Close Your Eyes and Blink Yourself to WDW!

Part I

Edited by Debra Martin Koma
Senior Editor, ALL EARS®

This article appeared in the June 6, 2006, Issue #350 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4

EDITOR'S NOTE: A few weeks ago, we asked you all to daydream with us. "Close your eyes," we suggested, "then click your heels together, or blink your eyes. Now, where in Walt Disney World would you be?" We knew we'd get all sorts of different replies. And we anticipated receiving a lot of responses. But we had no idea JUST HOW MANY responses we'd get! How many? Would you believe 424? That's a lot of eye-blinking and heel-clicking!

Many of you took this opportunity to not only transport yourself to your favorite spot in Walt Disney World, but to be Time Travelers, hoping to recapture a favorite moment… and that's OK. As Mickey says, "This is MY dream!" We certainly didn't mind that you remembered the Magic of a special occasion or occurrence. And rest assured that I read through each and every reply, spending many a morning sniffling over my keyboard — gee, you folks are even more nostalgic and sentimental than I am! You certainly made me close MY eyes and blink, and not just because I was wishing myself to the World.

Obviously, we don't have room in this space for all 424 responses, so I culled a representative sampling to share with you here. More than half of you responded that you would blink yourselves to a spot somewhere in the Magic Kingdom — and I'd guess that more than half of those respondees found themselves on Main Street USA. So that's what we're beginning with this week — the folks who closed their eyes and reopened them in the Magic Kingdom. In the coming weeks, we'll also share some responses from people who wished themselves to the other theme parks, or their favorite resort, or elsewhere. (We plan to eventually publish ALL of the responses here. It will take a few weeks to get all the new responses online, so please be patient with us!)

I cannot describe to you how heartwarming it was to read all of your anecdotes and ideals. I can't thank you enough for sharing them with us. I can, however, without any further ado, present just a few of the places your fellow Disney-lovers would be, if they could just Close Their Eyes and Blink themselves to Walt Disney World:


Alfhb: I can close my eyes and imagine myself last year at WDW with my husband and daughter. It was the last night of our wonderful trip and we were standing close to Cinderella Castle to get a good view of the fireworks. I closed my eyes for a few seconds so that I could take it all in and remember that night. Now, when I close my eyes I can hear the music "Wishes," feel the fireworks booming, see my little girl's sleepy and precious face and feel my hand on my husband's back. My daughter is now in school and my husband is deployed overseas. I wish I could close my eyes and we could all be together at that time and place.

Tom Pielech: If I could close my eyes, click my heels and be in Disney World, I would want to appear on a bench near the Hall of Presidents. I remember my mom sitting on the bench with my son when he was 2 years old. My mom has since passed on but I have a picture of the two of them on that bench. In subsequent visits to WDW, when I pass by the Hall of Presidents, I smile and get a tear in the corner of my eye.

Nuno Goncalves in Lisbon, Portugal: When I open my eyes I'm in one of those gardens around the Hub, in Magic Kingdom. It's a warm summer night and SpectroMagic is just over. I'm with my wife and my kids (how old are they… 6 and 9… or 8 and 11… or 13 and 16… it's really the same every time) and we're feeling sooo tired and relaxed, at the same time. Everything sounds so calm — everyone seems to enjoy the anticipation of what's coming up. And then suddenly, I can feel it — in the quiet warm air blows a very… light… fresh… breeze (I think it comes from the Castle)! It happens every time; did you ever feel it? And you know the Magic is about to begin.

Ronald L.: If I were to close my eyes and click my heels three times, I would find myself in Belle's Fairytale Garden. Why? Because it is my very best memory of Disney with my children. On my daughter's 5th birthday, Belle picked my daughter and her sister (who was 3!) to be in the production…and then asked them to stay afterwards. After she had met all of the other children in the audience, Belle came out in a cloak and she and one of the helpers led my two little girls (in their princess outfits, no less) through Fantasyland to go meet Mary Poppins and Bert and take a spin on the carrousel. I promise you…it took YEARS to wipe the grin off of my face. What a memory… click…click…click…

Kelly DeLeon: I would have to say if I opened my eyes in WDW I would want to be sitting in the Carousel of Progress. I am not sure if it is the infectious song, "It's a great big beautiful tomorrow… " or knowing that it is an original piece of the Magic Kingdom. Now that it is only running seasonally, as soon as I get to Tomorrowland I run to the back to see if it is open.

