Disney: where dreams still do come true

Summer is coming to a close and sooner than later, we will be at the mercy of numerous textbooks. But as one season turns a page and another replaces it, what better time than now to reflect on what factors contribute to a memorable summer. Of course, there are times spent with friends, soaking up the sun either at the beach or at the cottage, but most importantly to me, it’s the little time spent with family.

At a stage in my life where both of my sisters have moved out of the house and are starting families of their own, family trips are often scarce and rarely include all seven members of the family. But when everything falls into place and a family vacation occurs successfully, it doesn’t take long before everyone comes together as one. It’s as if we all realize why we long to take a family vacation in the first place: the need to escape the hectic world and spend time with those who have always been by our side.

I grew up to the sights and sounds of Disney movies. For the first half of the 1990s I would spend my days watching Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc. Reciting the songs and re-enacting the scenes. Yes I was a Disney baby, and I was not alone. Disney was also kin to my two older sisters, who obsessed over such animated films like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. We would all cry when Bambi’s mother died and we eventually decided to go to the place where all of our Disney dreams could come true.

A trip to Walt Disney World is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience where “dreams do come true.” Or so they tell me. This coming September will mark my fourth venture into the gates of the most magical place on Earth, and while I cannot complain, I do sometimes yearn for variety. You might ask me why my family and I keep migrating down to visit Uncle Walt on such a regular basis, but the answer is short and simple: we’ve got a reputation to maintain.

You see, my family is notorious for loving Disney. In fact, if you are ever hoping to take a trip down to Disney World, my family will probably help you plan it, even if we have never met. For us kids, there is nothing more enjoyable than a good ol’ night of Disney Trivial Pursuit. My oldest sister still knows every Disney song by heart.

Disney World is essentially a representation of my childhood and what was so dear to me growing up. It is the look in my oldest sister’s eyes as she re-experiences her youth. It is strangely kin to all of us, which has less to do with the place but the sentiment we associate it with. It is special for my mother, who secretly yearns for all of us to be tykes once again. It is special for the times where we spend hours in the wave pool by the Typhoon Lagoon, or at one of the fine dining restaurants. Even the minor fights that always occur mid-vacation are special, leading to bittersweet and often hilarious make-up sessions afterwards. Simply put, Disney World brings out the best in our family.

However, what remains more important than our personal reasons for travelling to Disney World, is why someone else would. How can a group of 20-year-olds experience fun and fancy even when they are five to 10 years older the target demographic? For our generation, who grew up watching the second golden age of Disney movies, we are well aware that the Disney trademark has shifted throughout the years. Our generation is not lured by High School Musical or pre-packaged Disney channel stars such as Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. The greater question is what does the Disney brand name mean to our generation nowadays and what attractions will we find entertaining while on the Disney World Resort?

Originally Walt Disney World consisted solely of the Magic Kingdom, which was divided into six different land-themed sections. Apart from Cinderella’s Castle, the themed park is known for its twin thrill rides: Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. Since 1971, the designers at Walt Disney World Resort exceeded Disney’s original plan by adding four other parks. With the addition of new theme parks came a multitude of other hotel resorts, water parks, a golf course and a speed-racing track among other attractions.

The big misconception is that Disney World’s attractions are reserved for kids. I will admit that Peter Pan’s Flight and the Winnie the Pooh ride are both bores, but every theme park features at least one or two attractions that will leave passengers at the edge of their seats. Also, all of the four theme parks cater to a different audience.

For those classic Disney enthusiasts there is the Magic Kingdom. For the science buffs, there is Epcot, which also boasts the World Showcase, featuring 11 pavilions about the cultures of different countries. Disney’s Hollywood Studios features film, television and musical entertainment, which should satisfy anyone who watches TMZ on a regular basis. Last but not least, there’s the breathtakingly exotic Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a treat for animal lovers and history nuts alike.

Now as I said earlier, every theme park has one or two attractions that left me both thrilled and awed. These rides are top-notch and should be a top priority when visiting the theme parks.

Three of the newly released thrill rides are Epcot’s Test Track, Mickey’s Hollywood Studios Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster and Animal Kingdom’s Everest. Each of the three rides is state of the art and give the resort’s most thrilling experiences. Test Track is designed as a testing facility for the cars built by General Motors. The simulations and special effects are cool, but it’s the ride’s finale, where the simulated car hits 104.3km/h, that packs the final, most lasting punch. Everest, the latest of Disney’s mountain-themed rides, is the park’s wildest ride and its most high-tech roller coaster. Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster, also a top-tier attraction, is a coaster based on the wild experiences of the rock band Aerosmith.

Again, Disney has a multitude of attractions that cater to a vast number of people. On site, there are shopping markets, nightclubs and comedy clubs for those who like an ice-cold alcoholic drink and a few belly laughs.

While our family is clearly crazy about all things Disney, the particular timing of our vacations is motivated by another factor: Disney World’s all-you-can-eat dining plan. As a way of promoting the theme park during its slow season in the fall, the dining package plans offers savings of up to 24 per cent for guests who book either a three night, four day stay, or a six night, seven day stay at any one of the 16 hotels situated on the Disney Property.

Disney brings out the best in all of the members of my family: it the camaraderie and the laughter; the fact that my sister always goes faster than me on the waterslide; the fact that I still get petrified on the Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror; even the fact that I know my brother-in-law doesn’t have the stomach to go on two thrill rides, one after the other. The Walt Disney World Resort is truly the most magical place on Earth because it reminds me of the time when Disney movies actually meant something, something magical. It’s what makes our family special and it defines us. Disney World might not do the same for you, but in the greater sense, its important for everyone to relive their happiest experiences, to rediscover that innocence and true inner peace of childhood, where ever that may be.