I went to Walt Disney World for the first time in 1977 with my grandfather, his new wife and her son. I was 7. We drove down in granddaddy’s candy-apple red Lincoln Town Car with a white leather roof. We stayed somewhere in Orlando. There are two things I remember about this trip: I was terrified of the Haunted Mansion; and I thought the Contemporary Hotel was from the future.
The next trip was the Summer of ’82 when EPCOT opened. There are two things I remember about this trip: being in awe of Spaceship Earth; and being laughed at by a group of Asian tourists for the shirt I was wearing (this was the 80′s after all, we all had those Japanese character shirts/head bands. Right? Just me?)
Since then, I lived in Southern California for 5 years in the early 90′s where I went to Disneyland as much as possible. Even going on Thanksgiving once, which is still the emptiest I’ve ever seen a park. Mom and I ate corn dogs with Captain Hook and Smee.
We took our daughter for the first time in 2007 with my mom. Flew down, took the Magical Express, stayed at the All Star Music resort. My daughter remembers nothing of that trip. I’ll remember it forever. Since then, my wife and I and our daughter have been back to WDW at least 3 times and Disneyland once. We return in February next year.
So what? You’ve read this far and I’ve made no point. You’re right, but you needed some background first. When I first began to toy with the idea of a Disney blog, it was to showcase some design ideas I had over the year. Stuff I’d like to buy in the parks, but have never seen. That idea grew into talking about things at Disney that you don’t see a lot. Not a critical view so much, but more of a “I did not know that!” angle. Then I found out a high-school classmate worked there after graduation. Then a grad student on campus I was photographing told me she interned there. Then I found out how many people on campus were former cast members. I’m awash in Disney content that no one else covers…
I adore the Disney parks. I adore most Disney films. I adore a lot of what’s on the Disney Channel. I adore Pixar, the Muppets and Star Wars…I think you see where this going. I love Disney because Disney takes care of everything. They look at all the angles. They talk and test and try and try and try to get it right. If it’s not right, they try harder. Ever been to the bathroom in a Disney park? Ever noticed them before. They’re always clean. ALWAYS. Ever seen a full trash can at Animal Kingdom? Ever not have a question not answered at Hollywood Studios? Ever seen anything broken or not working that wasn’t plainly marked as such? No, you haven’t. Disney takes care of its customers, of which I’m happy to be one.
Here’s a news flash: DISNEY IS EXPENSIVE. It’s true. I know, you try to forget it, but you can’t. Is it too much for the average person? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! That money buys you an experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Full immersion. I know it’s a ‘Disneyfied’ view of the world. Know what? I don’t care. I’ve seen the world. My daughter has seen more of America than a lot of you have. I’m not hiding behind the Disney facade to try and escape the horrors and real-life experiences the world offers. We go to Disney for a break. It’s a true vacation. I don’t have to think, worry, stress, agonize or pull out hair at Disney. I go, get a nice, clean room; eat good food; laugh with my daughter; kiss my wife; hug my mother and smile.
Because that’s what Disney is to me…a giant smile. With funnel cakes. And a haunted house.
What’s your take?