The Truth About A Walt Disney World Vacation

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Our Disney vacation was surprisingly life altering.  I never understood the draw, the passion, and the excitement an amusement park could muster.  I understand now. Disney World isn’t just another amusement park. Rather, it’s a place where dreams are real. It’s a place where children are the heroes because of their innocence and their understanding of all that is magical.  Disney World is one of those rare places where adults can learn from children.

Photo Credit: Dan Kellogg
Photo Credit: Dan Kellogg

So after 4 days at the Happiest Place on Earth I’ve decided that Disney World actually sucks.  It totally ruined us.

Where our expectations for our fellow humans sat at a level just above zero, after four days at Disney, we now find ourselves optimistically hopeful.

Hopeful … in other people, hopeful in other families, hopeful in our youth and hopeful in our old.  Just plain old hopeful for the human race.  UGH!

Ok, I’m being a bit dramatic, but Disney is a place where happiness and magic are not simply abstract ideals. Disney literally Creates Happiness.  It’s just insane how mainstream the happiness is.  You guys, they don’t call Walt Disney World the “Happiest Place on Earth”, for nothing.  It was absolutely other-worldly for us.  I mean, I want to purchase real estate on Main Street!

My husband, Dan, and I emphasize on a regular basis to our children the importance of being joyful and creating our own happiness regardless of our struggles and difficulties. We try to impress upon them that happiness is a choice.

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Obviously a choice that Disney Cast Members make every single day when they show up for work.  I think it’s safe to say their lives are no more enchanted than anyone else’s. It’s just that their job dictates they be helpful and courteous…even if they are having a bad day.  The fact that they can do this on such a large scale gives me hope that the rest of society might, with some coaxing be able to accomplish something similar in our own lives.

You know, before this retreat, I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand the fascination with all things Disney. I am now hook, line and sinker in love with the concept of Disney.  I still don’t consider myself or any of us, for that matter, theme park people. We prefer the wild, unpredictableness of nature and rivers and mountains. But I’m not gonna lie, Walt Disney World was a majorly enlightening experience.

If there has ever been a business, franchise or conglomerate that spoke to our family philosophy more than Disney does, I am not aware of it.

I know without a doubt that the Disney franchise has hit on something pretty profound.  I mean, after all, look how many people flock to their parks on a yearly basis.  I think it’s safe to say that Disney fans recognize something special in Walt Disney’s message.  And truth be told, I’m not even sure what that message is, but it’s filled with goodness and happiness and hope. And that, my friends is enough to bring the Kellogg Family back for their second Disney vacation!

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I can tell you that most of today’s society concentrates on growing up, going to college, moving away, getting a job, buying a house, having kids and then retiring.  The 18 & out symptom of dysfunctional families.

We make our kids reinvent the wheel — every single generation has to start from square one.  Outta the house, on to college, and then you’re on your own.  Parents wash their hands of the kids they spent the past 18 years catering to.  Sure, they might see their children at Christmas or Thanksgiving. I’m telling you right now, for the world to see … I am the Mother Rabbit in the Runaway Bunny.

Go ahead, kids, fly, leave to hunt down your dreams, but you will come back or we will go to you … because we are family.  And that means something.

That is the life affirming message I got from WDW … family, maintaining youthful, free-spirited hearts, believing in miracles and hope springs eternal.  Sappy?  You bet, but isn’t that what we need?

While the world tells children to follow the rules, Disney tells children to follow their dreams.

That is what is most magical about WDW.  Children aren’t nuisances, they aren’t annoying to the cast members.  Children are valued and set on a pedestal for adults to aspire to … their innocence, their kindness, their eagerness, children quite possibly, represent the highest level the human spirit can achieve.  They are so pure.  They believe in dreams.  But even more, children believe their dreams will come true.

And that is what resonated with me the most.  Following dreams.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

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For sure, we can all agree that this life is too short to spend in a cubicle counting the days and minutes until Friday.  Living for two weeks of vacation and days off from work.  This is not what you were created for.  You were created for greatness, to change the world.  Not to count down to Friday.

Of course, we must all work, there is no way around that, but shouldn’t your life’s work be fulfilling your dreams?  Or at the very least, shouldn’t you be working just enough so that you can live your dreams?  When did we as a society base our self-worth on our wealth?  When did we begin to work ourselves into our graves?

