When I was a little girl dreaming of living in a bedazzled castle with my suave prince, I had one response to my parents’ question, “Where do you want to go on vacation?” Disney World. Of course! That’s how my three sisters, mom and dad and I ended up in the happiest place on earth over a dozen times. As adults, we tend to want to recapture youthful wonder through the reaction of our children to reenactments of our most joy filled childhood moments. There is much to be gained by this, but here’s another way to go too – enjoy it as much as they do. Be a child for a day (or a whole week). I did and I loved it.
My first thought at entering the Magic Kingdom was, “It’s exactly the same as I remember!” While Main Street USA remains basically the same as the time I first laid awe-struck seven-year-old eyes on it, I soon found out that much has changed (in a good way). Fantasyland has been expanded to include more imagination-sparking wonder such as two new areas – the Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus. When the additions are complete, Fantasyland will double in size for twice the magic!
Before the trip, I had heard quite a bit through various media channels about the new ride, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. From my personal observation only, this is the most popular ride in the park. Take advantage of the reservation system Disney has in place to minimize wait times. I opted to not try it out due to the line, but my brother-in-law, niece and son waited and said it was the best ride there, smooth, fast and (as always with Disney!) told a charming story. Our entire group reserved many rides in advance the day before “theme park day” when we toured Downtown Disney. Once you get the hang of the FastPass+ system, it’s quite helpful.
All through the day, I relished the reactions of those I loved to spots I remembered well. My husband and I brought two of our boys (ages 10 and 16), my sister and her husband brought all three of theirs (two little ones and one super cool ‘tween), and my mom brought another little granddaughter. This visit marked the very first time most of the children had ever been to any of the Disney theme parks. I was amazed to see the variations in who loved what. If you’re planning on going for the first time, don’t expect your children to fall into set categories: for example, just because your girl is 7, doesn’t mean she’ll love the Mad Tea Party spinning tea cups and be afraid of the roller coasters. My 7-year-old nephew surprised us all when he preferred the thrill rides over the conventional kid rides. In fact, the drop at Splash Mountain topped his “must do” list.
My favorite ride was and still is the Haunted Mansion. The updates have made it even better. I will never forget how the waltzing ghosts wowed me as a child and how excited I was to take home my very own ghost, as the rumbly disembodied voice said I could. I felt the same when the gliding coffin took me and my family into the mansion’s attic and out in the graveyard to witness after-death merriment on a mega scale. To seal the moment perfectly in my memory, I just had to glance over to my smiling husband and son sitting with me. I love this place.
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