My Top 10 Disney Experiences (So Far)


Someone recently asked me what my all-time favorite Disney moments had been. Having been going to the Disney theme parks all of my life and having numerous major life milestones occur there, that’s a difficult question to answer. Not only that, but favorite is somewhat of a moving target. Moments that seem significant today may fade with time, while other, seemingly less-memorable experiences can grow over time. Still, I thought it would be a fun topic to take on, and while these are all personal enough to just me that they really won’t help you plan your trips in any way, I thought it would be fun to share my top 10 moments.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to visit the Disney theme parks often (that’s my mom and me next to Minnie Mouse in that above photo, by the way!), and have had some great experiences and made some great memories along the way. There are a lot of experiences that were really amazing that didn’t make it on the list. Things like our first visit to Hong Kong Disneyland (for those who have asked–this trip report is still coming soon!), dining at Club 33, touring the Cinderella Castle Suite, and photographing the sunrises in almost every Disney theme park in the world, among other experiences, all are incredibly fond memories of mine, but all miss the list.

Here’s what did make the top 10…

10. Experiencing Country Bear Christmas Again

“Again” might be a bit of an overstatement, since I never recall seeing Country Bear Christmas in the first place. However, I saw it on a couple of occasions as a young child, and had vicarious memories fueled by family photos and stories told to me about the attraction. Over the years, I developed a sort of second-hand nostalgia for it, and when we made our first Walt Disney World Christmas trip as adults in 2007, I was a bit crushed to find that it had been removed. I held out hope that it would return, and Country Bear Christmas’ soundtrack became one of our most-played Christmas tracks, adding fuel to the fire for me. As soon as I learned that the show still existed in Tokyo, I convinced Sarah that we should make our first visit to Tokyo Disney Resort during Christmas 2012.

That plan eventually fell through, but we made it to Tokyo during the 2013 Christmas season. I got goosebumps as soon as we stepped into the theater, and despite half the show being in Japanese, I was absolutely entranced (I know the US version of the show by heart, so the language barrier wasn’t an issue). My eyes were leaking during the finale, but I didn’t care. We ended up watching Country Bear Christmas over 10 times during the trip, and it never got old.

9. First Visit to Disneyland

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If there is one “first visit” experience where I’d love a mulligan, it would be Disneyland. Our first visit to Disneyland came at the end of a tough couple of months for me (studying for the Bar Exam) and a day after Sarah had a death in the family. It wasn’t even a dedicated Disneyland trip, just a diversion from a wedding we were attending in Huntington Beach. Suffice to say, it was a stressful time for us, and while Disneyland was a great reprieve from that, if I could do it over again, I’d want a proper sense of anticipation and excitement for the visit.

Still, visiting Disneyland for the first time makes the list because it was enough of a positive experience to change the way we looked at Disney. Prior to this, we were staunch “Walt Disney World people,” and this changed that. It probably wasn’t until our next visit to Disneyland that we fell in love with the place, but that first visit got us hooked on expanding our horizons when it came to Disney. In that regard alone, it was a critical “moment.”

8. Seeing Dreamfinder & Figment Again

At the end of the last day of Destination D, Richard Sherman performed a concert. At the end of this concert, the lights turned on. Just like that, there they were, in the flesh, together again, Dreamfinder and Figment. The term “magical” often gets thrown around recklessly when discussing Disney, mostly through marketing, but when Dreamfinder and Figment came out, there was truly magic in the air.

The crowd erupted so loudly that I’m sure some people didn’t even hear part of his dialogue or song, and the magic was palpable. I think the moment probably set a Guinness Book of World Records record for “most people to simultaneously cry upon seeing a bearded man and purple dragon.” The characters sang and engaged in tongue-in-cheek banter that reminded everyone there of why we missed these characters so much (yes, I realize Figment still exists, but not in his original form–it’s as if the current version of the character has been given a lobotomy). They embodied and personified imagination. The entire time they were on stage was pure magic (read the full report of their concert and see more of my photos) and transported me back to my childhood visits to Walt Disney World. To me, it was a wonderfully nostalgic experience, and proved that you can go home again. I only hope that someday, Figment and Dreamfinder can go home again, too.

