I have been a lifelong Disney fan but my interest peeked in 1997 when my family took a vacation to Walt Disney World. We were mainly an amusement park family and this was our first venture to a theme park and I specifically remember my Dad saying, “Disney isn’t about roller coasters, they’re about more than speed and heights.” Boy was my Dad right, I was mesmerized at the detail, service, and options WDW offered. When we came home all I wanted to do was go back so I became obsessed with reading anything I could get my hands on about Walt Disney World planning my triumphant return trip. However for the rest of high school, college, and the the first couple of post college years never returned to Orlando.
Then in 2010 my then girlfriend and I were taking a trip to South Carolina. We left in the middle of the night and by sunrise we were in the middle of the Smokey Mountains and she was fast asleep. I figured it would be the perfect time to secretly slip in the the Disneyland 50th Anniversary CD I had borrowed from my sister because I had not mentioned to her yet that I was a Disney nerd. I tried to contain myself but as each song played I turned up the volume a little bit more and started singing under my breath just a little bit louder until my girlfriend woke up and said, “Why are you singing It’s a Small World?” Which is always an odd question to answer but she eventually joined in as we snaked through the mountains. She had known I had a soft spot for Disney but had no idea I was totally obsessed and that all I’ve wanted to do since I was 13 was to go back to Disney World. It was a big deal to get this off my chest because 3 days later I was going to propose and I had to know that she would be okay with my obsession.
Then in 2011 as we were getting ready our wedding my fiance called and said her friends were selling some of their DVC points and that she thought we should go as a honeymoon after our real honeymoon. I booked us at the Boardwalk Villas and had all of our ADR’s lined up in advance of our trip to the restaurants we wanted. Now all I had left was the difficult task of devising a touring plan that got my wife (who is terrified of heights) on my favorite ride, Splash Mountain. I knew that I would have to spend the first day spoiling her to ensure that the following day would go to plan. A pedicure at the Yacht Club, lunch at Beaches and Cream, dinner at Le Cellier, and lastly dessert in front of Illuminations. The next day we left for the Magic Kingdom early and after enjoying the ambiance of Main Street USA we headed toward Adventureland and boarded Pirates of the Caribbean. She was not thrilled that I had not mentioned the first drop as she does not do drops but the ride is so great that she overlooked it. Next we rode the Haunted Mansion which quickly became her favorite ride. Our next stop took us in front of Splash Mountain and she wanted nothing to do with it. I reminded her that throughout the next couple days I would ride almost all the other thrill rides with total strangers (I rode Space Mountain with members of a French Canadian Motorcycle Club) but I wanted to share my favorite ride with her. After 20 minutes of begging, pleading, and a little bit of a guilt trip she finally decided she would give it a try.
As we boarded the ride I was able to soak in the detail and sing along with the music but my wife was terrified of the big drop. The entire time she had a vice grip around me and with each passing mini drop it got tighter and tighter. Which leads to my favorite Disney memory because as we started up the final conveyor belt and the vultures stared us down I was in my favorite place on earth with the woman I love. Of course in that same moment my wife had one of the worst moments of her life as she swears she dropped 500 feet at 500 miles per hour and barely avoided death on that terrible, terrible ride. She survived and never went on anything more daring than the Teacups. The rest of the visit was amazing and now we have a combined passion for Walt Disney World which only grows as we begin to plan our first trip with our 1 year old daughter.