Why would people pretty much sell their right arm to go to Disney again and again?
Disney is not just a theme park it is so much more.
Disney is a place to escape from reality to switch off from life’s worries and allow yourself to become completely immersed.
As it says in the Lion King’s Hakuna Matata “It means no worries for the rest of your days” (can you read this without singing the song?)
Disney is a place where dreams can come true.
Something Walt lived by was “If you live right, things will happen right”.
Walt believed in dreams and everything he did, was towards making the world a happy place. He was a man with an amazing imagination and that is where his dreams of bringing fairy tales to life came from.
You will not find staff at Disney, instead they are Cast Members. They spend their days playing their roles and enhancing the guest experience.
Cast Members from each land have differently themed costumes, you will never see a Cast Member in the wrong costume for the land you are in. it is all part of the magic.
You do not have a design team at Disney, they are all Imagineers. They spend their days creating magic for us.
On one of our first visits our young daughter aged 6 was dressed as Princess Jasmine and she was treated like royalty by the Cast Members. In later visits we would watch other little princesses be treated like royalty, all part of the Disney magic.
Our next trip will be just the two of us and we are no less excited about it, we will just experience the magic differently.
The Disney Cast Members treat everyone as special; they seem to instinctively know what level of magic you want. If you are an older couple who still loves to be treated like a 5-year-old prince or princess that is exactly what you will get. However, if you are equally as happy just watching the magic happen then that’s what you can do!
When my daughter was a lot younger, she was wearing a red and white polka dot skirt. When she went to meet Aladdin for an autograph and photograph, he started shouting about having found Minnie Mouse’s skirt! Yet another memory!
It is all about creating memories and watching memories unfold in front of you.
Back between 2006 and 2008 Disney held its Year of a Million Dreams at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort California. During this magical period
- As part of the Year of a Million Dreams giveaway, the Disney computer dictated the prize, time and location. The Cast Members then randomly chose the lucky guests to receive the surprise.
- Prizes ranged from money can’t buy stays in one of the Disney Castles to special achievement certificates. There were over a million magical prizes given to surprised guests.
- One day in this period, we just happened to go into a counter service restaurant at just the right moment, they rang a bell and gave the 3 of us free desserts!
- Another day our daughter got a certificate for pulling the horn on the train.
- Then on a further day, she got a certificate in EPCOT for speaking 5 languages.
Every little gesture adds to an already magical place. Our daughter would have only been 10 at the time so as you can imagine she was incredibly happy!
One year the Pooh Bear character jumped into the buggy on the Winnie The Pooh ride with our daughter and rode the ride with her! Another magical moment.
Many other magical things happen in Disney
A family staying at Port Orleans, with a poorly child, asked a cast member at check in if they could have a phone call from Mickey for example. They told the family to leave it with them. A while later there was a knock at their hotel room door and there was the Cast Member with a huge bag of goodies from Mickey for their child.
Another family had a child who was not feeling well and all they wanted was a bowl of soup. They called down to the hotel front desk, but unfortunately this was not on the menu at the hotel. A while later a chef arrived at their hotel room door with a hot bowl of soup!
Just 2 of the many hundred examples of how Disney Cast Members try to make everyone’s experience magical.
You can get free souvenirs at Disney.
- If you are celebrating anything you can head to guest services and they will give you a badge (button), saying happy birthday, just married, or whatever the celebration…. for free.
- Magic Bands up until recently were given free as part of your WDW Resort booking, so might be reinstated post COVID!
- But if you don’t get a Magic Band you will get an amazing credit card-sized Key to the World with a character on it. These always find their way into my photo album/scrapbook! Below are the latest designs.
- Before you even go, potentially before you even book, you can order a little book of magic for free from Disney. FREE Holiday Planning Tools | Walt Disney World® Official Site (disneyholidays.co.uk)
- While Disney Gift Cards have a cost, you get to keep the card once you’ve spent on it. Another card for the album!
- Then Cast Members may give you a sticker, just because!
- Most hotels have free activity packs
- The napkins
- The drinks coasters from your Disney hotel rooms.
- Some of the Disney hotel rooms still provide individual Disney brand toiletries.
- You can ask any WDW transportation driver if they have transportation cards (they usually do). Each card contains details about Disney Transportation and a Disney Character.
- In EPCOT there are the Kidcot Fun Spots. Where for free you can pick up an international memento at any or all the 11 World Showcase stations.
- Currently, you get an activity card from each country to work on at the Kidcot station.
- Previously for my daughter, it was a mask on a stick, and she went around the World Showcase the cultural Cast Members wrote in their language on the mask.
