Working with Disney over the last 23 years, we’ve had a unique insider’s slant on the brand that continues to captivate audiences old and young, the world over. During that time we’ve accumulated an unrivalled knowledge of everything Disney has to offer a holidaymaker, but sometimes it’s good to go back to basics and re-learn what you think you know—experience it with fresh eyes, from a consumer’s point of view.
That’s exactly what Jo and I did when we got the chance to visit Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on a week’s marketing trip in September. Tough job, I know, and yes, I can hear you all cry ‘marketing trip? More like a jolly!’ but in all seriousness, it was an invaluable trip for us both (and yes, okay, lots of fun to boot!)
We packed in so much that I really can’t begin to give you a comprehensive list, so I thought I’d share my top five magical moments…
1. Seeing the Magic Kingdom fireworks show Wishes from the viewing platform atop the Contemporary Grill fine dining restaurant. It was so perfectly timed to the music, and the fireworks were so vibrant—like nothing I’d ever seen before—that I’d have sworn it was a film or animation playing, because surely they can’t do that in real life, right?!
2. The Festival of the Lion King live show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Speechless isn’t the word for this one. It blew me away. I actually had a tear in my eye at one point. At the Lion King. What has Disney done to me?
3. Meeting Pluto (who gives a great hug), Donald (who gave me a peck on the cheek), and Minnie (who complimented me on my dress), at a fabulous Character Breakfast. Grown men abandoned their breakfasts to grab a pic with them—we were all instantly eight years old again!
4. Turtle Talk with Crush in Epcot. What a show! I’m more than aware that this is for kids, but my God was it funny.That’s the great thing about all the shows, there are bits in there for both kids and adults. In this one, Crush actually interacts with the audience, chatting to both parents and children, and calling all the kids ‘little dudes’.
5. And finally, my one age-appropriate magical moment was the delicious Frozen Szarlotka cocktail from the Poland pop-up stand as part of the Epcot Food & Wine festival. It was basically alcoholic apple pie! Think delicious stewed apple with cinnamon topped with Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka slush and a generous sprinkle of crumble topping and nuts. I could have used all my food tokens at that one stand…
‘The magic starts here’ is a phrase we use a lot, and like anything you see and use every day, it begins to lose its true meaning, and you appreciate the sentiment less. It becomes a statement, nothing more. But stepping into the real life world of Disney and being completely immersed in their unique way of storytelling through every little detail, the messaging really resonated.
My pink sequin Minnie ears are staying firmly perched on my head for the foreseeable future…