Let me preface this by stating up front that I'm generally a nay sayer when it comes to Disney World. Basically, I think it's gay. I mean really, it's crazy expensive, the lines are long and it's crazy expensive - all of this to see some sort of mouse? Come on, it doesn't make sense.
I've been to Disney World, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland before but still I wasn't convinced. It's dumb, it's stupid - it's for kids. And parents with deep pockets.
So it was with a bit more than a little reservation that I jetted down to Orlando for a visit to the Magic Kingdom and the promise of dinner in Cinderella's castle.
Magic Kingdom entrance. Parking fee: $14.
But no matter the reservation. No matter how stupid I thought it was going to be. Or how "gay" I thought the whole thing, I'm not ashamed to admit that anticipation and excitement stirred in me as I approached the entry gate to Magic Kingdom.
Ooooh - Disney!
Forget everything that I said before about it being stupid and dumb and gay. I was excited to be here. I wanted to wear the mouse ears.
Elena and Olivia
Truth be told, it is expensive. $86 per person, per day. Want to jump to another park? Add an additional $54. See that cool squirt bottle with fan to cool you off on this blazingly humid Central Florida day - want one? That'll be $17, please.
Nothing is cheap about a day at Disney, but I'm tempted to say it's well worth it. It was hot. It was humid. We watched dumb shows that the kids loved. I got to be featured in the Monsters, Inc show. I scored well on the Buzz Lightyear ride. We saw Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribbean. And Br'er Bear on Splash Mountain.
My score at Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin: Ranger 1st Class.
We walked. We rode. We ate. We sat. We watched more dumb shows that the kids loved. We watched other people running about on a schedule, determined to do that "must do" thing that meant their trip was a waste if they didn't do it. We didn't understand them.
When Isabella wanted to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for the third time, we did it instead of doing the "sensible and adult" thing and find everyone else.
It was a time for fun. A time in Never Never Land. A time for a little irresponsibility.
With Isabella and Rod on Space Mountain.
Like I said, I've been to three of the Disney parks. This is actually my fourth visit to Magic Kingdom. And it was amazing. So much to see and so much to do, I wondered how people really can fit it all into one day.
My flight landed 20 minutes early, the rental was an easy pickup and I drove straight to the park. I was at Magic Kingdom by 10:30am and we stayed until close. And we still didn't see everything.
I told Gio: "One hundred bucks if you can remove the sword." Hehehe...
Truth is: everything at Disney is off the hook. The attention to detail is amazing. The grounds are immaculate. While I've been quick to dismiss a Disney Vacation as "too expensive" I've casually followed Disney and their methodologies. Everything is clean and polished.
I long wondered about how they keep the paint on the Main Street USA buildings so pristine. Turns out that they're currently refurbishing some of the Main Street facades and have erected scaffolding to do the work. To maintain the magic, they've wrapped the scaffolding with photo realistic images of the buildings themselves. You almost don't notice that they're being worked on.
Main Street USA from Cinderella's Castle.
The fireworks show is easily the most incredible fireworks show I've ever seen. And they do it every night. They build anticipation and when Tinker Bell flies from the top of Cinderella's Castle to Tomorrowland, spilling pixie dust in her wake, you can't help but cheer in excitement.
After leaving, I heard myself telling friends what I thought I'd never say: Time to come back next year!
Fireworks at Cinderella's Castle.
Bob and Gabriel.