As Walt Disney world is slowly opening back up, we can all start looking forward to the day when we can go back. Whether it was a trip postponed from the summer, or a new vacation planned for the coming months, the idea of returning home has all of us very excited. And yes, I said returning home!
It’s no coincidence that the phrase “Welcome home” is synonymous with Walt Disney World. From your vacation planning experience online and the arrival of your MagicBands, to the pre-recorded announcements on the Disney buses and the Cast Members that greet you upon your arrival at your resort, the phrase “Welcome home” is one that is familiar to all Disney fans. With that in mind, I started to reminisce about all of those moments in which you realize, “Wow, I’m in Disney.” I’m talking about those times where you have that realization that your vacation has started, and that you’re now in the most magical place on earth. It could be anything – perhaps it’s something you hear, or something you see, or even a random little moment.
I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite “I’m in Disney” moments so that we can all relive that magical feeling, especially if it’s been a long time since we’ve been there or if it will still be a long time until we return. So join me as I reflect upon my favorite “Wow, I’m in Walt Disney World” moments, and more importantly, be sure to let us know what your special moments are!
For many of us, the moment you pass under the main gateway to Walt Disney World is a truly magical one. The Magical Express bus drivers nearly always make a point of pointing it out to you, and once you see that archway you know you’re home. But I have a more subtle “on the bus” moment, and that’s the moment you realize that all of the street signs have changed! Instead of your typical green directional signs, you now see the distinctive purple signs that are used throughout Walt Disney World. It’s a little change, but to me that lets me know that I’ve entered a whole new place – a place far away from the real world. And if I’m heading to the Magic Kingdom resorts, I always look forward to that journey underneath the water bridge connecting Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Best of all, if I time it just right I can also see the monorail gliding overhead. Long before I check into my resort, seeing these uniquely Disney things always puts me in that magical mood.
Speaking of resorts, the moment that you enter the lobby is always a memorable one. But which one is my favorite? That’s easy, the Wilderness Lodge hands-down! There’s nothing like walking through those glass double doors and entering into that breathtaking timber frame lobby. Not only is it a sight to behold, but you also hear that wonderful resort music playing in the background. At this point it doesn’t really matter if the line to check in is long. Just being in the lobby is enough to make me relaxed and yes, even a little giddy. I even make it a point to look for the Hidden Mickey on the grand fireplace. Even though I know it’s there and I’ve seen it many many times before, seeing it again always brings me home.
But wait, there’s more magic to come! Once I get to my room and get a bit settled in, there’s nothing like looking out the window or walking out onto your balcony, and looking out over the sight of Bay Lake, or Space Mountain (if you’re in the Contemporary), or Crescent Lake (if you’re staying in any of the Epcot resorts). It’s at this moment that I feel like I am truly far removed from the everyday world, and I always have that “Wow, I’m in Disney!” moment.
The Sounds and Aromas
But the sights aren’t the only thing that welcome me home. The sounds and the aromas can be just as powerful, perhaps even more so. For example, close your eyes and imagine the sound of the howling wolves of the Haunted Mansion and the train whistle of the Walt Disney World Railroad. You can often hear those even when you’re outside of the park, and whenever I hear them it definitely makes my heart skip a beat. Or how about when you wander into Epcot and you hear that familiar Epcot theme loop playing behind the hustle and bustle of Future World. Or when you hear the music from World Showcase and France as you walk up toward the International Gateway from the Epcot resort area. And finally, how about the legendary safety spiel of the monorail: “!Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas.” This soundbite is so iconic that T-shirts have been made emblazoned with that phrase, and we even have a refrigerator magnet of the monorail which will let you hear that familiar announcement at the push of a button. And believe me, we’ve pushed that button thousands of times!
Lastly, even though it might not come to mind right away, the memories triggered by scents and aromas can be just as powerful, if not more powerful, then those you can see or hear. For instance (speaking of the monorail), whenever you get a whiff of that distinctive monorail aroma, you’re instantly transported back to your very first visit at Walt Disney World. Similarly, as you enter Town Square on Main Street U.S.A. after passing underneath the Walt Disney World Railroad station, that unforgettable aroma of popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, and the nearby Confectionery all come together to create a tapestry of scents that’ll instantly put a smile on your face. Combine that with the spectacle of the storefront windows, the Victorian decorations, and the sounds of clip-clopping horses and that old-time musical soundtrack from days gone by, and you can’t help but feel “I’m home.”
Little Magical Moments
Even as I write this and imagine these moments in my mind, somehow, I’m right back there. Back in this magical world far removed from the everyday, where all of my cares and worries have vanished and are replaced by the wonder of dreams and imagination.
Those are just some of my favorite little moments when I realize that “I’m in Walt Disney World.” But how about you? What are those little moments that put YOU in that Disney frame of mind? Those moments where you pause, take a moment, and think for yourself, “Yes I am in Walt Disney World.”
Be sure to check out our upcoming podcast (coming out this Wednesday!) as we have a roundtable discussion of all of our favorite “Wow, I’m in Disney!” moments!