A Different Type Of Religion

Disney World, The Magic Kingdom…a different type of religion…

And to say it’s not real for people would be a gross misunderstanding…

At Epcot, and all the Disney Theme Parks, differences don’t matter. All that matters is that Family and Friends have the most wonderful time of their lives.

A little glimpse of Heaven on Earth.

How many times have you visited a Disney Theme Park?

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.


  1. Jeff,

    Growing up, we never were able to take vacations – my dad’s work didn’t allow for him to take time off, and sometimes he had to work 7 – 12-hour shifts during “refueling” times at the nuclear plant. Yet, I carried my metal, Disney World lunchboxes to school each year, dreaming of going there one day.

    So the first time I finally made it to Disney World was 10 years ago, and my wife and I took our older son when he was almost 3. Bless his heart – he would wear out and fall asleep in the stroller, but I was the biggest kid of all. I was so amazed and, yes, enchanted by it all, and it was just the Magic Kingdom. But we realized Zachary wasn’t old enough to really appreciate it all, so we waited again until he was older and our younger son (who came along about 2 years later) was 5. Then they both were able to really enjoy all of Disney World. But again, I was the one who became a big kid with it – finally getting to experience all of the other parks (with EPCOT now being my favorite). Then last year, we went back again with the “Give a day, get a day” program to Magic Kingdom. It was a great time, and we even got to meet a dear friend there! 🙂

    So with 3 times under my belt, my boys are talking about wanting to go back again and have even spent time online looking to see what is new or different in the Disney’s Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo resorts. For me as a child, my goal was to get to Disney World. For my boys, their horizons stretch beyond to other Disney worlds.

    Thanks for asking, and bringing out the child in me again this morning!


  2. Jeff,

    Our story is similar to Bob’s. Growing up, Disney was not on our families radar. But it was my dad who, upon his retirement, brought our entire family (11 of us) down for a magical grand gathering at Animal Kingdom Lodge, school vacation week in 2007. I am very fortunate, that since that initial visit, we have shaken the Mouse’s hand 4 more times. And each time as we wait for rope drop at the MK I have tears in my eyes.

    (It is my not so secret dream to work for Disney. Right now, that would be a tough commute! But someday…)

  3. Patty – I do have similar dreams. And you know, as Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

  4. I only remember one real family vacation from my childhood and that was to Washington DC. My first trip to Disney was with my husband and we are now on 20+ visits. My last visit was just 3 weeks ago. It never gets old, in fact they keep getting better. I too dream of moving to Florida and working for Disney someday, but in the meantime I bring a little Disney daily to my own business.

  5. Bob, thank you for your perspective on how special Disney is to you and your Family. It’s a feeling, and an obligation, I keep deep in my heart.

    It’s mission work, right here in America, to make Dreams come true.

    Everyone needs Dreams.

  6. Patty, I wonder how long your Dad had envision that grand Family gathering for 11?

    I wonder if, in some spiritual way, he would consider that one of the highlights of his long life.

  7. Donna, 20+ times. WOW!

    And what you do at your business to bring magic there is amazing.

    Thanks for joining the conversation. 🙂

  8. The plans for the Grand Gathering were in the works for over a year. I will always remember when he called and asked, “Do you think you’d like to go to Disney next April?” (The call came in February of 2006.) I didn’t consult anyone else in the house when I replied, “Yes.”

    If we are blessed, there are many outstanding events in one’s life. The all time favorite for me is when we all visited my father-in-law — ten days before his death of Liver Cancer. Thirty two people, from all over the world, gathered in a small two bedroom house for 3 days of love, laughter, tears, and conversation. His final words to me,”Patty, I never thought I would love an Italian.” My final words to him, “It’s worse, I’m Sicilian.” 🙂 Love you Pepere.

    And second — the Grand Gathering at Disney with my family. Both events are gifts I will cherish for my entire life.

    And yes, Bob — I do have the courage to pursue that dream. Shall we set a date to meet on Main Street?

  9. See, Jeff – you have created a place where people can come together to share dreams! 🙂

  10. I am starting to lose count. But if my memory serves me well, my 20th visit will be in April for a Disney Institute course. We will go again as a family in September.

    My first visit was in 1972. I recently came across some pictures from that trip. My plan is to get them scanned and posted online tomorrow.

  11. Good Wednesday morning and greetings from Iowa. Up here teaching for a few days.

    Patty, your best memory is very touching. We should all hope to be surrounded by people we love when our call to come home is answered.

    But the fact that your 2nd best memory is a trip to my “hometown”, is, well, pretty amazing.

    There is magic all around.

    And yes, we can all meet after our shift….

    See, still another dream in the making. Love it!!!

  12. Bob, in the big picture, the early days of any venture are the most organic and the least likely to be formal or “scripted”.

    Let’s enjoy the ride.

    And invite in any others who are tempted but haven’t joined the conversation yet.

    This is an on-line community, a Tribe of optimistic people looking to make positive impacts in our respective corners of the world.

  13. 8 (I think) for me. Trios to the World were common when we visited my snowbird grandparents in Bradenton. My first trip was in winter-1982, when I was 2. From then on, I dreamed of LIVING there!
    My last trip was Meg’s first trip, 5 years ago. I wanted a trip before having kids. I converted her on that trip, from a WDW skeptic. She inspired our 2nd, long-weekend, trip. We took her two sisters, who would never have gone otherwise.

    Now we’re trying to figure out when to go for our kids’ first trip. It almost happened this year. But we decided to pay cash for a second car. Someday, in the next few years…

  14. I can’t wait!
    I’m sure it’ll be sometime in 2011. Of course our pincode discount would no longer be good. 🙂
    I hope this ride reservation system (not fast-pass) will be worked out by then.
    I bet’s awesome to see you in your hometown!

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