Jennifer K. NDM 529, had visited Disney Parks before, but it wasn’t until her honeymoon that she & her husband fell in love with Disney. Be sure to look for Jennifer at her website, For The Love of Disney & these social media outlets: Twitter , Pinterest, & Instagram. What makes you an NDP? Have a story to share? Have your own Disney Fan Site or Podcast you want to share with the community? Send it to ndm130 AT thedisneydrivenlife DOT com. We just might feature your story here on Sharing Saturdays.
Exactly what is it about Disney Parks (and the Disney universe, really), that draws us in? I wish I could say – it certainly would be easier to explain to people who simply don’t get it.
I know I’m among friends here, though. You’ve all heard it too, right?
“You’re going there AGAIN?”
“Did you even let your kids watch [that non-Disney movie]?”wink.
“It’s pretty much like going to Walt Disney World.”(of a different amusement park)
When people travel to Walt Disney World or Disneyland after heeding our advice – we are, after all, “that Disney family” to everyone we know – they come back and 9 times out of 10? They get it. They are already planning their return trip. But what of the ones that don’t listen, or simply never give it a chance? How do we explain that special something?
I can’t, likely because I can’t pinpoint one thing that turned me into the fan that I have become. My first “real”trip – multiple days, multiple parks, really spending some time there – was not until high school. I had the opportunity to sing at Epcot and simply showed up to do my job. I had no plans, no idea what to expect. I was there with a friend with whom I mostly liked to goof off, so that’s exactly what we did. But in doing so, we explored the details in the Backlot Express restaurant. We played in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playset. We sat on Main Street USA in a Florida afternoon rain and watched people. When I returned home I had done only maybe half of the “must dos”, but still realized how special the place was.
When I got married my husband and I were young, paying for medical school and a wedding, and were extremely low on honeymoon funds. We got accommodations at a Florida beach, but drove about 90 minutes each way a few different days to “honeymoon at Walt Disney World”. We were there open to close in the middle of June, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in our car to save money. Lines were long, especially because we had done no planning. I can’t remember much about the beach portion (the majority) of our honeymoon but the few days spent at Walt Disney World? My husband calls it his “come to Mickey”moment. We were hooked, and on something about which we still had very little knowledge.
Fast forward eighteen months. We had saved diligently, and were bringing my parents and little sister on their first trip – because everyone should experience this magic. In the time between trips, I had become a full-fledged Disney nerd. I listened almost entirely to parks music and Disney podcasts – when you had to track it all down individually without a smartphone. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Disney company: blogs, travel guides, memoirs, insight to the Disney company past and present. We set our DVR to record everything with the “Disney”title, which meant I watched “House of Mouse”before I had kids, we never missed a Samantha Brown special, and we found some really weird stuff on PBS stations that we still can’t quite figure out any connection to Disney. But I digress…
That trip in 2005 was a “once in a lifetime”trip, despite having gone back too many times to count since. To visit after falling in love with the place while I was gone; After learning so much about the history, the trivia, the nostalgia, the Disney details; After becoming so familiar with the background music; After having an idea of how to “tour”; I’m not absolutely sure why we went back after the first couple of trips, but I’m awfully glad we did.
Today, we are Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders. We still live 900 miles away so we have to work hard and save to go often, but it’s a priority to us. We have three Disney Kids that are enamored with all things Disney as much or more than their parents – and not just the Mouse and his friends or the thrill of the Magic Kingdom mountains, but the music and history and traditions and backstories. They really get it.
I truly want people to understand. Not just so they don’t think I’m crazy (I’m over that), but because they’re missing out. I want people to know why this non-runner has done half- and full-marathons with runDisney. Why we spent half a day at a seemingly random Los Angeles park riding an old merry-go-round. I want people to know about the amazing food options throughout Disney properties worldwide. I want them to know that no, their local amusement park is not the same – unless it has a comprehensive backstory for every attraction, restaurant and restroom and the details to support such stories. I want people to know about the cast members that go above and beyond to greet a 6-year-old princess and make her feel like royalty. I want them to know that if we keep going back a few times a year as long as we live – or if we ever had the opportunity to move down there, as they often like to tease – we would likely never experience all there is to offer at Walt Disney World alone. I want them to know what an impact Walt Disney had on the entertainment industry, on animation, on families for generations to come. What it’s like to see the joy on the face of a child in the happiest, most magical places on earth.
So I share. I share here at The Disney Driven Life, thanks to this lovely community. I share at For the Love of Disney (and the related Facebook page), where we talk about Disney Destinations, yes, but also how to bring the magic a little closer to home in the day-to-day. I share on The Disney Nerds Podcast, with some other fabulous fans. I share with anyone who is interested.
Because, as you well know, there is a lot worth sharing.