’re sailing through pirate-infested waters instead of just on a ride full of animatronic figures. It’s the difference between staying at simply “a hotel” or in a Caribbean-themed resort, and it’s being able to travel the world in the amount of time it takes to walk around EPCOT’s World Showcase Lagoon.
If you ask a cast member what makes it all so magical, they’ll tell you that it’s “pixie dust”. It’s something that I don’t believe you can really experience anywhere else, and I’ll admit that I’m addicted to it.
There’s the “practical” side of it all, too. The service is incredible, the parks are exceptionally clean, and everybody is smiling. There’s a pride in the work that they put into the parks at every level. It’s not just about the costumed characters or the rides, it’s about the people that are a part of making the experience magical. It’s trading pins with the guy standing in front of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, or chatting with the woman at the register of the Columbia Harbour House restaurant. They’re not simply employees, they’re cast members, and they’re all a part of the show.
Then there is that show aspect. I’m a theatrical technician by trade, so I appreciate the work that has gone into making Walt Disney World such an immersive show. The details–many that are obvious and some that are not–are specifically designed to tell stories, creating an interactive theatrical experience on an incredible scale. Everything is in service of the show and that’s really cool to me. The technology is jaw-dropping, the sets and costumes are amazing, and the level to which it’s all been engineered (or Imagineered) is brilliant.
So why do I love Walt Disney World? It’s the magic, the service, the show, and the memories. It’s all of these reasons and so many more. Disney has constructed a world full of princesses and pirates, the future and the old west, exotic animals and figments of imagination. I can lose myself in the magic, let the outside world melt away, and be a part of the stories that Walt Disney World tells.
I can, to quote the plaque above Magic Kingdom’s entrance, “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy”.