Most people have discovered this, but there’s something special about Disney. There’s something that sets Disney apart from other parks, something that is more than just fast rides and cute shows. There’s quite literally something magical about the effect Disney has on a person. After being gifted with the priviledge of experiencing the parks with many people (both first-timers and old hats), I’ve started to notice a pattern that I call the “DisneyTransformation” that affects people from the moment they step off the monorail.

  1. It all starts with a mouse. Walt Disney would have been nothing without his faithful pal Mickey Mouse, and so Disney World is a living testament to the big cheese himself. No matter how you feel about Mickey when you enter, you leave with a deep appreciation for him. So much so, that it’s almost impossible not to want a pair of Mickey ears for yourself.
  2. You come craving rides, but you leave craving stories. The first question I get asked on a typical outing to Disney is, “What rides are we going to go on?” In today’s day in age, we crave things that are bigger, faster, and more exciting than average. We’ve come to expect a high qualiy from Disney, so many first-timers assume that means that Disney rides are just bigger, and faster, and more exciting. But what truly makes each ride special is the story behind it. The detailing of each ride is what makes it come to life. It gives me goosebumps when I’m able to watch an 8-year-old go from, “I want to ride a rollercoaster!” to saying, “I bet Peter Pan designed that ride. He had to. He wanted people to know how to fly, so he made us pirate ships that flew to Neverland.” It’s the story that really makes the ride worth riding.
  3. You start wondering how Mickey can actually get from one place to another so fast. Because there’s obviously only one Mickey. How could you ever have thought otherwise? I mean, if there were two Mickey’s, then one of them would be an imposter. And we can’t have that in Disney World. Mickey is the boss. He runs the show. He is the only one. And you finally firmly believe that.
  4. Once you can accept that there’s only one Mickey, it opens up a world of new ideas. Like, meeting the princesses sounds like a completely valid way to spend an hour and a half of the afternoon. It’s not as weird as it used to sound, and totally not just for babies. Meeting characters becomes a new obsession.
  5. You accept the fact that it’s totally normal to see Tigger bouncing through Fantasyland.
  6. No matter how much you complain about being hot or tired or uncomfortable, when presented with the option to leave you definitely don’t want to. Because even complaining is better than leaving the magic behind.
  7. If you ever doubted that Disney would be a fun experience, your doubts have turned into, “When are we coming back?”

Hearing your guests ask those words after a long, hot, exhausting day is probably the most rewarding thing that a cast member host can hear. “When are we coming back?” It means so much in just a few words. It means that the transformation has successfully taken place. It means that my guests, no matter how old they are, have been captured by Disney magic, that they have found something here that they are sad to leave behind, and most of all it means that there’s at least a little part of them that appreciates all the hard work that cast members do to create the experience of Disney. Maybe that person won’t thank every cast member they meet, but every cast member deserves a thank-you for participating in a magical day. It might not have been flawless, but at the end of the day you know it’s been a successful trip when all of the minor setbacks have been forgotten. The only thing left is the magic, and although that magic may wear off in the “real world,” you know it will always be there at Disney, waiting to welcome you home again.