7. The Photography Trip

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In Fall 2009, Sarah and I headed down to Walt Disney World to meet up with Joe Penniston, Jeff Bergman, Matt Pasant, Don Sullivan, and Susan E, Disney fan-photographers I had met through Flickr. These folks were (and are) some of the most talented photographers in the Disney community, and just being around them elevated my game and taught me a lot about photography.

This Flickr-photography trip is definitely one that has grown over time. It was the first time we had done anything at Walt Disney World with a group, and while I’m definitely not always a group person, this opened me up to the idea. More importantly, I really grew as a photographer because of it. These photographers were all more experienced than me, and just talking with them got me thinking outside of my box and made me think about aspects and elements of photography I hadn’t otherwise considered.

6. Honeymoon First Night

No no no, not that–get your mind out of the gutter! The first night of our honeymoon at Walt Disney World was special because it was the end of a marathon day-plus that was perfect in just about every way, including its conclusion.

On the night of our wedding, we only got 2 hours of sleep before going to the airport to start the honeymoon. To start our “Disneymoon,” we arrived at BoardWalk Inn and took a half hour “nap” and then immediately headed to the parks. It was an Evening Extra Magic Hour night at the Magic Kingdom, and we stayed late (our usual M.O.). It was apparent that we were the last ones at the Magic Kingdom (by both observation and security telling us so), but they did not “encourage” us to leave. Instead, they told us to take as many pictures as we wanted, and we had a field day getting honeymoon photos of ourselves in a completely empty Magic Kingdom. When we got on the bus shortly after 4 a.m., Sarah fell asleep. I quietly set up the tripod and grabbed a few shots of her sleeping (she’s actually asleep here–this isn’t posed). To date, this remains one of my favorite photos of her, asleep on that bus, as it perfectly encapsulates that night.

5.  Returning to Walt Disney World as an Adult

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My first trip to Walt Disney World with Sarah was rather unceremonious. A friend of ours was doing the College Program and was able to get us a great discount at All Star Sports and was also able to get us into the parks for free, so we went. We split double cheeseburgers at counter service restaurants (back in the days of $.35 extra buns!) and I’m convinced we probably only spent a total of $500 on the entire trip. Still, being back at Walt Disney World for the first time in several years was like seeing an old friend at a wedding–you pick up like the last time you saw one another was yesterday.

This “experience” actually spans two years, as we returned the following summer, that time taking advantage of a 60% off hotel plus $20/night Disney Dining Plan promotion at Saratoga Springs. My passion for Disney might have been rekindled the previous year, but that trip was like having gasoline doused on the fire. I still distinctly remember leaving an amazing dinner at California Grill on the monorail on our first night of the trip. At that point, I was (we both were!) completely hooked.

4. Arriving at Disneyland Paris

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While we had both traveled internationally prior to visiting Disneyland Paris, our visit to France was the first time either of us had gone anywhere where English was not the predominant language. Suffice to say, it was a little intimidating navigating from Charles De Gaulle airport to Marne-la-Vallee, but that just made the reward all that much better. The whole trip had a feel of “exploration” to it, and in a way, gave us new perspective on the world.

Visiting Disneyland Paris was, essentially, that “mulligan” I discussed above in the Disneyland first visit section. This time, we were excited for visiting another park, it was the focus of the trip, and we had months of anticipation. Walking into Disneyland Paris for the first time was how that first visit to Disneyland should have been, and was incredibly exciting. It was like discovering uncharted “Disney territory,” marveling at things that aren’t even remotely familiar, yet have a familiar sense to them. It doesn’t hurt that Disneyland Paris has Disney’s most beautiful Main Street and Castle, making those first steps on Main Street especially memorable.

3. Walking into Tokyo DisneySea

For a long time, I viewed Tokyo DisneySea as the holy grail of Disney theme parks. Japan seemed so far away, expensive, and…well…foreign. Still, it was a goal I wanted to achieve as soon as possible. The perfect once in a lifetime trip. My expectations were so high that I was a bit concerned that I was setting myself up for a letdown. Despite my sky-high expectations, it was in no way a letdown.

