Mickey Mouse's Brigadoon
May 27, 2007 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Walt Disney World: It's been three weeks since we got back, and we're all wondering what's left in life that can really compare. We had such a good time, the regular world just doesn't hold its sparkle any more. Can you help us keep some of the Disney magic going?

We stayed at a fantastic hotel, saw everything there was to see, got chummy with a number of costumed characters, and worked off a few pounds.

But just last night, while a commercial for Disney was playing, my wife literally teared up. My daughter was playing with Pal Mickey in her room the other day, just squeezing his hand over and over, listening to him giggle and tell her stories. Mickey used to vibrate and tell us when the line was short for the Winnie the Pooh ride -- now he just doesn't bother.

We absolutely love it there, and I'd like to brainstorm on some ways to keep that warmth and happiness with us wherever we go and whatever we do until we get to go again. We've tried wandering around websites, visiting the Disney Store in town, and we just saw the new Pirates movie today. I just don't know what else there is to do.
posted by thanotopsis to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Buy some Disney videos and other merchandise. This is half the reason Disney World exists.
posted by fire&wings at 4:36 PM on May 27, 2007

This is a long shot -- but maybe you should consider trying to work for/at Disney and be surrounded by the "magic" all year long?
posted by davidmsc at 4:39 PM on May 27, 2007

but maybe you should consider trying to work for/at Disney and be surrounded by the "magic" all year long?

I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I've known people who've worked for "The Mouse" both here in L.A. (not at Disneyland but at Disney/ABC) and in Orlando (at WDW itself), and by all accounts, there's nothing "magic" about them as workplaces at all.
posted by scody at 4:43 PM on May 27, 2007

I really hope this question is serious, because I love it.

I spent my teenage years as a southern CA kid without a car who always wanted to be at Disneyland more than just about anything else. I coped with my cravings in several ways:

-Bought/pirated music from the parks. Honestly, this is the best for me. There is nothing like hearing the 1987 narration of the monorail come on in the car. Music is so much of the Disney ambiance, and it's so easily accessible.
-regularly read Disneyland news (mostly at mouseplanet.com, one of the owners of which is a Mefite, I believe - now I also read miceage.com). There are almost certainly better sites for WDW but I don't know them.
-Related to that, participated in the forums of those websites.
-Sought out and downloaded ride videos (YouTube makes this way easier). There are also DVDs available.
-Got Disneyland recipes. They sell a cookbook at the park but you can find a lot of that stuff online too. Can't vouch for the authenticity of most of the recipes, but it's a shot.
-There are a number of really excellent books about the design of the parks. Anything with the word "Imagineering" in the title is an okay bet but likely to have tons of marketing in it. My favorite book on the topic was called The Architecture of Reassurance. I find that if I can't actually go, the next best thing is learning something new that I can appreciate the next time I make it there.

If I think of anything else, I'll come back :) I really recommend the music most of all. It definitely works to stir up the same positive emotions you feel in the park.
posted by crinklebat at 4:46 PM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well, for me the appeal of Disney World is the way every experience, every vista, every moment is carefully crafted and designed. Nothing is out of place, everything is where it should be, and it is all pretty nice to look at. Perhaps if you focused on organizing and designing your living space to be more holistic and experiential, it could make your house more magical.

Examples: look at the view of your backyard from each window in the house. How can each be improved? How could each be made different from the others? Consider how each room looks, not only from within the room, but through the open doorway, or as you open the door. How can each room be made more similar, while still remaining unique? When you cook, are all the implements you need easy to hand, or do you have to search for them? Is it easy to clean up as you go so that your kitchen is clean and tidy while you eat? It doesn't have to be done up in all mouse ears and princess glitter, but if your home is as well designed as WDW, the disconnect won't be as great.

If it is financially feasible, plan an annual visit that you can look forward to throughout the year.

Also: Cory Doctorow.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:47 PM on May 27, 2007

Are you sure that the thing you're missing is the Disney part of the experience, or all that family-together time? It sounds like everyone had an amazing time, but maybe one of the reasons for this was that everyone is normally really busy and doesn't have as much time to spend with each other as you all did.

