Disney Top Five: Ways to Meet Other Guests

It’s funny that we can be in a place surrounded by thousands of fellow human beings and not give any thought to how we might interact with them! I call it the Elevator Syndrome. Everyone piles in and faces forward and tries not to move, speak, or make eye contact because…

Well, there just isn’t a good reason.

So today we’re all going to exit that elevator and explore ways to move with other people through long line-ups, to actually start up conversations with complete strangers, and treat others like we care if they live or die. Yes, we’re going to learn how to plus the Disney Experience through genuine human contact in this Disney Top Five list!

People to Meet

Number 5

Ask someone where they’re from. Nothing says ‘I’m interested in you’ like inquiring as to where they’re from and how they came to be at Disney. You’ll either establish a common ground or learn about a place you’ve never been.

Number 4

Trade something. Pins. Vinylmations. Germs. Anything! Think of it this way: You get to meet someone new and walk away with a prize for doing so. Win Win says I (unless it’s a germ).

Number 3

Sit down. You’re not going to meet anyone by running from one place to another with only the destination in mind! How you get there and whom you meet along the way will enrich you in ways you never imagined.

Number 2

Share a ride vehicle. This suggestion is best illustrated by attractions like the Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safaris, or perhaps Soarin’ or Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor where the sheer number of people make it almost impossible not to meet someone new!

Number 1

Smile. Nothing draws a person to you like a great big smile that says ‘I’m happy to be here!’ An Oscar-worthy Grumpy performance won’t make you approachable. So whether you’re walking around, browsing in a shop, waiting in line, or relaxing by the pool: Turn that frown upside down and show some teeth!

Bonus Round

Electronic devices. TURN THEM OFF! True story: I was visiting a Disney Park and saw four young girls walking ‘together’ while each was busy texting other people on their cell phones. So… why did they come to the Park ‘together’ if they really wanted to interact with these other friends instead? People, let’s try to live in the here-and-now with flesh-and-blood people, shall we? I’m going to stop now before this turns into a Rant.

I hope this isn’t an exhaustive list. So if you’ve found a great way to interact with other Guests while visiting a Disney Park, please share it with the rest of us in the comments section. And do your part to stamp out Elevator Syndrome once and for all!

Disney Getaway

The Anatomy of a Great Disney Park

Cinderella Castle is the crown jewel of the Magic Kingdom!

Cinderella Castle is the crown jewel of the Magic Kingdom!

What makes the Magic Kingdom a great Disney Park?  What puts the Magic Kingdom and the other Disney Parks on a level that is, in this writers’ opinion, night and day better than any other Disney Park?  In short, what is the anatomy of a great Disney park?  Let’s explore these details in more depth and see if we can come to a conclusion.

Music

The Piano Player outside of Casey's provides a great example of Disney Music!

The Piano Player outside of Casey’s provides a great example of Disney Music!

There are few things that channel a person’s thoughts about a particular section of a park more than music.  When you enter Main Street, U.S.A., the music is enticing, drawing you in, welcoming you to the Magic Kingdom.  When I enter the park, instantly I find smiles on my face, Cindy’s face, and a look of wonder on Sophie’s, and I know that our day is going to be a great one.

Theming

Main Street, U.S.A. at night is one of the most beautiful parts of Walt Disney World!

Main Street, U.S.A. at night is one of the most beautiful parts of Walt Disney World!

On Main Street, U.S.A., you’ll find the old time shops, the old time theater, the street vendor selling freshly popped corn, and so much more.  It is this theming that makes up one aspect of the anatomy of a great Disney park, because the theming changes as you go from land to land, from park to park, and it is it’s own special thing.  Going to the Magic Kingdom, because of the different lands, is like going to six different parks, all rolled into one!

Attractions

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a great roller coaster ride!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a great roller coaster ride!

Another part of the anatomy of a Great Disney Park is the attractions.  When you go to the Magic Kingdom, for example, most people go there primarily for the attractions — although, that isn’t the case with everyone.  Still, if you have a great themed park, with incredible music, but lousy attractions — well, you’re just not going to be able to sustain your operation for very long.

Parades

The Grand Marshall Car starts the parade on Main Street, U.S.A.!

The Grand Marshall Car starts the parade on Main Street, U.S.A.!

When it comes to Disney, I think they do better parades than anywhere I can think of.  Imagine being designated the Grand Marshall for one of the parades, and getting to sit in this car and wave at everyone.  How cool would that be?!

Fireworks

Special Fireworks over Cinderella Castle!

Special Fireworks over Cinderella Castle!

Fireworks.  Some people like them, some people don’t.  For years, I didn’t view them because the loud noises of the explosions really bothered my ears.  The same was true with Sophie.  Then one year, we saw ear plugs at a local store, bought two pairs, and we’ve been watching fireworks ever since.  It was the best $4 investment we ever made!  If you have sensitive ears and forget to get ear plugs, don’t worry — you can go to Guest Services and get free disposable ear plugs for you and your kids and enjoy the fireworks yourself!

Food

Piglet poses with Sophie and Stephanie at the Crystal Palace!

Piglet poses with Sophie and Stephanie at the Crystal Palace!

