I had a rather scary realisation the other day. I’m actually a little bit obsessed with Disney.
In August I spent two amazing weeks with my fiance in Orlando, Florida. We immersed ourselves completely in the tourist bubble, which I normally despise, but Walt Disney World has been so well built, imagined, brought to life…I happily make an exception.
Credit must also go to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure (and the amazing Hard Rock Hotel where we blagged free cocktails), Seaworld, Busch Gardens and Kennedy Space Centre – but WDW was the focus.
For those who have not been, it’s extremely easily to be a little cynical. Isn’t it childish/tacky/too American…I could go on. We raised more than a few eyebrows when we told people where we were going. A young couple, 22 and 26, going to spend two weeks in Disneyworld? Ridiculous.
But I will happily say it was the best holiday we’ve ever had as a couple; hell it may even be the best holiday we’ve had in our enntire lives. We ate in some amazing restaurants (yup, Disney do fine dining!), saw Cirque du Soleil in a show exclusive to Dowtown Disney, WDW, and spent two weeks in the Florida sunshine, revelling in the detail and atmosphere that Disney painstakingly created to be Walt’s masterpiece. We also got engaged – Matthew proposed on bended knee in front of the iconic Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, as we watched the stunning Summer Nighttastic fireworks.
It wouldn’t work in Britain. We don’t have the same irrepresible optimism, the same culture of customer service that brings a place like WDW to life. Staff members are called ‘cast members’, the parks are known as ‘onstage’ and any private staff areas are ‘backstage’. The whole ethos is that of a show – a show which truly does bring sparkle to the four WDW parks.
Plus Americans think big. Look that their freakin’ cars! WDW takes the theme park concept (a few rides, merchandise, fast food outlets) and turns it into an entire world.
Everything is themed to within an inch of its life – you’re not walking from ride to ride, you’re walking from themed land to themed land – from an African village in Animal Kingdom to a space themed futureworld in the Magic Kindom. World Showcase, at Epcot, sees the culture and architecure of countries around the world brought to life – complete with themed restaurants, shows and attractions. All set around a man made lake that plays host to a dazzling fireworks display set perfectly to original music.
I think the only way to understand is to see for yourself. Or, if you can’t/wont’ go (like some people I know), check out my ongoing trip report over at The Dibb, an invaluable web resource for anyone planning to visit the world.
Since returning, both my fiance and I have been struck with the Florida bug that so many online Disney and holiday forums talk about. Even my fiance – despite being rather lacklustre in the planning stages of the trip, he surprised me last week by pulling a sad face and saying “I want to go back.” Not helped my the fact that both his business partner has recent returned from a 2 week visit.
So we started to discuss honeymoon options, largely to cheer ourselves up from the post-holiday blues, and we hope to get married in September 2012. We looked at around-the-world tours, Matt’s original dream honeymoon, we also considered a New York/Las Vegas twin-centre trip.
Then we stumbled across California holidays…and the potential to include Anaheim on a touring schedule. That was when I realised I was definitely hooked – I was thrilled to find I could shoehorn some Disney magic into my honeymoon. My mind begin to wander to the option of staying in a Disney hotel, onsite, with a view of the parks and steps away from the entrance gates.
So now we’ve decided to take on LA, SanFran, San Diego, hopefully Vegas – and three days in Disney.
Then Channel 5 began to show Disney movies on Sunday afternoons, timed perfectly to end in time for the X Factor (yes I know, its tragic, but I love it). Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules…we found ourselves glued to the sofa, and I shamefully knew the words to an alarming number of the films’ songs.
Then there was the BOGOF offer in supermarkets with nearly every Disney DVD included – I literally had to steer myself towards the fruit and veg to prevent a banruptcy-inducing credit card spree.
I have a Minne Mouse ariel topper – and have also begun to spend my driving journeys spotting others – and there seems to be a fair few in my neck of the woods. I have yet to spot one I don’t recognise from browsing the gift shops on our trip.
I have Lady and Tramp salt and pepper shakers (Lady is salt, and Tramp pepper, if you’re wondering). I have a 3 disc Disney CD in my car (which sits happily amongst my Glee collection and an Evita soundtrack – I have the campest glovebox ever) and yes, I do singalong.
I’m also spending a worrying amount of my free time on iMovies, editing together our WDW holiday footage complete with soundtrack (not all Disney music, you’ll be relieved to hear, but its in there) and I have an empty WDW scrapbook waiting to be filled. I kept the parking tickets, for god’s sake, just because they have the name of the corresponding park at the top of them.
My friends don’t share my passion, but will tolerate my WDW/general Disney ramblings to a certain extent. One of my best friends, bless her, even suggested a Disney themed hen party. We shall see.
It’s funny how a two week trip to Disneyworld led me to rediscover a part of my childhood that I thought I’d grown out of. Yet here I am, anoraking, becoming some sort of Disney trivia buffoon in the process, with a mental picture of my next ‘trip to the magic’ in the back of my mind at all times.
Before you ask, no, I’m not having a big fat Disney wedding, my poor fiance would have a meltdown. But Minnie and Mickey caketoppers are not out of the question…