Wednesday, 10 October 2012

So you're going to the Theme Parks!!

This post was inspired by a recent tweet from fellow Disney fanatic, friend and blogger Emma, who when talking about her upcoming visit to WDW was asked the question 'so you'll be visiting the theme parks?'

Often when telling people where I'm off to on vacation I get greeted with a look of puzzlement and a 'oh you're going to the theme parks' with a heavy hint of disdain, and slight disbelief - people do not get it do they?

So here is my little rant about why I don't do beach holidays and my attempt to explain why WDW is more than 'just theme parks'.

It can be very frustrating, and exasperating, when, as a UK based Disney obsessed individual, you encounter those who have no grasp about WDW, those who when finding out you're off to Orlando say 'oh you're going to Disneyland'....err NO!!!  Now I know that I need to exercise patience and understanding but sometimes it can be very difficult.

So before we go any further lets just clarify something - DisneyLAND is the original Disney theme park and is located in Anaheim, Los Angeles (US west coast).  Walt Disney WORLD is the second Disney theme park and is located between Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida (US east coast) - everyone OK with that?!!

Here in the UK when it comes to vacations we tend to head for somewhere where we can at least guarantee some warm weather as the UK can be somewhat unreliable when it comes to spells of good weather.  Staying in the UK means having to pack for all occasions - heat, cold, rain, wind and that's in the middle of summer.

So those of us that can afford to tend to head for the sun...which often means a 'beach' type holiday.  Now I have a few problems with a beach holiday;
  • Firstly, I am fair skinned, so the thought of sitting all day on the beach, or by a pool, is simply not an option unless I want to look like a lobster!
  • A beach vacation is all about chilling out and doing as little as possible - not something that I am very good at, I like to be up and doing stuff.
  • And if I did manage to 'chill out' I have two children who, I know, after a couple of days of not doing much would be hassling me with 'mum....I'm bored', 'mum....what can I do?'...
But a vacation to WDW, in my opinion, means the best of all worlds:
  • Good weather
  • Plenty to do
  • And time to chill
Now I won't dispute the fact that there are plenty of theme parks at WDW, but they are more than just theme parks, they offer so much more.  They are a truly immersive experience; the theming, the atmosphere and the attention to detail all make it more than just the thrill rides that are traditionally associated with the term 'theme park'.

Yes it's a ride - Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom, August 2011
Also WDW is not just theme parks it is a resort, a self contained community that provides everything that you could need for that well deserved vacation.  There are beautifully themed hotels (to suit all budgets), excellent water parks as well as pools at all the hotels, fantastic shopping, a wide range of eating places from fast food to high-end dining, sports facilities, spa's, health clubs, behind the scenes tours, Broadway quality entertainment, fireworks, parades, special events and really is so much more then 'just theme parks'.

Shopping!  Mouse Gear - Epcot August 2011
Sport - well, mini golf! Fantasia Gardens, August 2011

There is also that sense of something magical, something that you can't quite put your finger on, something that to a WDW virgin is very hard to explain and convey without sounding like a completely deranged individual!  There is a special quality to visiting WDW, where you can suspend the trappings of normal everyday routines and indulge in a fantasy, in make believe, in a magical place.

But it's just for kids isn't it?  NO!!  When we first visited back in 1991 there was just me and Simon, and we fell in love with what we experienced, so much so that we came back the following two years dragging first Simon's parents and then my parents and brother with us, eager for them to experience the same feeling as us and share in the memories. Visiting with children does bring another dynamic to a visit and watching their faces is a truly wonderful thing, but as Walt said 'Adults are only kids grown up, anyways'.

A visit to WDW brings people together and creates memories and experiences that last a life time and ones that you want to keep experiencing again and again.

Cheers! Chilling by the pool with a mango margarita - Port Orleans French Quarter, August 2011

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