Anyone who knows our family of four could tell you that we are a Disney Family. We love most things Disney. A majority of the decorations in our home feature Disney characters, Walt Disney quotes, or something that can be tied back to them in some way. We have embraced this love and it has shaped many aspects of our lives, even where we live. You can just take a look at our YouTube Channel Theme Park Brothers and see that a majority of the episodes are about Disney Parks, Resorts, Attractions, Dining, News, etc. What we have really started to realize over the past few years, slowly, is that there is so much more to life and the world than Disney!
Before you stop reading or start the hate comments right away I want you to realize that this all comes through a lens of complete love and admiration for the Disney Company and the product that they provide to all of us. By saying that there is more to life than Disney, I would never say that Disney will ever be left behind in our entertainment choices, our vacations, or our hearts. I believe that sometimes when we become part of a community of fans that critique and spend countless hours researching and talking about a particular thing, that thing has a way of shaping the reality of other things around it. Let’s start with a pretty big example, Universal Studios Orlando.
“I believe that sometimes when we become part of a community of fans that critique and spend countless hours researching and talking about a particular thing, that thing has a way of shaping the reality of other things around it.”
When we lived in Ohio and our love for Disney really began years ago I would listen to countless podcasts about Walt Disney World. WDW Today, The Be Our Guest Podcast, and WDW Radio were some of my favorites. I was part of online groups, which were mainly boards back then before the Facebook days. While part of this community it was pretty clear that if one loved Disney that they must by default dislike Universal or any other product that may compete with it. We thought that Universal had inferior product, lacked guest service skills when it came to the theme park, and just could not compete with Walt Disney World. There are still people who believe this today without having ever stepped into Universal Studios Orlando.
When we moved to Florida in 2012 we told ourselves that we should try Universal not just one day but get an annual pass and for one year give it a real chance. It did not take us more than one visit to realize that Universal Studios had just as much to offer us as Disney. The guest service at their parks was fantastic, maybe a bit toned down from Disney, which isn’t always a terrible thing. We found their attractions to be just as immersive and we always had a wonderful time. As Disney fans Universal will always be missing that certain something that always puts Disney on top, but we realized that it was ok to have fun enjoying parks other than Disney Parks. This led to us really enjoying SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, LEGOLAND Florida, and a few other parks that we had been hesitant to try before.
We realized that there was more out there when it came to theme parks but had we really learned our lesson? Apparently not! When it came time to go on our first cruise we would not bend from it needing to be a Disney Cruise. We just couldn’t do it. We could watch all the YouTube videos of other ships, see how much they had to offer, and see that they were HALF the price but we just could not do it. It HAD to be Disney! We went on our first Disney Cruise and it was, of course, fantastic. We are so glad that we chose Disney Cruise Line for our first cruise because I think it gave us a familiar product to enter uncharted waters, so to speak. Now we had been bit by the cruise bug and knew that we really enjoyed being out on the water but would we choose only the Disney Cruise Line moving forward?
For a while, yes, we thought now that we have been on the best we could never go back to the OTHER guys. We stopped and remembered Universal however. We remembered how much fun we would have missed if we would have never stepped foot into Universal and kept this Disney snobbery going. We started researching and we have decided that there are many other options out there and our next cruise will, more than likely, be on a different cruise line so we can try something different. We aren’t looking for a replacement for Disney but just seeing what we are comparing it too. It is hard to call something the best if you have never experienced the rest.
What all this talk of being more out there than Disney has led up to is our family’s recent move back to Ohio from Central Florida. Our “Leaving the Magic” moment, if you will. Realizing that there is more out there led us to take Disney and Walt Disney World out of the equation when determining if we were happy with where we lived and where we were raising our family. Once you take Disney out of the equation it was clear to see that we were living in the wrong location. We realized that by living so close to Walt Disney World we were making it part of everyday life, draining it of its ability to be really special. We were making it “normal” and we no longer found it as excited as we once did. We needed a change. We needed a place where we could drop an anchor, find some stability and push forward with our dreams of traveling the country and the world and really seeing what else is out there.
In January of this year we did just that. We packed up everything we had and said goodbye to Central Florida. We are now back in Ohio with family and I can only speak for myself but I am really enjoying spending more time with family, and being away from the hustle bustle of tourist central. Social media allows me to get there any time I want, which does lead to missing it quite a bit. We need that I think. We need to miss Walt Disney World so when we do return for vacations it is special again. It will not be our only vacation destination anymore, however as we are starting new adventures and with those new adventures we understand that there is more out there than Disney!
We aren’t looking for a replacement for Disney but just seeing what we are comparing it too. It is hard to call something the best if you have never experienced the rest.