As you may be aware from reading this blog, I’ve been missing in action the last few months because I just finished my first year of law school. As you may also be aware, Estelle and I recently road-tripped down to WDW for my spring break in March. So when I finished the semester, Estelle asked me to write a few things up for the blog again, and I knew I had to do something about our recent trip.
The big problem I had, though, was finding the right topic. Estelle is a meticulous documenter and covered most of the major highlights of our trip. Instead of doing a recap, I decided that this post should be a little different.
Really, it’s more of an existential question. (Don’t judge me too harshly; I’ve spent the last 10 months thinking existentially and critically. It’s ingrained in my brain at this point.) You see, since I couldn’t write about what we did on our recent trip, I realized I should be writing about why it was such a great trip and why, of all the places we could have gone for spring break, we chose a Disney theme park.
I’ve never really thought about why I love going to the Disney parks before. I just knew I loved it and wanted to be there. It’s a comforting, familiar place full of sights and sounds that, for better or worse, have changed very little since I first went in 1996.
But complacency and routine only go so far. There has to be some other hook that keeps reeling me back in, right? I love familiar and safe things as much as anybody, but I also get bored with the same old thing.
And then, when I was thinking about my favorite parts of our recent trip, I realized they were all about exploring new places and trying new things. Sure, I loved riding Space Mountain as usual, and our lunch at Yak & Yeti was delicious as always, but the best parts of the trip?
Exploring the Tangled bathrooms for the first time. Spending hours in the (admittedly small) New Fantasyland. Perusing and sampling the booths at the Flower and Wine, or Food and Garden, or whatever the heck it’s called, event in World Showcase. Eating delicious meals at places I’d never been to before, like Restaurant Marrakesh, Boma, and Artist Point. Taking a load off my feet and bending an elbow at the Tune-In Lounge at Hollywood Studios, which I didn’t even know existed until just last year.
And it’s more than just the thrill of doing something different. In Disney, one of the special thrills that you don’t need a Fastpass for is spending some quality time in an area, soaking in all the details, and looking for fun little bits that most people don’t even notice as they rush to the next attraction.
I tried to find all the hidden Pascals I could at the Tangled bathrooms. (I found about 4, I think. Pitiful, I know.) I marveled at the hidden chargers built into the wooden stumps there, and the frying pans in the men’s bathroom. I strolled through the quiet back parts of New Fantasyland, behind Gaston’s Tavern (which I also thoroughly enjoyed, mind you) to find a tiny little door whose purpose is unknown.
I ate a buffalo steak at Artist Point, and beef couscous at Marrakesh, and some unique African delicacy at Boma that I don’t even recall the name or description of. I also ate many Zebra Domes. More than that, I wandered aimlessly through the restaurants, taking in the details as I made my way to the bathroom. Like the beautiful tiling in Marrakesh. The high ceilings, soft colors, and solid wood accents of Artist Point. The flowing tapestries and rustic charm of Boma.
Let’s be honest. Where else can you spend the better part of an hour exploring a bathroom without actually using it? Where else do you get excited about seeing an unusual structural detail, imagining what kind of interesting purpose it might serve? Where else do you get (almost) more excited about what a restaurant looks like than the food it serves?
It’s these kinds of excitements that make going back to WDW so much fun. Even when you run out of new things to experience, you can always take the time to look a little more closely at something you thought you knew very well. Not only does it encourage you to slow down and enjoy your vacation, it reminds you that everything in Walt Disney World, for better or worse, was put there for a purpose and has a special meaning to somebody. It’s a uniquely different experience that you just can’t find at any other theme park, no matter how many scary their thrill rides are or which popular property their lands are based on.
And that is what compels me to return to WDW, time and again, as an explorer – not a thrill seeker.