The 7 Best Reasons to Be Thankful for Disney
Thanksgiving is finally here, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for Disney fans to think about the things that we love in the Disneyverse. On this special occasion when we all have so much to appreciate, let’s list a few reasons why we’re all thankful for Disney.
1) Thanks for the Memories!
A trip to a Disney theme park is the rare vacation that stands the test of time. That’s a seemingly grandiose statement, but it’s based in fact. Many people can recite specific details of their first visit to a Disney theme park. And if they can’t, their parents most assuredly can.
At Disney, priceless moments are always possible. Previously, I’ve mentioned the randomness of my father eating the best fries of his entire life at Magic Kingdom. I’ve also discussed the time that Pluto stole my iPhone and started taking dozens of pictures of his eyeballs. And I can add that moment when a little girl standing in line to meet Marie randomly turned around and gave me a high-five, as if we had been best friends forever. She cackled mightily, euphoric over the fact that she and I were about to hang out with a six-foot-tall cat. Memories like this are possible anywhere at any time, but they seem more likely to happen at Disney.
2) Thanks for Ohana!
My family is close-knit. I understand that not everyone in life is fortunate enough to have a sibling with whom they can comfortably go on vacation. Too many people face uncomfortable social situations that prevent such familiarity. But that’s also the beauty of Disney.
Even troubled families who aren’t on the best of terms have fond memories stemming from Disney vacations. They can recount moments when everyone laid down their burdens for a time and came together, celebrating the joy of Space Mountain or embracing the repetitive but passionate optimism of It’s a Small World. For whatever reason, Disney brings out the best in people.
3) Thanks for the Entertainment!
I’ve written literally hundreds of guides, suggestions, and tips about how to spend time at Disney theme parks. I’ve done this for two American theme parks, a Japanese one, and a Chinese one, and I’ve thrown in Aulani in Hawaii for good measure. What I can say after writing hundreds of thousands of words about Disney trips is that the entertainment options are almost incalculable.
As cliché as the statement sounds, Disney truly has something for everyone. Fans of exotic foreign lands can travel with Adventures by Disney. Guests seeking a simple beachfront vacation can head to Aulani…or Vero Beach…or Hilton Head. And people who want to spend the same day at the Louvre and hanging out with Mickey Mouse can visit Disneyland Paris.
All of these statements are merely the basics. The specific details of an itinerary at a Disney vacation destination are infinite in scope. You can try to ride everything at Magic Kingdom, or you can watch every show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or you can interact with every creature at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Alternately, you can hang out at the pool at your resort and get a tan, something we’ve done at both Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
The Walt Disney Company has a market cap of $160 billion, and their core business model is entertainment. It all started with a mouse, and movies like Coco, Thor: Ragnarok, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi continue to keep Disney atop the entertainment world today. Every moment at a Disney theme park, you have limitless entertainment potential more than anywhere else on the planet.
4) Thanks for the Feast!
Walt Disney World alone has hundreds of restaurants, some of which are in the conversation for best overall eatery in the United States. Seriously, Victoria & Albert’s is one of the top two restaurants in the country according to TripAdvisor. And I don’t even view it as the best value at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
The Walt Disney Company imports chefs and servers from all around the world. The cuisines available on the Disney campus meet one of Walt Disney’s ultimate goals. He wanted a daily World’s Fair with international flavors on full display for park visitors to enjoy. Cast members can hang a shiny “Mission accomplished!” banner on that one.
Thanksgiving is a time when we celebrate delicious food with loved ones. Disney theme parks and resorts are some of the best vacation destinations in the world for those flavors. And at Disney, turkey legs are an everyday thing, not a once-a-year thing!
5) Thanks for the Awesome Cast!
Everyone who visits a Disney theme park for a few days winds up with a story about amazing customer service. It’s inevitable because exemplary employee behavior is genetically encoded in the DNA of The Walt Disney Company. Disney has literally written the book on customer service, and they host seminars wherein they teach their expertise in this field to other companies.
The last time that we visited Walt Disney World, my wife and I recorded more than 30 examples of extraordinary cast member behavior during a 10-night stay. In other words, we had as many wonderful employee encounters as we had meals on our trip!
A woman at the Germany Pavilion heard that we’d been at Disney for a month out of the past year. So, she gave us a free bag of caramel popcorn as a 30-day anniversary gift. Devin at Chef Mickey’s controlled the flow of traffic so much that I kind of forgot to watch the costumed characters for a while. Instead, I stared in awe as she navigated dozens of tables, skillfully engaging with the characters while making sure that every guest had a memorable encounter with their favorites. And the folks at Sci-Fi Dine-In actually gave me a special card designating that I’m a returning time traveler to their wonderful restaurant. It still hangs on my refrigerator.
These are but a few of the amazing interactions that my family has enjoyed with cast members over the past year. I could go on but since you’re also a Disney fanatic, you understand my point. No company in the world has employees who take pride in their work to the degree that Disney’s do. I’m thankful for each and every one of them.
6) Thanks for the Feats of Imagineering!
In a time before Silicon Valley, the internet, Microsoft, or Apple, the finest inventors in the world worked for Walt Disney. He took tremendous pride in the performance of the employees at WED Enterprises. And the greatest professional triumph of his life came at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, when four of the five most popular pavilions were ones that Disney’s team built.
Imagineers invented the Audio-Animatronic, the Omnimover, Circle-Vision 360° film techniques, and the FastPass system. They’ve earned more than 100 patents and built theme parks, shopping centers, restaurants, and hotel resorts. They are the unquestioned masters of innovation at Disney as well as the honored keepers of Uncle Walt’s legacy. Each time you visit any building with the Disney name on it, the incredible feats of Imagineers stare you in the face.
7) Thanks for the Sense of Community!
The most wonderful aspect of the human condition is the ability to share joy and life experiences with others. A Disney theme park represents the height of this ability, as perfect strangers come together to celebrate the same characters, themes, and attractions. It’s the Happiest Place on Earth by design, and everyone joins in that contact high, relishing in the euphoria of the moment.
Frankly, I’m the best version of myself when I’m at Disney, and I feel like that’s true of many people. The positive reinforcement is ubiquitous, and it elevates all of us to show kindness and generosity of spirit. At the same time, we get to embrace the things that we love the best. The mouse ears, the fireworks exhibitions, the character meetings, and rides like Splash Mountain all unite us as a people.
In a time of great political divide, when people fear awkward conversations at holiday dinners, Disney is somehow the simplest way for people to get along. At a Disney theme park, everyone is a part of the same community, the one where childhood joy and wonder is on display in every corner. Simply stated, Disney brings out the best in all of us. For that, we are all thankful.