- At Animal Kingdom you can pick up a free Wilderness Explorer Handbook. You then complete several challenges to become an official Wilderness Explorer. For example –
- Animal observations
- Wilderness skills
- Collect over 25 badges and earn the right to the Wilderness Explorer call: Caw! Caw! Roar!
- Keep the book as a souvenir!
- Up until a couple of weeks ago, there was Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Which was an interactive card game and players received a pack of spell cards per day, a map and a Sorcerer Key Card. It is now closed, but we can hope it will be reinstated.
- Some of the best souvenirs for me are the actual Theme Park maps!
- During, for example, the Food and Wine Festival in Autumn/Fall you can get a booklet, with stickers in, so you can record all the different food you have tried during your visit.
Some cheap (ish) souvenirs
In EPCOT you can buy a Passport, then go around the World Showcase and pop the stickers in the correct place once you have visited. They are around $13. You also get a badge/button and a map showing where the countries are around the world. There is a space in each country for one of the Kidcot Cast Members of each country to write a message.
In all WDW shops you can purchase autograph books. These can provide hours of pleasure, spending time posing for photo’s and getting autographs with your favourite characters.
Then there are the pressed pennies! There are machines, featuring different characters throughout Walt Disney World and pouches you can buy to collect them in. There are currently penny and quarter machines in WDW.
We can all pay the Disney magic forward.
- Give a Cast Member a thank you card.
- Leave a special note (and a tip) for Mousekeeping (your maid 😊) each day.
- Offer to carry someone’s tray to the table for them if they are struggling.
- Ask a little Prince or Princess for their Autograph.
- Guaranteed to make their day.
- And above all basic manners, please and thank you’s.
Most of the Disney cleaning, painting, repairing, planting and decorating happens overnight. So as not to distract from the magic.
There is around 20 – 30 feet between trash cans, just in time for when you finish eating that Disney snack.
At over 43 square miles, the Walt Disney resort is twice the size of Manhattan or the size of San Francisco.
Walt Disney World consists of
- 4 Theme Parks
- 2 Water Parks
- A retail complex
- An athletic complex
- And multiple hotels!
Underneath Magic Kingdom is where you will find the Utilidors, a set of secret passages. This is where the Cast Members get around the park, so they are not seen in the wrong costumes for the land they are working. It is also where all the supplies and waste is kept.
You may notice as you enter Magic Kingdom, Main Street is bordered by a red pavement. This is to give all the guests the red-carpet treatment!
Down Main Street at Magic Kingdom, do not forget to look up at the second-floor windows which feature the names of real life imagineers, artists and other important Disney related people.
EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
The large golf ball within EPCOT, Spaceship Earth, is designed in such a way, that when it is raining, rain never reaches the ground!
Animal Kingdom has over 1700 animals on its site.
All the benches within Animal Kingdom are made of recycled milk jugs.
The Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom is 145 feet tall and represents 325 mammals, birds and reptiles throughout its trunk.
The vehicles used for Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom are operated on liquid propane, to keep emissions low around the animals.
In all the Disney Parks and Hotels, let your eyes explore the walls and decorative art, as there are hidden mickeys to be founds all over! There are so many, there are books written about their whereabouts!
You can ask for free cups of iced water at any quick service restaurant.
Arrived at the park and realised you have forgotten something? Ask a cast member in a gift shop and there is a good chance they will know where you can buy one!
Then there is all the magical free transportation, the buses, the boats, the monorail and the skyliner.
The first part of Walt Disney’s theme park dream became Disneyland California. The idea grew as he spent time with his daughters in various play parks around the world. He purchased 160 acres of land in Anaheim, California and building started in 1954.
Disneyland California opened in 1955.
Magic Kingdom opened in October of 1971. Sadly, Walt Disney died in 1966 and never saw his dream come true.
Disney Springs opened in March of 1975 (previously known as Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village and then Downtown Disney).
Epcot opened in October of 1982.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened in May of 1989 (Previously known as MGM Studios).
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon opened in June of 1989.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach waterpark opened in April of 1995.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in April of 1998.
On the 1st of October 2021, we start the celebrations for 50 years of Walt Disney World Orlando Florida. These celebrations will continue for 18 months. Disney is calling it “The World’s Most Magical Celebration”.
The celebration will see Mickey and Minnie dressed in EARidescent costumes.
See the Disney website for more details on what has been announced so far. ‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration’ Begins Oct. 1 in Honor of Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th Anniversary | Disney Parks Blog (go.com)