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MousePlanet Mailbag for May 13, 2004

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.

In today's mailbag, Mike shares the last of batch of the tremendous amount of feedback he got from his article “The Disney Zone,” which ran on March 19. Our apologies for not being able to run more; Mike says it's set a record for the amount of feedback he got (and so much of it involves readers sharing their personal experiences), and this is still just a fraction of the comments he got.

Feedback for Scoping the Parks – Mike Scopa

Kelly writes:

Mike: Yes, I agree 100 percent with you on the “Disney Zone” theory. As a child, I grew up with Cinderella, Snow White, and Mickey and Minnie, and the yearly visits to Walt Disney World, with parents who enjoyed it as much as we did. I ask my parents once why we drove all the way from Kansas to Orlando every year. They responded, “You girls loved going and you wanted to go back every year, and your dad and I always knew that the time and memories from those trips would be with us forever!”

So, yes, it is true if you are brought up surrounded by all things “Disney” and the good times you have and the good feelings it inspires it will pass on to your children and so on. My daughter has been raised on the “newer” Disney of all the Princesses and Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast and Finding Nemo and yearly visits to the park and she is only 5! I know these memories will be with her for a lifetime!

Every time I enter the park, even now at 35, I enter the “Disney Zone.” I become a child with my child and I turn and look at a ride or attraction and I see myself as a child with my parents; laughing because my mom did not like heights and we made her ride Dumbo and my sister and I always took it as high as it would go! Or my dad who couldn't go in circles, so always waited while my sister and I and our mom rode the carousel and he was always waiting with these yummy grape drinks for us at the end. It was and still is always so fun and innocent and a place to go and be a kid again and again.

Hi Kelly – Your letter reminded me of my first visit to WDW with my children.

I think when they saw how WDW affected me they recognized how “okay” it was for Dad to act like a kid again and that it was okay to get sept up in the Disney Zone.

My wife has often said that the Disney our children grew up with has made Disney-MGM Studios their equivalent for what the Magic Kingdom means to the Baby Boomers.

As long as there's a place for everyone to be a child again, there will always be a smile somewhere.

Cindi writes:

I have a theory, and I believe it coincides with your opinions on why some people cannot get enough Disney Magic. For me, it does go back to my childhood. Watching The Wonderful World of Disney with my brothers and sisters, knowing that getting to Disneyland was completely out of reach for us, feeling like I was missing out on something fundamental. And now, going to WDW when I want (often!), bringing our children and grandchildren, and of course, many times just the two of us, is the culmination of a dream come true. It IS magic.

I was truly relieved to see someone else feels the same way. Almost like a support group.

Thank you for your great columns!

Hi Cindi – There's that theory again which calls for this to all begin in our childhood. You are absolutely correct when you say that going to DL or WDW appear to be something fundamental in life.

And yes… it is magic… magic that many have tried to copy… but have failed.

Colleen writes:

It's funny that I came across your article today. Just last evening, a friend of my 12-year-old daughter got to “see” the Magic of Disney 'live.' Her friend spent the night and the girls were watching videos when we went to bed. She wanted to see some home movies. My daughter put in a video of a family vacation to Walt Disney World. As they sat and watched the movie, her friend, who knows my older son that acts like the typical older annoying brother to his sister, asked my daughter, “What happened to Kirk? He is so sweet there!” Disney had placed my kids in “the zone” and they became so sweet and kind to each other, it's no wonder I live to get us all back to “the zone” again!

Hi Colleen – I would guess that the scene you described may very well have been played in many more households.

I think you have aptly pointed out that one of the effects of being in The Disney Zone is that it brings families closer together.

We can't get too much of that these days.

Prolific MousePlanet trip report writer Sheri Niklewski writes:

Mike,

I just wanted to tell you that I forwarded your recent article to everyone in my family that just doesn't quite get why I keep going back to Disney World. It summed everything up so nicely. I'm also going to print it out and show it to coworkers when they question my sanity about going back three times in six weeks. Thanks for a great article!

Hi Sheri – Sometimes it's tough to express the way you feel about something until you actually put it down in words. I am flattered by your comments and hope that our words (after all, don't we share these thoughts?) will help you make friends, family, and coworkers understand why we feel the way we feel.

