The Disney experience is something special. We dream of our next visit, plan our next adventure, and remember the magic we’ve found in the past. And yet not every Disney experience is magical. Living close to Walt Disney World, I visit the parks fairly often, and every time I go, I am amazed at the number of people who are, apparently, having a terrible time. Some crises are inevitable; even Disney parks can’t stop life, crankiness, and family tension. But there are a few things that you can do to give your visit to a Disney park a better chance of being pure magic.
Build up to it. Not everyone is a planner, and that’s perfectly all right. A little anticipation, however, adds a great deal of richness to an experience. Visit a few of the plethora of Disney websites on the Internet. Flip through pictures on Flickr. Go back through your own pictures or that guidebook that’s been gathering dust on your shelf. Talk about what you want to do, where you want to eat. Dream –that’s what Disney is all about.
Appreciate what’s around you. Part of the magic in a Disney park is imagineers’ creation of a different world. Sometimes that purposeful creation of Another Place is what makes Disney more magical for adults than kids; we understand how difficult and special that artificial place is when our kids take that kind of thing for granted. But often that wonder and attention to detail gets lost in the glow of a cell phone screen or the impatience of waiting in a queue. Make a conscious choice to think about where you are rather than where you’re going next or what you’re tweeting, and you may find yourself enjoying things you never noticed before.
Go in with the right attitude. No matter how much magic and design is around you, you have to choose to enjoy it. And sometimes, that really IS a choice. Cranky kids (and spouses), worries from the real world, and plans that just don’t work out can ruin a day at Disney as easily as they can ruin a day anywhere else. You can’t control those things, but you can control how you react. If you can keep the Disney magic rolling, you’ll find it’s infectious; the people who are frustrating you might catch it too.
Be willing to be foolish. Disney was created as a place where adults and children could have fun together. It is a place without condemnation, and frequently guests miss some of the most magical moments because they are too concerned about what others will think or because they are worried about being “mature.” The great magic of Disney is being able to dance in the streets with (or without) your children, sing along with characters from your childhood, and play in the fountains. No one will think you foolish – in fact you may make a few of the somber adults passing by decidedly jealous. If you can get over being a “Grown Up” for a few hours and indulge in just being human, you may find yourself with a broader smile and a new set of precious memories.
Be flexible. Planning and anticipation are a glorious part of a Disney trip, but they shouldn’t be more important than the trip itself. Remember, not everything in the world works on your schedule, and some of your grand plans may not work out the way you thought. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes wonderful things happen as the result of ruined plans. Resist the urge to “go commando” with an hourly schedule, or if you do have that schedule, consider it…well, more what you’d call “guidelines” than “rules.” Be willing to stop and watch a street show, even if it makes you 10 minutes late to the next ride on your list. Be willing to try a new restaurant if the one you had planned on is too busy. Be flexible – it’s one of the best ways to stay young.
There are no guarantees that you won’t be one of those harried people, frustrated at the most magical place on earth, but there are ways that you can reduce the likelihood. Remember, you’re in a highly unlikely place created by people who had to overcome setbacks and accomplish things that had never been tried before. Relax, look around you, make the conscious decision to look for the magic and you may discover a whole new world.