The most important thing about Disney, if you truly want to enjoy it, is to have a sense of wonder about you. What tickles that sense of wonder is pretty personal. For me, it could be anything from seeing some really great topiaries to hearing the music coming out of the bushes as I walk along the paths in the park. It's the feeling I get at night, sitting on the white sand at the Polynesian Resort, watching fireworks explode over Cinderella's Castle across the Seven Seas Lagoon, reflecting in the water, with soft Island music playing in the background.
Or this (the tiger is real -- Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, Photos by Yours Truly):
More than sites and sounds, though, the Disney magic in the parks and ships is about the people who work there, known as Cast Members. The Cast Members, and the Disney policies that allow them to do the magical things they do, really make the parks and resorts extremely special.
It isn't necessarily anything big. But even small unexpected surprises can make your whole day special.
For example, this past December my son (who is 12) wanted to ride Big Thunder Mountain, a fairly tame rollercoaster, as those things go. (I am NOT a rollercoaster person. They sideways motion does nasty things to my body and psyche.) We wanted to get a FastPass (explained in my next post) to come back later, since the line was 60 minutes long. I asked a Cast Member named Edgar if I needed a FastPass just to walk Keith through the line (I don't let him wait in line by himself. I trust Disney employees, but not the visitors -- I've seen all types in the parks). Instead of answering my question, Edgar said, "Oh, just come with me." He took us to the back exit of the rollercoaster, where the cars unload. He asked my son whether he wanted to ride in the front, middle, or back, and while we waited (all of 5 minutes) entertained us with jokes and stories. Keith got to ride in the front, like he wanted to, and all we had was a 5 minute wait. We didn't ask for it. It was just given. And these exceptional human touches keep me coming back.
You'd be hard pressed to find a place as well maintained, as beautiful, whimsy, and artfully made as the Disney resorts where you are also treated as if you are royalty. With very few exceptions, I have had nothing but the most amazing customer service from Cast Members, and what's more, they always make you laugh.
More on the magic of Disney in future posts...