Halloween in Disney World

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I have so many wonderful memories of family vacations in Disney World: the rides, the water parks, the funny moments that became inside jokes. To me that’s the best thing about Disney World, the shared experience.

Cinderella Castle Reflected

So Pearson and I put aside our mixed feelings about all things Disney (namely the commoditization of happiness and the sexism of fairy tales) and went park hopping at Disney World for a day.

JKW_9857eweb Magic Kingdom Entrance

The Magic Kingdom was decked out in its Halloween best: pumpkins and scarecrows and an autumn color scheme. Halloween is something else that I identify with childhood and family and shared memories: costume parties at school, getting hopped up on sugar and chasing my sister and brother around the house with my dad’s terrifying wolf mask, and the three of us trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

Halloween Cinderella CastleMickey Pumpkin on Main StreetDisney Main StreetPumpkin Scarecrow

As an adult, I have little use for Halloween. I know admitting this borders on sacrilege, because it is many people’s favorite holiday, but while living in NYC, I found Halloween to be a nuisance of overcrowded streets and scantily clad drunks. I like pumpkins and candy and seeing little kids in their costumes, but dressing as a sexy pizza rat (yes, this is a thing) just doesn’t do it for me.

Mickey Pumpkin head

Walking through the Magic Kingdom with Pearson, I was overtaken by nostalgia. I remembered all the other times I was there with my parents and sister and brother. I remembered waking up early, excited to discover new things, or as I got older, excited to rediscover them.

This time, Splash Mountain and the Tower of Terror lived up to my memory; Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Epcot didn’t (though this time my judgment of Epcot was biased by hunger and exhaustion—three parks in one day is at least one too many); and Space Mountain surpassed my recollection.

We spent half the day at the Magic Kingdom, taking in the joy and fantasy. Then we took the bus to Disney Hollywood Studios (which I continue to call MGM). After the Star Wars ride and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, torrential downpours began. There was no line at the Tower of Terror, so we rode it again and again (the drop sequence is different every time!) until the rain ebbed. Then we took the bus to EPCOT, rode some rides, ate some food and walked around the World Pavilion. Finally, at 9pm, we got on the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks.

Disney Hollywood StudiosReflected Sunset in EpcotSpaceship EarthDusk in EpcotSunset in EpcotSpaceship Earth at Night

Unfortunately, the monorail from the parking area into the Magic Kingdom was broken. We were told the ferry was still running, so we hurried down the steps and towards the dock, but the ferry was nowhere in sight. All of the sudden, I understood why kids have meltdowns at the end of the day. I was exhausted—mentally and physically—and I couldn’t imagine making it to our car, let alone waiting for the ferry and walking into the park and then fighting the crowds to get back out. But at the same time, I didn’t want the day to be over. Luckily—maybe because I’m an adult or maybe just because I had not eaten my weight in ice cream and candy—I did not fall to the ground, right there on the ferry dock, kicking and screaming about the unfairness of such a fun, exciting, and joyous day ever having to end.

Instead we walked over to the Polynesian Resort, sat on the beach, and watched the fireworks from a distance, while I thought about the incredible day we had and remembered all of the amazing days at Disney World as a kid—the first exactly 25 years before at that very resort—and felt supremely grateful for all of it.


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