Audrey Dorn Wilkerson: I would be… waiting to go through the gates at the Magic Kingdom. The ANTICIPATION! First thing in the morning, first day on property, a whole day before me! I await all those things that are familiar while knowing that there will be new things to see, too. Also, now that our child is a Disney veteran, my husband and I love to match her enthusiasm and expectancy — an easy task for us! I won't say that I wish it took a little longer to get through the turnstiles, but I really enjoy feeling the excitement build!

Sue Graham: Here in cold England, I close my eyes… and I am on Main Street and I can feel the sun and see the blue, blue sky. I am sitting at a little wrought iron table outside of the ice cream parlour and opposite me, my husband, stuffed but determined, is eating a cinnamon roll from the bakery. The birds are catching the crumbs, while I look across the gardens to the Castle and know that this is the first morning of the best two weeks that I'll have this year.

Blanche Lassen: I think the most magical place is near the corner by Casey's on Main Street at the garbage can. That is where I sat and watched many parades, sitting next to my father. We always got there about three hours ahead of time. It was my mother, father and me. And even though I was already in my 20s when we started going to Disney, I always felt special sitting next to my father. He died 15 years ago, and since then I have been to Disney 16 times. Each time I walk to that garbage can and remember a smiling dad who took special care of his "Princess."

Tyler's Grandmellie: When I open my eyes I am where the "crypt doors creak and the tombstones quake" with my 6-year-old grandson sitting by my side (in our own Doom Buggy), saying, "Look at that, Grandmellie, look at that!" "See that?" "What's that?" "How'd that happen?" "WOW!" It just doesn't get any better than that.

Rebecca Mulford from Louisiana: I would be transported to Main Street USA. There is nothing better than sitting on a bench at the head of Main Street or above at the railroad station and looking out over Main Street. The balloon vendors, the music, the smell of candy and cookies, the train whistle, the street performers, the photographers, the storefronts, the look on children's faces the first time their eyes gaze upon Cinderella Castle, and the teary-happy look on their parents' faces. Once on every trip, my family hits the park and I linger on Main Street for hours just soaking it all in, ice cream cone in hand, just enjoying what Disney does best — creating atmosphere!

Jodi Speight: I would have to take a step back in time… We would be on "it's a small world" — my mom and I (she died shortly after this trip) — singing as loudly as we could (unlucky for the other people on the boat) and enjoying our favorite ride and song when my oldest daughter, who was in my tummy at the time, gives me a big kick, showing us she was already a Disney fanatic and would keep the tradition alive!

Jeannette J.: We would be sitting outside in the autumn sunshine, sipping a Strawberry Banana Smoothie from Auntie Gravity's. We always manage to get a table in front of the Merchant of Venus store sign, and each time we visit the Magic Kingdom I would take a picture of my oldest daughter in front of that sign. My daughter is graduating from high school next month, then going to college out of state. But when I blink myself back to WDW, she is 7 all over again.

Holli G.: I would be sitting on a bench just off of Main Street just having seen the fireworks, with the crowds exiting, and the music playing in the background sharing a homemade ice cream sandwich with my daughter. We're trying not to get it all over us as it is melting, and laughing together at the mess we're making.

Tom M.: When I open my eyes I would want to find myself at the Crystal Palace character breakfast. It's 8:15 a.m. and the aroma of coffee and bacon fill the air. Tigger is on his way to your table and the kids can't contain themselves. And neither can the parents. The rumbly in your tumbly is now gone, and you're still laughing at that picture of Mom and Piglet. You pull out that map that you really shouldn't need by now, and you plan your strategy — all the while knowing that the magic has just begun.

Monte Kremin: If I could close my eyes and blink, I would be standing by the Partners statue looking toward the train station down Main Street. I could go a few yards down the street and stop by to see my daughter who works at the Bakery/Cone Shop or turn left and go to the Speedway to see my youngest daughter who works there. What would be even better is to have my wife and two remaining teacher daughters (non-Disney employees) with me reliving 22 years of Disney memories that we started when our Speedway girl was 6 weeks old! That would be neat.