In our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report, I described my first couple of hours in Tokyo DisneySea as something like a lucid dream. I can think of few times when my level of anticipation matched what I had for Tokyo DisneySea, and I could barely contain my excitement upon entering the park. (In fact, I didn’t…I saw a beautiful sunset and basically ran off from the rest of the group!) In general, I think “lucid dream” is a pretty apt way to describe Tokyo DisneySea. It feels like something out of a dream. It’s hard to fathom the undertaking that went into this theme park, and it truly doesn’t feel like something that can exist in reality. When walking through Tokyo DisneySea, I feel like I imagine guests in 1982 at EPCOT Center felt–part of something special and in a place that’s truly grander than just an “ordinary” theme park.

2. First Journey Into Imagination Ride


First ride on Journey into Imagination that I remember is the more accurate title for this one. My family went to Walt Disney World almost every year while I was a child, so I know I had been on the attraction before then, but the first trip I really remember at all was in 1989. My most vivid memory from that trip is Journey into Imagination. In fact, while I remember bits and pieces of various childhood trips and attractions, the only one I can still vividly recall in full detail today is Journey into Imagination. My recollection of it is like no other attraction from that era, as everything else is pretty much foggy or supplemented by photos and video I’ve seen since. From the opening scene with Dreamfinder that seemed to last forever to the scene of Figment with a bucket and a rainbow (my favorite scene), standing at a pond with white scenery that was just begging to be be painted with the brush of his imagination, I remember it all.

This ranks so highly because it was this attraction that first sparked my passion for Disney. As a child I’d play with my Figment toys and become build anticipation for our next trip back. While I eventually went through the “too cool for Disney” teenage years, a big part of the reason why Disney so quickly resonated with me when we returned as adults was because of the “bond” (for lack of a better term) that I had formed with this character as a child. From there, I started a Figment collection, joined forums and social media with a ‘Figment’ moniker, and the rest is history. It’s probably not possible to form an emotional connection with a theme park character, but that’s exactly what I felt I had with Figment (and Dreamfinder) as a child. I am fairly certain that were it not for Figment and Dreamfinder, this blog would not exist. That’s why this first-ride experience is #2 on my list.

1. Engagement

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At the end of our second trip to Walt Disney World together in Summer 2007, I was convinced that it was a special place for Sarah and I, and where I should propose to her. I didn’t particularly want to wait a full year until a potential Summer 2008 trip, so I convinced her that we should return for Christmas. And by “convinced,” I mean that I said, “what would you think about going back for Christmas?” to which she emphatically responded along the lines of “oh yes, we absolutely need to.” So it’s not exactly as if I twisted her arm. I was only hopeful that her response to my proposal would be so emphatic…

Many of you have probably read the story of our Disney engagement in agonizing detail, so I won’t regurgitate the details here, but suffice to say (SPOILER ALERT) she said “yes.” Not quite as emphatically as the “yes” to the Christmas trip, but a yes is a yes, right?! ;) I think the reason why this is #1 on this list should be fairly obvious. Walt Disney World was already a special place, but the engagement there solidified the Disney theme parks as being a significant place in our lives at one of the most important real-world moments of our lives. The parks have since gone on to be places we can go to together to escape the chaos of everyday life and spend time together alone with one another (well, “alone” with tens of thousands of our closest friends, but I think you get the idea).


That covers my top 10 Disney experiences so far. Some of these, like #1, are going to be tough to top. At least, until we have kids. Same with all of the “first time” ones. Really though, my entire time as a Disney fan and member of the fan community has been a great experience. Sure, not everything/everyone has been perfect, but overall I have had some wonderful experiences and made a lot of lifelong friends. I guess it’s a good thing my parents took me on Journey into Imagination back in 1989! ;)

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Your Thoughts…

What are your favorite Disney experiences (feel free to name 10, or just a few)? What do you think of my list? Share your thoughts or any questions in the comments!

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43 Responses to “My Top 10 Disney Experiences (So Far)”

  1. Christian says:

    Some really touching stories there Tom. For me, Disneyland was about was seeing the big Small World facade for the first time as a kid. Epcot Center became “Figment Center”. I pretty much lost my cool meeting Dreamfinder last year at D23. My brain blew a fuse while speed-walking into Tokyo Disney Sea for the first time. “Wow! This place is beautiful! Okay, RUN!”.

