I never thought about having to explain the timeline of my love for Disney until I was approached at the pool last summer. There I sat, drink in hand, swimwear on point, all lotioned up, when a young mom greeted me, then proceeded to ask me how long I’d been going to Disney. It might be worth mentioning that my bathing suit was designed to look like Snow White’s dress, my drink was housed in a cup with a portrait of Cinderella, my swim bag embellished with the Haunted Mansion Wallpaper, and Cindy’s castle in permanent ink on my left shoulder.
Truth be told, my obsession with Disney didn’t start as a dewy eyed toddler in a princess gown and jelly shoes. In fact, I didn’t even like the ‘princess’ movies growing up. I was and still am, in many ways, a greasy haired, scabby kneed tomboy. While I did love many Disney/Pixar films, Toy Story and the Lion King being among my favorites (ok, the Lion King is still my all time favorite) even the damsel in distress ones (read: the ones that haven’t aged well) I liked for the adventure and peril.
From ages zero to four, I lived in southern California and have vague, scattered memories of visiting Disneyland in Anaheim. Namely, sitting on my dad’s shoulders watching the fireworks, not questioning why these were the only pyrotechnics that didn’t cause me crippling anxiety. I have almost zero recollection of any of the rides, except for Pirates of the Caribbean, in which the animatronics frightened me to the point of violent sobbing and cringeworthy shrieking. (sorry mom and dad!)
Even after we moved to TN, with Disney World within driving distance, we never made the haul. There were three of us kiddos and my parents were, and still are, incredibly hard working people. The one vacation a year we took was either to Hilton Head, SC or to Statesboro, GA to see my grandparents. I have fond memories of these trips and to be quite honest, never really thought about missing out on a Disney vacation. Not to mention most of my friends and their families were ordering water, splitting meals and remaining twelve until they grew boobs/facial hair when dining once a month at the local Applebee’s, so the envy of visiting the most magical place on earth didn’t really come into play.
I was twenty-nine the first time I saw the top of the castle from inside the resort transport bus.
We knew we wanted our honeymoon to be something we had never experienced, so we decided on Disney. One out of our six night trip to be a day at Magic Kingdom to be more specific. My husband had been once as a kid, and while his memories are grand, they were, well, that of a child. We started off in Savannah, GA spending one night at a condo in Tybee Island (in frigid, drizzly, February, mind you) then headed to spend two nights at the French Quarter resort in WDW. We have, and even at the time had done our share of traveling and resort staying, and I don’t think I had ever been so impressed with the level of hospitality and attention to detail as I was from the moment we arrived on property. At the risk of sounding corny, it was pure magic.
The French Quarter Resort was everything I loved about New Orleans without the smell of urine and armpits. The pool is probably my favorite of all of the Disney resorts I’ve visited and you can get a beignet at almost every turn. The architecture is breathtaking and hopping the Ferry Boat to Disney Springs is a an invaluable plus. I could go on, but I’ll reserve that for a separate post 🙂
I think being surrounded by Disney before you go to the parks is an otherworldly experience. It’s Disney’s way of saying, ‘this is no ordinary vacation.’ Essentially, it ensures your inevitable return.
Well played Walt/imagineers/cast members. Well played.
I barely got any sleep that first night on property, waiting to finally experience The Magic Kingdom, or as I had always referred to it, ‘the park with the castle’. It felt like Christmas morning and after my three mile walk around the resort (this is still how I start everyday while staying on property) we hit the transport line. If you’ve never experienced Disney in any capacity, you could imagine any type of transportation system to be undesirable; long lines and crowds alone are enough to make any introvert clam up with trepidation. But the cleanliness and efficiency of WDW resort conveyance makes the experience bearable in the least and enjoyable at best.
I shrieked with excitement when the top of the castle began to crest into view over my seat and practically tigger-bounced all the way from check in to Main Street USA. The most exciting (and congested) part of any Disney vacation to this day is the inaugural walk to the castle.
My first trip to Magic KIngdom was much like my wedding; overwhelmingly exciting and vague memories of anything other than it was one of the best days of my life. There was a torrential downpour for about four hours and I gladly gave $20 for two trash bags with head and appendage cutouts with Mickey’s face on them. That is what Disney does, they make you happy to give them all your money, but they also make it worth your while.
At the time, neither my husband nor myself were riding any type of coaster ( I know, right?) but rode every ‘kiddie’ ride from Prince Charming’s Carousel to the Haunted Mansion, the latter becoming our favorite both for nostalgia and thrill. I recall asking a Ghost Host Castmember if this ride was a coaster or scary in any way, and her response was ‘it’s a frightful tour on a doombuggy, but don’t worry, our spirits are of the friendly variety’. Strangely, that told me what I needed to know and I have been slightly obsessed with this detailed fun loving ‘haunted house’ ever since.
That was the only Disney park/Disney day of our honeymoon (we stayed on property two nights, but visited Islands of Adventure the following day) and in retrospect, that was our only regret. Harry Potter World and our three night Bahama cruise were enjoyable enough, but we both spent the next several days looking back on our day at Magic Kingdom, and nothing really compared. Nothing really does now, which is why we have been to WDW eight times in three years, and will embark on our second Disney Cruise next month.
While I do plan on creating plenty of top tens, guides and fun Disney fact posts on this blog, I wanted you to get to know a little bit about me and why I love the brand so much. Disney is so iconic and there is an over-saturation of content to choose from, so much of it being helpful and amazing! It is impossible for me to give unbiased advice/discussions/ posts regarding everything Disney, as there is nothing I love discussing, pursuing and becoming more knowledgeable!
If you love all things Disney, are planning your next (or first!) trip to WDW or just want to hear more about our fabulous Diz adventures, I hope you will keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram as well (@firstwehauntedmansion, or type in our hashtag #firstwehauntedmansionthenwedothethings) every Wednesday and Friday for more of my Disney love!
2 thoughts on “It all started with a happily ever after: My love affair with Disney”
What a wonderful story!!! I remember those ponchos well, (I recall them being yellow for a time, and it always looked to us like a bunch of lemons wandering around! Count me in as a fellow Haunted Mansion/Little Leota fan. I can’t wait to read more of your adventures!
“I shrieked with excitement when the top of the castle began to crest into view over my seat and practically tigger-bounced all the way from check in to Main Street USA.”
I LOVE THAT LINE! I feel the exact same way… 🙂
Thank you SO much! Making the ponchos yellow is genius…until you realize everyone, not just the missing person from your party is wearing them LOL!