Are you voting for Republican or Democrat?
What is the origin of the universe?
How do you put your toilet paper roll on?
These are some of the most divisive questions on the planet. I’ve found that none of them outrank the disagreement, tension, and downright vitriol that comes from the topic:
Is Disney World a good place to go on vacation??
Oh, there is so much to talk about here. The “no, no, no… absolutely not” camp and the “of course, obviously yes, why are we even talking about this?” crowd each has plenty of ammunition and, trust me, they are willing to die defending their battleground.
People call me “The Disney Dad” and I have a website called DisneyProTips.com. You can probably surmise which side of the fence my house is built on. Seriously, I just don’t get how anyone could not love the place. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard all of the talking points, and I’ll acknowledge them, even within this post.
If you are a hater, I’m going to try and convince you to come to the light side. Sure it’s cool to dress up in the Vader costume for a while… but it’s STUFFY in there! Come join us over on the light side with our cool cream-colored Jedi attire, and cozy robes!
Ok, I’m way off track. Let’s bring this thing back.
What is it about Walt Disney World (WDW) that captures my imagination? How do I get equal enjoyment out of watching my kids in this magical place and feeling like a kid, myself, all at the same time?
How can other people feel the exact opposite?
I see it as one of the only places in the world that was created to bring your imagination to life. A place where you are immersed in magic of the impossible and extraordinary.
I get it. Theme Parks. Tens of thousands of people. High prices. If you so choose, there is definitely perspective from which Disney World looks like the last place you would go on vacation. And before you say I just have rose-colored glasses on this topic, I’m very aware that Disney is a corporation that has one goal above all else: to make money. I should know, I own a small amount of their stock! Doesn’t all of this completely wipe away any luster that could possibly be left over from the childlike creativity and vision of Walt Disney himself?
I just don’t see it that way at all. I see it as one of the only places in the world that was created to bring your imagination to life. A place where you are immersed in magic of the impossible and extraordinary. I’ll be honest, I think an overwhelming majority of people in the world could feel the same way I do. Something is holding them back. This thought fascinates me. What could make our outlook so different?
…the main thing that comes to mind is a FEELING. The excitement of suspending disbelief for a few moments and letting the magic of story and fantasy overcome the realities of life.
The main theory I have is that it’s all about perspective. When many people think of a WDW vacation, they are completely focused on the negatives, including those listed above. They are thinking about traffic, long lines, theme-park food, rude children (and parents) everywhere, etc.
When I think about Disney World, the main thing that comes to mind is a FEELING. The excitement of suspending disbelief for a few moments and letting the magic of story and fantasy overcome the realities of life. I think of timeless attractions our whole family can enjoy; some built in the last 5 years and some built more than 50 years ago. I envision the wonder in my children’s eyes as they watch a spectacular fireworks display, and then seeing those same emotions from my wife (who is an unbelievably young 34). I think about the incredible variety of above-average to extraordinary dining we get to indulge in… something so many new Disney vacationers miss.
I could go on and on trying to capture that magical feeling I have when thinking about Disney World. I get it, some people just enjoy being cynical. Or maybe life has put them in that situation and it’s hard to enjoy places like WDW. Also, I want to be clear that my experiences with Disney have not been positive 100% of the time. I’ve had some bad experiences with customer service and other glitches. Certainly, I’m not here to force someone to like something they just don’t have any interest in liking. But, I would like to challenge any of you who fall on that side of the fence to reconsider. I want you to feel the same childlike joy that I do, even when I’m just in the planning phase of a trip to “meet the mouse”.
If you tend toward the pessimistic side, why should you change your perspective on Disney World? I guess I’ll attempt to present a case in the Disney Pro Tips court of law. You be the judge… and you already know which side I’m on. I could present 1o0 different arguments, but I’m going to give four of my strongest to see if I can just get you started on your path back to the magic (cue cheesy music).
The Variety offered at WDW is unlike anywhere in the world:This may be my strongest arguments because it’s one of my favorite things about Disney World, and is something the haters totally miss.In every facet of your vacation there is myriad of options, all executed with such excellence, that people from every walk of life should have an incredible experience. From theme-parks to resorts to dining to other miscellaneous activities, Disney creates an experience for everyone. And I’m not talking about cheaply thrown together experiences to pacify a certain group, or dumbed down menu items at cookie cutter restaurants.There are rides for every age, baby to senior. There is a huge variety of inexpensive dining all over the place, but there are also dozens of options that rank all the way up to truly world-class restaurants.You probably won’t believe me but there even options to appreciate nature and find quiet spots, indoors or out, to get away from it all to read a book or even catch a nap.I can’t think of another place in the world where you can experience that kind of variety. That’s why it thrives as a destination for families and big groups. Babies enjoy it. Kids, teens, adults enjoy it. All done with such excellence.
