/ Friday, November 11th, 2011

Please join us in welcoming Chris Fox as a blog writer for WDW Radio.  Chris is an avid fan of both theme parks and Disney, so it just makes sense that he would love something that combines the two.  He is a new dad to a daughter of two months and an aspiring writer in the process of launching a Disney World related blog at the beginning of the year (thedisneytourist.blogspot.com).  Welcome, Chris!

Part 1 – Building the anticipation

When I found out that my then fiancé had never been to Disney World, I knew exactly where our honeymoon would be.  About three weeks before our wedding I decided that we would watch a different Disney movie every night leading up to the big day.  This served two purposes: the first was to alleviate some of the stress that the impending wedding would inevitably bring and the second was to build the anticipation for spending a week at my favorite vacation destination.

Now that we have a daughter, even though she is only a couple of months old, we are already scheming ways that we can make her first experience at Disney World as magical as possible.  As we’ve been thinking, it occurred to me that what I did for my wife before our wedding is actually a pretty good idea for my daughter (and any other kids) as well.

Love it or hate it, a large portion of the rides and attractions at Disney parks are related to Disney movies, mostly of the animated variety.  So one of the ways that I want to build the anticipation for my daughter is to watch Disney movies.  Of course, she’ll watch them anyway, but I’ll be more intentional about it as it gets closer to vacation time.

What does that look like?  I’m glad you asked.  Because many of the rides follow the story of the movies I’ll be able to say to my kid, “Remember when you saw the ship fly at the end of Peter Pan.  Well, you’re about to ride one!” or “We’re about to go under the sea to find Nemo!”

Even the rides that aren’t direct copies of the movies take the best moments and allow kids to experience them.  Letting your kids watch Dumbo, Aladdin and Alice in Wonderland allows them to get excited at the idea of flying on an elephant, a magic carpet and experiencing the chaotic fun of an un-birthday party.

This trend can continue as kids get older as well.  Eventually they’ll be able to appreciate movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  These movies will also enhance the attractions’ experiences.  The Pirates movies bring in a whole new aspect to this as well.  Many of the rides at Disney World have their roots in Disney’s movies, but a few of Disney’s movies have their roots in the rides.  The Pirates movies may be the most popular but I would argue that The Haunted Mansion and The Country Bears are nothing to scoff at (though perhaps a little scoffing at the Tower of Terror movie is in order).

As a side note, I’m a comic book nerd so I like to think that movies like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor help me to appreciate places like Tomorrowland, Future World, The American Adventure Pavilion, Liberty Square and the Norway Pavilion, but that might just be me.

Can your kids go to Disney World without seeing these movies and still enjoy themselves?  Of course they can.  My wife has never seen, nor does she desire to see, Alice in Wonderland and yet the Mad Tea Party is her favorite ride.  At the same time, when I first heard about Mickey’s Philharmagic I was really excited because it was an opportunity to experience scenes and songs from my favorite Disney movies in a new way.

But there’s another reason for kids to watch the movies before they experience the attractions: the fear factor…which I’ll save for my next post.

Quick hits:

-        I suggest watching Buzz Lightyear of Star Command in relation to Space Ranger Spin as the ride takes its tone and theme more from that movie than the Toy Story movies.

-        This is also a great opportunity to introduce your kids to classic Disney cartoons like The Brave Little Taylor, Mickey and the Beanstalk, Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

-        Disney Junior Live is another example of an attraction that will be enjoyed much more by kids who are familiar with the songs and the stories from the T.V. shows.