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Keeping the Disney Magic Alive

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How do you keep “the magic”, that special Disney feeling, alive between Disney trips?

We all feel “the magic” when we are at a Disney park. A sense of wonder fills me when I walk down Main Street and it stays with me as long as I’m there. I become immersed, wrapped up in the experience of another world or another time. The sights, the smells, the background music and sounds, they all just envelop me. It happens just as Walt planned it to happen! I’m sure it happens to you too. It truly is a magical place!

But what happens when you leave? How do you keep the magic alive in all those long months and sometimes years between trips? How do you sustain the enthusiasm and excitement?

Carol and I have several ways to keep the fires kindled, ways that each of us uses to keep our inner child engaged until our next visit to the Most Magical Place on Earth. Here are a few of the things we do!

Scrapbooking
Carol enjoys scrapbooking and she often keeps busy at it after one of our adventures. She relives the trip as she preserves our precious memories of it! On a week-long vacation we will often take as many as a thousand digital pictures and Carol saves every scrap of paper from the trip. Once we get home she sorts out the mementos she has gathered and they all go into a bag or box.

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The bag or box will soon contain park maps, daily time schedules, Key to the World Cards, coasters, all sorts of bits and pieces which evoke memories of the fun we had. She will sort through all the digital images and pick out a hundred or so of her favourite which she e-mails to the printer. These will be clipped, cropped, embellished and combined with some of the mementos from the bag.

Carol spends hours at her crafting table creating a beautiful scrapbook which will give us lasting memories of the magical experiences we had. The table is in our "Disney Room" so she is surrounded by her Disneyana collection while she works!

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I will sometimes pick out a few hundred pictures as well, compile them into a digital slide-show, add some titles and some pan, zoom and fade effects, dub some background music and then burn it all onto a DVD we can watch on television. We also maintain a personal blog/web site where we post reports with plenty of pictures from our adventures. We are always delighted when strangers visit our site and add comments to the online guest book. We often wonder how some of these people found our site!

Carol likes to build the hands-on scrapbook; I prefer to put together the higher-tech versions!

Reliving our previous trips through scrapbooks and blogs always whets our appetite and keeps us pumped-up as we look forward to our next adventure.

Trip Planning
Planning is another activity which we both enjoy. We always have another Disney trip or two (or three) in the planning stages and we share the planning work in a very fair and even proportion. Carol does 90% and I do 10%. Fair and square! We have an excellent travel agent who takes care of our accommodations whether we are staying in a Disney resort hotel or at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. She knows exactly what we like and always gets us the best deal available! We do the rest. Carol scours the Internet to determine hours of operation at the parks and then begins to lay out a trip plan. Each trip has its own folder filled with trip related documents.

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Naturally I add the planned trips to our web site to keep it as up-to-date as possible.

If it’s a camping trip I am involved in the planning too. I use our GPS program to plot the course we will take on our southbound drive. We try to change our route from time to time to give us some variety and to see some new sights. I look up campgrounds along the way, pick out some likely candidates for our overnight stays and sent the list of prospects to senior management for review. Carol has veto rights! Once the boss has blessed the route I make all the campground reservations and other arrangements for the RV. Our northbound trip home is always the same, a 1,405 mile four-day dash with stops at Walterboro SC, Wytheville VA and Harrisburg PA before we arrive home.

Regardless of where we stay, Carol’s first priority is determining the theme park hours. Once they are announced she sets the days we will allocate to each park. We normally don’t want to visit a park which has “Extra Magic Hours”; they are usually too busy. The park days are then laid out on her “Trip Calendar” grid.

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This is a very important document! During the trip it’s in her pocket or purse at all times, a very handy quick reference guide!

Soon she begins to make our dining plans. Where do we eat? We have some favourite restaurants which we always visit, ‘Ohana and Le Cellier, but we like to change the others around a bit so we can have some variety. Once the reservations are made all of these details are recorded on the Trip Calendar along with information on park hours, times for fireworks shows, etc.

Carol is almost as excited when she plans a trip as she is when we’re actually on the trip!

