Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Walt Disney World - My Personal Happy Place

I used to keep track of my visits to Walt Disney World but I stopped counting at 150 days at the parks. I'm sure I'm over the 200 mark by now. My first visit was 1976 and a drive all the way down from Philadelphia. It's a little easier to get to since the move to Fort Lauderdale in 1978.

Disney's Magic Kingdom - Cinderella's Castle
That said, it's been a long time since I've had an annual pass. Until a few months ago that is. I took a few years off as life got in the way a bit and there was way too much of the rest of the world to see.

In the last two months I've made 4 solo trips. Mostly to take it all in at my own speed and take the kind of photos I can't enjoy trudging around in a group. I also like to ride all the thrill rides and I don't know hardly anyone who can bounce from one to the next as fast as I can.

One of the unexpected things was the flood of memories, the excitement of new rides, sights, sounds, food, and attractions, and missing the rides of the past. I suppose traveling alone really brought out a deeper experience than just asking all day long "What do you want to do next"?

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Tower of Terror
One of my best memories was riding Tower of Terror and Rocking Rollercoaster 10 times each in one day. That actually consumed an entire trip. Wait times are seldom in the 5 minute range on the most popular rides. If you go early enough you can get several rides in as I did last week before the lines grow. Of course these days I need to sit a bit right after.

I also pick notoriously slow days at the park. Never weekends or holidays. I'm ok with the crowds but not wait times over an hour.

A lot of my reminiscing involved my daughter.  I brought her so many times (starting at 6 months old) that by high school she wanted to go anywhere but. And we did exactly that.

When EPCOT opened, the family and I were there the first month.  I remember how fascinated I was by virtually visiting countries around the world knowing full well my family would never get to see any of them. Collectively we have visited Canada, Norway, England, France, China, Japan, and several not even on the list. I have no doubt if not for this introduction, we would have not visited a single one.

As a stockholder, one of the perks was to book a new hotel when it opened for $99.00 a night. The Dolphin, Swan, Coronado Springs, Beach Club, Port Orleans, and Caribbean Beach. I missed the Grand Floridian and that little perk has long ago expired. A room in those hotels is significantly higher than a hundred bucks these days. On my new retirement salary,,,,,, It's pretty much All Sports or All Movies for me but a Disney hotel beats anything outside. There is a customer service level second to none even in the lesser priced lodging.

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Tree of Life
If you have been following my blog you know I have been adding to my experience with special attractions like Cirque Du Soleil and the giant helium balloon at Disney Springs or the very pricey Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom. Pricey but worth it as are most things at Disney. I plan at the end of my season pass to do the Backstage Magic Tour. An all day back stage pass to the 4 parks and a long time dream of mine.

So why do I keep coming back. I have traveled extensively and most places I've only tread once or a few times at most. I've never really had an answer to that question. I suppose it's part of the magic.

Disney's EPCOT - Spaceship Earth

Since these 4 visits were mostly to grab a few photos, click on the park to view them.


  1. I love this! Just reading it really brought back some great memories for me.

  2. My wife and I joined the Disney Vacation Club back in 2002 and were lucky enough to take advantage of a member perk they have never attempted again. I forgot the cost but Disney once offered DVC members the chance to enjoy EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom for several hours after both closed at night. The first night was EPCOT and frankly it was a disaster, we were all forced inside a small section of the World Showcase walkway to allow us an unobstructed view of the closing ceremonies. It was great but the area was too small for the number of people and we could actually feel the heat from the fire in the middle of the lake. There was supposed to be food as well but it turned out to be rice crispy treats and weak tea.

    The next night was Magic Kingdom and it was awesome. Most of the park rides were stayed open and my family and I rode Pirates and the Haunted Mansion so many times you would not believe the number. Several of the restaurants stayed open as well and all the food was free. There were a few issues, DVC members staying after closing were all wearing special ID's and several non-DVC people had to be escorted out by security because they didn't understand the situation.

    All told, the second night was fantastic but from what we learned on the DVC internet bulletin boards Disney lost a lot of money on this special offer and have never thought about doing it again.

  3. They seem to have worked out some those issues with the not so scary Halloween and the very Merry Christmas. I got the boot early one night from Magic Kingdom on Halloween. But since I had a park hopper I went to Epcot, grabbed a table by the lake for dinner and watched the fireworks from the London pub. It was a spectacular evening. That year I went to the Very Merry Christmas. I got to see the castle lit up at 7:30 then again at midnight. You're not supposed to enter the park until like four with the special event band but since we were staying at a Disney hotel we got in early so we still got a very full day on our very Merry Christmas. It is unbelievable how fast they can sweep out the unbanded folks from the park. At first we were pretty much alone then the place flooded with a second wind.

  4. How amazing to be able to go whenever you like! Looks like WAY more people than I'd see on my usual 'I'm the only one left standing in Australia' trips!!!

    1. I've often wondered where all the people are in your photos. I think I know now.