Some suggestions for keeping the warmth going locally:

- make a photo book with your daughter, either on your computer/online or with a bunch of prints and scrapbooking materials
- try to make weekend/day trips with your daughter's friends or family members she doesn't normally get a chance to see
- learn a new skill together, like a kids/parents cooking class

A suggestion that's bit more expensive, if it's feasible, would be to try to take vacations like this again, maybe not to Disney World, but to somewhere else with huge amounts of cool stuff to do, like Paris, New York City, Mexico, or Yellowstone.

I do wonder if there might be a tiny twinge of disappointment if you go back and for some reason it doesn't measure up to your first time, so it might be worth thinking about how to talk to your daughter about this.

And, of course, Mickey Mouse pancakes.
posted by mdonley at 4:56 PM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ah yes, I looked up the Disney jargon terms I was thinking of: "Plussing" means adding the little extra touches that are not visible or obvious to the average person, but that make the experience truly all-encompassing. The prime example is probably the Hidden Mickey program. The second term is "Show," which just reinforces the idea that the entire experience of visiting Disney should be an exciting, enjoyable, seamless experience.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:58 PM on May 27, 2007

[a few comments removed, metatalk for your snarkish glee]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:38 PM on May 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

The moment which seemed most metaphoric of the Disney World experience was seeing a "cast member" painting a white picket fence that had no visible reason to be painted.

Disney is the master at making nearly everything an experience. You don't stand in line, you experience the wait. Perhaps you'd be a perfect candidate for Celebration, Florida? It is a Disney planned community. I had a friend whose somewhat eccentric aunt was a huge Disney fan. To be honest it was a little creepy, she didn't have any kids and we all thought she might have been a repressed lesbian as she was probably pre-boomer generation. She loved living their from what I could tell. It is manufactured happiness, but a lot of people enjoy the level of perfection they try to obtain.

Failing that, for some reason, the Cheeseburger in Paradise chain is a pretty good facsimile of Disney world. Don't ask me why, but it reminds me of the area in the park we stayed in.
posted by geoff. at 5:41 PM on May 27, 2007

Oops, their = there.
posted by geoff. at 5:41 PM on May 27, 2007

Ignore the killjoys. (Seriously, get a grip, people.) It's true you can't live in a fantasy, but you can certainly take elements of things you enjoy, whether provided by Evil Soulless Corporations or by your Auntie Mae, and try to incorporate (pun intended) them into your lifestyle. Think of the specific elements that made experience good for you. You can't build rides in your backyard, but maybe you can add some elements of fun to your home. A gazebo in your yard for picnics; a dedicated game room with board games, video games, skeeball, etc, set up and ready to play; a backyard chess set or horseshoe pit... there are lots of possibilities.

One of the things that probably made the experience so great was that the vacation provided a way for your family to connect. You put aside work, bills, and other obligations to just focus on each other. Perhaps you can learn from this and organize yourself so that you set regular time aside where all family members have no other task besides having fun together. And having your home fun-ready minimizes the prep time and excuses for not doing it.
posted by The Deej at 5:48 PM on May 27, 2007

It's been three weeks since I got back as well, and I tell you, I've listened to at least a couple of Disney songs (both from the parks and from films and theater) nearly every day since.

I keep thinking about our trip as well, the parks, the hotel, just the entire experience. It was amazing, though rather short (we'd won an extended weekend).

crinklebat has some wonderful suggestions. One of my favorite sites is All Ears Net. I've been browsing their recipe section like crazy. Other sites like WDW Info and Intercot also have some fun sections, including recipes.

Another site I found recently is Mickey Avenue, which features some photos, but also fonts, and ways to jazz up your computer. A similar site is The Disney Experience.

And there's always looking back on your photos and souvenirs.

A lot of the charm is in the fact that the whole place is the entire package. It's diverse, it's happy, and people are generally helpful.

Perhaps a few family game nights (I actually own Disney Monopoly and Disney Trivia - it's like Trivial Pursuit, only Disneyfied) with some homemade snacks (perhaps from the Disney recipe collections) might be in order. Not sure of your daughter's age. There could also be something like "princess day", where she plays dressup and gets some kind of extra-fancy hair. I saw tons of little girls who'd gotten their hair and makeup done at the boutique they have open in Downtown Disney and they all looked so cute and enjoyed it, according to parents I spoke to.