  2. Kayla says:

    Great idea for a post. It would be interesting to compile my own list, have Tom do the same and then compare. One of my favorite trips he barely remembers, so I bet our lists would be quite different! Perfect topic for a road trip, haha!

  3. Mike B says:

    Great stories! Like yourself, I’ve been going to any number of the Disney parks since our first visit to Walt Disney World in 1972! But to stay with your subject, some of our most memorable include: Being at Tokyo Disneyland on its opening day (rained all day long!) – the first time I took my wife to Walt Disney World and she was selected to go on stage during the Hoop Dee Doo Revue (she was the can-can girl!) – and returning in a few weeks to see our son finish his internship with the Disney college program! I’m sure if we thought about it, we could come up with a top 10, too! Love your blog! And as a fellow hobbyist in photography – Love the tips and your photos!

  4. Andrew says:

    Great read, thanks for sharing.

    One of my fondest memories was as an 8 year old going for a character dinner at what is now Fulton’s crab house, and pluto coming over and tickling me for several minutes. That was over 25 years ago, and wasn’t weird at the time.

  5. Karissa says:

    Aww, these are great.

    My husband and I share a similar story. I live in Florida, so I went a lot as a kid. The first I went back as an adult was with boyfriend (now husband) on a 2 day birthday trip. We went back for a longer trip in Dec. 2011 and he proposed (on the Peoplemover!). We got married and took our honeymoon there this past December! It adds to how special Disney World is to us.

    • Lauren says:

      We just took our honeymoon to Disney this past December too. We were there the first 2 weeks, avoided the larger crowds but still go to see all the Christmas stuff. Being on our honeymoon made it one of the more relaxing Disney trips for some reason.
      Proposing on the peoplemover sounds awesome, great views of the park, but still kind of private.
      We’ll get to experience the our first time going to Disneyland after being WDW regulars all our lives later this year, I’m sure that’ll be in my top 10 just after our honeymoon trip.

  6. As someone who has loved the Disney theme parks (but lived far from any of them) since my first trip to Disneyland as a nine year-old way back in 1987, I really enjoyed this post. My unfinished top ten would include that first trip, my first time in EPCOT Center in 1988 (that visit made me a fan for life), my first time entering Disneyland Paris during my semester abroad, my return to Disneyland for the first time in 16 years (too long!) back from in ’03, tearing up during the fire works for the 50th, visiting Disneyland Paris (my wife’s wedding present to me!) on my honeymoon and definitely the best so far, taking my daughter through the turnstiles for the first time and standing in front of the Train Station and the floral Mickey with her. I can’t wait to add to that soon! Thanks for making me think of these great moments again and thanks for sharing.

  7. Jenny says:

    Loved this article! Of course your number one would be very difficult to top. Being proposed to at WDW is my youngest daughter’s dream proposal….can’t say I blame her.

  8. jennifer says:

    Love this post and love reading other peoples favorite moments.It helped me to remember why I have loved Disney all my life. My favorite moment was taking my kids to Disneyworld for the first time. Walking into the Wilderness Lodge for the first time and realizing we were in for a very special week.Our first cruise and cruise to Alaska incredible! All the first trip with each new baby and the one that made me cry the longest,waiting to adopt our daughter from China for over 5 years and finally walking back into the Wilderness Lodge with her in arms, WOW!

  9. Nita E. says:

    This list is so sweet. My great-grandmother and I went to Disney World annually from when I was age 6 through high school. I’ve continued (and increased my annual visits) as an adult. I came up with my Top 5:

    5. Seeing our first World of Color show at Disneyland
    4. Finishing my first half marathon (Princess Half 2012)
    3. Taking my great-grandmother to celebrate her 90th birthday at Disney World, fulfilled at her request! We got her a custom sash and everything. Guests and Cast Members were wishing her “Happy Birthday” all week :)
    2. Seeing fireworks at sea on the Disney Wonder as part of our honeymoon.
    1. Our Disney World honeymoon trip that included our first & only (so far) Very Merry Christmas Party. I felt my heart would bust at having three of my favorite things in one place: my husband, Disney, and Christmas.

