I’m pretty sure that one of Walt’s aims when he first dreamt of opening a theme park was to create a place where parents, as well as children, could have fun, and more crucially they could do so together. All too often, we parents find ourselves watching the young ‘uns go round in circles on some ride or other, whilst we wave at them every few seconds each time they go past.
As much as I enjoy seeing my kids enjoying themselves, being a parent doesn’t mean that you leave your fun gene in the maternity ward. This is where WDW excels. So much so that big kids like myself are not only transported into space, the wild west or a haunted house, we can also be quickly taken back to our own childhood.
I will always remember on one of our first trips to WDW, we arrived at the Magic Kingdom early, and in doing so managed to ride Dumbo with a wait time under an hour!! The girls, being very young at the time loved every second, and as we left the ride they asked where we were going next. “To another ride” I said. “Really?” they said, all wide eyed and excited. “Yes, and then we’ll do another ride, and then another” I said.
Their faces were a picture, at the realization that the day was going to be all about fun, and Mum and Dad were joining in too!!
So when I think about my own favourite rides, and to be more specific, those that transport me back to my childhood and my happy place, I can’t choose just one. I have however decided upon a top three. In traditional reverse order, they are –
In third place –
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
The genius of this ride is the interactivity, and the fact that anyone of any age can play together. All I can think about for those minutes zapping aliens is my score, and the fact that I’m dreading the day when I can’t beat the girls! I am a dangerous mix of big kid and competitive Dad on this ride.
In second place –
This is mainly down to the timing of our riding of this one. It has been, more often than not, the first ride of the trip, and as such has no line, and adds to out natural elation and jetlag adrenalin. We literally sprint to it, and skip through the queueing area to get ourselves wet. A superb family ride, full of Disney magic, and a lovely way to get a holiday (vacation to you US types) started.
And in first place…..
I know I am bending the rules slightly here, as technically this is not a ride, but, I choose The Monorail.
From the futuristic concept to the warm velvety voice of the guy who tells to stand clear of the doors in two languages, it surely must be every child’s dream? To be whisked from the reality of your mundane automobile by some sort of train in the sky, through the middle of a hotel in which you can see characters enjoying breakfast below, to your destination which teases you with glimpses of a castle and mountain set in space is well….just magical. If any ride on the planet can take me back to my childhood, remove me from my adult worries and cradle me in the beautiful cloud of Disney magic, then the monorail is it.
It signals the start of a trip, and so holds all the promise of endless days of fun, and it also usually signals the final throes of a holiday too, and therefore holds a million memories, and endless held back tears, of grown ups, forcing themselves back into the adult world as they leave the magic for the final time.
So those are the rides that take me back to my childhood. They are not necessarily my favourtie rides out of all that WDW has to offer, but I guess it is no coincidence that they all exist in and around the Magic Kingdom. That place is the one place that I regress to childhood, and some would say that isn’t a very long journey.
So, which rides do that for you?