You might try group activities with other parents and their children. Even outings to local parks for playtime can feel more magical in a group.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:20 PM on May 27, 2007

cmgonzalez: It's been three weeks since I got back as well

Hey, we probably passed you guys on the walkways, and didn't even know it. It's a small world, after all.

and ways to jazz up your computer.

With your advice in mind, I finally tracked down "Tapestry of Nations", a song I remember from the Millennium celebrations (but the Epcot parade no longer happens! I was so bummed.) I've got it playing now, loudly, and my eldest son, who was humming "Beya, oh, beya beya" for years afterwards, just came in and asked me if I hate him. ;)
posted by thanotopsis at 7:21 PM on May 27, 2007

This is probably completely impractical, but it's something to consider along with everything else. As a local (that is, I grew up and currently live within easy driving distance to Walt Disney World), I say move to the area, buy season passes, and spend as much time as you like in the parks! There are plenty of people that live here who do exactly that.

A great deal of my time has been spent at WDW and the surrounding parks. We practically lived there during the summers and many weekends when I was a kid. My sister in law worked there for several years (as a character actress), so once admission was free for us as a family, we were there as often as we liked. It's a fantastic place, great fun, and I don't blame your family one bit for being caught up in the magic of it.

On a more practical note, perhaps you can buy some things that will allow you to bring Disney into your home. Start collecting Disneyana (a Google or Ebay search on the term will turn up a bunch of resources). Also, This History Channel Special is a fantastic behind the scenes look at the park itself (in fact, I love it when I catch the current and vintage 'documentaries', because I think that the park and the things that go on there are pretty cool). Buy the movies, the soundtracks, and try to plan family vacations to Disney each year or whenever you can. And yay Disney. I love it.
posted by mewithoutyou at 7:41 PM on May 27, 2007

I went to WDW for my honeymoon and a second honeymoon for my 10th anniversary. I love it, and would go every year if I could, probably more than once a year. I have the same feelings every time I come back.

I think the thing about Disney World is that there's always stimulation: something to do, something to look at, somewhere to go. You go there and create amazing memories, and no place at home seems quite the same. Seek out places to explore at home that you haven't been to. Make memories with your family at home. Indulge your wanderlust. Expand your sense of wonder.

If you need a Disney fix, I second All Ears Net. That's where I go when I'm missing the mouse. Also, if you can afford it, we have friends who joined the Disney Vacation Club, and buy annual passes. They probably go 2-4 times a year.

By the way, I've only been in Madison once, for a wedding, and I thought it was a great city with lots to do. There is wonder everywhere.
posted by booksherpa at 8:39 PM on May 27, 2007

There are some podcasts out there, mainly Inside the Magic and Window to The Magic. There is also the Disney Podcast Network with a bunch of shows. Enjoy!!
posted by wheelieman at 8:46 PM on May 27, 2007

thanatopsis, I forgot to mention, my email is in my profile if you want mp3 hookups. My collection skews heavily towards Disneyland, obviously, but there's a decent bit of overlap between DL and MK, and a few other shared attractions (Soarin', Tower of Terror).
posted by crinklebat at 10:09 PM on May 27, 2007

In case Rock Steady's link wasn't clear, try the last entry on this page (I think).

Warmth and happiness... read lots of books together? After enough of that, everyday things will end up reminding your family of the Princess Bride or the Gollux, and that feels nice.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 7:35 AM on May 28, 2007

I meant Golux, but that's not my fault; I lack the power of concentration.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 7:52 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Move to Orlando. It's what I did.

Also checkout Disney fan sites. LaughingPlace.com is generally rated the friendliest and it has a great Disney Online Radio station.

I run a blog that covers all aspects of Disney. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.
posted by IndigoSkye at 9:50 AM on May 29, 2007

I run a blog that covers all aspects of Disney. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.
posted by IndigoSkye

Is your blog on LaughingPlace.com, or another site? If it's another site, go ahead and post the link here. (It's allowed.)
posted by The Deej at 11:14 AM on May 29, 2007

My favorite thing abut staying at Disney hotels is the little towel animals that Mousekeeping makes. You can buy a book on making towel animals and surprise each other or reward kids with them.

I also nth listening to the music from the parks.
posted by Mozzie at 2:55 PM on May 29, 2007

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