  10. Kelly M says:


  11. mal says:

    Wait until you have a family and you take the kids there for the first time. We just went with my niece, who is now 3. this was the first time she really understood disney (she went as a baby but couldnt really enjoy it the way she does now). It was really unique seeing disney from her perspective. It was like experiencing disney for the first time again

  12. Wendy says:

    Definitely choking up a little reading your list Tom, as well as everyone’s responses.

    I’m a list maker and am now certainly encouraged to think up my own list of top Disney moments! A few I can mention off the top of my head:
    -my first MVMCP experience (snow on Main St!)
    -sailing away on my first Disney Cruise
    -just about anytime I ride Soarin’…

    But the top moment for me is without a doubt from my most recent trip, which was my first trip with my husband (which was his first EVER trip):
    -seeing my husband’s reaction to seeing the castle for the first time… truly magical! I think I’ve got him hooked ;)

  13. Karena Dixon says:

    I absolutely, 100% agree with 2 & 8. I don’t know what it is about Figment, but he’s one of my favorites. It took me a few years to track down and old soundtrack on ebay so I could have the original version of the ride’s song.

  14. Matt says:

    Thanks for sharing Tom!

    My own personal story is very similar, it just started on the opposite coast. I started off going to Disneyland frequently when I was younger, then moved to the East Coast as a teenager and saw WDW for the first time when I was in high school. Now I consider Walt Disney World my “home” resort, but all of the positive changes at Disneyland (and your detailed reviews) really make me want to go back.

    I too got engaged at WDW (on a spur of the moment trip) and our Honeymoon there was my #1 Disney Experience.

  15. Bill says:

    Great moments from all. For me, I can narrow a lifelong list of Disney moments to three, in chronological order:

    1. A birthday kiss on the cheek from Alice on my 5th birthday at Disneyland.

    2. Proposing to my wife with a set of Mickey ears that said “Marry Me?” on the Skyway at Disneyland during the fireworks.

    3. The overall experience of each of my kid’s first visits to Disney parks.

  16. DRToohey says:

    I love this list and all the feels it has!

    I’m incredibly jealous of #8. #6 is incredibly sweet and really speaks to probably a lot of Disney Parks fans favorite moments. I think a lot of us have that “marathon” Disney day that just stands out as the perfect parks day for us and also what is just amazing about being in this other world for a little bit.

    I DEFINITELY would have a similar one for #5 – there’s something so amazing about the first time back in the parks as an “adult”…free of any teenage need to be cool and really wanting to embrace all the wonder of the parks again (plus now you can appreciate the nice food and wine…).

    Enter Tokyo Disney Sea would probably be high on my list as well. I *may have* teared up as we approached the park. I couldn’t help it! Seeing all the stuff from the monorail, and then “When You Wish Upon a Star” started playing, and by the time we were inside Mt. Prometheus was erupting and I was like “okay, any debate of Disney World vs. Disneyland is now moot.” Actually, I was just screaming with glee, but that was probably part of my subconscious thought.

  17. KCmike says:

    Awesome article here Tom. You’ve definitely had some memorable moments that you will cherish for a lifetime.

    My most treasured include: Dining at Club 33, First visit to Disneyland in 2007, First visit to WDW in 1990, Meeting Tony Baxter, a surprise upgrade to the Grand Floridian, and my wife and I road tripping as adults to WDW together. Our family has treasured all of our moments to DL and WDW. Because of Disneyland I have been able to see so many great things in California as well like Hotel Del Coronado, Monterey, and Yosemite. Thank you Disney!

  18. kay says:

    Hi Tom,

    I love your blog. It’s a great resource for those of us planning trips or wanting a little bit of disney in our day to day. I know you have talked about the book Disney Wars before, which I also really enjoyed. I’d love a post on books you recommend. I know you did one on coffee-table type books you can buy at disney, but if you have any other recommendations (biography, etc) I’d love to hear about them!

  19. Heath says:

    What wonderful memories! There’s something about Disney Parks that just foster making good memories- and recalling them each time you visit. I agree with the first adult trip (which also happened to be with my future wife) and here are some of mine:

    - First trip ever (I was 14 and we stayed at Coronoado Springs, which was pretty new)
    - First adult trip to WDW
    - First trip to DL (also as an adult)
    - First cruise (Fantasy 7 day West Carb)
    - High School Marching Band trip (marching down Main Street to open for Spectromagic during Magic Music Days)

    It seems like “firsts” are important to many of us!

