When I decided to live in Orlando for a month, I knew Disney was here, but halfway through my 30 days in the city, I realize Disney is more than just here….

Disney dominates.

I should note that my apartment is on the southwest side of Orlando, so I am much closer to the Disney attractions. If I had found a place in the heart of the city or on the northwest side of Orlando, I may have a different perspective.

Early on in my stay, I noticed multiple people walking back and forth to their cars in very interesting attire. Colonial outfits were commonplace around the complex. I soon learned that these were Disney employees. Shortly thereafter, I learned most of the people in my complex work for Disney. Even my roomate for the month, also works under the large Disney umbrella. If you live in this area, you can’t escape Disney. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Each time I pass the Mickey Mouse telephone poles (I have passed them numerous times now), I contemplate how Disney has managed to do this. They have taken over an entire section of a city. They have coined numerous slogans over the years such as “Where Dreams Come True” and “The Happiest Place On Earth” that suggest nothing can go wrong in Disney. In graduate school, we looked at Disney case studies on a number of occasions attempting to explain the phenomenon. I can say it is not all perfect inside the park. Not all employees are always smiling and not every piece of trash is picked up before it hits the ground, but they come pretty close.

The 12 moments that proved even at 25, Disney is magical….

  1. Conquering Tower of Terror. My 11 year old self didn’t make it on this ride and now was my time to finally experience the Tower of Terror. SPOILER ALERT: I survived.
  2. Highway in the Sky. A normal train by all accounts, but on the ride in I learned this one was different.
  3. Chip and Dale. It took some convincing, but I finally got my friends to pause our pursuit to hit all the rides to take a picture with one two of the characters. At 11, there was no greater pursuit for me than getting the autographs of as many characters as possible.IMG_1754
  4. Dreams never expire. Nothing beats using a ticket your parents purchased for you in 2001 to get in the park almost 15 YEARS later.
  5. BUZZ. What was your score? First question from my brother about Disney.
  6. The Other Guests. Fun side game at Disney…see how many different sports teams or schools you can spot. (NOTE: It took some time, but I did find MO State!)
  7. It’s a small world after all. The night before we went to Disney, I ran up to the box office to figure out a ticket issue and through the power of Disney, the guest relations staff cast (never staff, always cast) member was from St. Louis. My only explanation is they must have some high tech facial recognition software and just switched this person in when they saw me coming. Classic Disney.

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    Making St. Louis connections on the road!
  8. The Kids.  Seeing the reaction of kids as they see characters for the first time is an experience just on its own.
  9. More than just a ride. The buildup for a ride at Disney helps you believe this is far more than just an attraction. You become immersed in a mission.
  10. Christmas Lights. My goal for this trip was no snow. I have already failed because at 62 degrees in the middle of Disney, it was snowing. I’ll be honest…for a half a second I thought it was real. I guess by 9 PM after 12+ hours in the park, Disney had me believing anything.

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    The glasses turn all lights into snowflakes! I wear them all the time now. And this was a pic in honor of the 4th roomate. I haven’t completely lost it…..yet.
  11. Fireworks. Every Night. The Star Wars ones (new) are a must see.
  12. Space Mountain. You didn’t think I would miss this one did you? Forever cemented in my mind as my favorite roller coaster.