Top Ten Things to Be Thankful For About Disney
The premise of this list is quite interesting to me. The things in my life that I am most thankful for have nothing to do with Walt Disney World. I’m sure that most people reading this would agree with that. I love Thanksgiving because it offers Americans a chance to think about the things that really matter in life. Of course you don’t need to live in the United States to be thankful, anyone can celebrate a Thanksgiving of their own any day of the year.
Before I continue with this list and make it about Walt Disney World, I want to take a moment and thank those who have made sacrifices for the freedoms that we enjoy. You truly are heroes, and your sacrifices are more important than a fattening dinner with pumpkin pie for dessert. Thanks also to those who give their time and resources to help those who are less fortunate. You could be mentoring a child, giving a meal to a homeless person, running errands for an elderly neighbor, buying food for an animal shelter, or a slew of other things. Giving of ourselves with no thought of reward is selfless and commendable. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Now to the Disney part. This list will be different for almost anyone. What is important to me may not be as important to you. I’ve tried to cover a wide variety of options and include things that everyone can relate to. These are ten things to be thankful for at Walt Disney World. The list could include 100 items and it still would not be enough. Most of them are not seasonal, you can be thankful for them any time of year. And please pay careful attention to #1. We are more than willing to complain, but not willing enough to compliment.
10) Disney Freebies
Everyone knows that a Walt Disney World vacation is expensive. The tickets alone are going to cost a small fortune. You’ll also have food, accommodations, travel, souvenirs, and other things to pay for. That is why the freebies are so nice. Believe it or not, they are everywhere! You can stop by Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop and get a free square of chocolate. Guest relations in the parks has free birthday, anniversary, and first visit buttons, or ask for the generic “I’m Celebrating” instead. If you want some free evening entertainment, watch the street performers at Disney’s BoardWalk, or catch YeHaa Bob Jackson at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. You can take free boat rides, drink free international sodas, or let the kids play for free in an interactive fountain. There are so many little freebies at Walt Disney World that you will not be able to experience them all.
9) Faster Access to the Parks
Technology has definitely made it easier to get into the parks. Gone are the flimsy paper tickets and the turnstiles that often had long lines. Now, you hold your sturdy ticket or Magic Band up to Mickey’s face, place your finger on the scanner, and once the lights turn green, you’re in! While some people are not huge fans of the new technology, even they have to admit that it’s a faster way to make it into the parks. On a busy day, getting in quickly is something that you will be thankful for.
8) Reimagined Test Track
In 2011 Test Track was closed for several months. It was more than just a refurbishment, the ride was reimagined. Gone are the crash test dummies and the pre-ride video. Instead, you’ll have a chance to walk through a pretty cool queue line and design your own concept car. The track for the ride hasn’t changed all that much, but the surroundings for it have. The indoor part of the ride is futuristic and relies heavily on blue light. The end of the ride in the open air is just as much fun as ever. If you haven’t been on Test Track since it reopened, you’re missing out.
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7) Mickey Pretzels
Mickey is available in plenty of different food forms at Walt Disney World. You can get Mickey ice cream, Mickey waffles, Mickey Rice Krispie Treats, and even Mickey cucumber slices! Making pretzels in the shape of the world’s most famous mouse just makes sense. Mickey pretzels sprouted up slowly in the theme parks but now they are easy to find. You can even get them outside of the theme parks if you look. Order a cup of cheese to dip your pretzel in. You’ll thank yourself for it.
6) Cooler Weather
Summer in Florida is hot and humid, and it rains almost every afternoon. The storms usually pass quickly but you can get drenched in just a few seconds. As the holidays grow closer the weather gets much more comfortable. It can still get hot, but it is nothing compared to the summer temperatures. The humidity is also much lower in November. It might still rain from time to time, but you won’t find the extreme storms that Central Florida gets hit with all summer long. The locals are always thankful when the weather cools off a little bit. If you visit in November you’ll understand why.