  20. Mitch says:

    Ok I’m going to list my top ten here because, well I have no reason I’m just going to do it.

    10. Our first time visiting the Polynesian, eating at O’hana, then heading to the beach on a perfect evening to watch the fireworks and explore the beach.

    9. Finally, on our third trip together, having a Disney World vacation where neither of us got sick. (My wife had such a severe sore throat on our honeymoon that we were searching for walk-in clinics, and I got the stomach virus from hell on our trip the next year).

    8. Surprising my wife who though we were staying off-site by checking into the Grand Floridian (her favorite place) and seeing her try to hold back tears of excitement as we checked in. We paid for a garden view and ended up with a view of the Castle and had an insanely delicious meal at Narcoossee’s that same night.

    7. My first trip with a DSLR and great lenses. I was finally able to capture our memories in a way that did them justice.

    6. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (and our first Disney Christmas Trip). The entire atmosphere was unbelievable.

    5. Our first night at the magic kingdom on our honeymoon. Watching wishes and the main street electrical parade for the first time was an unforgettable experience.

    4. Visiting Disneyland for the first time on a perfect day with perfect weather and low crowds. Walking into great moments with Mr. Lincoln and seeing the original park in person was unforgettable. Strolling into new orleans square and lingering in the COURT OF ANGELS =(. We planned to see more of southern California during our 5 day trip but we cancelled most of our other plans and spent our time at Disneyland instead.

    3. Staying at the Boardwalk Inn view a view of Crescent Lake and the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is easily my favorite place in all of WDW and staying there with that view was a once in a lifetime experience.

    2. Wandering an empty world showcase at night after a meal at Bistro de Paris to celebrate our anniversary. It was the perfect evening if there ever was one.

    1. Our honeymoon at Walt Disney World. There’s nothing like when absolutely everything is a new experience (neither us had been there since we were 8 years old). As we go more often it’s easy to find things to complain about, but our first time everything we saw was “new”- every piece of merchandise, every show, every parade, and every ride.

  21. Mi Mi 5 says:

    First visit at age 10 to Disneyland, in the mid 1960′s, and every subsequent childhood time there after. My California grandmother taking just my sister and myself. A rare treat! Accompanying my boyfriend for high school Senior Night, (his first trip ever.) He would later become my husband. Bringing our children, ages 11-16 for their first trip to Disney World. And then introducing 3 of our tiny grandchildren to Disneyland. (“Mic-Mou…!”) The joy on their faces. They were so beside themselves to meet the characters! Next, 2 more small grandchildren will come with us for the first time spring of 2015. The Disney legacy doesn’t end…it just keeps improving with each generation. One day, your trips with your little ones will appear atop your list!

  22. DisneyLizzi says:

    This list is amazing…I’m hoping to get proposed to at WDW haha just hope my other half knows that lol My best moment in WDW has to be the first time I walked down Main Street USA as an adult and saw the castle and just realised the magnitude of emotion that overtakes you. Spectacular!
    Thanks for this list, it was great to read and has made me want to make my own list hehe

  23. MIke says:

    My favorite moment was walking down Main Street with my little brother and both of us were looking intently at the castle and we both tripped over the curb, and then laughing as our mother yelled at us. Cut to 40 years later and we saw a young boy do the same thing, and the look of embarrassment on his face. We both looked at him and told him don’t worry about it, we did the same thing when we were your age.

  24. Bob says:

    For me, I think my best experiences were:

    -walking into MK for the first time and seeing the castle.

    -taking my 4-year old Disney fanatic niece for the first time and watching her reaction when she first saw the castle (and met some of the characters)

    -I took a group of high schoolers there for an event and it was during ‘gay days’ – so we get on the elevator at contemporary and this little old lady asks one of our kids, who was wearing a red shirt (I guess that’s what the people there do for gay days, or at least what they did that year), “how are you enjoying the convention” and he assumed she meant what we were there for… so he went on and on about how he loved it and loved being around like-minded people (he meant “smart high schoolers”)… it wasn’t until we got back to the room that I explained why I found it so amusing. (PS – I have nothing against gay people at all, wasn’t the point of this story)

    -Taking my mom with me for the first time and watching her enjoy herself like she was a young child on just about every ride.