Cathy Delaney: I close my eyes and it's 1994. Our 6-year-old fraternal boy/girl twins are a bit angry with me because they were enthralled with the Caribbean Beach pool. But Mom drags them and Dad away and the twins enter the Magic Kingdom for the first time. Eyes wide, mouths dropped open, they are frozen in their steps as they look down Main Street to Cinderella Castle. Suddenly, my daughter squeals with delight as my son silently moves forward mesmerized by the sight, sound, and smells of the Kingdom. They are 18 now and have gone back every year since then. But that moment plays and replays in my mind. There has never been a Disney World commercial that could compare!

Sue Harshbarger from Indiana: With a little bit of magic and pixie dust, I blink and there I am at the opening ceremonies of the Magic Kingdom… day after day after day. As I walk onto Main Street USA and greet "The Mouse" (my hero), I am no longer a visitor but a Cast Member, making everyone as happy as Disney makes me! I realize my dream of working in Human Resources for Disney World has come true! Now that is something to tap your heels to and relive over and over! Unlimited access to "The Magic!"

Gary Stewart: If we had a choice to close our eyes and go back in time it would be at "If You Had Wings" at the Magic Kingdom. This was always the "first" attraction we went to every time until the ride closed down. It was not the most technically advanced ride, but it always got us in the mood. "If You Had Wings" definitely was what sprinkled "pixie dust" on us.

Carol: Hands down — if I could close my eyes and click my heels, even at my age of 53 — I'd be anywhere in the Magic Kingdom in the arms of EEYORE!

Tom S.: I would have my son Theron's hand in my hand, my daughter Isabelle's hand in my other hand, and baby (still on the way yet) in a snugli, along with my wife, walking up Main Street USA to Cinderella Castle to have breakfast with Cinderella and her friends.

Sally V.: Well, assuming in this fantasy I could also time-travel, I would be in the submarine in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in Disney World. I miss it! It was my favorite ride when I was a kid, and I wish I could share it with my kids, who love watching the movie on DVD.

Lori Degliantoni in San Carlos, CA: If I could click my heels and blink myself to anywhere at WDW? Simple — I would be standing on Main Street handing out Mickey and Tinker Bell balloons. That's been my "retirement plan" for some time (selling balloons on Main Street). I can't think of anything better than seeing all those little (and grown-up) smiles… who isn't happy on Main Street?

John Wilhelm: There is no doubt that I would open my eyes in the middle of Main St. in the Magic Kingdom. There hasn't been one trip in the past 30 years where I haven't stood there and uttered the line "I Love This Place" without caring who might hear me!

Sarah: I open my eyes and Tinker Bell is just taking flight, a small illuminated dot far above, near the top of the Castle in the warm evening sky. As she becomes more and more defined and as the loudspeakers swell in anticipation of the coming fireworks, my heart grows larger and larger and I remember every wonderful, magical moment of childhood, when anything was possible and all was right with the world. My 40-year-old eyes brim, which I quickly wipe away so as not to miss her as she flies within detailed sight. How I wish everyone could experience the joy, love, hope that one moment years ago brought to me… and especially the remaining seed that maybe, just maybe, magic is available to everyone if we only believe.

thstovall: I would be in Magic Kingdom at park closing… last ride of the night. My husband and I would be on Astro Orbiter in separate rockets. With arms outstretched and revolving views of Space Mountain, the Contemporary and Cinderella Castle… all would be right with the world.

Kelly LaFramboise: If I could click my heels and wake up in Disney World, I would find myself, my husband and our three children at the top of the tallest drop on Splash Mountain with huge smiles on our faces — some full of fear, some full of amazement — and then we'd hold our breath for that exciting finale to the best ride ever! And of course we get drenched and laugh our heads off for the next hour or so!

Mark Drury: If I could open my eyes and be anywhere at Disney World, it would be an easy choice. I'd love to be perched atop Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on the pinnacle of the second lift hill. When the sky is blue, you can see for miles up there. It is absolutely stunning. I would love to be standing up there waving hello to all the riders as they climb the hill and take off around the bend on the most exciting part of the ride. This here's the wildest ride in the wilderness!