A return to WDW three times in six weeks?

Sounds pretty sane to me.

Joe Jaccarino writes:

I think our family's Disney Zone is entering Epcot. We have years worth of pictures of my boys (now 10 & 11) in front of the BALL! It always brings a tear to my eye watching the fireworks at the World Showcase. It's like there is some hope for peace in our world. It's a warm safe feeling seeing the looks on my wife and the boys faces. A deep sense of happiness and contentness [sic]. No matter how many days we're at WDW, we always call down to the desk at the Swan and tell them we're staying for two more days. It's getting to the point where they ask when we check in. I always tell them (in front of the boys), “I'm not sure yet, wink wink.” After about four days into our trip, we make the call so we stay two more days!

Hi Joe – Your letter hit home with me. I also have the same kind of memories.

Being at WDW with my family meant that we were not just together 24 hours a day but we were immersed in an environment that pretty much guaranteed we would create great memories and grow stronger as a family.

On those moments that families watch fireworks, all is well with their lives and all stress and worries are nonexistent.

I think many families have been strengthened by trips to Disneyland or WDW and return trips just reinforce that bond.

Michael F. Ames writes:

Thanks so much for the Disney Zone article. I feel exactly the same. I grew up in Southern California, and went to Disneyland quite often. I have the most wonderful memories. My friends don't understand. I thought there was something odd about me. But I guess I'm not alone. Each time I'm leaving Disneyland, I feel sad, and I also want to thank Walt for the beautiful gift he left the world.

Again, Thanks for expressing your feelings! You speak for so many!

Hi Mike – By all means you are not alone. You are part of a universe of individuals who are fortunate to have some place to which they can go and escape the stress and worries of every day life.

Like you I too have friends who don't understand why we feel the way we feel… and I feel sorry for them.

Dan Young writes:

It's most interesting that you would post this subject, Mike. With a WDW trip coming up, I was asked by a colleague to explain what the attraction was, why the repeat visits. It's really hard to put it in words, but I know it when I experience it. I always say my life has two states—outside a Disney park, and inside a Disney park. There's just some invisible connection to my own first visit to Disneyland when I was 6. I was hooked, and remain so to this day.

It's really gratifying to take a friend, family member or coworker to a park for the first time, even when I just about have to hogtie him to get him to go with me. Within a couple hours of arrival, you can see it in his face. And almost always at some point in the day he will turn to me and say, “OK, now I get it!”

Hi Dan – I had the pleasure one year of bringing a family to WDW for their first visit. I was able to really give them insight on certain areas and in fact got quite a vicarious thrill from that experience.

They have never forgotten that visit and have returned on their own several times.

Sometimes I dream about the perfect job… helping a family plan their first visit to WDW and then going along with them to help them understand how best to make the most out of their vacation and at the same time watch them enter the Disney Zone.

If you hear of such a job please let me know.

Larry Hart writes:

Mike,

My wife and I are huge Disney fans. we see all the movies, buy them on DVD and get the soundtracks. We are actually doing my home office in a Disney theme. We have both loved everything Disney our whole lives recently concluded that the Disney Zone must start at childhood. Her cousin finds nothing special with Disneyland, nothing at all, and when I first heard this from him, my jaw dropped to the floor. I was dumbfounded. I had to laugh because it sounded so ridiculous.

The next day I talked to my boss, another huge Disney fan, and he said the same thing about the Disney Zone starting at a young age. He went when he was younger and has gone almost every year ever since. his wife is also the same way.

Hi Larry – Your letter pretty much echoes some of the experiences I have had when talking with people about this thing we call The Disney Zone.

There's no doubt that those of us who are “Disney-touched” early in life are opening the door and peeking into the Disney Zone.

Kathleen writes:

When I read your article about the Disney Zone, I found myself nodding in agreement all the way through. I never really stopped to think about it before, but I realized that I have experienced that special magic (zone). Like you mentioned, it has a deep connection to childhood memories and carefree ways.

My husband and I first became enchanted with WDW in 1995 when we visited for a week holiday. Since then, we have been back for our honeymoon and again for our fifth anniversary. We are expecting our first child this year and she is a Disney Baby, conceived while we were at WDW for our anniversary. We don't get a chance to go back every year as we live in Canada on the West Coast, but we definitely associate it with special times in our lives and will make it our children's first vacation with mom and dad so that they too can have that special fondness for a place that is so dear to our hearts. WDW is a magical place where you can leave the “real” world behind and create! Happy memories with friends and loved ones.

