What hooked you to WDW? (Or DL?)

I’m sitting here 2 months since my trip - it was the first real trip that I planned as an adult and the first time going to WDW with DS8 and DS4.

I’ve always love Disney and I was lucky enough to go to WDW a few times as a child.

We had a week-long trip with perfect weather, lower crowds, and the company of my parents and sister.

Overall, it was a great trip. I want to go back desperately, and I feel like I’ve been “hooked” to WDW. And I get some serious FOMO reading trip reports for all Disney parks.

So, I’ve been thinking, why am I hooked? Is it the TP community? Is it because I didn’t have to cook for a week? Was it seeing the joy in my kids face when they went on Tomorrowland Speedway or when Kylo Ren spoke to them?

The trip definitely had some stressful moments and it wasn’t all roses, but I just keep thinking about it, and I feel happy. And maybe that is simply enough, it was a happy week and my planning paid off so everyone (especially the kids) had a great time.

It sometimes feels silly to say that a place like WDW could bring an adult so much joy, but the trip did spark something.

So - I’m here to ask you, in all sincerity…why do you go to WDW/DL? What sparks joy for you? What is it about the parks that keeps you coming back? Why WDW/DL instead of other places? Why is Disney your happy place?


I think I got hooked (I promise I’m not!) because I went in with such low expectations and was blown away. I spent so much time navigating the post covid changes, planning and making backup plans that I was spiteful getting on the plane on departure day. We ended that first day with this experience

Fireworks finale as we walked out of Haunted Mansion. That first day came together almost magically, and the rest of the trip followed suit. Even in the face of a November hurricane, we were able to pivot and have a great time. The rides were so unexpectedly FUN, I just couldn’t stop smiling after each one.

I under valued and Disney over delivered big time. That’s why I’m itching to get back!


I blame my SIL. She grew up in Southern California and my brother and her decided to have a civil court ceremony (2 yrs prior to actual wedding) in Anaheim. So my mom, aunt and I came …and same day we all went to Disneyland. I got the bug.

I went to WDW for the first time in 2011 because we won a Caribbean cruise and it happened to be out of Port Canaveral. So it was a no-brainer to add in a trip to WDW for 4 days. I have been over 20 times to the two parks since (and DLP, TDR)

…my actual first time prior to that was DL when I was 10. But I barely remember that trip.


I’ve been hooked on Disney since I was 11 years old. I’ve been reading the Unofficial Guides and following touring plans since the 90s on both coasts.

The #1 draw is the magic that comes from earnest storytelling. That’s why Disney movies become classics, and it’s what makes Disney parks endure.

The #2 reason I got hooked is because it’s the perfect hook for a compulsive personality who must try everything and check every box. There is just enough to do that you will never be bored, but not too much to be out of reach.

I love the charm of DLR, but WDW is so grand in scale, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of all there is to do there.


I’m hooked because i get to feel like I’m on an actual vacation. I love research, my love language is acts of service and i tend to be a little bit anxious and a pefectionist. With Disney, I can do all the research, solve how to get all my people exactly what they want, have all the decisions made before we leave so I’m not spending vacation trying to figure out what to do or where to eat and then i end the day feeling like I’ve earned gold stars for beating the system (with @joelbruick 's help of course). Checks all my boxes!

But seriously the magic makes all the difference. The characters and stories are so special that all of the above wouldnt matter if that wasn’t there.


I’ve only been hooked in the last 4 or so years because of the logic puzzle it is that needs to be solved, and the variety. It’s a buffet of unique experiences, and I love figuring out all the ways to best fill up the plate, and the feeling of community with like-minded people that want to do the same.


I know the exact moment when I got hooked. We were walking through Harambe market in AK for a first time and I kept thinking: wow, it feels like we are in Africa!

Ever since WDW, and AK especially, has this special place in my heart. The feeling that you are magically transported somewhere else is what makes me want to come back.


I agree with a a lot of this! I was 8 first Disneyland trip and 10 in WDW and I remember my mom reading the UG. We had a great time and when I took my kids and found that magic with them, hooked. There’s so much more to see even though I’ve been a lot recently and done a lot of it. So I agree with that particularly. And the Magic told thru the fully enveloping storytelling.


