Walt Disney World Hooks: The Reaction Part I

While writing my recent newsletter article on “Walt Disney World Hooks“ I was basically sharing how I feel regarding very specific memories I have of Walt Disney World and how those moments grab me.

I had no idea what kind of a reaction that newsletter article would have.

The emails have been pouring in and I need to share them with everyone.

So here is what may be the first of many blog entries on everyone’s “Walt Disney World Hooks.”

All entries are shared verbatim as received.

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First up is Susan Albert:

This is a response to Mike Scopa’s “Hook” article.
You took the words right out of my mouth with Golden Dreams. As soon as I hear the first notes the tears begin to flow. Christa MaCuliffe and John Kennedy Jr. get me even more emotional since I remember their deaths.

Another Hook for me is for Wishes. As soon as I hear “Star bright, star light as well as when the song Wishes comes on at the end I get a shiver. I could see it again and again.

I’m sure I have more hooks. I’ll be in the world on Thursday so I’ll think about what else hooks me.

Thanks for a great article.

Susan

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Kim Goodman shares:

“I love Mike Scopa’s latest article “WDW Hooks”! As I started reading I immediately thought of my own “hook”. I love the music you hear as you are leaving the Magic Kingdom after the evening fireworks. A walk down beautifully lit Main Street, the spectacular fireworks and the magical music makes you want to come back time and again to such a happy place. An occasional trip the local Disney store, where sometimes you hear similar music, helps to get through to the next trip.

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Linda Cosby tells us of two hooks:

Regarding Mike Scopa’s article on what our Disney “hooks” are, I have two very special memories that I look forward to that scream “DISNEY!” every time. The first is the smell as you walk into the lobby of the Polynesian resort. It’s a wonderful mixture of tropical plants that I have never experienced anywhere else. Not even in Hawaii. The other moment comes at the beginning of the Main Street Electrical Parade when the music starts. Those first notes and introduction absolutely bring chills. I am so glad that parade is back where it belongs even for a little while!

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Laura V tells us of her hook:

I have a “hook” that I would like to share. I have had the pleasure of visiting WDW 14 times in my lifetime (so far). Each time we visit One Man’s Dream at Hollywood Studios I have my moment. Just looking at Walt Disney’s pictures through the years and reading about all of his wonderful dreams and ideas gets me every time. Just knowing that future generations will get to enjoy his dreams and be their reality is a wonderful thing.

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Juli Ruffing tells of an audio hook:

Mike- I know exactly what you mean. As I was reading this week’s feature article I was thinking about Main Street just as you predicted but as I thought further another little hook moment came to me. I know you’ll think I’m crazy because I’m sure it’s something most people who go to WDW dread but it’s really my favorite part. It’s the moment your boat enters the tunnel at Small World and all the noise of the landing finally fades away and you hear the song.

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Heidi Potenza and I share the same hook:

I am writing to comment on the WDW “Hooks” – Mike you have positively hit on something here with your column! I got goosebumps as you described to a “T” one of my favorite hooks. When I hear Peter Pan and see Nana below and then hear “You can fly” I really know I’m in my favorite place once again! The other way I know I am really at WDW is when I dig into that first bite of my banana bread pudding at the Main Street Bakery, while watching my sons eat their cheesecake and colossal cupcakes. We traditionally do this the first night we arrive and that is how I know I am truly “hooked” once again! Thanks for the incredible thoughts!

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How many of you share this hook with Brenda Lewis?

I wanted to give you my “hook” for Disney World. It is whenever I am riding on the boat from the parking lot over to the turnstiles at the Magic Kingdom and I hear the train whistle. Then I watch and see the train approaching the station. That is the exact moment that I realize that I am almost there – just about ready to enter the magic of it all for another day at Disney World

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Rita Schlenner’s hook reminds us that these hooks all begin from our first visit.

Talking about hooks at Disney–my first ride on Peter Pan was great-that was 30 years”¨ago..I am retired now, and the first thing I will do when visiting Disney is ride my favorite ride PETER PAN. My husband and I will be visiting the park and staying at Port Orleans, Riverside. This will be our 5th visit and Peter Pan will be our first ride. Thank you for the news letter-hope to see you at the park.