At a park like the Magic Kingdom, you will do a lot of walking — in some cases, perhaps as much as 10 miles per day!  So, with all that exercise, it’s important that a great park have a lot of dining options!  Fortunately, Walt Disney World has some incredible ones, like the Crystal Palace (shown above) and others!

Special Events

Image Courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug.  The Magic Kingdom hosts it's own Special Events!

Image Courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug. The Magic Kingdom hosts it’s own Special Events!

At the Magic Kingdom, you have Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party to enjoy at the right time of the season.  In addition, you’ve got the special holiday events at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios too, and at Epcot, you’ve also got the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, so the special events are definitely worth seeing!

Memories

This memory from Sophie and Donald Duck dancing back in 2007 is one of my favorite memories!

This memory from Sophie and Donald Duck dancing back in 2007 is one of my favorite memories!

One of the most important aspects in the Anatomy of a Great Disney Park is the likelihood that you will make great memories at the park.  I’ll be really honest here — the memories of our trips to Walt Disney World and Disneyland are probably the number one thing that I take away each year.  The memories are why I started this blog; the memories are why we keep going back year after year; the memories are what led us to buy our Disney Vacation Club, and the memories are what made us decide to bring our family and friends along with us.

Laughter

Sophie on the Mad Tea Party showing her wonderful smile and laughter!

Sophie on the Mad Tea Party showing her wonderful smile and laughter!

Laughter really is the best medicine, and for a great Disney park, you’ll find plenty of laughter to go around!  It seems like our trips are one constant laugh after another, and often we get the kind of laughter that just keeps going on and on!  Just take a look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean!

The People you share it with

The people you spend your time with is the missing link in our Anatomy of a Disney Park!

The people you spend your time with is the missing link in our Anatomy of a Disney Park!

Sharing the parks with those that we love — that is another great part of the Anatomy of a Great Disney Park!  These pictures sum it all up — our trips with Kerry and Neal and Monica, with Steph and Shane and Kyle, with Otis and Nancy and Sherry — all of these great trips that we’ve had.

Steph and Shane and Kyle enjoy Animal Kingdom!

Steph and Shane and Kyle enjoy Animal Kingdom!

Otis, Nancy, Anna Jane, Sophie, Cindy and I pose in front of Cinderella Castle!

Otis, Nancy, Anna Jane, Sophie, Cindy and I pose in front of Cinderella Castle!

Thank you for taking time to read my post about the Anatomy of a Great Disney Park.  My family truly enjoys taking our trips to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!  I hope that you have gained some insight with me on the anatomy of a great Disney park, and why I think Disney parks are the best in the world.  Is there anything I left off of my list?  If so, please let me know in the comments, and thanks!  Go out and make it a Disney Day, everyone!

Tanya’s Tips for being selected as First Family at Disney!

image By Tanya.  Have you ever opened one of the Disney Parks? One of my Disney dreams is to someday have my family chosen to open the Magic Kingdom, ride in on Casey Jr. with Mickey and throw Pixie Dust over the crowd! What a spectacular memory that would be!

Our family has been chosen to be the first family in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and we opened the park with our son when he was 6. It ranks as one of our favorite Disney memories. We shook rain sticks, banged drums and then raced toward Expedition Everest while everyone else was fiddling with turnstiles and tickets! We also got a certificate stating we were the first to enter the park that day, our own Photopass photographer for the event and a free 5×7 voucher to choose one of our photos!

So just how are you chosen to open a Disney park? Disney would have you to believe that this is a random occurrence. And, while some “randomness” does come into play. I believe there are a few tips any family can use to up their odds so to speak.

First and foremost, arrive early, arrive early, arrive early. If you are not at the turnstiles well before opening, you will not be in the running. There is no chance to be chosen if you are not at the park’s gate well before opening time.

The next tip is to befriend the turnstile cast members. In my experience, there is usually a cast member or two that are “in charge” of making the selection. It’s hard to tell who they are exactly, but when we were chosen for Animal Kingdom’s opening family, it was clear there was a cast member that was in charge of the selection and she was roaming about the “early” crowd looking for candidates! Talk to the cast members, ask questions, tell them about your kids, your trip and where you are from. I believe this helps your chance of being chosen. Our son had fallen down after standing on a planter box and skinned his knee. A cast member was asking us if he was alright after I gave him a band-aide and we struck up a small conversation. It happened to be the same cast member who chose us for the opening….coincidence? While I don’t recommend tossing your child off a Disney planter box….it might help. Be lively! Be “the” Disney family. Make your presence known, but don’t be obnoxious….there is a fine line to walk here.

My last tip is to dress your family alike. I know, I know, I hear the collective sigh of every dad in America. Don’t be afraid to walk on the wild side here dads! Sacrifice your pride for a wonderful family memory. I can’t promise it will happen, but I do believe it helps! First of all, you will be able to spot your family and children in the crowd….and so will the cast member looking for a family to open the park!! While this is not the deciding factor…and not always the case, start watching the families who are chosen. Often they are dressed alike, in Disney gear, or in bright colors! When our family opened Animal Kingdom, you guessed it, matching shirts!

So, try these tips next time you go to a Disney Park. If you are selected to open a Disney Park, remember to be gracious for the honor! Thank your cast members, smile and live it up! After all you likely were selected for some reason. (And, matching shirts really might help!)

Here’s to Magical Memories,
Tanya