5) Holiday Decorations and Celebrations
Everyone knows that Disney plays it up big for the holidays! It does not take long for them to change the theming at the Magic Kingdom from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights starts each year near the beginning of November at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade starts around the same time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The festivities at Epcot do not start until the day after Thanksgiving, but they are worth the wait. Holidays Around the World gives guests a chance to see how Christmas is celebrated elsewhere. D’Vine Voices will sing holiday songs by the Fountain of Nations in the show “Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season”. The Candlelight Processional is a must-do experience. A celebrity narrator will retell the biblical Christmas story, backed by a mass choir and a 50 piece orchestra. It will leave you in awe.
Don’t forget to check out the holiday decorations at the deluxe resorts. They love to dress the lobbies up for the holidays. Just be warned, you might have a craving for gingerbread for days, especially after leaving Disney’s Grand Floridian.
4) Dining Options
One thing that Walt Disney World knows how to do is to feed people. No matter what your tastes and dining preference are, you will be able enjoy satisfying meals. It does not matter if you’re vegan, have food allergies, or follow a kosher diet, you will find delicious food in the parks. Disney is always changing and giving guests new experiences. New restaurants like Be Our Guest and Monsieur Paul offer new dishes and flavors. Disney does not stop there. California Grill has been refurbished with a great new menu. L’Artisan des Glaces offers a new take on traditional ice cream. And love it or hate it, you can finally get a decent cup of coffee at Disney because of the deal with Starbucks. The dining options at Disney offer more than traditional theme park food. You do not have to settle on having the same thing each meal because of the variety of choices. Given the fact that so many people around the world do not get enough to eat each day, we need to be thankful for our food.
3) Disney Transportation
Walt Disney World is huge! Imagine what it would be like if each day of your vacation started with driving your car from the hotel to a park. At lunchtime you drive to a resort for your reservation. After lunch you drive to a different park for the afternoon. At the end of the night you want to catch Wishes, so you get in the car again and head to the Transportation & Ticket Center. When Wishes is over you need to find your car and drive back to the hotel. Fortunately, Disney transportation means that you do not have to navigate all that. If you’re staying on Disney property you will not have to drive at all! Even if you’re staying off property you can park your car in the morning and take a bus, boat, or monorail to get where you need to go. You can explore all that Walt Disney World has to offer without having to worry about getting lost. While Disney transportation can sometimes be crowded and a bit frustrating, it still makes your vacation go a lot more smoothly. The next time you’re complaining about having to wait in line for a bus, be thankful that you’re not trying to navigate unfamiliar roads with thousands of other people who also don’t know the roads. Disney transportation makes things much easier.
2) New Fantasyland
New Fantasyland is definitely something to be thankful for! Travel “under the sea” with Ariel or experience first hand to the story of Belle and her Beast. You can soar once again with Goofy, or play in the water with Casey Jr. The update to Dumbo is brilliant, you no longer need to wait in the hot sun for this classic ride. With two carousels the wait is a lot shorter, but the kids might want to skip their turn so that they can continue to play in the indoor queue area. There’s also free entertainment throughout the day if you need a short break. New Fantasyland has a couple of great dining options, and is the new home of the cinnamon rolls. If you’re a character fan you’ll definitely be thankful for the changes! You can meet several princesses and classic characters in the area. New Fantasyland still has everything that made the land so popular, but there’s now even more to love.
1) Working Cast Members
Disney goes out of its way to hire people who will work hard to give you the best experience possible. If you’re at a park on Thanksgiving Day, you will encounter many cast members. Many of them might rather be home, celebrating with their families, but instead they are working hard to make your Disney dreams come true. Take the time to thank each cast member who assists you throughout the day. Remember that it is not the cast member’s fault that the prices are too high or that the lines are too long. Taking your frustrations out on a cast member is unnecessary. It is not an easy job, especially on a holiday. They’re trying to make your day more special, a smile and a word of appreciation might make a cast member’s day more special as well. And if a cast member goes out of his or her way for you, take note of the name and stop by Guest Relations to leave a compliment. If you don’t have time for that, send Disney an email with the details. Disney takes cast member compliments very seriously, so take a moment and let them know when someone is doing an exceptional job.