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Magic in the Details
by Suzannah DiMarzio
AllEars® Guest Writer
This article appeared in the November 3, 2009 Issue #528 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
There is no shortage of family vacation ideas in our country: road trips to historical locations, beaches and mountains, even local theme parks with thrill rides. The common factor with most of these destinations is that you do them once and you've pretty much experienced it all. Walt Disney World, however, has the unique knack for drawing visitors back year after year with the lure of new memories and magic. It's not just families either, it's singles, couples, groups; in every possible configuration of guest, Disney has lifelong fans. While no one has yet been able to duplicate the magical equation that exists at Disney, there are some contributing factors which set it apart from "just another theme park". One of these factors is the way Disney truly offers something for everyone, from child to adult.
On my family's first week-long trip to Disney World in 1983, my mom signed me up for the Wonders of the World tour. According to Shawn Slater, who I consulted to help jog my memory of this long-gone tour of Disney past, the programs were set up as "Arts and Entertainment" and "Science and Nature", which included a visit to Discovery Island. This was a kids-only tour (no parents!) and on the Arts and Entertainment track which I experienced, we explored the Magic Kingdom. We were each given a Polaroid camera and allowed to take 10 photos. In addition, we actually toured portions of the Utilidor as we were allowed to go backstage at the Diamond Horseshoe Revue. After the performance, we were able to see the dressing rooms where the stars of the show had their make-up and wigs put on. It was great fun and sparked some of my extreme interest in the workings of Disney World. Today kids have even more opportunities for fun - Family Magic Tours, Pirate Cruises, and Wonderland Tea Parties, to name a few.
As their guests grow up, so do Disney's offerings for special activities. There was a huge span of time from that first visit as a 9-year-old to bringing my own children, but my desire to visit Disney did not sit on hold during those years. Disney drew me back in with delicious gourmet restaurants, special events held throughout the year, unique adult tours, classes and more. As your interests change from child to adult, you notice and enjoy the little things at Disney World: the incredible theming at Disney resorts, the attention to detail in park attractions and landscaping, the special treatment given by cast members. I loved it so much, I decided to move to Orlando and become a cast member for a short time. That might be an extreme reaction, but I also I know visitors to Disney World that decided not to go on a single ride or attraction, instead enjoying their surroundings, amenities and recreation offered at their Disney hotel. If you took all of the rides and shows out of the equation, Disney World would still be a destination vacation based on its dining, sports, shopping and other activities.
The fact of the matter is the rides and attractions are there, and perhaps that is what creates such lifelong fans out of first time Disney visitors. Roller coaster fans don't just get to ride a coaster, they are transported to an abandoned mine, outer space, or the mystical mountains of the Himalayas. Children are carried to the center of their favorite Disney movies where they ride among their favorite characters. These details are what ignite the spark in visitors and sometimes start them on a quest for more Disney magic and knowledge - and guests will not keep this spark to themselves. Disney fans are passionate and determined. If someone tells you of a bad experience at Disney, chances are a more experienced guest will have loads of tips and advice as to why that may have happened and how to ensure future visits are full of magic and fun. How many other companies have that kind of devoted fans?
Disney is also acutely aware of its repeat guests' interests which is why it constantly creates and renews programs for them to experience all that makes Disney, well, Disney! Whether learning more about the plants and growing techniques in the Land pavilion, going behind the scenes of the Magic Kingdom, or seeing the majestic steam trains that encircle that park, Disney has a program to make it happen. If your interests lie in the gastronomical realm, Disney has chef's tables in some of its finest restaurants and countless seminars and programs throughout the International Food and Wine Festival held in Epcot each year.
The latest answer to its guests' hunt for more! more! more! is D23, the ultimate Disney fan community. Disney listened, and created this amazing opportunity for Disneyphiles to come together and enjoy first-hand the depth and breadth of Disney experiences that exist. Over the summer at its first D23 Expo in California, lucky attendees were treated to amazing appearances by Disney Imagineers, film personalities and Park executives willing to share the company's future endeavors directly with its biggest supporters - the guests.
With the success of its special tour programs and events like the D23 Expo, Disney is sure to continue living up to its reputation of truly having something for everyone. Many vacation destinations aspire to that credo, but few can live up to the hype. Disney is definitely the leader in both magic and memories, for ALL ages and types of guests. Whether your first visit was as a child or as an adult, the memories will stay with you and cause you to yearn for more. Disney will be there through all the stages of your interests and whims, after all, if anyone knows about wishes coming true, it's Disney.
Suzannah DiMarzio visited the Magic Kingdom as a baby, but her first memories are of Epcot in the 1980s. After finishing college in MA, Suzannah moved to Orlando to work as a cast member before deciding to stay at home with her three children. Now living outside of Tampa and with her husband and their children, she is still as in love with Disney World, spending most weekends and every available vacation at Disney World. Suzannah recalls her many Disney memories and shares her family's adventures in her blog, ZannaLand.
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.