By Roli S
Disneyland, the name itself, is enough to take someone to wonderland. The trademark hat of Peter Pan, the lovable images of Winnie the Pooh, the adventures of Alice in Wonderland, the unforgettable faces of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, all come to mind whenever anyone thinks of Disneyland, isn’t it?
Well, all that is true but, as a young person, I always imagined that Disneyland was a land tucked away in some faraway land, where it is fun and dance and magic all the time.
As I grew up and read and learnt more about Walt Disney, I came to know that he had created a new prototype of an amusement park in America. One in which he had envisioned visitors traveling down a reproduction of a typical old-fashioned version of Main Street USA on their way towards four distinct dreamlands. In each of his dreamlands, guests were given the opportunity to temporarily escape the realities of daily life. In addition to building a family atmosphere, he created a sense of American euphoria. Over a period of time, Disneyland grew to be extremely successful. It was unique. And, in some ways, it felt special to the American people. Walt Disney once said, “The one thing for me… the important thing… is the family, and keeping the family together with things. That’s been the backbone of our whole business, catering to families.” He created an atmosphere that catered to the entire family.
My interest in Disney characters and all things related to Disney also introduced me to the fact that Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, California, are two very different Disney experiences. In total, there are four theme parks and two water parks in Walt Disney World in Orlando (EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, along with various yachting, beach, and golf resorts), while Disneyland in Anaheim, California, has only two theme parks and no water parks available. While both parks share the same “lands” (Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, etc.), each theme park has rides that are exclusive to their respective parks. At Disneyland, these include Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and Radiator Springs Racers; while at Walt Disney World, you’ll find Pandora the World of Avatar, Seven Dwarfs Mine Trail, Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, Mission: SPACE, Test Track, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and more.
After all the research on Disney World, when I found myself in Orlando during my road trip, amidst Walt Disney World atmosphere where Alice, Peter Pan, Micky or Donald all were peeping out of every roadside hoarding and shop window, I could barely contain my enthusiasm. I was finally in the land of these Disney characters that have entertained, fascinated and inspired me since I was a little girl! So, this is Disney world I thought! I was being reintroduced to Disney and its marvellous world full of inspiration that invokes a sense of wonder in even the most grown up person’s heart.
I’ve lived my life taking inspiration from Peter Pan who has inspired me to keep giving wings to my dreams; Winnie the Pooh who has told me to be braver and stronger; Alice of Wonderland has kept telling me to have faith in my madness; lovable Mickey has shown me the way to laugh at my own self and enjoy the experience!
Due to time constraints, we had to choose any two theme parks of the Walt Disney World to visit. After much deliberation and discussion, my group and I decided to visit Epcot and Animal Kingdom parks, chiefly because we found out that these two parks would provide more grown-up experiences.
Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, Mission: SPACE, Test Track, Kilimanjaro Safaris were going to consume us during the two days that we had to experience the Disney world. It was fun to be children again and these two days we forgot our age and decided to make the most of it. Fast passes came very handy as we had booked them before hand on the internet. This is an easy system to hold reservations for popular rides and attractions, without the hassle of waiting in long lines, at both parks.
On day one, we visited Epcot. Epcot had so much to offer that we could go around the globe, explore under the ocean and lose ourselves in outer space in just one day. I felt like a trained accomplished astronaut while riding a rocket in the Mission Space and flew like a free bird over the globe and its wonders during the Soarin’ experience! My only apprehension during the Soarin’ ride was that one of my shoes should not fall into the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean while in flight, as my ‘bunion’ foot would not find another comfortable shoe in a hurry!! Epcot was in full bloom and was preparing for the 2020 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival! The pavilions of eleven countries around the world had a lot to offer in terms of fun, shopping and dining experience. Norway happened to be my favourite with its ‘Frozen’ involvement. All in all a day was just not enough to soak in the wonders of the Epcot Theme park.
On day two, we visited The Animal Kingdom theme park which presumably had to bring us face to face with the magic of nature and world class entertainment! The animal kingdom has a lot on its platter in terms of entertainment. Donald’s Dino Bash, HakunaMatata Time Dance Party, Festival of Lion King and much more, but a day is too short to experience it all, so we as group zeroed in on the safaris, treks and adventures.
We hung on tight for a rip-roaring raft ride through scenic jungle landscapes during our Kali River Rapids. During the Avatar Flight of Passage we flew on the back of a mountain banshee on a thrilling ride over this vast land and we embarked on the Kilimanjaro Safari on a guided tour of an African savanna, home to live exotic animals! All this right in the middle of the state of Florida in the United States of America! Here I would like to give a special mention to my eventful ride of Expedition Mount Everest, where the speeding runaway train that was to take me and my group on a journey through the mighty Himalayas turned out to be a ride made for people with sound heart and health! The degree of difficulty was 9 out of 10 and the ride was not meant for the faint hearted! Someone who suffers from hypertension should not have sat on this ride. This I realised only after the ride was over, thankfully all my body parts and sanity intact!! I strongly recommend that this ride must have a very strong disclaimer at the beginning, saying –“strictly not for the faint hearted”. All said and done, I came out of the Animal Kingdom Theme park with fond memories of a live bird show and a beautiful animation film of the ‘bug life’!! Again a day is not enough to experience any theme park of the Walt Disney World! Every park has so much to offer in terms of adventure, entertainment, fun and frolic that one would want to visit here day after day after day!
And to think of it, all this bonanza of fun and excitement was started by just a mouse, which is definitely not easy to digest!