Why do you keep going back to the same place?
This is one of the questions I get asked the most. Everyone knows that I love exploring new places, so why do I keep going back to the same part of central Florida time and time again?
Annoyingly, the only answer to this that I’ve ever conjured up is that ‘you’d understand if you’ve been there yourself’. My friends that have visited the ‘place where magic lives’ agree with this overwhelmingly. It’s hard to explain the atmosphere, the immersion and the fun to someone who is adamant that you’re a bit of a hypocrite.
So, here is my attempt to try and put my reasons into words. It will probably be in vain, but I’m sure all the converts out there will be nodding along.
- Utopia. The world is not a perfect place, and sadly that is something that we are having to come to terms with everyday. However, Disney World is so close to perfection. Nothing ever goes wrong at Disney. Everyone is happy, despite the inevitable bickering with their family members. It is, quite simply, as perfect as the world is going to get.
- Theming. When you sit in front of the TV and watch your favourite film, it can feel quite immersive, but as soon as the phone rings you’re reminded that rather than fighting off enemy starships in a galaxy far far away, you’re just sitting on the sofa in your living room. In Disney, the movies come to life. You’re soaring over Victorian London with Peter Pan one minute, and then entering an episode of The Twilight Zone in the next. The Harry Potter areas of Universal Studios possibly have the highest attention to detail I’ve ever seen in a theme park. Though, as a Disney convert, I still don’t think it has the same atmosphere as Disney. Between all the parks, you’re unlikely to find a more immersive experience anywhere else in the world.
- Characters. When I watched classic movies like Snow White and Jungle Book when I was little, I assumed the characters were real. I’ve grown up since then (just a little), but spotting Snow White hosting a meet and greet by her wishing well takes me right back. While some people will scoff and remind others that those are just people dressed up, when you’re in that moment it’s very easy to forget all of that. For the children, this is definitely real, and it’s not everyday that you get to meet Mickey Mouse!
- Rides. I love rides. The big ones are usually my favourites, like the log flume Splash Mountain and iconic Tower of Terror. I love wearing a hat on the latter and feeling it fly briefly above my head while we free fall down, then land safely in my lap a few seconds later. The less thrilling rides, and the ones that the whole family will be brave enough to go on, hold a lot of nostalgia for me. I remember spending many happy days in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom where all the rides are perfect for small children.
- Food. Most people think of theme park food and imagine overpriced burgers and chicken nuggets that are made to the same standard as any old fast food chain. While inside the theme parks, we have eaten at a Canadian Steakhouse, breakfast buffets with characters, 50s-style restaurants, roast dinners, and amazing Asian food. The choice often seems endless. Though, I have to admit, a lot of burgers and fries balanced that out.
- Cast Members. Known at staff members to non-Disney addicts. Nothing is too much trouble for a Disney Cast Member, and they will always go out of their way to make your day perfect. That can involve anything from replacing an ice cream that has been unceremoniously dropped on the floor, to getting the chef to personally come out to a table to discuss allergy requirements. I may be a little biased with this one, as I was lucky enough to be a Cast Member for one summer and it was so much fun.
- Different experiences. The experience that Disney will give you differs depending on the time of year. Throughout December, the parks are adorned with beautiful Christmas decorations. If you love trying food from around the world, then the Food & Wine Festival brings lots of foreign flavours to Epcot. There’s also the Flower & Garden festival in the spring. Naturally, the parks go all-out for the big American holidays, like 4th July and Thanksgiving, and everything gets a distinctly orange feel in the run-up to Halloween. Knowing that there is something different happening at each time of year is all the excuse I need to visit again.
Even after explaining all that a lot of people still think I’m crazy, and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the same. Ultimately, the only way that you will be convinced is if you see it for yourself. Then, after you’ve been back home for a few months, without even really thinking about it you’ll start to work out when you could return. After that moment, I’m afraid you’ve been completely and utterly hooked.
Are you a Walt Disney World fan, or are you indifferent? Share your thoughts in the comments!