TRAVEL

A Childhood Journey Remembered

Animal Kingdom Lodge LobbyRecently a friend gave me a trip to Disney World as a birthday present. I hadn’t been there since I was a child, and didn’t know quite what to expect. As one who never falls for hype or commercials, experience is my only point of reference. The only thing I can say is . . . well; it was a more that I could have imagined! The adventure began the moment I stepped into the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort in Orlando. Disney is its own world. Every amenity is in place to assure that guests have as flawless a visit as possible. Cast members greet and pamper you every step of the way and every effort is made to assure a stress free visit. The resort was beautiful and as tempting as it was to settle in there, I was eager to hit the park!

Disney Soarin'Good old Disney did not disappoint. From the moment I saw the clean streets, Cinderella’s Castle, costumed characters and heard the strains of familiar, soothing orchestrations—I became a child again. From the early morning into the evening, I did everything—I screamed, giggled, squealed, laughed, sighed, reminisced, ooh’ed and awed . . . you get my drift! To get started I visited all my old favorites, It’s A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain and The Haunted House, to name a few. They were as I remembered them as a child, and I still enjoyed the experience. Next on my list were some of the newer attractions like, Soarin', a simulated ride on a hang glider through the sights and sounds of California’s Napa Lights, Motors, ActionValley, the Pacific Coast Highway, Hollywood, and Venice Beach that had me longing to go home (I’m from California); and the Lights!, Motors!, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney MGM Studios, a stunt spectacular that any thrill-seeking race car driver wanna-be would love. There was even a Cinderellabration performance at her castle that took me back to thoughts of living happily ever after with a prince charming, a fairytale ending, yes, but you’re never too old to dream.

Dreaming is the point at Disney World with the aim of escaping the realities of life for a few days of self-directed adventure and fun. Whether it’s a world, an experience, or a dream, there is ample opportunity to escape to a timeless land of enchantment, take a walk down small-town Main Street, or take a peek at the future. The themed resort environments include the romance and beauty of Africa at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where I stayed, to the Victorian opulence of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa; there is something for everyone and every budget. If you want pampering, there are spas, and health club facilities that offer world class treatments and services. If you want an evening at a nightclub, BET Soundstageyou can club non-stop on Pleasure Island. If dining is your indulgence there are dozens of dining options, from high-end restaurants to energetic food courts.

It was a refreshingly exhilarating weekend that revitalized my zest for living. I did my best to do as much as I could during my stay, but fitting it all in was hard. Not to worry though, I can’t wait to go back. The child in me is already lobbying for another Disney World escape. Maybe your inner child wants to come out to play too. Think about it.

All photographs used with permission courtesy of ©Disney.

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