Editor’s Note: We love coming together as a blog team to discuss our Disney memories. This month’s post theme came from our awesome “Fish Are Friends, Not Food” blog writer, Angie Carreiro. Angie asked the team, “How is your love of Disney different now from when you were a child?” Please join our conversation and tell us how your love for Disney has changed over the course of your life! And… Happy Valentine’s Day!
Angie Carreiro: “Disney World means so much to me. Before I visited ‘the World,’ I grew up with the movies that came out during my childhood, and I lived with them in my own fantasy world. Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid came to LIFE once I first visited in 1996, I was 8 years old. I couldn’t believe that they were there, right in front of me! WDW became my true home because I could visit the characters I knew so well. I could be where I belonged. It felt like it was there just for me. Disney was all about me back then and that’s why I loved it.
Though I still feel like I am returning home when I visit WDW, I now feel like I’m doing with with the people I love. Every experience I have there is a memory formed with my parents, or my brother, or my boyfriend, Kevin. It is so much more to me now that I can build on past memories and experience new ones with them! This also allows me to appreciate new things, because before I was always go, go, go, with my own agenda on my mind, but by sharing what my family likes to do, I’ve learned that sitting on a park bench can turn the parks into a whole new world for me! Instead of it being all about me, it’s all about us now. Now, I love Disney because it brings me closer to my family!”
Blake Taylor: “The biggest difference I’ve noticed in growing up with loving Disney is my perception of the magic. There inevitably comes an age where the illusion is shattered, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real anymore, and that’s something I didn’t quite understand for a while. When I visited WDW as a young child, everything was awe-inspiring and amazing, and today it still is, but for a different reason. Now I recognize that the magic doesn’t just ‘happen,’ but that there are hard-working Imagineers and Cast Members behind each and every aspect of what we experience in the parks. That makes me awed and amazed even more, and causes me to be intentional about how I take in the magic—observing the details in the atmosphere, getting creative with character interactions, and simply having fun in the world’s biggest playground that we all love so much.”
Caitlin Corsello: “When visiting Walt Disney World as a child, there was only one thing on my mind: meeting characters. Back in the early nineties, characters used to be much more abundant throughout the park and also would roam freely encouraging more chance encounters as you went about your day. I would force my family to wait on lines to see pretty much any character no matter how long it took to score a coveted picture and autograph. To this day I still have several autograph books filled with signatures from characters ranging from Minnie to Dreamfinder and Figment. I even remember meeting Barbie and her friends after the Magical World of Barbie Show that used to occur in Epcot in the early nineties! Looking back, I love seeing all of the great costumes that the characters used to wear (including the special World Showcase ones like in my picture here!) As I began to get a little older, I still loved meeting the characters, but I started developing a love for exploring the parks and learning about all of the small but wonderful details that make Disney the special place that it is. I find now that I am a twenty-something that I spend the majority of my time in WDW experiencing the attractions and taking in the ambiance and details as opposed to waiting on line to meet the characters. Perhaps the biggest thing that I miss about the characters from when I was younger is how they would roam the parks. Nothing was more special than turning a corner and basically bumping into Donald! I think that if the characters still roamed and I could have chance encounters that I would still love taking pictures and collecting autographs today. But since the majority of character meets happen now in designated areas with usually large wait times, I tend to skip over the lines in favor of exploring. Even though I don’t get to meet as many characters as I did when I was a child in Disney, I’ll always have the great memories of a little girl having her churro stolen (and dropped!) by Big Al in Frontierland.”
Makena Wolcott: “Disney has changed a lot over the past few years. For me, being only 14, it seems like there have been changes with each visit. My first trips to Disney were filled with adventure. I loved seeing Belle in her librarian dress because I thought she loved to read as much as I did. Playhouse Disney (NOT Disney Junior) Live on Stage was one of my favorite Disney things ever. Where else could you sing and dance with Winnie the Pooh, Rolie Polie Olie, Stanley and Bear in the Big Blue House – now kids don’t even know who they are! I loved going to the parks dressed as a princess, interacting with the characters, getting high fives and waves during the parades and riding The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh over and over.
Gone are the days when the characters greet me during the parades and I definitely can’t get away with dressing in a princess costume any more. Although I miss a few things from my childhood, growing up has had some advantages, too. New attractions came into our hearts as some older ones disappeared, and new characters joined the Disney family. Now I can reach the height requirements and ride whatever I want! My ride of choice has gone from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to the Haunted Mansion. I get more variety ordering from the adult menu and I can roam the parks on my own. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to love the backstories and history as much as Walt Disney World, itself. It’s where I call “home” and where I always want to be. I think the attractions and technology have grown along with me, and I think that we are both moving on for the better.”