Nora Zajac: Ah, I'd be young again, on my first trip to Disney, when I thought I'd see just a park and some rides. When I found that we'd parked in "Goofy," that we'd now ride to the entrance on a tram, and, after entering at the ticket center we would then have to ride a boat to reach the magic, then I knew I had stepped through the Magic Mirror, and my world would never be the same again! May God bless Mr. Disney for teaching the world that, in joy and laughter, we are all brothers.

Cindy Garfinkel: I would definitely be sitting on the "wooden" ledge across from Aloha Isle eating a Dole Whip Pineapple Float…ahhh…nothing better and nothing says Disney more to me than a pineapple float and people watching!

Carol B: Close my eyes, click my heels, and… I am in a boat on Pirates of the Caribbean, just passing the skeleton at the wheel storm scene, hearing "Dead Men Tell No Tales" echoing in the darkness, and heading right for the waterfall and the great pirate scenes that await!

Andy from NJ: Thursday, August 31, 2005. My girlfriend and I are in the middle of not only our first Disney vacation together, but our first vacation together in general. It's 9 o'clock, we've just finished a meal at Tony's in the Magic Kingdom. Main Street is busy with people, but we get a great spot dead center of the street. Tara doesn't remember Disney fireworks; it's been a long time for both of us. A warm breeze blows, and Wishes begins. Tara stands in front of me, my arms draped over her shoulders. As gunpowder, magnesium and other metals illuminate the sky, I lean into her ear and whisper, "I love you." Overcome with the beauty of the moment, she bursts into tears and we hold each other for the rest of the show. The only thing I'm waiting for is August 30 so we can do it all over again.

The Tatros: I am with my brother, husband and youngest son, Andrew (13 at the time). Andrew did not want to go with us on our first-ever trip to WDW, so we appointed him the "official photographer" in an effort to improve his attitude about the trip. On our first day, we crossed under the railroad station and stepped onto Main Street and I witnessed the most remarkable transformation ever… as Andrew looked out on the square, he was instantly enchanted and was as enthusiastic as any 7-year-old in the park. That was truly Disney magic and is what I think of every time I picture myself returning to "the World the way it ought to be."

Jeannie Sommers: Place: Magic Kingdom at the Main Street train station, facing into the park, first row. Surroundings: It's midnight on New Year's Eve and we are getting ready to watch the "surround the park" fireworks. I am with my hubby, my two daughters, and my son and son-in-law It is the first time that my oldest daughter (and her hubby) and my son have been to Disney. It was a wonderful day full of great "firsts" for them, and I enjoyed showing them what I love so much about Disney, and seeing it through their eyes. The lights begin to dim, and the crowd becomes quiet, almost reverent, filled with young and old, "first timers" and "many timers." Walt's voice comes over the sound system, and it is almost as if he were in the park with us. "I hope that we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse…" Tears flow down my cheeks as my youngest daughter hugs my hubby, my oldest daughter hugs her hubby, and I hug my son. I am celebrating the start of a new year, surrounded by my loved ones in the best place on Earth.

Dee: If I could close my eyes and click my heels I would be in Cinderella Castle. I remember the first time I went there for lunch with an unusual walk-in seating. I knew Cinderella wasn't going to be there for that time of the day. We walked into the waiting area and there sat Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother and I was transported back to a time when I was a little girl still believing in magic. It still is my most favorite memory of WDW and one I repeat every time I go back to WDW. I'm 46 years young and I can't wait to take my 5-year-old granddaughter this fall.

Nancy M.: I'd be in front of Cinderella Castle; watching a Kids of the Kingdom performance — starring Mickey, of course! I'd have a brownie and Coke from Casey's in one hand, my video camera in the other. Sweat would be pouring down my brow. Beside me would be my husband, my mom and my two little kids in their stroller! (They're now teens.) Gotta go — the show's about to start!

Paul: Where would I be if I clicked my heels together and saw myself in Disney World? I would be behind Cinderella Castle standing on the edge of the brick circle where Cinderella's carriage appears from time to time. That's the spot I proposed to my now-wife back in 2003. I could go on about how I wanted to propose in front of the Castle, but I think having the carriage there was special for us. Still clicking…

Suzie: I'd be in the TTA taking a ride with my husband. Since this is a fantasy ride, I'd take along my mom and dad, who aren't well enough to travel to Disney anymore, and Grandma, who has passed. How relaxing to view all of Tomorrowland from above with the people I love most. Paging Tom Morrow…

Brian C.: With my kids on the Winnie the Pooh ride… bouncing with Tigger, floating away with Piglet and searching for Heffalumps and Hunny with Pooh.

