It’s undeniable. 2020 has been crazy. This pandemic threw us into a world we never thought could exist – a world without access to Disney World. On a positive note, thanks to countless medical professionals and the selflessness of millions, the world is starting to operate once more. WDW now has a date to start a phased reopening of the parks. While everything will not be open immediately and restrictions will be in place, let’s pleasantly muse about the Disney experiences we can’t wait to have. With things moving in the right direction, we are closer now than ever.
1. Staying in a Resort
Is there anything more satisfying than hearing “Welcome Home” when you enter the lobby of a Disney resort? From the kid-friendly value resorts to the opulent deluxe villas, every hotel is meant to make you feel like a true resident. Personally, I can’t wait to browse the well-kept grounds, grab a rice Krispie treat from the gift shop, and sit by a tranquil swimming pool. Even turning on the TV in your room is magical! (Check out the channel that features daily park information.) Just like the parks themselves, every resort is meticulous in the “Disney” details. Just thinking about an on-property stay is filling me with contentment.
2. Interact with Cast Members
Walt Disney was a visionary in so many ways. Not only did he create magic, but he realized that people brought dreams to fruition. Thanks to that philosophy, Disney Cast Members (employees) have notably been treated with great care. And because of this, they treat the guests with great care. After months of enduring longer waits and less than pleasant customer service experiences, I’m eager to experience some first-rate guest service. Many people can’t wait for the friendly greetings and easy conversations that are provided by Cast Members. Real-world customer service may be unflattering by comparison, but that’s par for the Disney course. And that’s fine with me.
3. Flaunt Disney Fashion
Like many Disney lovers, you own a small collection of Disney t-shirts, hats, or mouse ears. Many of these ensembles and accessories can be worn anywhere, but some outfits look more at home in Orlando. Additionally, many guests love to partake in Disneybounding, which is when someone wears an outfit inspired by a character (e.g. a yellow sundress for Belle). I know I am always finding new Disney merchandise to put away for an upcoming trip. Simply put, wearing Disney outfits in the parks adds to the immersion of your day. And I can’t wait to pack my suitcase with new stylish gems.
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4. Ride Disney Transportation
“¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!” This Spanish greeting of “Please stay clear of the doors” is a beloved sound to fans. It elicits memories of riding the smooth monorail between EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom. And the monorail is just one form of free transportation for Disney guests. The monorail, skyliner, buses, and various types of boats are available to shuttle guests between parks, resorts, and shopping areas. The convenience and variety of options do not go unappreciated by visitors. Many consider a monorail or ferry ride to be integral to their overall Disney experience. I’m personally looking forward to a boat ride to the serene Fort Wilderness Campground.
5. Dine at Sit-Down Restaurants
Speaking of integral Disney experiences, dining at fan-favorite restaurants is non-negotiable. From world-class steakhouses to comfort-food eateries, there is something for every palette. Couples seeking a romantic date night can dine at the sleek California Grill and families can dine with familiar friends at Chef Mickey’s. While there are countless options, many visitors find themselves repeating the same restaurants, because they have fallen in love with a menu. And I’ve sure been dreaming about these menus during the lockdown. I’m looking at you, Trail’s End buffet!
6. Nibble on Favorite Snacks
Sometimes the best meals don’t come from a sit-down restaurant. Some of them come from mobile carts! While we’ll need to be more germ-conscious, we can still partake in mickey bars and turkey legs. While many of us have been trying “at home” recipes for these beloved treats, I know many of us are excited to eat the “real” thing. Personally, a hazelnut spread and fruit covered waffle from Sleepy Hollow’s has been on my mind for weeks. Don’t be surprised when your social media pages are flooded with the photogenic treats from guests.
7. Browse for Disney Merch
While Disney has been running great sales for online purchases, nothing quite beats the magic of shopping inside a Disney store. From the stylish dresses at TrenD to the department-store selections at World of Disney, window shopping on property is a magical experience. Whether you’re picking up presents for loved ones or home necessities, there is a store that can suit your needs. And frankly, it has been far too long since many of us have visited. Get your Disney Visa ready because you’ve earned a little spree!
8. See Characters
Character meet and greets may be temporarily suspended, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still dying to hug Mickey. And someday we will! Until then, I can’t wait to see my favorite characters frolicking around the Magic Kingdom. Regardless of your age (or even your interest in Disney), there’s something enchanting about Winnie the Pooh waving at you or Minnie Mouse blowing you a kiss. Many of us still feel shy when meeting our childhood idols. I know I can’t wait to see mine again.
9. Watch a Nighttime Spectacular
Yes, this is another series of events that will be on hold, but this is temporary. Down the road, we will be gathering to watch one of the many breathtaking nighttime shows. As I listen to the soundtracks at home, I’m eager to see the pyrotechnics of Fantasmic!, the opulent Rivers of Light floats, and the jaw-dropping castle projections during Happily After Ever. Since many of us consider these shows to be the must-see finale of the day, it’s hard to imagine a park without them. And they will return. And many of us will be lining up for front-row seats.
10. Attend a Party
No one parties like Disney! Disney has been hosting special ticketed events for a while, but in the past couple of years, their popularity has skyrocketed. Events like Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party have brought guests in droves to enjoy the unique snacks, entertainment, and holiday atmosphere. In fact, many visitors plan their trips around these events. Some attend them on an annual basis. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate post-lockdown life, than to celebrate a holiday in the happiest place on Earth.
11. Soak in the Music
Every spot on Disney property is designed to appeal to your senses. The smell of baking cookies wafts down Main Street U.S.A. Immaculate landscaping catches your eye. Cast members smile at you as if you’re friendly acquaintances. Well, even the sounds of the park are there to pull at your heartstrings. Instrumental tracks play on all Disney properties invoking memories of favorite films. It’s just that extra sprinkle of magic that can even make waiting for a bus seem whimsical. As soon as I’m on property, I can’t wait to claim a bench in the Magic Kingdom and listen to the beautiful melodies.
12. Walk Down Main Street U.S.A.
Sometimes the simplest things are the best things. Strolling down the charming Main Street U.S.A. watching the castle become larger and larger, never loses its shine. Taking a dozen pictures on the way, as if you’ve never taken said walk before, is a guarantee. Sadly, this is a walk some people will never take. And for first-timers, they’ve dreamed of this stroll for a lifetime. Out of everything I miss, emerging from the tunnels and spotting the castle through the quaint town square, might be what I’m missing the most. When the opportunity arises again, I know I will walk a little slower and with an even bigger grin on my face.
With a list this long, it’s hard to believe we’ve lived without the possibility of Disney World for months. Hang tight fellow Disney fans. Someday this will be a memory and this article can serve as the perfect to-do list!