It’s something different for every member of my family. For my husband, it’s not making any decisions for a solid week (or 2 – we take long trips). He’s a small business owner, so not driving or making decisions feels like a total break for him. For me, getting to spend a year planning and living out the trip through my plans and then watching it come together (even with the last minute changes) is truly delightful. Dd16 is like me and loves the planning and anticipation. Ds14 loves the thrill rides and having the family completely together and sharing experiences. And dd7, my dreamer, loves seeing a world that looks like something she just dreamed up. She adores anything that melds reality and fantasy, so WDW is totally her jam.


I grew up with Wonderful World of Color on TV each Sunday, had Disney toys and books as a kid. First trip to WDW in Dec '82 age 27, just DH, my brother, and me. No kids yet. Walking under the train station onto Main Street was magical for the sense of not being in the regular world, total escapism. It’s been my happy place ever since. That’s when I got hooked on WDW.

When I discovered The Unofficial Guide to WDW decades ago (early 90’s?? what’s the first year?), it was a treasure trove of my kind of geek - analytical, full of data. I loved watching reruns on the Disney Channel of shows about the design and building of DLR and WDW, and any new attractions. I’m fascinated with it all. The vast amount of information/resources found in books, shows, and especially the internet has kept me hooked. But it’s the magic. Even with all the science and tech aspects, the result is overwhelmingly magic.

I agree with @Jeff_AZ’s post. To me, there’s always more to do. I don’t go very often, so it never gets stale.


I was 6 my first trip to DL and I have flashes of memories of that trip. My parents then took us several times as teens both just before & several times after DCA was added. I loved all those trips & Disney in general & even managed to scrape up some funds in college to go for 2 days with a friend. It was a stay on the floor of a friend of a friend’s one bedroom apartment in LA kind of trip & split gas money 4 ways to get there & back & eat only kids meals or Denny’s at DL kind of budget.

I still loved Disney but as I got married & became a young mom I didn’t even think much of getting to a theme park. DH’s entire family even went to DLR (all his siblings and parents) and we didn’t end up going with them, mostly bc I was 8.5 months pregnant with our oldest, but I wasn’t too terribly sad & only slightly joked with them that the baby would come early just because they ALL left the state so close to my due date.

DH & I did do one day of MK together in 2012 as an add-on a UOR focused trip to see the original WWoHP and while I loved it, that still didn’t quite hook me (in fact on our MK day I remember feeling a tiny bit sad that I had left our DS who was 10 months old with the grandparents when I saw all the kids in MK- until midday when every single baby I saw was fussy, sun-kissed & looked just miserable in the heat, then I was glad he wasn’t being dragged along with us).

In 2013, I had baby #2 and most of DH’s family who had gone a few years prior, planned a repeat trip that summer. I was going to have 2 kids under 2 (23 months & 3 months old) so DH & I initially decided not to join.

Well in the time leading up to that trip, I was on maternity leave for baby #2 & oldest (who was just 20-22 months) fell IN LOVE with Wreck it Ralph. And to stop him from watching it endlessly all day, I introduced him to all the Disney/Pixar movies. And then Mickey Mouse Clubhouse & he LOVED it. So we decided do last minute join onto the trip. It was not all smiles & magic with 2 itty bitties, but the magic parts were super duper magic. The parades & character interactions during them with the little kids was SO fun & the fireworks show at the time for DL included Dumbo flying over the castle during Baby Mine which was part of my nightly lullaby routine with my babies, so holding them on Main St watching that was just :woman_cook:t2::kiss:

The most magic tho was this moment: this is the look on our oldest’s face when he discovered that he was next in line to meet BOTH Mickey AND Minnie TOGETHER.

And that’s when we were hooked on going with kids, at least once a year. Well we couldn’t quite wait a full year & found ourselves on 3rd trip within 12 months & captured this shot of how happy they were in the magic.

I printed & frames this photo & gifted it to DH for Father’s Day just after that trip. It wasn’t even a month later after looking at that photo every weekday on his desk that we went on a last-minute 3 day weekend where we took the plunge to get an annual pass.

And the rest his history. We’re up to 4 kids, have done DL as a family every last chance we get in the last 9 years, have done WDW twice now, and our first Disney cruise. Disney will have to block/ban (or price us out) to get rid of us at this point. There’s just too many memories of our times together and being there together just builds on that foundation.