Pin Trading Meets
Carol has been an active Disney Pin Trader since 2001 and we have met some wonderful people through that hobby. About ten years ago she found a link on the Internet that told about a small group of pin traders in Toronto who met occasionally in a library to trade. It was only about 45 miles from our home so off we went to investigate. We had great fun with these new-found Canadian traders and we went to these library meets for a few years.

Over the years the meets have evolved, now there are fewer of us but we have become good friends and we meet in each other’s homes several times a year instead of the library. There isn’t much trading anymore! We chatter about the parks, compare notes on our upcoming travel plans, talk about new pins and Vinylmations, and occasionally we trade pins. The trading really has become secondary to the friendships we have made with these folks. We love to hear about their recent Disney trips and they like to hear about ours. We all seem to live vicariously through each other’s experiences.

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When Carol travels to New Jersey to trade pins or attends the annual EPCOT Pin Event this group of “Toronto Traders” will be there as well and she hangs with them!

Discussion Groups
Online discussion groups are another way we keep our enthusiasm alive. There are a number of Disney Fan sites on the Internet and we dabbled in a few of them before settling on our favourite, Tagrel.com.

We find Tagrel to be the friendliest site in the Disney fan community and since our first involvement with the forums there, about eight years ago, we have made some good and lasting friends. We have met our Tagrel friends at the parks, we have sailed with them, we have celebrated with them and we have grieved with them. Some of them are almost like family!

The site itself has a forum which contains a number of discussion themes or “Threads” where members post messages and have discussions. There are threads devoted to hobbies, specific Disney parks, other theme parks, Disney Cruise Line, personal trip reports, Disney news and rumours and many more. Of course there’s always plenty of chatter about our next group meeting at the parks. At least once a year we try to draw as many Tagrel community members as possible together at the parks.

We call these events “Tag-O-Mania” when we go to Walt Disney World and “Tag-A-Venture” when we head to Disneyland. Wherever we meet we always have a great time; we gather as a group to ride on attractions and we gather for group meals. Things often get a bit zany!

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We have contests and friendly competitions. Imagine that you have just been given a list of cryptic clues about some specific locations or items in the Magic Kingdom. There are 30 clues to point you to 30 different locations. You and your small team are allotted 90 minutes to solve the riddles, figure out the clues and then run around the park taking pictures of the revealed locations. It’s a challenging photo scavenger hunt which leads you on a high speed adventure around the park. It’s great fun.

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The Tagrel.com site has brought us a great deal of enjoyment and some wonderful friends; it has become a very important part of our lives. It’s one more way we keep the magic alive every day!

AllEars Weekly Newsletter
Every Tuesday night, like clockwork the AllEars newsletter arrives. We are one of about 143,000 households which receive this fact-filled and fun-filled electronic update on all things Disney. It is the most current, accurate and comprehensive source we have found for late breaking Disney news!

Every week there are pointers and tips provided by readers from around the world, some awesome photographs, an interesting feature article, information about upcoming events and specifics about those all-important AllEars meets. Regular features include restaurant and hotel reviews, menu updates and previews of new attractions or refurbishments.

If you need to know what’s open, what’s closed, what’s down for refurbishment or who’s playing at the “Flower Power”, “Eat to the Beat” or “Sounds Like Summer” concerts in the America Gardens Theatre then you need to subscribe to the AllEars newsletter. Just go to the bottom of the AllEars.net main page and click on “Subscribe Here” to start receiving this free newsletter. It will give a weekly recharge to your Disney batteries!

So, those are a few of the main things we do to keep our excitement high between trips. Of course there are many other ways, you can listen to Disney music, you can tune in to online Disney radio stations, you can listen to one of the many Disney themed podcasts, the list goes on and on.

How about you? Do you have any interesting or unique ways to keep the magic alive? Please share them with a comment below!

The previous post in this blog was Disney Animation Cels.

The next post in this blog is Garage Sale Gold.

Comments (10)

Steve Smith:

I occasionally use Google Earth as a source of virtual pixie dust. I zoom in to the park or resort of choice and sort of wander around, letting memory fill in the blanks. These arial views also reveal the behind-the-scenes infrastructure, which may dilute the magic for some. However, for me at least, it reinforces my admiration for the talents of the Imagineers.

