I started my trips to the Walt Disney World Resort as a baby. Being the 3rd child, pictures are far and few between and exact records are missing, but I can guarantee I visited the parks before I turned 3. And, I’m not positive that I can say the parks because EPCOT Center opened when I was 1, but I’m guessing that it was open for my first visit.
During middle school, we lived in South Florida, so we made the drive up a few times. Every time we visited, I ran through the parks as fast as my parents would follow. I have proof that we rode Dumbo, and I guarantee we rode my childhood favorites – Delta Dreamflight and Horizons (sadly, both long gone), but I only have vague memories.
Then, in high school, I was lucky enough to visit with my high school marching band. We participated in a SpectroMagic Parade, which allowed us into the Utilidors to get into position for the parade. Cameras weren’t allowed, so those memories are foggy, at best. That was definitely an experience I wish I hadn’t taken for granted. We spent those 2 days at the parks- one at the Magic Kingdom while the castle was in full cake décor and the other at EPCOT, exploring and getting soaked in the fountains.
My trips became more regular in college. Friends and I would frequent over schools breaks, normally for only a single day. We knew how to conquer the Magic Kingdom in 1 single day. While we once got last minute lunch reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table, we normally just picked up snacks throughout the day: couldn’t miss that much time to stop to eat! We barreled through the park like it was our personal playground. Up until our last trip prior to the baby, we still followed the same game plan – straight to Tomorrowland and work the way to the left.
Then the baby came. What an amazing experience to witness the parks through the eyes of an infant. We didn’t know where our fussy baby went. Even teething didn’t bother him at the Happiest Place on Earth. Together, we watched our first rope drop ceremonies and enjoyed a much slower pace than I could have previously imagined. At the Magic Kingdom, we headed directly to Peter Pan and enjoyed that and everything that Fantasyland has to offer. Riding the big rides, which had always been our “mission,” was no longer as pressing a desire than letting our new son enjoy Mickey’s Philharmagic.
Now, I have indulged myself into the learning more about Disney magic. I read the trivia books, listen to podcasts (that I didn’t know existed a year ago), and peruse Disney blogs and websites on a regular basis. My husband mentioned that he was curious as to how our trip will change now that I’ve learned so much. After processing that thought, I realized – after years of trying to jam pack our days full of rides and attractions, I want to take a step back. I want to walk slowly down Main Street to notice the lamps changing as you pass through time. I want to meet all of the “characters” of Main Street U.S.A. I want to search for the names of the Imagineers in all of the details of the parks – from stores to rides to restaurant tables.
My next trip, I’ll enjoy my son’s stroller naps so that I can explore the details left for us like hidden treasures. I won’t feel sad if I miss a 2nd ride on Space Mountain if I get to run into PUSH, the robotic garbage can ‘cleaning up’ Tomorrowland.
The best part is that I know my trips will to continue to evolve. I wonder what I’ll discover next!