The Spectacular is even more spectacular:Fireworks. Roller coasters. Stage Shows. Restaurants, Architecture. Disney does it all in one place, and most of it is better than you would find anywhere else.
It’s More than you think it is: Quick. What’s the first thing you think of at WDW? Cinderella’s Castle? An Amusement Park? If so, you are just scratching the surface. I won’t belabor the point, but you could have an incredible Disney World vacation just hanging out at one of their beautiful resorts. There are boat rentals and bass fishing charters. Incredible pools with great bars/food to go along with it. That’s one of my primary motivations for having the website I do. I want others to experience Disney far beyond what they think they know.
It is a Place to Lose Yourself and become a part of the story:Somehow our culture has lost this. At least American culture has. It’s 100% reality all the time. Even our most popular TV shows are “Reality”… which is staged, anyway!!Our brains are wired for escape! A great novel, a compelling movie, a video game. We need to get away from reality and embrace the parts of our mind that imagine adventure and fantasy! I would submit that there is no better place on Earth that takes it to the level Disney does. I, for one, absolutely love transporting myself to another time or place. I’m sure my kids would love to have “vacation dad” around a lot more at home!
Ok, I rest my case. Have I swayed you at all? If not, I guess there is just no changing your mind.
Forget that, I’m not done with you yet…
I have one more theory on the real reason people have such a negative impression of Disney World. They see it as an expensive theme-park vacation. To be honest, many who love Disney World enjoy it for that very thing but, for me, I wouldn’t waste the time and money if that’s all it was. No… Disney is so much more than that, but you have to know what you’re doing. This lack of knowledge keeps people pinned into these exhausting experiences amongst a sea of humanity, while emptying out their wallet!
When you know what you are doing, you know that the resorts at Disney can be incredible vacations spots in and of themselves. You know that you can spend time on the lake in a boat rental, or relax the day away poolside with a drink or two from the bar. You know that Disney Springs makes for a great lazy day with a bit of shopping and incredible dining. You know that Ft. Wilderness deserves a visit even when you aren’t staying there (more on this in a second). Not to mention all of the quiet spots (yes quiet at WDW!), hammocks, porch-swings, etc… where you can take a few moments to read a good book. The list. goes. on.
If you haven’t experienced Disney in this way, you are truly missing out on a phenomenal vacation experience. One of my favorite things in life is helping people make this transition by educating them on all WDW has to offer.
Any closer to being convinced? If yes, I must reiterate a few things before you rush to book that Disney World vacation.
1. Think of it as more than just theme parks. The arguments I made above should indicate that WDW is so much more than a bunch of rides and snack stands. If money is an issue, you can find a decent deal, during off seasons, to stay at a value resort or even bring a tent and camp for a reasonable price at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Campground. In fact the campground is a phenomenal deal when you look into the extras you have right at your fingertips: Direct boat to Magic Kingdom, outstanding pool with a great slide, marshmallow roasting with Chip and Dale (along with outdoor movie under the stars).
Don’t be afraid to spend a day or two at the pool, take a bus over to Disney Springs for a more relaxed day. Then on days when you do go to the parks you are physically and mentally ready to take it all in.
2. Contradicting my last statement, you truly can’t do it all. Don’t try. Our family certainly can’t say we’ve done everything Disney has to offer. Plan a few priorities and just enjoy them. When you want to move on, move on!
Do plan, though. I help people with their vacations all the time and while you can’t do everything, you do want to make a checklist of a few things and then take advantage of reservations and Fastpasses to ensure you have access to the things you want to make sure you experience.
3. Like every single part of life, there are going to challenges and slip ups. By you, by others in your party, by less-than-polite guests around you, and even by the employees of Disney (referred to as Cast Members). And just like any other part of life, you have the choice of how to react. The cool thing is that, if you can keep your positive outlook, Disney World will reward you more than every day life. Trust me… magic happens.
Unlock the child within. Give into imagination… and Give Walt Disney World another chance. Maybe, just maybe, someday someone will ask you what you think about Disney World and you can say, “yeah, that place ain’t so bad.”
Or you can be like me and talk their ear off for a couple hours.