Photo by Portrayable Photography (that’s us 3 years ago!)
Andrew/the dude/the husband is back on the blog for another post and I kind of love it. Ok, I really flippin’ love it. What do y’all think about having him contribute regularly? 😉
Growing up I never really had a great desire to visit any of the Disney parks. We watched almost every Disney movie in our family, but it never occurred to me that I should actually visit. It just didn’t seem like something that really needed “doing”. I certainly didn’t expect that as a 28 year old dude I would be getting ready for my first trip to Orlando for a visit to Disney World. So how did I end up taking a trip to the most magical place on earth?
I met a pretty girl, of course.
Shantelle and I had been dating for about 4 months when she brought me along for my first Disney vacation. Her trip had been booked before we even met and when she found out I had never been she offered to help me correct the obscene oversight. So just a few months after we met and just weeks after we got engaged, we packed our bags and headed to Orlando with tickets to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Even though I was following this beautiful girl to Disney I still had my reservations. The way Shantelle talked about Disney made me want to go but the place still seemed like it was for children in my mind. I mean come on, didn’t we all grow out of our kiddie rides and cotton candy phases when we were seven? As only the strongest men can admit: I was wrong again.
Everything about our trip was magical because that’s exactly the way Walt Disney would have wanted it to be. From the time we arrived at MCO to our return to Raleigh, each moment had a little something extra to make it better. Even Disney’s Magical Express bus ride from the airport to our resort was fun! I might have thought that my kiddie ride days were behind me but I don’t think I’ll ever be too old for the magic of old-school cartoons. Especially watching them on a bus.
After being dropped off at Port Orleans Riverside (which is an awesome resort, because when you travel with my now-wife every detail is perfectly planned out) things really started to pick up in the magic department. We were going to do something that night which I had never done before: trick-or-treat. Yes, I had been a 28 year old man that had never trick-or-treated. We dressed up as Professor Plum & Miss Scarlett from Clue (can you see why I put a ring on it?), hopped on the bus to Magic Kingdom, and I just about fell out of my shoes when we entered the park.
I will never forget that first night, my first ever visit to Magic Kingdom at Disney World. I felt a sense of wonder and excitement that was very similar to the anticipation of presents under the tree before Christmas. I forgot all about my 28 year old guy sense of what was cool and stood staring, slack-jawed, at the scene I had wandered into. THIS was freaking cool! Lighting, decorations, Main Street. I was overwhelmed in the best sense of the feeling. Shantelle shared this piece of advice with me as I stared stupefied after entering the park: always look up or you’ll miss the best part. The theme of the parks and resorts is so carefully put together that even the ceilings and rooftops are decorated and detailed within an inch of their life. You can find the tiniest of details (literally sometimes, just look for Jack and Gus Gus at Cinderella’s Royal Table) that most would miss since they’re not looking up (advice which is perfect for our daily lives as well). Often, the scenes are so convincing and the details so carefully put together, that you forget for a moment that it’s part of a theme park and not real life, which is exactly what happened to me. It was on this trip that Shantelle surprised me with an engagement shoot and we purchased our DVC membership. Because I was seriously ready to keep the magic going. Plus, Disney doesn’t skimp on candy so we made out with two giant bags filled with some premium candy which was in itself magical.
Since that first trip to Disney World in 2012, we have gone back every year. Our honeymoon consisted of two Disney World stays and a Disney Cruise and this year we’ll be taking our first trip to Disneyland together! I guess you could say I’m a little obsessed but who could blame me? If you’ve been to the parks then you know. Things that are commonplace at Disney are often nonexistent outside of it. Niceties and little reminders that you’re celebrating something (even if you’re just celebrating being a human on this planet) abound at the parks. Cast members often go out of their way to make trips special. Shantelle even has an autograph book from when she was younger that she had cast members sign. Interactive queues make waiting in lines a little less gruesome. Unless you’re in the Haunted Mansion queue, of course, then it’s just less boring! The food is always a notch above boring American food, especially when you branch out to try the offerings that represent other cultures. Although you’ll never see me turn down a corn dog nugget from Casey’s.
My biggest problem is that there is just too much to see at one time. Fortunately, Shantelle pointed out some of the parks’ easter eggs on our first trip and many more after it. It took me until our next trip to see how great Animal Kingdom was though, and the trip after to realize how amazing a resort can really be (looking at you, Boardwalk). With a balcony overlooking an actual boardwalk and boats transporting happily babbling guests to and fro, what else could it be but enchanting? Now that I know the value of Disney parks (aside from amazing cartoons) I plan to never be too far away from a trip back. Especially since I have my very own tour guide, and she’s the very best! It’s crazy how just being in a place that suspends reality and seems to breed happiness (if you allow it) with someone you love can create so much magic. In Shantelle’s own words: “But the truth is, there isn’t a way to define what makes Disney so special. You just have to go experience it yourself.”
What do you think makes Disney so magical? If you haven’t been yet what are you waiting for? Go. Now.
Wish we were at Disney (and you were too),