As a young child, NDD#152 spent time with his family watching Disney films and Sunday Night Movies. Through these films and his family’s love for Disney, James D’s love of Disney only continued to grow right along with him. He specifically recalled back when he was nine and found a map on top of his aunt’s fridge of Walt Disney World. Being an inquisitive child, he asked lots of questions about the map, looked at pictures from his aunt’s past trips and was ready to go! The big day finally came in 1983 when the family went to Florida for a cousin’s wedding. A day in EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom were planned along with the wedding festivities. James spent a year planning the trip with his brothers and sister to be sure the time was spent efficiently so everyone could see everything they wanted during the short visit. When the big day finally arrived, James was overwhelmed saying “When I walked on Main Street is was just like coming home.”
Over the years there have been many trips to Disney for James which made it very hard for him to determine a favorite Disney memory. He recalled riding 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on his first visit, going as a freshman in college with friends, visiting Disney for Spring Break while dating his wife and spending half a day alone in the Magic Kingdom and taking pictures with the castle, seeing the magic through his kid’s eyes during their first visit, his first time meeting up with other Disney fans and enjoying his first solo trip during the Magic Kingdom’s 40th anniversary. I had to find out why James keeps coming back to Disney and James was happy to share the secret: “it’s in my blood.” One thing he looks forward to each trip is all the different things to see, especially the details that you don’t always notice when you’re looking at the “big” things. In James’ eyes, Disney is a wonder of the world but better – it’s constantly changing and different ways to experience the magic are being created by the Imagineers. Simply put, “it never gets old. How can you not go back?!?”
Just like his first visit, the Magic Kingdom still feels like home to James and is his favorite park. One thing his family always makes time to do is ordering an ice cream cookie sandwich and enjoying it on East Center Street while people watching and listening to all the noises around them. Thankfully James’ wife is “extremely tolerant” of his neurotic Disney behaviors. She enjoys her time at Disney but hasn’t crossed over to the NDP side just yet. To fit in Disney vacations, a bit of negotiations are involved and nothing’s off the table – including a trip to Germany.
The Disney love doesn’t stop when James crosses under the Disney sign. He listens to Disney music in the car or at home and has his phone themed with Tron icons and sounds. As James put it, Disney is his “thing” and it’s become a part of his every day life. You can learn this for yourself by visiting his website MousePlanning or following him on Twitter. He gave a little advice to those planning a Disney trip: have a plan going in but be flexible. For more experienced travelers, James recommends not getting stuck in habits or going with “regulars” all the time. Try something new while you’re visiting – there are so many great places to eat, shows to check out or places to sit and people watch. You might find a new favorite! James also had a bit of advice for other NDPs: “stand up and be counted! Us Disney people need to stick together!” (In case you haven’t already been counted, you can be here)