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.


 

wetpeople4When 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.img_2868

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 timg_4372hat 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 img_0521way 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?  

 

 

LookingforMagicLooking 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 imtxag85@aol.com.

 

 

 

Comments

comments

9 thoughts on “How Do I Love Thee, Walt Disney World?”

  1. Andrew Prince says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories!

  2. Janet Sala says:

    My first visit was in December 1971. It was not love at first sight. I was 15 and deemed Disney World “silly.” My younger sister, my Mom and my Dad were all crazy in love with it at first sight. So, fast forward to 1979. I’ve graduated from university, and oddly, my family now lives in Broward County. So, I come home from school out west, take a day trip to the World with some friends from church–and I am smitten! That was the spring of 1979. I have never looked back! I got my first annual pass in 1982, and have had one most years since, even though I left Florida for New Jersey in 1986.

    2016 is a big year from my perspective. For those of you who haven’t done the math already, I turn 60 this year, I have lived in New Jersey for 30 years, and will be attending F&W for 10 days starting next Wednesday! Happy 45th Birthday Walt Disney World!!!!!!

  3. Kendall Foreman says:

    I love listening to the first notes of Celebrate the Magic as Tinkerbell flits across the Castle.

    I love cheering as Mickey appears victoriously at the top of the mountain in Fantasmic!

    I love laughing with total strangers as we all get soaked on Kali River Rapids.

    I love the cheerful “Aloha” I hear every time I enter the Great Ceremonial House.

    The list could go on and on…

  4. Larry Curka says:

    I Love Disney because of the memories of my daughters and family, the happiest times of my life.But the most special visit was the 1st in July 1995 my daughter was just 5 years old and wanted me to carry her the whole visit 7 days, well we know how hot and humid Florida is then…. but didn’t care, I remember my wife then and Inlays were shopping in the Japan dept. Store in Epcot, it was evening and a nice breeze was blowing I was leaning against the building with my Daughter fast asleep against me, we are both soaked in sweat, but with her in my arms and the sounds and smells and sights of Disney around us with Families, I knew that was moment forever planted in my heart.

  5. Cecilia DuVall says:

    Our first trip to WDW was in 1975, when the Parks were preparing for the Bicentennial Celebration. My daughter, who was 2 years old at the time, is now a devoted Disney Fanatic, like the rest of us. We had three other children after her, and we are now all Disney Fans. My parents took my sister and I on vacation to Disneyland between the years of 1959 and 1969. From Arkansas to California–truly a dream trip with all the trimmings, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas. But my sister and I were mostly interested in this new amusement park, Disneyland. We fell in love with Disneyland, and it became our vacation destination for the next ten years.
    In 1969, I graduated high school, got a job, got married, had a baby, and a trip to California and Disneyland had to be put on the back burner. Then, in 1975, after my Father’s death, my Mother decided it was time to check out this new Disney Park, Walt Disney World. The Magic Kingdom was the only Park at that time, and it was preparing for the Bicentennial Celebration. From the time we boarded the Monorail to our walk through the tunnel onto Main Street, we were mesmerized by how the Disney magic was reawakened in my Mother, my sister, and my daughter, who was 2 years old. That is the moment we fell in love with Walt Disney World, and have been Disney World Fanatics ever since. I now have four children, and they are all WDW fans. We try to visit every year, or as often as we can. Walt Disney World is like Heaven on Earth, where everyone, no matter what age, can relive their childhood in a wondrous, magical world, where dreams do come true, where little girls become Princesses, and little boys become Princes. Thank you, Walt Disney, for sharing your dream with us.l

  6. Gianni Cerasoli says:

    1992… My wife and I had our Honeymoon in Walt Disney World. We had high expectations, and WDW easily surpassed our highest expectations! We remember the first time we saw the monorail, The Contemporary, and The Grand Floridian. We almost thought we were dreaming when we strolled down Main Street USA… We couldn’t believe we were actually in front of “Cinderella’s Castle”! While we were amazed at the beautiful immensity of Walt Disney World, the moment when our amazement turned to “love” was the first time we rode Splash Mountain… “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”. Has our “love” for Disney decreased since our first trip? NO…we have been to Disneyworld yearly since then, and have made countless memories there with our four children. We can’t walk more five minutes without recalling a happy memory, while creating new ones! Walt Disney World is our “home away from home”. Thank You to everyone at Walt Disney World for keeping Walt’s dream alive.
    See you real soon!

  7. Clair McRae says:

    The first time I walked down Main Street I burst into tears. It was just all so wonderful, we had saved for ages and the looks on our boys’ faces were all just too much. Both the boys and my husband ran away in embarrassment ! (Same as EVERY time I hear Voices of Liberty, floods of tears)

  8. Kathy says:

    Thank you everyone for sharing your stories! Kathy

  9. Tim Bollinger says:

    My first trip to Walt Disney World was in 1981 with my wife, we were on our honeymoon. While we had a great time, and we did get to experience so many of the things we’d dreamed about every Sunday evening as kids sitting on our own respective living room floors while watching “The Wonderful World of Disney”, it wasn’t for another 18 years after our honeymoon that I truly fell in love with Walt Disney World. You see by that time, we had two wonderful kids of our own. Since the day they were born, and for the next 12 or so years it had been my dream for their entire lives to take them to the “happiest place on earth”. For a couple of years prior to our trip I worked two jobs, one full time to pay the bills and one part time to save every penny for our first family trip to Walt Disney World. When we finally got there we stayed at the All-Star Movies Resort. While on the first bus from the resort to the Magic Kingdom my wife and I noticed an extended family, grandparents, parents, and kids all on their way to the park. It was then I was probably sold on the Disney Vacation Club even though I had never heard of it before. We finally arrived at our destination. While walking down Main Street USA staring at the castle for the first time with my whole family hand in hand, it was then that this 300 lb. all male father, veteran, and pure family man fell in love with Walt Disney World while yelling at the top of his lungs to his family, “I told you I’d get you here!!!” We’ve been back many times, now using our DVC points. Both kids have used our points to spend their own honeymoons there. We now have two beautiful grandsons and you know what? My wife and I were those grandparents Christmas before last on the bus on their way to the Magic Kingdom with our entire family in tow. We’re all in love with Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line. When my wife and I are gone we know that Walt Disney World will be “Home” to our whole family and that always makes us happy!