    -Taking my Nikon for the first time after buying it and reading some of Tom’s recommended readings. His pictures inspired me to take up photography as a side hobby and while I still suck at it, I’m working at getting better.

    There’s so many more, and it seems every time I go, the experiences keep getting better and better.

    I enjoyed reading all of your responses.

  25. Tom Bricker says:

    Thanks for all of the responses so far–so many touching moments! I just wanted to drop in and let you know that I have been reading all of your experiences, too, but I just haven’t had a chance to respond to them individually yet. It’s been a busy week for me–sorry!

  26. Hilary says:

    What a great list. My experience has been almost the opposite. I grew up in Southern California and went to Disneyland many times starting on my 2nd birthday in 1982. But when I was 11 we moved to the Midwest and by the time I was 15 I started travelling to Disney World. I love the Disney parks and cannot wait to visit the ones abroad. My number one memory has to be taking my daughter to Disney World for her first visit last year. She was 3 and we are going back again this year. I also can’t wait to take a family trip with both my parents and my daughter so that we can all enjoy it together.

  27. maarch says:

    Love the list ! That number 7, you should really start thinking about organizing one for the website. I would be the first one signed up !

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve thought about it, but I just don’t know if I’d be good at leading such a thing. We’ll see!

      • maarch says:

        You Could always start with smaller group and see how it go from there. Anyhow, like I said I would be the first to go. Keep us posted if you decide to do it !

  28. Rachelle Beaney says:

    Thanks for sharing your favourite memories of Disney with us Tom… My top memories surround our first trip to Disneyland for our honeymoon. Living in Australia and growing up without the opportunity to visit Disney I dreamed of going to Disneyland until I was 23 and then my wonderful husband made it happen! We were soon hooked! Another of my favourite Disney moments was pulling up to the Miracosta hotel as our wonderful Japanese taxi driver hummed its a small world and walking into to such a beautiful hotel with my husband exclaiming ‘wow’ every few seconds (since I’m the researcher he had no idea what he was getting into!) … Lastly the moment when I walked into the magic kingdom with my sister on her first trip last year was wonderful .. I’d dreamed of visiting the parks with her for so long and now we were finally there together! Thanks for reminding me of these beautiful Disney moments .. I hope I have many more in the future!

  29. Hayley says:

    Having the very special opportunity to spend the night in Cinderella’s Castle with 5 close friends. Life changing experience and one that gives me goosebumps everytime I think about it.
    Walking into Hong Kong Disney
    I agree with walking into Tokyo Sea. Most amazing park.
    Experiencing Victoria & Alberts

  30. Deborah says:

    You and your wife are adorable! I love your posts! Thank you for sharing!!!

  31. Mike says:

    Two that come immediately to mind are when our son was around 6 months old and we went to the Contemporary for the Character breakfast. We sat next to the low wall between the corridor and the restaurant. Goofy came along the outside, saw Patrick and put his hands out to him. Patrick was looking over his Mom’s shoulder and immediately put his arms to Goofy who held him and eventually made believe he wasn’t giving him back. ( We were tolod later the characters aren’t supposed to pick up the realy little ones so we were very lucky) It is my favorite camcorder moment. The next was when we went last year and thought that the new Little Mermaid ride would not be opening yet for our trip. It is one of my wife’s favorite movies and Ariel is a favorite. I can never thank WDW enough for the look on her face when we were in Fantasyland and they were doing an unannounced beta test on the ride. Hard to beat those memories.

  32. Cindy says:

    I confess, many of these made me cry too!

    My husband and I spent our “Disneymoon” at the Contemporary Resort in the tower. It is our number one and work on Epcot had just been started, but once you have children the list starts over!
    My father left me a small amount of money when he died. We had just moved to Florida and our children, all five, were small but old enough for Disney World. We got resident passes and I kept the children out of school. I never did that and often spoke about how I thought it was not a good idea, so they were stumped. I told them I felt like going for a ride(to loud verbal disapproval all around…they HATED mommy rides)and we forced them into the car for the forty minute ride. We let them complain all the way. I will never-ever forget the joy, excitement, and anticipation in that car for my children’s first visit to the World! We are planning a family reunion with most of those same kids for January 2015. I get butterflies in my stomach and tears in my eyes every time I think of it! Love your blog…keep up the excellent work! P.S. I know their grandpa was proud to see his beloved grand children enjoy his small legacy…at least that is what I was trying for!!