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Finally, get out the tissues before you read this heartwarming email from Jenny Beck:

In response to Mike Scopa’s call for our Walt Disney World Hooks, I can think of countless experiences that last for just a few moments but hook me. Standing in World Showcase Lagoon as the first notes of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” flood the park, with men and women from all over the world standing all around me… the first dip in the dark as you ride Space Mountain… starting to bounce in my very own honey pot on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh… passing underneath the jumping fountains on Splash Mountain… having your vehicle turn to let you feast your eyes on the glorious planet Earth high above you on Spaceship Earth… the few exhilarating seconds as you wait for your elevator to plummet to the ground on Tower of Terror… These are all hooks for me. The best hook, however, might not meet your full criteria as an attraction experience, but it’s an experience that keeps attracting me to Disney. My first trip to Disney World was with my sister in 2001 to celebrate my upcoming college graduation and her nearly completed Ph.D. program. As we passed through the turnstiles into the Magic Kingdom, about to lay eyes on the place we’d only imagined until then, we passed from being sisters to friends. We’ll only have that first time once, and we shared that experience – and the tears and giddiness – with each other. It wasn’t about seeing the Castle for me. It was about standing beside my sister on a nondescript section of street in the Magic Kingdom. It was our first time traveling anywhere together as adults without our parents. Our choice to be together was no longer Mom and Dad’s but was ours. Disney World is the only place on earth, literally, that gives me the chance to experience the birthplace of my adult relationship with my sister and, more importantly, the moment when my sister became my friend.

Something moist and salty ran down my cheeks while reading Jenny’s email.

Thanks to everyone who has shared these hooks. There are more to come so be on the lookout over the next week for more emails I will be sharing with everyone.

Meanwhile, I need to read more email.

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13 Replies to “Walt Disney World Hooks: The Reaction Part I”

  1. So, I’ve been thinking about this ever since I read your first post and I’ve got so many wonderful DW memories and so many things that I love to experience over and over, it’s hard to narrow it down. But I realized reading your last post today I really have just 3 hooks, 3 things that keep me coming back. Here they are:

    No. 3: Details – I love Disney’s attention to detail. Every time I visit, I’m blown away by some new tiny detail, like the picture of Mr. Toad & Rabbit shaking hands over a deed on the Pooh ride. I think I keep going back to experience again that moment of joy & appreciation over finding some new little detail like that.

    No. 2: Immersion – I love getting away from the world … completely; and I’ve only ever been able to do that at DW. When I’m there, Disney fully surrounds me. Every trip, I find myself stopping for a bit just to enjoy being immersed in the theme of wherever I am. For example, in Adventureland, the smells, the sounds, the trees and buildings, and even the humidity and lack of wind all immerse me in the theme and I forget the real world for a little while. I love that.

    And my top, No. 1 hook: Responsibility–or, more accurately, the lack thereof – I keep going back to DW for those moments when I feel the stress of work bleeding away (I’m a lawyer) & I realize that my only responsibility is to keep up with my wallet and make it to dinner on time. Disney takes care of so much, from transportation to baggage to help with reservations, it’s the only place I’ve been that feels like a nearly complete break with responsibility. I truly can be a kid again, and I love that!

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to ponder & share what we truly love @ DW. It’s so good to know that others out there love it like my sister and I do!
    -Susan

  2. For me, it’s after landing at the Orlando Int’l Airport, I take the escalator downstairs and find a cast member waiting at the bottom waving his mickey-white gloved hand waving me to go to the line to take the bus to my Disney Resort. For me, it signals that I’m not “on my way anymore – but have arrived and ready to start my Disney vacation”…

  3. My family and I have quite a few hooks, but the one that gets ALL of us smiling and chanting simultaneously:
    Jack Wagner’s voice on the monorail. “Please stand clear of the doors; por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas.”

  4. Mike,

    I agree completely with Brenda Lewis.
    Seeing the train station and hearing the sounds of the Magic Kingdom are always thrilling to me.
    I have a 5 year old grandson who is Autistic.
    The ferry is his favorite attraction. He would be perfectly happy to ride back and forth all day. He loves to look around from the upper deck. The look of pure joy on his face brings tears to my eyes.

    Thank you Mike and Brenda

  5. After reading the first few and drying my eyes i knew i had to add my 2 hooks. we have a tradition in our family we always ride “its a small world” first.I hear that song and know i have come home again. The other one is children they say some amazing things. the little girl who squeals with delight at her first view of the castle or the little boy who sees mickey for the first time and cant stop saying its mickey look its mickey,or the disabled boy who keeps riding star tours over and over again with such delight and no one cares that he stays in whatever seat he wants.Its MAGIC

  6. Hi Mike … Thank you for your article and for bringing those sensory triggers to mind. I am heading to my favorite place in a few short weeks; thinking about those hooks has boosted my excitement!

    Your “hooks” are on my list too — a long list. My #1 “hook” is a combination of all senses and has two possible versions. I love to stay at either the Wilderness Lodge or the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Both spots are wonderfully tucked away in corners of the World, designed by the same man. My “hook” is walking into the lobby on the first day, right off the Magic Express bus. You hear the sound of the doors opening… see the grand lobby, the decorations… smell the air (sometimes there’s a hint of Whispering Canyon cafe or Boma)… hear the footsteps on the floorboards, sounds of laughter… hear the resort’s sound track somewhere in the background. And I just sigh … I am there.