This. Well, my kids’ faces, not your kids.

But there is also joy in my face reliving the great memories I have of my own childhood trips to WDW.


Always loved Disney. What got me hooked with the parks was Magical Express luggage service, and how I could show up with my kids without car seats (due to disney transportation from hotel to parks,etc). The convenience of it all got me. Really miss DME :frowning:


There are a lot of little reasons…but as I think about each of them, I think what it all comes down to is that going to WDW has always felt like you were stepping into a whole other world.

I remember as a kid, the first time we went when it was just The Magic Kingdom at the time, how everything seemed so different…from the road signs as you arrive, to the theming of the lands. It transported you.

At the time we went, they had been showing on the Wonderful World of Disney on television progress being made on EPCOT Center. I was so excited for it, and during that first trip, we actually could drive over to where the parking lot to Epcot was and see it nearing completion. Going, then, a few years later and experiencing Epcot was, once again, transportative.

Today, I’ll admit I don’t feel as transported as I once did. Many of the changes over the years has somehow watered down that feeling. Now, in its place, is more a sense of escapism. I suppose the two are related. But when I go there with my family or wife, it is an escape from the realities of life. And while the parks and rides are fun, it is just nice now to relax, tour the resorts, etc.

Our family loves Universal…but even so, I keep finding myself longing for WDW because Universal still hasn’t fully reached that level of escapism. It is definitely getting closer. And there are moments it gives that feeling of being transported, particularly at IOA.


First trip was when I was 35. I’d always wanted to go and decided to take DS6 (now DS10). It ended up being a great place for a solo trip parenting trip since it was easy to keep him entertained. I enjoy the combo of parks + resorts and warm weather for the pool! I definitely felt like I was a kid again at times. I’m also a huge planner and it feeds into that.


I don’t know if I can explain it. On my first trip with my parents, sister and brother I was 17 and I read the UG cover to cover. We love theme parks anyway and it was our first time in the US, everything was so exciting, we rode Splash on a soft opening. That was 1992 and despite loving every minute, I thought it was my once in a lifetime trip.

We went again (with sister’s DH and my DH and DS added) in 2000 which was less magical because DS5 hated it and was scared of everything.

In 2012 we all visited again (sis now had 3 kids and I had 2) and I took full responsibility for all the planning, my youngest was 7 and a thrill seeker who loved everything. But my sis and her family were pains. At that point we decided we wouldn’t visit with extended family again! But we have had 3 further trips.

I’m not sure at what point I was hooked. Certainly I love the planning, I love the rides, I love stepping off the plane into the heat and humidity. I think it’s a combination of everything.


I can tell you the exact moment I fell 100% in love with WDW

DD18turning19Saturday was 5 at the time. Our first trip as a family of 4. We were watching the parade. I was standing back on the walkway, she was up near the rope with the other littles. Earlier that day we had purchased for her a (pretty ugly, actually) Cinderella plush doll. She loved that thing! As Cinderella was passing her in the parade she was jumping up and down and waving her doll at Cinderella, who looked right at her, pointed, and said, “I love your doll!” DD turns around, the most excited I’ve ever seen her in her life, and shouts, “Mama! Mama! She said she loves my doll!!”

And that was it. Hook. Line. Sinker.

Take all my money for the rest of my life, Disney.

To be fair, that trip was filled with a million magical moments. It truly was if they had us chipped with “first visit - make it magical!” tags. We met rare characters who stepped out just as we passed their spot - no line, no waiting, no other people! - had a parade materialize right behind us as we took family photos on main street, got pulled to front row of FOTLK, etc. It was the quintessential most magical trip! I remember saying to DH on the way out on our last day - we need to come back every year. Let’s do that. We had to wait a few years to start making that a thing, but in 2014 we began and (except for when we couldn’t because of covid) we have been every year since, and most years more than once.


Same. SO much. We went in 2016 with two toddlers and it was blissful not having to worry. Our recent trip we had 4 kids, 2 of them toddlers and the rental car/car seat/tolls process was so the opposite of magical.


This - throughout the parks. From Africa to the outer rim of the universe to Andy’s backyard to a fairytale to the streets of Italy…


I wonder how many of us could have written this sentence! This is me to a T!