I'll be honest. I'm really unsure how to sum up our/my Disney experience. I have a few observations and some pictures. They don't necessarily go together, so I'll start with the observations.
Disney World is incredible. It really is magical. So much so that I had to wonder if there was some sort of narcotic being filtered into the park. That's how euphoric it felt and how difficult the feeling is to explain. Of course, being that I'm a romantic and love being a child, it should come as no surprise that I fell in love with a place where dreams become reality and everyone is happy. Still, I was very surprised by just how much I enjoyed my Disney experience.
The Disney people - the imagineers - have thought of absolutely everything. Any time you think to yourself, "Boy, I could really go for a drink right about now," a drink stand would be in your path. There was never a line for the restroom. Never. And it was packed! There were foods to suit all needs. If you didn't feel like eating a meal, you could just buy a piece of fruit or some veggies and hummus! Fresh food in an amusement park. Strange. When we found ourselves distracted and almost ready to feel bored, a parade would come by, a show would start or someone would offer a suggestion! Disney had professional photographers at every great spot. They'd take a picture with your camera and one with their own. For $15, I can have a copy of one of these. Expensive, yes. Brilliant, definitely. I'm just saying, it was unreal how perfectly Disney World meets the needs - known and unknown - of its guests.
There are other observations, too, but maybe they'll fit into the pictures. We'll see.
We started out by going to the Animal Kingdom. I fully expected to enjoy myself, but I didn't know just how unlike a zoo the Animal Kingdom would be.
After a couple hours spent walking around and riding the Safari ride (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!), Sophia managed to snag her first autograph. She was thrilled to get Pocahontas's autograph, and it was just the beginning!
After Pocahontas, Sophia caught the bug. She then got Donald Duck, Chip and Dale, Rafiki and Minnie at the Animal Kingdom. Erick and I had fun with it too!
The next morning was our big splurge. We had breakfast with the princesses inside Cinderella's castle! That was definitely a highlight for all of us. It was completely worth it. Here is Sophia as we waited for our shuttle to the Magic Kingdom that morning.
When we got to the Magic Kingdom, we got to see the Opening Ceremony. It actually brought tears to my eyes. I was just so excited to see what the park held, and I was touched to see how excited Sophia was, too.
It only got better. Once we got into the castle, Sophia was greeted by Cinderella herself!
After our breakfast with the princesses, we just wandered through the park. We happened onto these two. Woody and Jessie are two of my absolute favorite characters.
We took a break on that long Magic Kingdom day. We went back to the hotel to swim. Just because we could. And because Sophia was not going to be happy if we didn't take advantage of having a pool. I couldn't blame her!
After a little rest, we headed back to Magic Kingdom to enjoy the park at night. It might have been an even more spectacular place at night. Regardless, it was magical.
The fireworks were everything I hoped for. Sophia really enjoyed seeing them, although she did not enjoy hearing them.
We stayed at the park after the fireworks, wandering through the park and making a plan for what we wanted to do the next day. Another stroke of luck ended up with Sophia getting autographs from Tiana and Naveen, who chatted with her for several minutes!
This brings me to another observation. The characters at the park are eerily similar to the characters in the Disney movies. Seriously. They look and act EXACTLY like the prince/princess/random character that they portray. I know that's the idea, but how is it possible that they found just the right person for everyone? Genetic engineering, perhaps? Plastic surgery, maybe? I'm not sure, but I know it's incredible. These people were fantastic.
Our last day was just more of the same: swimming and wandering around the Magic Kingdom. It was an even more beautiful day and even more crowded at the park. I cannot wait to go back to Disney World, although I'm more than willing to give Disneyland a shot since it's so close to the beach. I have fallen completely in love with all that Disney has to offer. I am a hopeless romantic who has found a place to call home -- while on vacation, at least.