Through the years, many people have asked me, “Why do you like Walt Disney World so much? How can you travel to Walt Disney World so much?” There have even been some who have informed me, “You know, there are so many other places to travel to besides Disneyworld.”
Yes, indeed there are many places one can travel to within the United States and abroad, places where one can explore and experience unique people and cultures, and while at first, I was somewhat offended by these questions and statements, I find that it also allowed me an opportunity to do some self- reflection and really think about “Why do I enjoy traveling to visit the mouse so much?”
I am a traveler, heart and soul. In fact, the “travel bug” is such a deeply rooted fire in me that no words can explain, and much of my Bucket List includes travel destinations that I have not yet reached. As an adult, I have stepped outside “The World of Disney” to cross items off my Bucket List by exploring various places in the United States, the Caribbean and Europe, all of which have been wonderful experiences and have continued to feed my desire to see more. But what created this desire and excitement? I believe the answer is Nostalgia.
You see, from a very young age, my parents began a tradition, a summer vacation to Walt Disney World, an annual trek by car that was far from just an ordinary family vacation. These trips were adventurous from the moment the vacation planning began. There was so much excitement from the pre-vacation preparation of gathering the maps, packing our luggage and snacks to the actual traveling south through the Smokey Mountains and crossing the Florida State line. We would stop at the Florida Welcome Station to indulge in our little cup of Florida OJ and collect brochures on the various destinations offered throughout the state of Florida and then continue our trek with anticipation of seeing the Walt Disney World signage. Along the way, I was amazed at looking at the rows of orange groves and the flowers and trees that would never survive the cold of the Midwest. We would finally arriving at what has been coined “The Happiest Place on Earth.” It was at this moment that we were thrust into a land of adventure and make believe. My parents and I explored, laughed and truly had so much fun. We met other travelers and interacted with the Disney characters and cast members.
Walt Disney World provided the ability to travel to many destinations, both stateside and abroad, while staying in one place, an affordable option for my parents who were both blue collar workers. At Magic Kingdom, we explored castles, jungles, the wild west and the east coast, as well as traveling through space. At Disney’s Polynesian Resort, we explored the South Pacific Islands and learned of the food, dance and customs of these islands. At EPCOT, we explored the World Showcase, where again we learned about the cultures of many various countries. There were opportunities to watch 360- degree movies in which guests were surrounded by a movie screen which highlighted travel to these various places, which further sparked my desire and dream to travel even more. During these vacations, we created so many memories, which I continue to reflect on today. I then carried this tradition on to my children by taking them to experience the magic of making memories at Walt Disney World, as well as taking them to other destinations as well. But they too talk about the special memories made at Walt Disney World-and they too now have the fire in them to continue to travel more.
When I am at Walt Disney World, I am flooded with the many wonderful memories of the adventures with my parents, my husband, my kids, as well as the memories I have made with other family members and friends with whom I have had the special honor of making memories with at Walt Disney World. I reflect on the many magical moments with gratitude, which brings such a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. While Walt Disney World has certainly fed my desire to travel, it is Nostalgia that brings me back year after year.