The first time my parents took me to Walt Disney World, I think I was maybe four years old. And we went back the following year when I was five. In all, I think I've been there about eight times over the course of my life.
Going as an adult is very different from going as a child. The scale of the place is unreal. The details and surprises are genuinely shocking. Disney always seems to make me feel wonder again. It erases all my cynicism.
This trip was especially great because my friend N joined me. It was her first time at WDW and we were celebrating the publication of her collection of short fiction. It was fun to get to tell her about what things used to be like and to show here my favorite parts: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, The Haunted Mansion, it's a small world, and The Carousel of Progress. We also enjoyed the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT which was kind of incredible and delicious and fun.
People love Disney for a reason: all castmembers are kind and friendly, the atmosphere is genuinely magical, and the nostalgia is perfectly cultivated. It was the middle of the week in mid-October and the place was packed. It's not perfect and it can certainly become cloying if you stay too long...but we had a really wonderful time and I found myself laughing and smiling more than I've done in a while. I think N felt similarly.
I'll always love WDW. It holds a special place in my heart because I first experienced it when I was so young. This trip confirmed a few things for me and gave me some food for thought. It also gave me a chance to spend some real quality time with a great friend.