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The Magic of Slowing Down at Disney World

By Thomas Cackler, PassPorter Guest Columnist

The scene is not uncommon. Mom, armed with a park map, leads Dad pushing the stroller while Junior is lagging behind looking at all the interesting shops on Main Street USA. As they rush past Cinderella Castle and into Fantasy Land, they stare at the already insurmountable line at Dumbo. Frustrated that they now won't make their dining reservation at Crystal Palace for lunch, they begin to lament the rat race that Walt Disney World has become. They wonder aloud, "What has happened to the 'magic' at Walt Disney World

Does this sound like you? Too often, the term "weary traveler" is appropriate for a visitor to the Magic Kingdom and the other parks as well. What with show times, parade times, fireworks times and advance dining reservations, our days on vacation are more booked than a sports agent on draft day. With the World becoming bigger and bigger with each new visit, do we simply resign ourselves to exchanging the magic for the notion of a complete vacation?

Just as one appreciates a museum best at a slower pace, so too should our pace slow when we pass through the gates of Walt Disney World. As Jennifer and Dave say in the recent edition of PassPorter "Despite the temptation to see and do it all, an overly ambitious plan will be more exhausting (and frustrating) than fun." However, it's not as if the average person has very much time to stop and smell the roses, right?

While it is true that the average family vacationing at Walt Disney World is there less than a week, a lack of time should not be an excuse to push oneself beyond reasonable limits. As the old saying goes, we need to "stop and smell the roses" if we hope to experience the magic that Disney has to offer. So in order to do that, we have to change our way of thinking.

Yes, I just said, "We need to change our way of thinking." We have to remember that in order to reclaim the magic of a trip to Disney World, we must not rush from E Ticket to E Ticket attraction. Instead, the magic happens when you slow down to see the little things and enjoy the plethora of lesser-known (yet perhaps entirely more magical) attractions. Just as the Louvre doesn't have a Mona Lisa hanging on every wall, we should not expect Disney World to be one intense experience after another. 

Although authors mean well when they write touring plans for guidebooks, too often the reader assumes that this is the best way or the only way to enjoy a Disney vacation. After all, these are the professionals.  They know Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, that attitude locks you into a death march mentality that screams, "Splash Mountain or death!" This is not a healthy attitude while someone is at home, much less at the "Happiest Place on Earth." 

In fact, many of the most magical things at Disney World don't happen while shooting through Space Mountain or while on a Kilimanjaro Safari. We all know it was all "started by a mouse," but have you ever stopped to watch Steamboat Willie, the film that started it all? You can, at the Town Square Exposition Hall. We all know what happened when she met Beast, but would you like to hear a story from the beautiful and talented Belle herself? You can, at the Fairy Tale Garden near Cinderella Castle. These are just a couple of the lesser-known attractions that the Magic Kingdom has to offer. The other parks offer similar magical adventures if you take the time to discover them.

Trying to list the multitude of magical moments would take too long and defeat the purpose of this article.  What is magical for one person may not be as magical for the next and it makes little sense to replace a list of big time attractions with a list of little known attractions. However, when you realize that you cannot and will not see everything in your stay, you are free to live in the moment and experience the parks in an entirely new light. Whereas in the past you didn't have time to explore some of the off the beaten path areas to their fullest, you now have the opportunity to explore to your heart's content. It is in that exploration that you truly grow to appreciate the hard work the Imagineers put into each aspect of the parks.

Now that we have thrown away our touring plans and commando itineraries, we are free to enjoy those magical moments that do not appear on a park map or in a guidebook. No longer do we need to fret about a longer line just because we want to enjoy the majesty of the Castle or the wonder of Innovations. We won't find ourselves rushing past the Hollywood Glee Club just to get in line for another attraction. Likewise, we do not need to worry about missing something at the parks because we want to sleep in or spend so much needed time at the pool. Because when you slow down, you free yourself up to enjoy what any trip to Walt Disney World should be: a vacation!

By taking time to enjoy things based on your desires of the moment, you begin to appreciate that the magic isn't dead. It also opens your eyes to the creative minds of the Imagineers and the hard work and dedication of the cast members. Many magical memories happen when you least expect it. If you don't slow down to enjoy them, you will most likely miss the magic altogether.

This article originally appeared in our August 15, 2005 newsletter -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

Related Articles:

  • Discovering the Magic
  • Meeting Mickey

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    Updated 02/15/07 

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