Making Magic in the Magic Kingdom

I love Disney. There, I said it. And it’s not because of the experience of reliving childhood memories or seeing my kids light up in what can only be described as pure joy and exhilaration when they meet a character from one of their favorite movies. The joy doesn’t come purely from seeing them finally step foot on a ride that they’ve been chomping at the bit to experience. Those are all great and wonderful moments that bring me a high degree of happiness, but what really drives my newly minted passion for the parks and all their glory is … people watching. The Magic Kingdom provides epic people watching, the kind that one can only experience at the mecca of amusement parks that draws guests from the local community to the farthest edges of the globe. Disney people watching is truly a magical experience that lets your imagination run wild as you piece together their life story in your head.

Making Magic in the Magic Kingdom

While there are so many unique creatures within the Magic Kingdom, some of the more noticeable character types I’ve come to enjoy include ::

The Fanatics :: Fanatics bleed Disney and will wait in line for hours and hours just to have the two minute experience of being one of the first to ride a new attraction or walk through a renovated exhibit. It’s the equivalent of “putting another notch on the belt,” if you will. God bless their dedication. Going to the parks brings them to the pinnacle of happiness and no matter how many times they have met a character, taken a picture, gotten an autograph, or enjoyed Mickey waffles at a character breakfast, they keep coming back for more. Fanatics are jovial and genuinely love all things Disney without being too intense about it. It’s magical to watch, really.

The Disney Freaks :: These are the 30+ year olds that are at the Magic Kingdom well before park opening to see the morning show, front row or bust! Freaks know all of the lyrics, sing along and then trample over families so that they can get their position in line at Splash Mountain or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and maximize the day. These folks differ from Fanatics in that it’s not all fun and games for them; it’s a true competition and Magic Kingdom is their battleground.

Freaks are like the Indiana Jones’ of the parks – no maps needed for these folk. They know the ins and outs of the Magic Kingdom, the fastest way to get from point A to point B, the cadence of how to go from ride to ride, and by God, if you get in their way, you will be run over. My wife tells me that it’d be amusing to see the Disney Freaks battle it out in Magic Kingdom alone, Hunger Games style. I try to steer clear of this group for the reasons stated above, but they can be some of the more enjoyable Disney guests to watch and develop a storyline that fits their disposition, not to mention sometimes witness the often explosive interactions with other guests when a father goes bananas on one of these types for trampling his son/daughter. (P.S. admit it, after reading that word you went all Gwen Stefani in your head B-A-N-A-N-A-S – and it’s stuck in your head all day now. As Maui says, “You’re Welcome!”)

The Push it to the Limit Parents :: These are the well-intending moms and dads screaming, “Do you know how much I’ve spent on this trip?!?! Do you know what time I woke up to get this Fast Pass? You will go on Space Mountain, and you WILL LIKE IT!” Most of us reading this have probably fallen into this category at some moment in the Magic Kingdom, myself included. “EAT THE MICKEY WAFFLES!” This is the couple with one or more children that works hard and has shelled out a small fortune to spend one glorious day within the Magic Kingdom. From park open to park close, these folks are planted at the park.

In this group, you will 100% observe a meltdown of their children (and parents) at some point (sometimes multiple times, speaking from experience here), possibly around Noon when the Orlando sun is beating you down and you’re 600 people deep at Peter Pan. While some people may judge a child’s epic temper tantrum, I look at it and breathe a sigh of relief that there are others out there that share the pains joys of parenting. I want to walk over and give the mom or dad a fist bump, say thank you, and buy the dad a beer (too bad there are limited places to buy the nectar of the Gods within the walls of the Magic Kingdom). You will go on this ride and you will like it!

The Confused International Contingent :: These folks stand out as the entire party has matching, personalized embroidered Mickey Ears, and it doesn’t matter if you are fresh out of your mother’s womb or 90. Everyone, and I do mean everyone in this group, is donning Mickey Ears. What I love most about this crew is the facial expressions displayed upon encountering raw Americana at its finest. I absolutely love seeing the rush of emotions: fear, respect, disgust, dismay and so forth. On a recent trip my wife and I’s parenting was put to shame by a lovely couple from England whose properly dressed children (4 of them, I might add) stood at attention in line patiently without uttering a peep while our heathens conducted a miniature circus performance complete with wild banshee noises as Mickey ice cream went flying in every direction. But because we are push it to the limit parents, like Elsa we let it go.

The Newlyweds :: This category is somewhat of a hybrid. Two people that share the same enthusiasm for Mickey Mouse, Fanatic / Freak style, so much so that they decide to make it a formal part of their life together. I always wonder, if the happy couple were ever to get divorced and go their separate ways, do they split up the times of year that each party can visit the parks so as to not run into one another (and any potentially new significant others)? What happens to all the memorabilia? Does one have to end their magic love affair with the Magic Kingdom and commit to Lego Land or Universal? Is there a pre-nup in place that lays it all out? Question to ponder, my friends.

Next time you visit the American masterpiece known as the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, don’t forget to people watch. It truly is worth the price of admission alone!

So what type of Disney traveler are you?

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