It’s no shock that Disney is considered the happiest place on earth. While there, people are on vacation, constantly bombarded with food, entertainment, and a plethora of things to do to fit any age/preference. The resorts are beautiful, the shows are extravagant, and activities range from paddle boating and golfing to carriage rides, fireworks, and of course all sorts of amusement park rides. However, if you look around, you’ll see parents struggling with screaming toddlers, teenagers moping over well whatever it is teenagers mope about, and grandparents (well, that age anyway;) griping about “all these kids!!” (I had an unpleasant experience when Bianca enthusiastically ran into an older woman who frowned at her and then complained about how of course she got run into- never mind my profuse apologies or Bianca’s beaming smile and exclamation “hi hi hi”- which were ignored.)
Now,I’m not saying that this is a constant situation at Disney- there were tons of happy vacationers and we met so many friendly people who were happily engaged by Bianca’s enthusiastic greetings and Anya’s sweet shy little princess self. People were polite and helpful (someone gave up a seat on the bus for me and the girls and Jonathan and/or I were often helped with the stroller etc) more often than not. I’m just pointing out that the vacationers are NOT the reason it’s a happy place.
The thing that came as the biggest surprise to me was not the food (overall it gets a solid C…maybe), or the lines (I was pretty much expecting hour waits for some rides but we never did wait that except to meet tinker bell and that was worth it), but the employees. I have never ever been somewhere that there were so many people who loved their jobs. And, let me tell you, I’m not talking about management or people who sit in plush offices. I’m talking about the woman who ushered us on to “Soarin” with an “I wish I was going on with you!” and a huge smile after several minutes of small talk. Our carriage ride driver who revealed that she’d been doing it for 10 or so years and her father had done it for 25+ years before her. And, the bus driver who admitted that he loved his job so much he’d been doing it for 20 years and was ready for more. These jobs are not what I’d pick as my ideal job- heck I don’t think this would even make the top 50 for most people. So, why are they so happy??? Heck if I know other than that they work at Disney World and who doesn’t want to go to Disney World every day?? Sure, there were some harried employees here or there (all photo pass photographers are not created equal, and for that matter neither are the disney princesses). But, overall, it was just shocking that everyone was just so NICE.
There was the waiter at Cinderella’s castle who brought out an extra meal for Bianca even though we hadn’t ordered one and she wasn’t on our meal plan. There was the person at Wolfgang Puck Express in downtown Disney who gave us an extra cookie just because. And, the mickey stickers. I have never been given so many stickers in my life (not that my girls actually wanted them but never mind that- it’s the thought that counts!), every employee stops to greet you and they’re all eager to pass on some stickers from a massive roll (maybe they could decrease prices if they stopped giving away so many darned stickers- think of the trees=)!
Then, there were the princesses. Oh my Disney princesses. I guess it’s their job to be friendly but think of it- they must meet about 25-50 kids an hour, yet they’re all so darned cheerful! I loved watching their reactions to Anya and Bianca almost as much as I loved watching Anya and Bianca’s to them!
Tinker Bell nearly bounced across the room to greet them and a whole little tickle fest ensued. It was precious.
The girls got hugs from every single princess they met and even got kisses from Ariel (whom they met four times and each and every one of those Ariels was wonderful).
Even the characters in full costume were fun.
We had a great time dancing with Lilo, Stitch, Thumper, Miss Bunny, and Flick (from a Bug’s Life) at Animal Kingdom. Stitch was especially sweet with Bianca and Flick kept pulling Anya in to swing with him (or her- who knows who’s in those costumes!).
There were moments when our vacation was less than ideal and not every single second was “magical.” But, we had fun, and a large part of that was due to the great, happy employees who went out of their way to make sure we did!