That Thanksgiving vibe has hit around here, and all in all, we have so much to be thankful for above and beyond good health, family, friends, and so on. We are incredibly lucky to be able to spend a bit of time every week immersing ourselves in the theme park world, a truly magical bubble outside of the stresses of the ordinary world. What exactly each of us is thankful for is as varied as each of our personalities. With the very open-ended question of “What in the theme park world are you thankful for?”, here’s the responses from some of the TouringPlans crew.
These items are not all new this year, but they have made my Disney 2018 a better place to be. I am thankful for the third screen at Soarin’ and the third track at Toy Story Mania, for the new pull-down beds in many DVC studios, for the low-key merchandise subgenre of resistance tees, for Disney’s unwavering faith that cupcakes are still a thing, for Disney Cruise Line continuing to sail out of New York, and most especially for the many patient and kind cast members who strive every day to make the World a better place. (Also, a shoutout to all the folks at TouringPlans who acknowledge and accommodate my technological ineptitude without actually laughing in my face. Thank you!)
I’m thankful for our subscribers who I get to interact with and share our mutual love for Disney with every day.
I am thankful for the equity actors and entertainers in the parks and resorts. Whether it be the Citizens of Hollywood to Horror Make Up, it’s their passion and fun in those positions that bring the parks to life. Some of my best memories in the parks are thanks to them.
I am thankful for the community itself. Sometimes it gets a bad rap, but I can honestly say that I have gained some of my best friends from the community who have become like my family.
I’m thankful that annual passes exist, and that there’s so many different experiences you can have with them. We’ve had/have annual passes to Sea World, Legoland, and Disney, and they all provide so much variety to our lives in ways that make for some awesome family time. I’m also thankful for Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts. Seriously, that’s the best thing to come to Epcot in the past decade. Finally, I’m thankful for being able to work with such an awesome staff of writers and behind-the-scenes folks here on TouringPlans… and thankful that my phone has a Do Not Disturb option for those random 2 a.m. Saturday morning editorial questions that I can ignore.
I’m thankful for the abundance of amazing allergy-safe foods we can eat on all of our Disney vacations!
As parents of two children with severe food allergies, my wife and I are very thankful for how seriously Disney takes allergies. While not perfect, their restaurants are far and away better at providing information and accommodating allergies than any other place we’ve visited. We’ve learned to deal with the never-ending quest for “safe” places to eat, but even as a parent in this situation, I sometimes begin to take things for granted. Last week as our 15-year-old son headed out to a school marching band party, my wife offered him various snacks to bring with him. He waved her off, saying “I just want to go to a party and be normal”. His perspective was a reminder of how very nice it is to be able to eat out with a feeling of confidence.
On our first trip when our kids were just 6 and 9, stopping for a Dole Whip on a sweltering day was the first time our family had ever been able to just walk up to a place that sold “ice cream”. (I know it’s not ice cream, but still.) Being able to get cupcakes at Be Our Guest was another first for us, since baked goods usually are not safe for them. I’ll never forget their faces as they find new things they can actually try.
I’m thankful for our users who allow me to make a living doing this.
I’m thankful for the massive improvement we’ve seen in dining options over the past several years. When I first began visiting to Disney regularly, the overwhelming majority of the food ranged from “technically edible” to food that was “pretty good”. Sure, there were a few diamonds in the rough like Le Cellier, which in turn generated massive demand, but the list of restaurants that had food that was truly worthy of the effort was pretty short. Now, with the arrival of several outstanding places at Disney Springs, like Homecomin’, Morimoto, and Boathouse, and new in-park options like Satu’li Canteen and Tiffins, there are a lot of choices that transcend basic theme park fare.
I’m thankful for the cast members! Great cast members can take what could be an ordinary day in a theme park to an extraordinary day a guest won’t forget.
I’m most thankful for all the happy family memories over the years. My husband and I kicked off our married life together by honeymooning at Disney World. I proved to myself that I was stronger than I ever thought possible by completing the Glass Slipper Challenge runDisney race with my cousin. And I spend more time than I’d probably care to admit just planning trips with my mom. I’m so grateful for all the memories I’ve made there and look forward to many more to come!
I’m thankful for the magic moments we still find between the stressful planning, overbearing heat, massive crowds, and personal meltdowns that could sometimes overwhelm us on a Disney vacation. The look in a child’s eyes when they see their favorite character, the kind word or deed from a cast member going above and beyond the call of duty, that moment during a ride or show that reminds us of our childhood, that special goose-bump raising “feeling” we all get when looking at Cinderella Castle at the end of a night. That’s what makes a Disney vacation so special and why so many of us keep going back again and again, and it’s what I’m most thankful for. Of course I’m also thankful for the Hat Lady, the power lines on I-4 that are shaped like Mickey Mouse, and the return of plastic cheese.
There you have it — the wide range of things we’re thankful for in the theme park experience. Now it’s your turn. What are you thankful for in the theme park experience? Let us know in the comments. And stay tuned later this week for Derek’s list of what he thinks theme park fans have to be thankful for in 2018.