Jun 22 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth?

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A cluster of Mickey Mouse balloons are smiling at Disneyworld. What about the guests?

That famous Disney advertising line set expectations very high for a visit to Disneyworld – perhaps too high for most visits to the park. (I have the secret of visiting below.) With summer in full swing and many families looking for local vacations. Disney World could be a prime destination.

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In-flight entertainment with Dumbo The Flying Elephant

My agenda was different than most though. Visiting the park for me was an opportunity to do some street shooting and document a bit of Americana. When I’m in New York City or Paris I walk the streets looking for photos. In Orlando, I visit the parks.

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Even grown adults can relive youthful joy on the Mad Tea Party ride

So I wasn’t a normal visitor looking to enjoy the shows and experience the rides. I was there to document the experience. Part of that experience is the heat. This is Florida in the middle of summer. The temperature and humidity are both in the 90’s and there is lots of standing and walking in the sun. Most visitors to the park are there for a one-day visit and that can create a great deal of pressure to see everything.

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I love watching the interactions with the costumed characters. There is an unexpected mix of joy and fear

I didn’t have to navigate long lines. I could stop and rest whenever I wanted. And I didn’t have to negotiate with intricate family dynamics over what to see next or where to eat. Concerns about the special needs of Grandma or the toddler belonged to others. Too often these negotiations led to heated exchanges that were less than happy.

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There was more than normal family stress at work with this young rider

Later in the day I learned secret to visiting from a family that looked happy. They shared that they were staying in a Disney Hotel and had a multi-day pass. They would get up early and visit the park before the crowds and heat would build. They then ride the monorail back to their hotel and break for lunch, a nap and pool time for the kids.

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Take a break and return to the park for the evening firework show

After the afternoon shower, the heat and crowd dissipate and everyone is refreshed to dive back into the park and to have fun up to the evening fireworks show.

If you plan on visiting any of the parks give yourself enough time to do it in a way that reduces stress and creates that Disney happiness.

What are your secrets to visiting Disney World or amusement parks in general? Share them in the comment section below.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

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