Thank you for putting that feeling, the zone, into words for I have never been able to explain to people why Disney holds a special place in my heart. I have enjoyed your article and am happy to know that so many others feel the way that I do.

Hi Kathleen – Congratulations on your upcoming special event. Your children will no doubt be indoctrinated into the Disney magic.

I think your best memories are ahead of you.

Bobbi writes:

What do you think about how being a passholder and a frequent (say once a month) visitor affects children? I have this theory that children with annual passes may not as easily appreciate the Disney, or be as easily able to find themselves in the Disney Zone, if it is something that is so common in their lives (going to the parks, and also, having instant access to Disney movies to watch over and over again may contribute?)

I am younger then the majority group you described… I am 25… and I grew up in Huntington Beach, a 30-minute drive from Disneyland. Yet I only went to the park about once a year and it was always a huge, special, all-day event. I fear that children who go to Disneyland for a few hours at a time, frequently, are going to miss that… the magic of arriving at the park just as it is waking up, watching the morning drift into noon, the softening lights of the afternoon, the chill of the evening, and then the way disney lights up at night… And then, when you return to Disneyland, the way certain parts of the day, certain angles of the light, can bring back the strongest sense of deja vu… “I know that one time I was standing in line for Pirates when the sky looked like this…”

I love Disney, and as an adult, I can easily get into the Disney Zone whether visiting for an hour, a day, or at WDW for a week or more… but when I have my children… I don't know yet whether I want them to have the passes like i have, or if I want them to have infrequent, special visits until they're older… so that I can do everything I can to encourage them to find the Disney Zone.

Hi Bobbi – I've had this discussion many times with friends. Obviously the level of appreciation drops as the frequency of trips rises.

If we had Christmas every month would it seem as special as it does now?

I have heard some people claim they are all “Disneyed-out” because they've made numerous trips in a short window of time.

These same people may not have experienced the same feeling on their last trip as they had in previous trips because they have basically been overexposed to the surroundings or the time between trips was too short.

Many people have said to me that they would love to live in WDW and that they would visit the parks every day.

It sounds good but after a year would the magic still be there?

I think you are doing the right thing to limit your children's visits. Continue to keep these visits on a special level so as to properly nurture their experience and help them discover their own Disney Zone.

Kris Powell writes:

Hey Mike! Great article! It makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one who tears up just thinking about memories from our Disney vacations. Just reading your article made me cry—just thinking about being there—especially the Kiss Goodnight. I almost feel like “Uncle Walt” is there.

I didn't become so fanatic about WDW until a few years ago while planning our first trip “with kids”—our then-3-year-old child. That week away from home and work and anything that causes stress was such a blessing. We have since gone back on trips for each of our younger sons. We all love being at WDW—so much so that it was the one thing we all agreed that we totally love and used that to name our new puppy—Disney. I'm not sure while I have late onset Disneyitis, but it has become my absolute favorite place to be. I started planning our next trip even before we finished our last trip to WDW.

Hi Kris —Some 14 years ago I first heard the term “Disneyitis” and understood what that term meant.

However it wasn't until the 1990's that the concept of the Disney Zone began to surface. To me the Zone first appeared on my first trip to WDW with my children. That's when it really hit home.

Enjoying WDW with your children can sometimes produce emotions that you may never have expected… good emotions.

You are absolutely right… WDW is a blessing… that relieves stress.

Give Disney a nice ear rub for me.

Jennie writes:

I read your article on the MousePlanet site and about started crying at my desk. Just thought you should know how nice it was to hear other peoples weird emotion surges during fireworks or a show. I have these feelings often at the park I fight the urge to cry, afraid to feel like a freak. I forwarded the site to my parents and sister and hope they will read it and we can talk about the good memories we have.

It truly is the most magical, happy place on earth

Hi Jennie — Y'know, there's nothing wrong with shedding tears of joy. What's wrong is that some people never “get it” with Disney.

I'm glad you enjoyed the article… I enjoyed finally writing it.

