Should you move to Orlando to be as close to the magic as possible? It is a question that some of us Disney fans have probably asked ourselves on more than a few occasions. When you are in Walt Disney World for your vacation, everything seems to be a little bit brighter, food (even expensive quick service food) tastes better than it would at a restaurant in your home town, and there is plenty of fun to be had by all. Simply put, the prospect of moving to Orlando, Florida is something that many of us have considered . . . after all, access to the Mouse 365 days a year sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? For me, the Disney sirens’ song eventually won out and I packed my bags and headed east.
For those of you currently struggling with the decision to make the move to Disney, this article is not intended to weigh the benefits and the drawbacks of quitting your job or relocating your family. A decision such as this is very personal in nature and quite frankly it is not a topic that can easily be covered in a column such as mine. However, what I intend to do this week is to share some of my experiences and observations I have made since I moved to Orlando in June 2008. Hopefully you will be able to gain some insight on how a Disney fan from afar can be affected by moving next door to the Mouse.
For starters, let me tell you having lived in Hawaii, I was all about listening to Disney podcasts, reading websites, and buying books about Disney and Walt Disney World. I wanted to be as close to the magic as possible, and that often entailed delving into the numerous Disney fan communities out there. And even though I lived in Hawaii, I came to Walt Disney World quite frequently (3 times in 2007). It was after Mousefest 2007 that I decided to make a big change in my life and make the big move across country.
Since moving here, my view of Walt Disney World has evolved some. While I originally thought of it as a place where I could just ride Expedition Everest or Splash Mountain, there really is a lot more to do around property. Being here all year round has provided me (and continues to provide me) with the opportunity to experience some new things I did not have the chance to do before. For example, last fall was my first time at the Food and Wine Festival. This year, I’m looking forward to walking around Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival and going to some of the unique passholder events being offered. Plus, there really is no longer a need for me to fight crowds, hang around the park when the sun and the humidity gets too unwieldy, or if the lines are too long. Having the ability to come and go as I please means less frustration at the parks…and that can be worth its weight in gold. Being able to experience new things at my own pace has made me realize how little I really saw as a regular annual guest.
It is important for me to explore and find new things to do around Disney, because I have a very real fear that one day I won’t find anything at Walt Disney World fun anymore. My mantra has been all about balancing what I do at Walt Disney World. The last thing I want is for Disney to lose its magic in my eyes. My mantra forces me to limit my time in the parks – no more all day, commando-style touring sessions, no more waiting in queues for hours on end, and no more spending every waking moment riding attractions. When I can balance the time I spend at Walt Disney World by doing other things (such as golf or some of the seasonal events being offered), the parks will hopefully never become old hat for me. A balanced approach with my time at Disney enables me to be just as excited about parkhopping as my friends or family when they come down to Orlando to experience the parks for themselves.
One of the biggest advantages to moving to Orlando is being able to befriend people who share the “Disney bug”. While I was still living in Hawaii, no one really understood my interest in Disney. I got looks when people heard I was going to Orlando again and one person even said I was a part of some sort of cult. Well, it can be awfully lonely when you don’t have someone to share the experiences at Walt Disney World with. By moving to Orlando has allowed me to connect with more people who share my interest in all things Disney. Whether it be fellow locals or friends and family who come down to Walt Disney World to visit, it is nice to be able to share some of these experiences in and out of the parks with people who have the same appreciation for the “Disney experience” as I do.
Moving to Orlando is a decision with a lot of variables. For me, the move has been a real success. Walt Disney World has proven to be the best playground for a big kid like myself. I find myself doing much more than I ever did back home. Most importantly, many people have said when talking to me that I sound a lot happier here – and I think that is the case. The move really allowed me to spread my wings a bit and try living somewhere that I knew a fair amount of people and had a great big ole sandbox next door. It was really the right call, and I’m looking forward to what the year brings!
So that’s a quick look at some of the things I’ve noticed since making the big move to Orlando. While there is a bit of worry involved with having too much of a good thing at my fingertips, with the right prospective and a circle of incredible friends and family, this really was the right decision for me.
Until next time!