“Over at our place, we’re sure of just one thing: everybody in the world was once a child. So in planning a new picture, we don’t think of grown-ups, and we don’t think of children, but just of that fine, clean, unspoiled spot down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget and that maybe our pictures can help recall.” This quote spoken by Walt Disney describes not only his motion pictures, but also the parks he would create long after saying this. And with that childlike sense of wonder and imagination there are things in the parks that give me chill bumps every time I visit—no matter how many times I’ve been there.
10. Voices of Liberty
The amazingly talented Voices of Liberty perform in Epcot’s American Adventure Pavilion multiple times daily. Their acapella renditions of classic Americana songs and patriotic anthems give me chills every time I hear them. For one their voices and harmonies are beautiful on a level that it is hard to compare to others. But, their song choices and the pride in American perseverance and patriotism come through in every performance. If you are lucky enough to visit during the winter holidays, you are in for an extra special treat with their arrangements of favorite Christmas Carols and other holiday songs.
How many of you knew exactly what I’m talking about with just that one onomatopoeia? At the beginning of the current Illuminations show in World Showcase at Epcot when the narrator speaks his line about “We’re gathered here tonight, around the fire — as people of all lands have gathered for thousands and thousands of years before us — to share the light, and to share a story. An amazing story as old as time itself, but still being written. And though each of us has our own individual stories to tell, a true adventure emerges when we bring them all together as one. We hope you enjoy our story tonight: Reflections of Earth.” Then he blows out the torches around the Lagoon and the show begins. Chill bumps. Every time. Even just thinking about it.
8. I’m Home
We drive to Walt Disney World, and one of my favorite things is when we pull up to the gate at our resort and we are greeted with a sincere, “Welcome Home.” I love the sense of belonging it gives me and a feeling of relaxation upon arriving. I imagine that boarding the Magical Express bus at Orlando International airport is the same type of goose bump feeling of starting your vacation and kicking off the fun.
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7. Background Music
I love the background music at Walt Disney World. It blends in so perfectly and seamlessly that you barely notice it sometimes. It fits the theme and feeling of the land and sets the mood. While I love it all, the music in Future World really gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. Part of it is nostalgia, part of it is the optimistic undertones of the score, and part of it is that I just love the music. Maybe more than anywhere else I like to just sit here and listen while people watching (or while watching the fountain dance).
6. “Por Favor”
When the monorail doors begin to close and the announcer gives the safety spiel in both English and Spanish it gets me every time. Not only am I riding a monorail (hello? Where else do I get to ride the Highway in the Sky?), but I am on my way to a fun day in a theme park—or on my way back to a resort in the evening filled with happy memories of the day.
5. Waking up the first morning
Just like the commercials where the kids and parents are too excited to sleep, that first morning of a Walt Disney World Vacation I am up with the sun. No time for sleep when there is fun to be had! And each time I have chill bumps as I wake up, put on my Disney t-shirt and head out for the day. It is that happy feeling that keeps me coming back again and again.
Yep—every time I see a Disney fireworks show I get goose bumps and maybe even tear up a little bit. I’ll have to admit that nothing gives me the same level of chill bumps as Jiminy Cricket in the old Magic Kingdom Wishes show, but that doesn’t mean the nighttime extravaganzas don’t have all the feels. Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom, Illuminations at Epcot . . . they have that Disney magic. At Hollywood Studios you can choose your chill bump inducing show: Fantasmic! Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and even the Disney Movie Magic projection show. And Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light give you all of the natural beauty chill bumps. Again, if you visit during the holidays you have some different show options . . . and I may have to take back my earlier statement. Holiday Wishes during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom gives me so many chill bumps—and so many happy, nostalgic tears. And of course, every time Tinker Bell takes flight from Cinderella’s Castle during Happily Ever After—goose bumps!!
3. The arch
Whether you are driving in a car or riding on Magical Express, passing under that iconic Walt Disney World arch means you have arrived. You are on vacation in the most magical place on earth. No matter how many times I ride under it I take the same photo through the windshield that is mediocre at best . . .but it doesn’t matter because I’m at Walt Disney World.
2. The Train Whistle
This is one of those little things. The sound of the train whistle from the Walt Disney World railroad in Magic Kingdom. You can hear it all around the park and it is a reminder of where you are and the legacy of the park handed down from Walt Disney himself and his love of miniature railroading. It brings you back to your childhood, or recalls memories from when your children were smaller (or both). To me it triggers goose bumps of happiness, memories (from the past and to be made), carefree fun and family.
1. Spotting the Castle
The Imagineers framed it perfectly, just like the movie scene they were creating. Walking up to the Magic Kingdom you are greeted by the train station and the Castle is not visible. You walk in under the train station and are greeted by Main Street USA, but not until you walk into the park can you see the centerpiece: Cinderella’s Castle. And every time it gives me chill bumps. Sometimes I spot a child seeing it for the first time and their imagination is captured by the size and grandeur. Sometimes I see an older couple looking at the castle filled with memories. I’ve seen proposals. I’ve seen baby announcements. I’ve seen a gazillion family photos. All with Cinderella’s Castle as a backdrop. For a place where so many memories are made—it has to give you goose bumps when you see it.
What are your goose bump moments at Walt Disney World?