  33. Chris says:

    As a Disney Geek who frequents many a Disney website I am ashamed to say that this is the first day that I have stumbled upon your site. But I do have to say that if all of your articles are as well written and nostalgic as this one, then you have a new daily reader (some people read the paper with their morning coffee, I read my Disney blogs on my iPad). As stated above many times I believe your list will change once you have children involved. There is nothing like seeing the look of excitement on your kid’s faces as you walk thru the turnstiles for the first time at Magic Kingdom, seeing the animals at Animal Kingdom, watching Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, and going on an Agent P mission at Epcot. Every year gets better and better the older they get (hopefully I have many more years until the “teenage mutant I hate everything years” since my oldest is 6 and youngest is 2). Great article and I can’t wait to read more articles over coffee!

  34. Marci says:

    Hi, Tom- What a great site this is…Thanks for all of the memories…we are in the process of planning our 10th trip with our sons (Disney/Universal) this summer. As “Disney” people-My husband and I first went to WDW in 1982 -as young, 3-years married-on a business trip-(BC-Before children!) and were hooked! Our next trip was to WDW when our first son was only 18 months old…followed by a trip to Disneyland in Cal.(another bus. trip)-when son #1 was 4 years old (Earthquake in Cal. that year-Santa Cruz) didn’t deter us from going to the Park the next day although it was virtually empty…over the next years..son #2 became a part of the Disney vacation experience…We were at WDW during a Hurricane-first time they closed the Parks…but we went as soon as they opened…ponchos on and again virtually empty Parks… we were there for the 10th, 25th, and 35th Anniversaries…took my Parents on one of our trips..and, of course, had pictures taken each time so that it is great to see the boys “growing up” through the years through the lens of “Disney” -we went back approx. every 3-4 years. So many wonderful memories…the food court and pools at Carribean Beach, Pop Century, All-Star Sports, waking up early and getting to the parks early-sometimes going back to relax/swim at the hotel during the brutal heat…my boys climbing on the “fake snow” outside Mama’s Restaurant in what was then MGM, son #2 wanting to get into the fountain with Kermit…leaving their stuffed animals in the hotel windows…staying for hours in the Honey I shrunk the kids playground, running through “misters” since we always go during the hottest month, watching their eyes light up at each parade and fireworks, the time that my oldest (maybe 8 at the time got into the boat on Pirates of the Carribean without us..we were trailing behind..and a worried Mom believing that the “pirates” would scare him to death and what would he do when he realized we hadn’t gotten in yet…needless to say the cast members radioed ahead and watched him all the way and took us to a spot where we would be waiting for him…(he thought we were behind him with son#2 in the gondola!)staying out from early until park closures and falling into bed/and or getting them out of strollers….and, as they grew older-being able to sit back and let them go together on all of the crazy rides I won’t go on (although there was the last time that they convinced me that the Mummy ride wasn’t bad…and screaming so loud that my husband and sons couldn’t stop laughing …never falling for that again!!!…seeing the changes in rides, experiences over the years and enjoying them even more… and now- planning a family trip with our two “kids” (now 23 and 28)…who are happily going to join us again (after all-who can resist a trip courtesy of Mom and Dad?)And, as to one of your memories…to this day my oldest son remembers bringing “Figgy” as he called him into school the next year to talk about imagination…we are, once more looking forward to the new memories we will share…even with our “older kids” Disney is magical! (I am a Special Ed teacher and I always say if you can’t appreciate or be happy in the happiest of places ..where sometimes escaping the real world for a beautiful “fantasy”…well….there goes a sad person! Wait until you have children…the experiences of seeing Disney through their eyes is priceless!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for sharing some of your experiences–definitely shows how having kids opens up a new world of great experiences!

  35. Beth Jackson says:

    I so enjoy your site and seeing what Sarah and you have been up to recently. We are taking our 4 year old son to WDW for the first time next month. I can’t wait. I’ve planned, planned, and over planned to make his first experience magical. I got some great ideas from your site. Thanks!

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