I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m pretty sure that most men don’t think about weddings and honeymoons the same way women do. Most men don’t daydream about their perfect wedding ceremony or floral arrangement, nor do they spend a large majority of time contemplating their honeymoon. I had never really given much thought to my own honeymoon other than vaguely assuming that it would involve tropical drinks, sand, palm trees, and maybe my wife wearing a coconut bra. I certainly never imagined that I would have a Walt Disney World honeymoon.
Until I met my wife.
Estelle and I never really talked about having a Disney honeymoon. I was a mild fan, having gone twice in my early teen years, but I hadn’t been to the parks in 7 or 8 years at that point. Estelle and her family, on the other hand, were gigantic Disney fans. They were DVC members who went every summer for 2 weeks and had Disney everything in their house. Like, completed Disney jigsaw puzzles framed and hung on the wall. Fab Five-themed seasonal flags hanging off the front porch. Even the trap in the kitchen sink was a Disney item. Yet despite all that, when Estelle and I had gone on vacation to Aruba earlier in our relationship, I still half-heartedly assumed we would wind up on a tropical island for our honeymoon. That was also when Estelle was still taking the annual trip to WDW with her family every summer, but then times got tough and it wasn’t a guarantee anymore.
And then we wound up going to WDW for our friends’ wedding at the Yacht Club. This was before we were even engaged. In fact, it was our first vacation alone and also our first Disney trip together. Estelle, who was a bridesmaid in her friend’s wedding, was over the moon at getting to spend time with me in the parks. I was just happy to get a vacation from work. Yet something about that trip was just, well, magical, and after that, it became hard to imagine us vacationing anywhere else. We went back a year after our engagement and wound up taking our engagement photos at the Boardwalk, where Estelle and her family had always stayed on their family trips.And that’s when we knew our honeymoon would be spent wearing Mickey ears.
So we got married and we had this beautiful wedding and packed like lunatics the night before we left for our honeymoon, and after a delirious 2-hour catnap and a 4:45 AM pick-up by the town car, we were on our way.
The sense of joy and childish giddiness we both felt in the parks on our prior trips together made it seem like a natural fit for what should be the happiest vacation of your life. I am man enough to admit that despite my tough exterior I do have a somewhat sentimental side. I will readily admit (because there is photographic evidence to prove it) that I cried more than Estelle at our wedding ceremony. In fact, I would imagine that most men in their late 20s would not feel as genuinely excited about having their picture taken with Mickey Mouse as I do. Nor would they stare up into the flashing spectacle of Wishes and feel a small lump in the back of their throat as they dream their own little dream about the world.
So was I worried at all, as a man, that my honeymoon would be spent more around small children with faces covered in cotton candy than bikini-clad women covered in tanning oil?
Of course not. Mickey is my best pal!
One of the most important things about a honeymoon, in my mind, is the ability of the happy young newlyweds to forget their inhibitions and let loose, to just completely indulge in the thrill and relief of having scaled the marriage mountain. Also vitally important, obviously, is the ability of the honeymoon destination to provide a magical, unforgettable experience. When you weigh these factors, at least in our case, it clearly led to one conclusion: Walt Disney World was perfect.
Think about it: Walt created Disneyland because he wanted a place where parents could share the joy and excitement of an amusement park/fair with their children. He wanted it to be a place where everyone and anyone could have a good time and either act like a kid or like a kid at heart. I can say without a doubt that I had no problems whatsoever releasing my inner child on our honeymoon. Estelle and I eagerly waited in line to have our pictures taken with the characters; we “ooohed” and “ahhed” at Wishes, Illuminations and Fantasmic; we walked through Liberty Square and munched on corn dogs; our eyes lit up every time we saw Mickey and the gang singing and dancing during the opening morning ceremony at Magic Kingdom.
One example of that magic is the level of interaction we had with the roaming characters in the parks. Experiences may vary depending on the time of the day, the crowd level in the park, and the overall effort put forth by the Cast Members, but you never know what to expect from some of the characters. For instance, early one morning we were getting a FastPass at Space Mountain when we saw Chip and Dale pretty much all alone in their space ranger outfits in front of the Tomorrowland stage. Of course, we had to have our picture taken with them but they took it to a whole other level. Once they noticed our pins (and somewhat garish bride and groom Mickey ears), they took it upon themselves to, ahem, re-enact our wedding. One of the wily chipmunks escorted Estelle down “the aisle” and lifted her “veil” to present her to me. After pantomiming a very brief ceremony, they encouraged us to kiss and jumped up and down with glee once we were “husband and wife!”
Clearly, I had no problem being myself and forgetting my inhibitions. There are very few places in the world (that I’ve been to at least) where I feel as liberated as I feel at WDW. In fact, I felt much more comfortable at Disney than I would have felt on a beach somewhere, shirtless, half-drunk, surrounded by the beach crowd, and feeling more than a little self-conscious. I felt completely free to enjoy the fruits of the months and years of hard work and stress that Estelle and I put into our wedding.
Not only did WDW make me feel like a big kid on a sugar high, but they also made sure they provided that extra magical touch to make our honeymoon unforgettable.
The legendary Disney magic extends beyond crazy chipmunks, however. When we booked our trip, we made sure to inform the cast members that we would be celebrating our honeymoon. When we had one of our fancy dinners at Narcoossee’s, our menu wished us a happy honeymoon. And so did our dessert.
When we bought breakfast at the Starring Rolls Cafe in Hollywood Studios one morning, the cast member ringing us up noticed that we were newlyweds and gave us a free Mickey Mouse cookie.
And our lunch table at the Liberty Tree Tavern was decorated with ribbons when we took our seat.
Everywhere we went, Cast Members and other guests wished us congratulations. The most exciting treat was when we came home from a long day in the parks (three that day, I believe), and there was a voicemail on our phone. When I picked it up and checked it, it was from Mickey, Minnie and the gang congratulating us on our wedding and wishing us a happy honeymoon! It may sound slightly corny, but it really was a magical trip.
In the end, whether you go to WDW for a family vacation or for a honeymoon, perhaps the most important thing that any visitor can take away from the parks is that there is a little bit of everything to be experienced, and while everyone can find something to enjoy, the true thrill is in experiencing it together. That couldn’t be more true of the most amazing honeymoon a man could ask for, spent with the most amazing wife!
P.S. We did wind up making it to a tropical island anyway, as we took a Caribbean cruise (Disney, of course) the week after our stay in the parks. More on that later!