This picture above is a moment I treasure. It’s from our first hour at the Magic Kingdom. It is a picture that captures how my love of Disney started.
We were on the road before 3:30AM. It was a blizzard in Cleveland. I was terrified the plane wouldn’t take off. It did though… and pretty close to on-time to my surprise. We napped on the plane and woke up to sunshine and palm trees when we landed in Orlando.
We took full advantage of the Disney’s immersive vacation offerings and rode the Magical Express to our hotel, Art of Animation. Pulling up to the hotel with huge sketches of Lightening McQueen, Ariel, Nemo, and young Simba was so exciting. Walking in the lobby to bright lights and a wall full of more sketches made months of planning feel like I had achieved perfect at the very start of our what was supposed to be once in a lifetime vacation.
Then it all came to a screeching halt. I heard that at Disney you’re welcomed with open arms. It’s home. To be honest it felt like anything but. I went to the front desk and the cast member was friendly, but far from helpful. Our room wasn’t ready, which was fine. I knew that was a possibility. He handed us our “First Visit” buttons, pointed me to the food court, and was onto the next guest. I felt like I suddenly forgot everything I had reviewed in months of planning, reading blogs, Facebook posts, studying maps, and just about anything else Disney related. We were totally lost.
“Where do I put my bags?”
“Where is the bus stop?”
“WHERE IS THE BATHROOM?!”
It took us a few minutes to try to get our bearings about us and figure out all the questions I needed to go back and ask. While we were looking very lost a very nice family that was checking out shared a bit of what is known as “Disney Magic” when you’re there– but is really just simple kindness. They handed us a bag with a loaf of bread, some juice, and milk boxes, and miscellaneous snacks they had leftover!
WOW! That was really cool! It was generous and unexpected. It started us back on the right path.
I walked up to a manager and explained that our family was feeling a bit lost. She took us right back up to the desk and to another Cast Member that helped get us situated: we had a place to store our bags, we knew how to get our resort mugs (for the Disney Dining Plan), and we had maps of the resort and Magic Kingdom. We were now ready to start our day. After all, we had our first FastPass+ to MEET MICKEY MOUSE in about 90 minutes.
Off we went. Not one of us had set foot on Disney property. EVER. I was excited to go, but it was just another place to go. Something to check off on our vacation list. I never thought I would feel so overwhelmed when I walked into the Magic Kingdom for the first time. (I’ll talk about how I teared up leaving on the last day another time.) It was so amazing and breathtaking.
We met Mickey at Town Square. He is the only talking custom character in the parks.(Update June 2018): Mickey has lost his voice and no longer speaks to “avoid confusion.”) It may have been a little much for the kids. They didn’t really know what to do when he spoke. They interacted a little, we took some photos, and then off to meet Tink.
As we walked out of the Town Square Theater we studied the map and marched towards Main Street. OMG– It’s the CASTLE. It’s CINDERELLA CASTLE! Really. Suddenly, I was a very girly, princess adult. And I was never a very girly, princess child.
A very confusing thing happened. We were being ushered onto the crowded sidewalks. To my crowd hating husband this was annoying. Navigating the stroller and looking out for people was getting tough. “Why can’t we walk in the nice wide street?”
Oh, there’s a parade coming down the street. It’s the Move It, Shake It, Dance Parade. It was on our list of things to “skip.” But we stopped. It was much easier to stop then to navigate the crowd anyway.
We stopped and my 2.5-year-old daughter saw Goofy! She was in love! He even waved to her. The delight on her face and in her eyes. It was pure magic! She squealed, laughed, and pointed as the parade went by. My son, just days away from turning 5, jumped up and down. He yelled out the name of every character he recognized.
Shortly after we rode Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. Both kids loved it. I can’t tell you the number of times we would ride it during our week stay!
This was going to be a great trip!!
I fell in love with Walt Disney World in 2016. This was just the start of the reasons why.