  7. My hook? This is just one of many. In 1973, first visit, first day, went on Small World. That night, after a long, hot day, we were on the monorail (the old cars) which was crowded but quiet. Out of nowhere, my 4 yr old son started singing “It’s a small world” in his little voice. One by one, everyone joined in, old and young. When the monorail came to a stop, so did the singing. We exited thinking what a great place WDW is. Everyone can be a kid at heart. That was my first hook and it’s still deep in my heart. My boys are grown and I’m a grandma now but twice a year, the “hook” brings me back to my favorite “world”. And, each time I get on the monorail, I smile. I guess you could say both Small World and the monorail were starter hooks for me. My 4 yr old son? He turned out to have a wonderful voice (four-octave tenor) and has performed in many venues. I’d like to think WDW and Small World had something to do with that.

  8. This is in response to Mike Scopa’s article yesterday about Walt Disney World Hooks. Like Mike, and I am sure many others, I have numerous “hooks”. Never thought of them as such, so I am glad that Mike coined a name for these multi-sensory experiences that grab you. I would like to explain my family’s collective “hook” — we have many — this one happens early in our trip:

    Our resort of choice is the Wilderness Lodge. Most often we can only visit WDW in the hot summer. When we reach the front doors, and walk into the Lodge, we are met with a rush of welcome cold air, we see the majestic lobby in all its grandeur, we smell the barbecue from Whispering Canyon Cafe, and we hear that great lobby background music from the Pacific Northwest. Truly a multi-sensory “hook.” At that point, we know, “We’re here!”

    (Mike, I sent this to the AllEars e-mail last week, so I don’t know if it was forwarded to you.)

  9. Hooks? I can’t count that high! Driving from airport to Wilderness Lodge and passing by all of the signs for the various attractions. The first sighting of the Lodge. Taking that first step into the Lodge and hearing that beautiful music of the Pacific Northwest. One visit, after a particularly bad flight and drive, we got to our room, I collapsed on the bed and said “we’re home.” And I truly meant it. The Wilderness Lodge is our home away from home when visiting Disney. And each park? Hearing the “movies” music when entering the Studios (and then riding Tower of Terror immediately of course), seeing the Castle again, riding Expedition Everest first thing in the a.m., walking amongst the countries at Epcot (especially U.K.). Taking a walk at Downtown Disney and the Boardwalk and then walking to Epcot from there. The list goes on.

  10. A few of my hooks are:

    1. Hearing the steam whistles on the steamboat that travels around the Rivers of America and on the locomotives of the Magic Kingdom.

    2. The sight of Monorails entering and exiting the Contemporary Resort, especially when viewed at a distance from across the water.

    3. Entering EPCOT. My wife and I can be there at Walt Disney World for several days, but it doesn’t feel like we have arrived until we either see Spaceship Earth looming ahead, or look across at France from the giftshop located at the World Showcase entrance.

  11. I know it’s a lil’ hokey, but it always takes my breath away, just for a moment, to come from the buses to the front of the MK where the giant floral Mickey head is on the hill just beneath the train depot. This says to me; “you made it, welcome back” everytime I go to WDW. Just part of fulfilling my expectations everytime I visit… Thanx for the opportunity to share. Dave

  12. My hook is seeing the first glimpse of the castle..I am straining to see it when the monrail is coming around to the kingdom. When I see it even if it is just the tip -all is right with the world. Then when I hear the laughing place song on splash mountain that is my hook too. After all, Disney World is my laughing place!!!

  13. I missed the original blog post because I was at WDW! But saw this one and wanted to add my “hook” (couldn’t find your email addy or would’ve sent it to you directly).

    For me, it’s the music most people don’t even hear. I’ve been to Walt Disney World for seven vacations spending nearly a month’s worth of days in the parks over those seven times (going back all the way to 1974 when Magic Kingdom wasn’t even completed yet!). Our favorite way to end the day is with Reflections of Earth in Epcot. The narration starts, the lights are “blown” out and my chest gets tight waiting for the first arc of fire and music. Wonderful!

    But what really does it for me is the music that plays AFTER the show when everyone’s on their way out. Not the song (although we tend to sing along with it), but the music AFTER that…the music from the Tapestry of Dreams parade that is the last thing you hear as you exit.

    The Tapestry of Dreams parade was, by far, the BEST parade I’ve ever seen — anywhere. I would love to see them bring that back. I still get choked up when I think of those incredible puppets making their entrance. The World Showcase is my favorite part of Epcot — and the Tapestry of Dreams music brings back wonderful memories.

    Thanks for letting me share…and if you have any sway at Epcot — tell them to bring back the parade! 🙂