Walt Disney was a visionary, he went bankrupt to fulfill his dream which resulted in a stalwart business name associated with following one’s DREAMS!  Remarkable!

All of this is in my heart already. I am raising 12 children, and they keep my heart and mind youthful, because I make a commitment to engage my kids all day, every day.

Another point I have to make about the Disney Resort, and this was yet another reason our family are converted  lifelong Disney fans, was the fact that Walt Disney World validates and embraces the beauty of childhood, where everything is fun and new and exciting.

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Plain and simple.  But, do you know how beautiful that is?

At Walt Disney World, children are treated kindly, with love and compassion.

The few times a cast member needed one of my kids to stop walking on a wall or to not sit on a wall or even to not run so fast (and you know it had to happen), they asked in the most polite way, explained super quickly why and then said “thank you” when they immediately complied.

Case in point, Elly was walking on a little wall and an employee said, verbatim, “Princess, please hop down. I don’t want you to get hurt.” And when the offending princess obliged, she was thanked.  Blown away.

As a mom who pretty much runs defense for my kids on a daily basis, I was so thankful.  In fact, I was almost compelled to hug every employee we encountered because they smiled, they answered questions, the same questions they are asked ad nauseum, I’m sure, and they just made being at WDW that much more enjoyable. I literally felt like we’d been personally invited to Disney by each employee.

How many people can say that about their jobs?  That they make other people’s experience … enjoyable?  That’s making a difference, people!

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And it’s not that there are no rules at WDW. On the contrary, there are plenty of rules. But they aren’t ridiculous rules so everyone, for the most part, intuitively follows them because they are rules of courtesy and safety.

I just want to make it abundantly clear that Disney World is an enormous work of love, of charity, of friendship, of service, and of kindness.  No stone is left unturned.  No detail overlooked.

I stated on numerous occasions that every expectation I had of Walt Disney World was exceeded ten fold.  This fact was not lost on even some of the youngest of our kids.  While riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom, Emmy just couldn’t get over the scenes.

“This is so beautiful,” said my 6 year old lover of all things pretty.  She knew she was somewhere magical, a place where little girls are princesses, a place that was built purposely for them.  It makes me a little teary eyed, really.

While the price of a ticket is a whopping $105 for 10+ and $99 for 9&U, I simply cannot imagine anyone, anywhere ever leaving WDW thinking they didn’t get their money’s worth.  Even the Kellogg family for whom something like a Disney vacation isn’t ever really on our radar.  We obviously forked over a ton of money and I’m telling you, every cent was well spent.

Disney World specializes in taking what can be construed as a dismal, corrupt, toxic world and creating beauty and hope in an albeit sheltered, yet wholesome, environment.  It is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It’s family friendly and captures the hearts of both young and old.  It is one of those rare places that closes the gap between children and their parents and encourages them to have fun together, side by side and enter a world filled with princesses and pirates and glitter and a promise of forever.

We need more places like this. Let’s start with our own homes …

9 Comments

  • Great read. Loved your perspective as a “convert”. Disney World really is a unique place and changes your outlook of the world around you. We as a family try to instill a little of that joy you found there and pour it on to the people we meet daily.
    Hoping to become one of those cast members in a few short years when our youngest is off to college. Thanks for sharing and Peace and Joy to your Mobile house!

  • Disney was a magical place 40 years ago. Now they oversell the park to where you can barely walk around. The food sucks and is overpriced. Two hours in line for rides. Rude Europeans pack the park because the average working American can’t afford this money pit . But I still took my kids there as each of them turned 10 to 12. Its a painful right of passage as a parent who can afford it.

    • TIM!!! No rights of passage that aren’t like real. Your kids will survive without a Disney experience AND there probably are one million other places they would have liked as much if not more!! 🙂

  • I love Disney. I know it’s expensive and can get very crowded, which is why I research and look for slower times when I can go. I’m an adult, I have no kids, I travel with my also single AND childless BFF. You have perfectly described why I love going there. Even the grown ups get treated very well (I can’t remember the last time before Disney any one stopped an entire restaurant at peak lunch time rush to sing me happy birthday). The fun for me comes from my interactions with cast members and watching and talking to other families. It’s a place where you can forget their are bad people, and wars, and horrible things in the world even if just for a day. There is a very good reason I call it my happy place.

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