Leigh Henline writes:

I just finished reading your follow-up to your original “The Zone” article. I had meant to comment ages ago! I must do it now!

I could have written that. I really could have. What IS it about the Parks? Doggone it, what IS it about walking under the railroad tracks and onto Main Street? I cry every time! We started taking our twin boys to Disneyland when they were 5 in 1992. We live in Nebraska, so we can only go once a year. But we go every year. We have to. We call it “Our Happy Place.” We leave all our worries outside the gates. We forget our deadlines and our struggles. We come to play. American families are so swept up into the “race” that they have forgotten how to play. Thank you Walt for giving us that chance to play once again. And thank you Mike for helping us know we are not alone!

Hi Leigh – And thank you for those kind words. Yes, I think everyone could write quite a few words about their own Disney Zone experiences.

Rob writes:

Yes, it happens to me, too. When I walk under the train station and come out on Main Street, I know I'm in my favorite place on earth.The music, the sounds, the smells that flow over Main Street, U.S.A. bring back the times when my parents brought me and my sisters to Disney World. When I married my wife 7 years ago, we went to the World. She was like, “I really don't want to go.” We've been every year that we've been married and have been taking my 15-year-old stepson since he was 8, and our 5-year-old since he was 20 months old. We go to all four parks, but the Magic Kingdom will always be my favorite. I know my wife has the Disney Zone, too.When we are deciding to go back or not one year from the next, she always says, “We are going back, no, ands, ifs or buts about it.” Thanks for a great article.

Hi Rob – Imagine what you and your wife would have missed out if you decided, because of her feelings, not to go to WDW.

Sometimes it takes only one trip to convince someone… sometimes two...and unfortunately sometimes there's never enough for some people. They just don't get it.

Carol writes:

I have just read your piece on the Disney Zone and have tears streaming down my face because I know exactly what you mean. I have so often tried to explain to others and yet it is difficult to convey the emotion felt on visiting Disney World. I also leave all my cares at the gate and become 10 years old again.

I have spent all my life in the UK so did not have the benefit of Sunday night Disney when growing up in the '50s and '60s, I just knew when I first walked through the gates into the Magic Kingdom that I had found that very special place of sanctuary I had been looking for all my life. I can't explain it, but I just cried tears of joy and knew that I would never again be completely happy when away from it. If I see an advert on the TV I cry, I just need to be there. I bought two houses 10 mins from Disney so that I could always be there in spirit when I could not be there in reality.

I am visiting again very soon and can't wait to get to Disney and feel that joy! I too say thank you to Walt for his wonderful vision and the great joy he brings to so many people.

Hi Carol – You are not the first to compare The Magic Kingdom to a sanctuary... and you won't be the last.

Hmmmm, 10 minutes from the magic, eh?

Sounds like you've figured out a quick cure for Disneyitis.

Danny writes:

Boy, did this hit a nerve. I had always wondered why it is that I always listen to park music or the need to watch home videos and pictures from our vacations to Disney World. I am not the typical Disney fanatic with tons of Disney items all over the house, in fact, I only have 1 Mickey Bobble head on the TV. But there is definately that 'subconscious' and overwhelming suggestion in my mind to get back to Florida and experience those moments again. No other place has this effect even tho there are still great memories at other places such as Busch Gardens, Hershey park, Paramount Kings Dominion and Six flags. Just not the magic. Hope it never fades.

Danny – You're right. There's no denying that other theme parks offer the chance at making great memories but they would be hard pressed to duplicate the Disney magic that many of us feel when visiting a Disney theme park.

Andrea Casavant writes:

Mike,

Your story about being in the Disney Zone, made me realize I am not the only person who feels this way. I get this feeling when I first enter the resort parking lot that this where I belong. I took my aunt with me for her first time last year and I explained to her that the feeling wouldn't really hit until she saw the castle, and she later told me how right I was. Every time I go it is an amazing feeling and a major let down when I need to get on the place back to Rhode Island. Thanks for letting me see that I am not the only one who gets that teary eyed feeling when I am there.

Hi Andrea – You are definitely not the only person who discovers the emotional effect that the Disney Zone brings to them. I think that for years many of us have felt this way but weren't sure if others felt the same way.

Well, now we know.

They do.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.

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