A year ago I was on a summer road trip visiting some family and friends. During the trip, we made a stop in Marceline, Missouri - where Walt Disney had considered his hometown. While Disneyland was celebrating their 60th anniversary, I was learning about Walt’s childhood, and the part that the town of Marceline played in inspiring his theme parks and movies. Now as Disneyland is celebrating their 61st year and the twelfth and newest Disney Park - Shanghai Disneyland - has been open officially for about a month, I look at how everything that Walt dreamt and created has meant to me.
Over the years I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited a Disney theme park or watched one of their movies, but the magic they bring to me, is never lost. Every time I enter one of the parks, it’s like entering a whole new world and everything of the real world doesn’t matter anymore. Instantly, I’m travelling to Neverland and fighting pirates with Peter Pan, or preparing to be an astronaut on a Mars mission (as a member of the orange team of course).
I know, many people who think that the Disney theme parks are just for kids and they never understand why I keep going back as an adult. In truth though, the parks were never designed with just kids in mind. Walt himself said that the idea of Disneyland was to be a “…family park where parents and children could have fun – together.” Even now, many of the parks have rides and other features that are geared more towards adults, making them a popular destination for those traveling without kids. That said, I cannot wait to be with my nephew for his first visit to a Disney park someday and see it through his eyes.
Though I’ve been to Walt Disney World in Florida the most often, knowing that Walt himself walked along the streets of Disneyland in California brings a different level of magic to the park. There are even special touches that make it seem that he never even left. From the lamp in the apartment over the firehouse always being lit, to the Disneyland Dream Suite located above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride where Walt had planned to create a larger apartment for entertaining guests. The larger apartment was never finished prior to Walt’s death, but the Disneyland Dream Suite was eventually created using the plans for the original apartment and is made available to select guests of the park to stay in.
Someday I would love to visit the other parks in Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai or even take a Disney cruise. Each of the parks feature some attractions familiar to those who have visited the USA locations, they’re just reimagined so they are a different experience. There are of course other attractions that are unique to each park so visiting multiple Disney parks still provides new worlds to explore.
Until I can get my next trip in, if I need a bit of magic to get me through a day, I always have my Disney movies and documentaries about the parks, hours of Disney movie and park soundtracks, books on the behind the scenes secrets, or friends and groups on Facebook who are just as Disney crazy as me – if not more.
While I can’t say what exactly sparked my love for Disney, I know at least in part, as Walt had said, “…it was all started by a mouse.”