In celebration of Walt Disney World’s 45th Anniversary, the WDW Radio Blog Team members are sharing their Walt Disney World “love stories” about the moment they became lifelong fans.
When did I fall in love with Walt Disney World? I can say without a doubt that it was not love at first sight. There were no lightning bolts or foot-popping moments that occurred as the result of a grand gesture. I would describe myself as one that warms up to love at a slow simmer. I savor the act of being wooed and pursued until I am hopelessly and ardently in love.
I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s watching the Mickey Mouse Club television show and the Wonderful World of Disney. My first visit to Walt Disney World was in 1974. I loved it, but I would not say that I was in love at that moment.
Fast forward to the early 1990s and dozens of trips to Walt Disney World later. I was taking marketing classes in pursuit of a graduate degree and the Walt Disney Company was consistently mentioned in lectures and readings as a “best practice” business in terms of enhancing the consumer experience. I learned about Disney’s emphasis on service quality, the importance of getting to know guests, and about making dreams a reality.
After I graduated, and continued to visit Walt Disney World, I thought less about meeting the characters and riding the attractions. I began watching for and finding the daily and continuous magic moments that define the Disney experience—and that was when I fell in love with Walt Disney World.
And so Walt Disney World—how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love watching the excited faces of families as they drive through the Mickey and Minnie welcome arch in their vehicles. There’s always smiles on the faces of guests and sometimes, if you listen closely, you can hear squeals of delight and cheers. Driving through the arch means the beginning of a long-anticipated trip.
I love that parents who grew up watching Star Wars films can now share the magic, genius, and creativity of the American epic space opera enterprise with their children at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
I love that little girls at Walt Disney World are always referred to as “Princess” by Cast Members. And I love that sometimes I am called “Princess” by Cast Members. I am way past Disney princess-prime, and I am no Cinderella, but the acknowledgement that I am princess-worthy is a dream come true.
I love that when I am on Walt Disney World property, the world outside the resort no longer exists. I am once again ten-years-old, and I can enjoy all things Disney through the renewed eyes of a child.
I love that people tend to smile more at Walt Disney World. They say “please” and “thank you.” And say “excuse me.” I love that people give up their seat on the Monorail or bus for a senior or a parent with a child. And during the days of paper Fast Passes, I loved that guests would pay their Fast Passes forward.
I love that there are regulars. Cast Members who you see every trip, such as John who you can find in Tomorrowland, Maritza at Wolfgang Puck Express, or Gary at California Grill. They remember you from trip to trip and always go out of their way to make your Disney experience extra special.
I love that when I wear my birthday button, I have thousands of friends on my special day, and that the Dapper Dans or Mariachi Cobre will sing “Happy Birthday.”
I love that Walt Disney World will let you have the privilege of running 3.1, 6.2, 13.1, 26.2, or a variety of combinations of those distances on Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I’m being facetious of course, but what better way to see the resort?
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
These are just a few of the ways that I love Walt Disney World, but I barely scratched the surface. I could go on, but now it’s your turn. How many ways do you love Walt Disney World?
Looking for Magic is Kathy @ Two Roads Photo. As a librarian, walker of many miles, and Paper Bag Princess, Kathy dreams of having coffee with Belle at the castle and co-administering a fantasy book discussion group. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.