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Take 2: Changing Tastes in WDW

The other day, on my walk to and from Penn Station, I was listening to the Disney Hipsters (and their co-host, Megan) talk about attractions in Walt Disney World that have grown on them over the years.

disney hipster podcast
Instantly, I was inspired.

As someone who started visiting the parks when she was 12, I could relate to this feeling. So much has changed in the 15 years since I’ve been going down to WDW – how I get there (we used to drive, now we fly), my clothes (don’t even get me started), my eyewear (glasses to contacts and sometimes back to cooler looking glasses… thankfully), boys (I’m married now!), and even company (family to boyfriend to friends to husband).

So I’m going to borrow their idea and make a little list of my own – parts of the WDW experience that I have grown to love over the years. And go!

The Carousel of Progress

This Happy Place Blog -- Carousel of Progress

This is my dad’s favorite attraction, and I used to begrudgingly take part in the experience just for him. I remember one of my co-workers at the Disney Store would sing ‘There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow’ over and over after store closing, and I would want to throttle her. That’s how much I did not enjoy it. Now, I don’t know if I finally ‘got it’ – the nucleus of the family and how things can change – but it’s a sad trip if I don’t find the time to get on COP. In fact, my dad and I danced to ‘There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow’ at my wedding last March.

Character meet & greets

I may have talked about this before but when my parents first announced we would be taking a trip to Florida…. I kind of poo-pooed the whole thing and thought I was TOO GROWN UP for it. If only my younger self could see me now! My sister was around 6 when we went to WDW for the first time and my mom is picture-hungry so we met a lot of characters. I really despised it. In fact, I was so happy when we stopped standing on those long lines and getting ‘autographs’. Well, now I kind of like it. Once I traveled down there with my best friend and we met the studly Woody & Buzz, I kind of got addicted and I try to get pictures with different characters when we can. This also includes CHARACTER BREAKFASTS which I wake up early for because I want to. (Again, the younger version of myself is not sure of the person I have become.) The whole ‘meet and greet’ is the live fun of the parks and you just never know what’s going to happen…

Epcot

Don’t hurt me, friends. I thought EPCOT was pretty freaking boring when I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s because I can drink around the world now, but, if you know anything about me, it’s one of my favorite places. To be honest, EPCOT started to move up my list as I got older. I really liked the shopping and the restaurants, had a crush on Figment, and loved Spaceship Earth. While the park is in need of some updating and love of the most generous kind, I still feel the most comfortable there. I like the open space, exploring the countries, and just walking along those light-up sidewalks.

Visiting other resorts

I think I’ve mentioned my dad is a big memorabilia collector. He has a huge basement dedicated to Yankees and Jets yearbooks, hats, mugs, signed pictures, baseballs, footballs, bats, you name it. When he returned to Disney after his initials trips in the 70s, he was big about collecting a pin and a hat from each of the spots we stopped in. In the earlier trips, I remember stopping into the Polynesian but that was it. We used to make a ton of ADRs for the parks and sometimes go to outside resorts but I like to make this more of a habit now. The resorts are like mini-theme parks but quieter. (I also realize our lack of resort hopping had something to do with traveling with a youngster.)

Living with the Land

It’s true that your touring changes when you start vacationing with other people. James’ interest in characters was actually the reason why we started going to character breakfasts again. It actually never crossed my mind that he would want to. The same thing happened with Living with the Land. While it was never one of my favorites, and I barely remember seeing it as a kid, it’s now become a staple because my darling husband loves it. And you know what, so do I. I’m a huge fan of ‘boat rides’ and it’s nice to see how Epcot is using fresh plants throughout the park. Plus, it’s relaxing and smells good down there.

The little details

I went through an awesome stage where I would take a book with me everywhere in WDW. I would read it while waiting in line, sitting on the bus, or just taking a break in the shade. Normally it was summer reading but I’ll admit most of the time it was just because I wanted something to do while we were waiting. Now, I don’t do this anymore because hey, I need to appreciate every morsel of time I get to spend with my husband when my eyes are not fixed on my laptop, or we are both at work or doing laundry or sleeping. So I read in my hotel or near the pool, and instead, we take in as much as we can while waiting in line. True, now I’m sort of inclined to notice the attention to detail in the theme parks because I’m reading about it all week or I’ve read several books since my earlier trips but it really makes for a multi-dimensional trip and there is something new to discover every time.

Park Audio

A few songs I remember hearing from my early trips to WDW are R.E.M’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” at Animal Kingdom and select songs from the Disney dance music album. I slowly slowly discovered park audio (thanks to those CDs they sold in the shops) but it wasn’t until two years ago that it became a full on obsession. I listen to park audio all the time at home, and when I’m at the parks, I am uber aware of what is playing around me and the mood it is setting. Ask someone (preferably a non-Disney geek) if they have heard the music in the parks and I can pretty much guarantee they never noticed it. Park audio could call under ‘the little details’ I mentioned earlier but it is something specific I look forward to every single trip. It relaxes me and makes me feel at home.

Now it’s your turn… what parts of Disney have grown to be more important to you as time has passed?

About Estelle Hallick


Estelle is a Disney enthusiast with a soft spot for Muppets, theatre, and small details. She thinks Animal Kingdom is a full day park, the BoardWalk feels like home, and nothing is better than watching Illuminations. When she's not writing about Disney, she enjoys hanging out with her cat and her husband, having adventures in Queens, New York. She can also be found geeking out over books at Rather Be Reading Blog.

KatieAugust 3, 2012 - 10:08 am

LOVE this post!! Makes me so excited for our trip in 4 months. I think I might be the only 6 year old who was obsessed with The Land…I still LOVE that ride – my husband thinks I’m so odd haha

JaclynAugust 3, 2012 - 10:17 pm

You mentioned two of my favorite attractions: COP and Living with the Land. Honestly, I don’t remember either from my childhood, but I love the old LWTL song “Listen to the Land.” “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” was the recessional song at our wedding.

ScottAugust 5, 2012 - 12:24 pm

Very nicely written article, Estelle. Loved the pics as well.

Been going to WDW since the mid 70’s when I was a wee lad. And though I never really stopped to think about it, the thing that has grown on me, and this will sound odd, is eating.

You know, when you’re a kid you’re dying to get from attraction to attraction, and it always seemed like eating with your parents took FOREVER! It was always such a downer because I inhaled everything within seconds while they, well, ate like normal human beings. ;)

But now I thoroughly enjoy every dining experience I have. whether it be a frozen banana on my trip into Adventureland, or a beautiful sit down at San Angel. I suppose it helps that the food there has dramatically improved over the last four decades, but for me it is more about the experience.

Hope that makes sense.

[…] wrote about her changing tastes on This Happy Place Blog. Personally? I hated Magic Kingdom when I was younger. Today … […]

RamonaSeptember 13, 2012 - 10:44 pm

I have to say the music at the end of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. I love walking around the World Showcase with the lights from the fire and the whispers of the people with the music in the background.

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