Lindsay Diamond: “This is the first time I’ve ever really considered what I loved about Disney when I was a child compared to what I love now because I recently turned 18, and this childhood retrospective idea is new to me. A lot of the things I loved when I was younger are still the same, like it’s a small world, Disney food, Illuminations, World Showcase, Animal Kingdom, and Fantasmic. But one big difference is how I like to spend my days at Walt Disney World. When I was younger, a day in the theme parks was like a mission. We had to go on every favorite ride of mine (which was basically all of them except thrill rides), every parade, and the evening fireworks. Nap time was not an option. I stayed awake until after eating a Mickey Mouse shortbread cookie and taking the car or bus ride home. Today, however, is basically the opposite. We go on a few rides each day, and some times we go back to our resort midday for some nap and pool time. Dining reservations matter more than Fastpass times, and no one cries if we only catch a glimpse of the parade in passing. It’s not that anything has lost its magic or that I love the parks any less. It’s just that I love it differently, at a relaxed pace, with a larger appreciation for each moment.”
Brian Vasil: “When I was younger, my love for Disney centered around what I could DO. Eat popcorn on Main Street, battle pirates from the boat, brave the darkness of space… the possibilities were endless. I remember the loooong drive (3 hours) from my house… holding the guidemap in my hand… circling the “must-do” attractions and talking to my parents incessantly about what my brother and I would do every minute of the trip. My kid trips were all about experiences… actions… souvenirs, and being at the park from rope drop to ‘kiss goodnight’ from the fireworks.
Now that I’m grown, my love for the parks centers around who I’m WITH. Sure, the rides are still a blast, the food is still an attraction all in itself, and the end of Wishes still makes me teary… But the real joy for me now is the hands I hold while I’m there. Watching my wife sing to the background music playing in Fantasyland… or seeing my daughter seek out Alice in Wonderland because she’s dressed just like her… those are the true loves and have created some of the longest lasting memories I’ll ever make. As I’ve grown a little older, I realize that activities are wonderful… but the true joy in life is who’s in the memories with you… I’m grateful to Disney for providing a place where my childhood love of adventure and my grown-up love for my family can co-exist in my heart and mind forever.”
Kendall Foreman: “For me, my best loved childhood Walt Disney World memories are not so different from the adult ones. I know that my least loved memory is the same for every excursion—the leaving for home part. It is smiling while fighting back tears as we look back and watch the Earful Tower disappear from sight. Nevertheless, those few unloved ticks in time cannot taint the reality that we crammed in as many rides as possible, dined at character breakfasts, swam in awesome pools, purchased prized souvenirs, and consumed favorite Disney food fare. While my appreciation for those wonderful activities has not diminished with the passage of time, as an adult, I have come to love some of the quieter, simpler, slower-paced experiences every bit as much. I genuinely look forward to sleepily swaying in a hammock on the beach, leisurely shopping all around the ‘World’, accidentally spotting or intentionally seeking out Imagineering details, taking spontaneous and deliberate photographs, and blissfully lingering over fine cuisine or even just a Dole Whip. Though I have many past and present WDW loves, the greatest one is a unifying thread linking the two, the boundless treasury of enduring memories I share with those I love. When I reflect on the life I have shared with my dad, mom, sister, and husband, my thoughts quickly turn to times spent together at Disney World. Moments that did not necessarily have anything to do with rides, characters, swimming, souvenirs, or food; yet, they are inextricably and indelibly linked to Walt Disney World. My every thought of WDW includes my husband, my parents, and my sister…and I love that most of all.”
Christy Viszoki: “I was 12 for my first trip to Walt Disney World. There was only the Magic Kingdom, and I was there with my two little sisters. Being the middle schooler that I was, I had to exude a certain air of detachment about Disney, in order to maintain my ‘cool adolescent’ card. Avoiding pictures (the one of me with my sister on Dumbo is one of few I have from that trip) was just one of my ways of acting like Disney was for little kids. One way I reacted was to become very bookish (less kind people would call it nerdy) about Disney and focus on learning the stories behind the attractions–somehow THAT made me cool (don’t ask me how….) When I outgrew my adolescent stubbornness, I was happy to share my excitement about growing up WITH Disney, experiencing EPCOT Center, Disney-MGM Studios, and the Animal Kingdom all in their first years.
I feel now that I have children–all of whom have double digit numbers of trips under their belt at their tender ages–I am reversing the Disney experience and NOW becoming obsessed by pictures with characters, eating that first Mickey pop, and dressing like a princess (well, not me… but my girls.) I enjoy trying to re-live the childhood Disney experiences that I missed (or refused to allow myself to fully enjoy). It is a wonderful journey of growth and memories! (And I just had to get my daughter back on Dumbo–just like her mom!)
How is your love of Disney different now from when you were a child? Share your thoughts in the comments below.