Darlene Harmon from Coldwater, Michigan: When I open my eyes I will be standing just inside the Magic Kingdom, just through the tunnel under the train station. When I step into the Magic Kingdom, I always tell my husband it is like arriving in Oz. You know, when the movie changes from black and white to color. It is magical. All of the problems and difficulties of the past months disappear. It is like being in a different world. And at WDW, you become a citizen of that World… at least for a little while.

Joshua Olive, Unrepentant Disney Fan: Eyes closed! I've just passed through the turnstiles and stepped out from under the train station to see Main Street USA. The town square is in front of me, the firehouse on the left, a great local Italian joint on the right, and endless possibilities right in front of me. There's nothing on Earth like stepping out of the real world and into Walt Disney World, and there's no place you can feel it quite as strongly as you can right at that moment when Main Street USA opens up before you and Cinderella Castle pops into view!

Allan K.: I would click myself to the Liberty Tree Tavern, where I had my first truly memorable Disney dining experience… My family had gone to Disney (my very first time! At 39!) with my wife's family, and we had dined at a few other places, but this night we chose Liberty Tree Tavern. There were 11 of us, and we sat at two separate tables, although very close to each other. Our server was very attentive, and worked her tail off to give us a good experience. It was a character dinner, so we saw Chip and Dale, Goofy, etc., which was great. Pluto came over to me, pointed at the emblem on my shirt (Big Dog) and pointed to himself a couple of times. I then removed my 6-foot 8-inch frame from my chair. He pointed to me, instead — and asked me to sit down. But my favorite part was when my 6-year-old son saw Minnie Mouse. He is high-functioning autistic, so he tends to relate to things based on what he sees on TV. He repeated, word for word, the line from the popular commercial for WDW at the time (except it was to Minnie instead of Mickey). "I've been waiting my whole life to see you." The bill that night came to $210. I told my wife that I would gladly pay twice that amount. What a great evening.

Margie in Kansas: You will no doubt receive as many different replies as there are spots in WDW. I put this question to my husband and liked his response. "I'm standing on Main Street facing the Castle — watching Wishes — with you standing in front of me and I have my arms around you." It truly doesn't get any better than that.

Janna M. in NJ: If I was to close my eyes and blink, I would be in Fantasyland right by Cinderella's Carrousel. For some reason, I remember being by that ride and constantly wanting to ride it when I was a child. Now, with two small children of my own, my girls always want to ride it as well. Between the ride, the fantasy of Fantasyland, and being in the shadow of Cinderella Castle, I think this is the most magical place in the World. PS: When I asked my husband where he would be if he blinked, he said he would be in the same spot!

Cari Brooks in Fairfield, Ohio: If you can "blink" me to Walt Disney World, I'm going to take a leap and assume you can also "blink" me back in time. Here's where I want to go: a rainy, cold day in the Magic Kingdom. I am on what to me will always be the People Mover, though I understand its official name is now the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. In my arms is a sleeping toddler, exhausted from a magical morning of flying with Peter Pan and gazing in awe at dolls from around the world. As the mist continues to drench others below me, I ride in silence again and again around the People Mover track, each time exchanging an unspoken signal with the Cast Member on the platform, who understands that a child's nap and a mother's happiness are more important than lines and procedures.

John: I would be by the flower cart by the Emporium on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom! Of course, they've closed off that little inlet, and expanded the Emporium to make a few more bucks. But, my wife and I went to WDW in January 1988 for our honeymoon, and that was the place we had a beautiful picture taken. Every time we went back to our favorite "second home," we would sneak to the flower cart and have another picture done. So, if I could blink myself to anywhere, I would go back to that beautiful romantic flower cart that held so many memories.

And finally, this last and dearest thought from Frank Harvey of Virginia: Close my eyes and blink? We have visited the Most Magical Place on Earth more than 60 times since 1971, and I love the moment when I stand dead center in Town Square, lift my head, and take in Cinderella Castle — gateway to a land where cares are banished, joy is instilled, and childhood is forever reborn. I hear every time, in my imagination, the words, "To all who come to this happy place, welcome."