For many of us, Disney has become a tradition along with a vacation destination. It’s a place we’ve come to love and appreciate in many ways, but some elements of the vacation experience can only be described as “Disney Moments.” Here’s a closer look at what we mean.
When someone asks you that age old question of, “Why do you go to Disney?” or even worse the, “Aren’t you too old for Disney?” a few distinct memories inevitably come to mind as a quick response. However, some experiences at Walt Disney World are truly hard to explain. There are certain moments that you have to see to appreciate, and are certainly a small piece of the experience that you don’t want to miss on any Disney vacation.
In my own opinion, a few distinct memories that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience time after time flood to the forefront of my mind. In particular, here’s a few “Disney Moments” I never want to miss on any Disney vacation.
1. Park Opening
There are very few things in life more memorable that a walk down Main Street U.S.A on an early morning long before the overwhelming crowds of the day roll in. It’s a simple feeling, but as you walk down the street, make that race to space or even the dash to splash, there’s a simple joy that envelopes the park. Every guest has a smile on their face, every cast member is there to greet you at their attractions or store locations, and everyone is happy to be a part of the magic. Even on the warmest of days, the morning remains somewhat cool, and the damp ground from the cleaning crew the night before ushers in a bright new look to the park. There’s nothing quite like it. Every parks opening is just a little bit different, but that wonderful “fresh start to the day” feeling is always present and something you should experience at least once (even if you’re not a morning person).
2. Tinker Bell’s Flight
As perhaps the most iconic part of any night in the Magic Kingdom, Tinker Bell’s nightly flight down from the spires of Cinderella’s Castle will warm even the toughest of individuals and often bring adults of all ages to tears. It’s the perfect way to cap off the memories created with friends and family throughout the day and the one thing that often brings back a whole series of memories from years of Disney vacations. It’s a moment that only Disney could create, and one that has been a piece of the magic for years on end.
3. Disney Resorts at Night
Disney truly takes on an entirely different persona as the sun goes down. As the sun dips below the horizon, the lights pop on across all four of the parks and many of the resorts. Perhaps the best example is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. As the darkness takes over, the resort truly transforms into a woodsy and exquisitely picturesque environment that is entirely different from the daylight hours. The lanterns flicker providing light along the guest paths, the reflections appear all across Bay Lake, the pools glow with light, and the lobby transforms into an even more welcoming fireside retreat. The feeling is unexplainable without first experiencing it in person. It’s welcoming in a way that makes you feel at home even when you’re miles away from your hometown.
Every resort has it’s nightly transformation that changes the way you view your resort experience. Even in the realm of moderate tier resorts, Port Orleans transforms in a way that puts you right in the heart of New Orleans and seems to really accentuate the theming.
4. Park Closing
As mentioned briefly above in a few ways, Disney really is two different experiences at night and during the day. However, closing time is an entirely different experience all on its own. It’s a casual time in any park and a way to really take in the nighttime Disney experience after the crowds of the nighttime spectaculars have dispersed and many guests have left for the night to rest up for the next days adventures. Magic Kingdom is perhaps that most iconic “closing time” park with the Kiss Goodnight worked into an already incredible experience, but the other parks follow suit in a way that many guests overlook.
Epcot lends itself to some outstanding cast member interactions after the majority of guests have filtered out of the park and offers up spectacular views and lighting for photos. The pace of the park changes, and the lighting really brings out the character of the park. Animal Kingdom, while still a rather new nighttime experience, is essentially two different parks at night and during the day. Pandora transforms into it’s overwhelming nighttime presence, the tree of life awakens, and the atmosphere of the guest areas darkens in a very unique way. Later in the night, you can walk around and feel as if you’re one of very few people left in the park exploring Africa or even taking one last walk through DinoLand all lit up for the night.
5. Trying Something Entirely New
As perhaps the most obscure addition to the list, I honestly believe this is a key “Disney Moment” that you never want to miss. Simply trying something new that you’ve never experienced before can create a moment with friends and family that could start a tradition or create a memory that you’ll all remember forever. Head over to fantasia mini golf for around of putt putt or even just jump on a boat and ride around to check out many different resorts at night. You never know when one of these simple new experiences may become the highlight of your Disney vacation. It only takes one cast member, or one location, or even one seemingly simple moment to make the ordinary extraordinary. Remember, often times the memories a Walt Disney World vacation creates aren’t simply due to attractions, or even dining experiences, but rather the moments we share and the memories we make with those who mean the most to us. I truly believe it’s these simple experiences that keep us coming back.