I’m not sure if this happens to you but it always happens to me. I spend months planning for my visit to Walt Disney World. Looking forward to my upcoming adventure, I think back fondly of prior Disney trips and memories. And, I look forward to the new memories made with my family with the Disney parks as the backdrop. However, all too quickly comes our arrival back at our humble abode, far from the gates of the most magical place on Earth. Along with our return home comes that bittersweet realization that the time we have looked forward to for so long has ended. So, if you are like me, you wish there was a way to keep the Disney magic alive until your next Disney adventure. You wish you could find those “simple bare necessities of [Disney] life” to “forget about your worries and your strife”—just like when you are in the parks.
Join me now as I share some of the strategies my family has developed over the years to live the Disney life everyday. Over time, we’ve learned that just as my favorite bear, Baloo, says, these “bare necessities of life will come to you.”
1) Find Hidden Mickeys In Everyday Life
One of our favorite things to do while at Walt Disney World is to try and find “hidden Mickeys.” If you have never done this then you are missing out on one of those non-obvious charms of visiting WDW. In short, hidden Mickeys are Mickey silhouettes placed in inconspicuous locations by Disney Imagineers and builders. These hidden Mickeys have become so famous that now one can purchase books and read online articles about how and where to find them at the parks. As a young boy, I was thrilled to find my first one on the mural at the Maelstrom ride. Years later, my family and I still enjoy seeking out new hidden Mickeys (however, my wife is almost as good as I am now…)
Now, as any true Disney-junkie will know, hidden Mickeys don’t just exist in WDW – well, at least not official ones, anyway. So, “wherever we wander” and “wherever we roam”, we keep the fun alive by challenging each other to find Mickeys in everyday life, such as the one in this stained glass window!
2) Stay Up To Date With Disney
I remember I interacted with Disney by doing three things while growing up: reading the latest edition of the Birnbaum travel book series, reading my Disney Adventures magazine, and visiting Disney World.
Nowadays, staying up to date and interacting with Disney has become so much easier! Any person wanting to get their Disney fix simply has to browse the internet to visit the vast array of sites dedicated to Disney. From the official Disney websites to informational/blog sites (such as The DIS!), my family and I can connect with Disney virtually in a matter of seconds! We enjoy browsing the sites to learn all the latest Disney news and see pictures/videos from the parks.
Another way we keep up to date with the latest in the world of Disney is by traveling to see live Disney shows and musicals. A night out to see the latest Disney On Broadway or the latest Disney On Ice is always fun and can instantly get us in that Disney frame-of-mind. (A great example is Disney’s The Lion King.) One finds the same quality of atmosphere (sights, sounds, quality and attention to detail) in the shows as in the parks. We’ve even attended local musical venues who put on their own versions and still have great fun!
3) Shop Disney
One of the things my family loves to do while visiting the parks is shopping in all the unique Disney stores to see the latest Disney parks products. To keep the specialness of “Disney” alive, we typically limit the amount of souvenirs we are allowed to purchase during each trip. As a result, the items that we have decided to bring home have more meaning and value to us. Similarly, those items that we wished we could have gotten but could not also hold a special value.
My wife and I have started to purchase things from the Disney store on-line to surprise each other and our 2-year old daughter on birthdays and holidays (and sometimes just for fun!). At first, I was a little hesitant about purchasing actual Disney park merchandise on-line. I did not want the experience and uniqueness of buying Disney products to lose its value as things tend to do the more open and available they become. However, we have found that by limiting purchases to special occasions, purchasing and receiving things from Disney on-line can be quite exciting! Receiving special gifts has been a great way for us to keep the magic of Disney alive when not able to get to the parks.
4) Experience Disney At Home
Staying at a Disney resort is one of the ways that the Disney magic comes alive for my family. After a long day at the parks, the “welcome home” greeting waiting for us makes the resort feel like our home-away-from-home and serves to only make the time there more special. Add to this the great attention to detail and Disney-theming of the resorts and staying at a resort becomes a wonderful experience. Naturally, I began to think, “why can’t we bring Disney home to us?” And, that’s what we began to do! Now I’m not advocating a complete reconstruction of your home to look like the lobby of Wilderness Lodge or the Grand Floridian (though imagine if we could do that!), but I am suggesting that there are some easy ways to spark the Disney magic at home.
For example, the Disney dining experience is truly unique whether you are dining with characters, such as at Chef Mickey’s, or enjoying a special night out at Narcoossee’s. Though my family hasn’t quite perfected character-dining, we have been able to do little things to recreate the Disney dining experience at home. For example, we have created our own version of the “Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater” experience by cooking up some hamburgers, making some thick milk shakes, finding some cheesy sci-fi movies, and eating in front of our television. We’ve also used some of the Disney cookbooks and tried our luck at recreating some of Disney’s culinary masterpieces. Though we still have some refining to do, enjoying some of the famous Tonga Toast at home is quite delicious and fun as you reminisce about past times on vacation.
Even the simple act of having a Disney movie night or putting on your favorite Disney CD while working around the house can help recreate the Disney “feeling.” For example, watching “Saving Mr. Banks” always reminds me of the first time I saw the movie aboard the Disney Fantasy. If you want to step it up a notch, hold your own movie night around the campfire and under the stars, such as at Fort Wilderness.
Finally, if you really enjoy the theming of a particular resort or attraction, don’t hesitate to bring some of that home! If Disney inspires your artistic side, try your hand at incorporating your favorite theming at home. There are plenty of ways to create a Disney-inspired theme without having a bunch of Mickey Mouse silhouettes hanging on the walls. For example, you could hang lanterns similar to those at Wilderness Lodge or incorporate the savannah décor of Animal Kingdom Lodge into your own home.
5) Remember That the Magic of Disney Is Really Inspired By You
When I was very young, my Mom and I used to walk down the road by our house and plan out our next trip’s itinerary. It would be the same conversation every time – “We’ll walk down Main Street, take a left to head to Pirates of the Caribbean,” and so forth. I remember that those conversations would usher in such a sense of excitement in my little mind. As the years passed, I realized that I did not actually have to be in the Disney parks for the magic of Disney to be felt. In fact, the magic and excitement of Disney could come alive on a simple walk down the street. Thus, to me, what makes the magic of Disney so special is that it can come alive for anyone who lets it.
In my life, Disney has always been special to me because it had the ability to bring out the best in everyone. The smiles and laughter that we all have in our memories are brought out because in some part of our minds we let in the magic of Disney.
So, when you realize this, you’re no longer limited to experiencing the Disney “magic” only within the boundaries of the parks or resorts. When you realize that the Disney magic lies in how you choose to react to your surroundings and how and when you let yourself be free, there’s no telling where Disney magic will find you.
In short, the bare necessities of Disney life will come to you.
(And, as those with young children will know, when all else fails, a well-timed “hot dog dance” will always usher in that spirit!)
Category: Disney World