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?