The moment I spy the towering blue Cinderella castle at Walt DisneyWorld I know I am hooked. The towering turrets, the tiny balconies and lashes of blue – bring back happy memories of childhood. I find myself standing in the middle of the street smiling and laughing.
I’m not alone. It’s like DisneyWorld casts a spell over everyone who enters.
Inside Belle’s castle at the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction, two dads grin from ear-to ear as they stand holding cardboard cut-outs of knights’ helmets to their faces. A flame-haired three-year-old puffs out her chest with pride as she is secured into a red cape and told she will have the part of the Beast in a play. The director is Lumiere the candlestick and we’ve been ushered into the room by an incredibly realistic talking wardrobe. It feels exactly like we are in the movie Beauty and the Beast.
When Belle enters, twirling her yellow ball gown, you can hear the intake of breath from everyone in the room. The children’s faces light up as they gaze in awe.
I’d been told that Disney was magical. I had no expectations coming here. And one day in, I’m finding out that the magic of Disney really is true. But that magic comes from serious planning and astounding attention to detail.
Magic Kingdom is home to your classic Disney experiences. You can dine with the princesses and even have a princess make-over where a fairy godmother will work her magic.
“The hair, the make-up, the dress – all of it,” our tour guide Julian tells me. “Girls feel so special when they turn the chair to the mirror – they don’t get to see it until that moment.”
Inside the salon, called Bibbidi Bobbidi boutique, girls proudly show off their dresses. As a man attempts to push a stroller inside, he’s told by the manager: “Excuse me Sir, I’m afraid carriages must remain outside.”
It’s that dedication to character that makes Disney World so special. Each of Disney’s thousands of employees are actually called “Cast members”. They all have a role to play. The moniker sets the tone and expectation that we are all in a play, a magical recreation of the imagination.
The creators of this world are called “Imaganeers”. They design the rides, the sets, the outfits and even the landscaping. At Magic Kingdom every plant in the lush gardens is actually in a pot. You can’t see the pots, but they make it easier to remove plants when they begin to look sickly.
Underneath the footpaths a series of tunnels service every area of the park. It also includes break areas for cast members, changing rooms and even banks. The tunnels ensure the magic of Magic Kingdom stays in tact. It wouldn’t be the same if you saw Belle running through the park to get to her castle in time for her show.
In Tomorrowland, guests are taken into the future. It’s here that you will find the incredible space coaster, Space Mountain. The ride is actually the slowest in the park. But don’t be fooled. It has a trick that will thrill you. A large part of the ride is taken in the dark. Illuminations make it feel like you are in space. As the roller coaster twists and turns it is easy to imagine you are in a space rocket hurtling through the atmosphere.
Magic Kingdom is just one of the parks inside Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida. It is the largest Disney Park in the world. For children it offers the chance to meet their heros and to immerse themselves in their imagination. What’s surprising is that it does exactly the same thing for adults.
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