Thank you and your colleagues at AllEars.net for sharing your experiences and expertise. As the Genie said, your blogs provide new information to "illuminate the possibilities."

Wendy Crober:

What a great article Gary...it's always fun to see that there are people exactly like "us" (you know Disney people!) that love it and live it everyday as we do.

We too love to plan as much as go on the trips - it merely extends the enjoyment. We have planning BBQ's and indoor dinners (we live in Canada too!). Our kids love it as much as we do and they need to see copies of the all important trip spreadsheet which contains very similar information that Carol's does. We all carry it around when we're in the park so everyone knows where and when the next dining reservation is.

There are 11 of us going December 30th for a split stay between Riverside and OKW and we can't wait. We are definitely working on keeping the magic alive.

Wendy

Lisa Zitek:

I am luv'n your guest blogs, Gary. I think you can add that to your list of keeping the magic alive between visits.

I too scrapbook, listen to Disney park music, plan on the next trip, make Mickey shaped waffles, cookies, brownies etc, and daydream about my happy place.

Visiting AllEars every day helps too! Cheers to you and Carol!

Lisa

Joni:

So nice to know there are others out there like my Mom and I.

We are huge Disney fans and have gone every year since 1972. We are DVC members also. Not alot of my friends or family think the same way ha. "Why don't you go somewhere else for Vacation" But I love it there. You can do almost anything you can do anywhere else at Disney.

Got me wondering what will I do when my mom is no longer around. Go by myself?

So it is nice to know there are crazy Disney Fans out there I can look up and meet at Walt Disney World.

Well done, Gary.

I really enjoy your guest blog series and I hope we get to see you and Carol again real soon.

Matt:

Great entry!!

Seeing that it is usually a couple of years between visits for me, I love to "listen" to videos of attractions that people post on Youtube.

I listen to these on my iPhone at work everyday and it helps me maintain some of that magic.

Maria:

Thanks for the blog.

I always make a "Disney Things to Do" itinerary. First page has all the new attractions we've never done, restaurants we want to try and any special events. The second page is actually the itinerary that I carry with me - which parks we visit on what days and nights, reservations, pool time, the usual.

When we get home I "update" it to things we "actually did do" (you know how some plans change, added magical moments, etc.) and revise. Whenever I need my fix, I open them up and reminisce and it always makes me smile!

Casey:

I really enjoyed reading your blog.

My family and friends think I am "Disney Crazy" and they are right. I absolutely love Disney World. It is mine and my childrens favorite place to vacation. I only wish I could afford to go every year. We have been able to go every other year since 2008 with our children. I have also been two other times,once on mine and my husbands honeymoon and then once as a chaperone with a high school group.

I love the planning stage of our trips. I really like your wife's calendar that you have a picture of and may do something like that for our upcoming trip in October. I haven't ever really been one to do scrapbooking but after seeing the pictures of your wife's I may have to look at doing something like that for our next trip.

Thank you again for sharing your tips on keeping the magic alive. I am counting down the days (108) until our next trip and every day that it gets closer I get a little more excited.

Peg:

Great blog Gary!

Since my husband and I can only visit Disney World every other year it is vital that I get my Disney fix during the years we don't visit. To do this I visit the Disney Store at my local mall, peruse All Ears every day and listen to Mouse World Radio which plays music from around the parks. I also watch the various programs about the Disney parks that are on The Travel or History Channel from time to time.

Thankfully we only have 63 days until our next Disney World trip so the "Magic" is alive and well at our house.

Bobbie Ann:

Hi Gary,

I love your blogs. We do many of the same things, calendars, scrapbooking etc. and our friends think we are crazy because we go to WDW once or twice a year.

We have a "Monorail Room" in our home. Each room is decorated with our Disney treasures right down to our Disney themed light switch plates.

Our next trip is January 2013 and will be staying at OKW. We live in NH not too far from Canada!

Thanks to you and Carol for helping keep the magic alive!!

Bobbie Ann

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 8, 2012 8:53 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Disney Animation Cels.

The next post in this blog is Garage Sale Gold.

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