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3. You expected characters to show up on rides

  Video: YouTube, User: HBVideos, From A Day at Disneyland

This one was likely shared by kids who repeat-watched Disney’s various promotional videos—who are these lucky kids who keep getting to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with Disney characters?!

This mystery boggled me for years… Did it only happen during the summers? Perhaps it was sort of secret lottery. Did it have to be your birthday? What was the secret to these magical scenarios where Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and friends hopped onto rides with kids?

Now, ironically, this apparently is something that happens from time to time. Guests have reported Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare riding the teacups, Lady Tremaine and her daughters riding the carousel, and even Darth Vader and Stormtroopers (gaaaasp!) showing up on Star Tours, but this is extremely rare. It’s sort of something that only happens when the stars align and a character handler thinks it’s a good idea. I’ve been visiting Disney parks for over thirty years and have never seen this happen once.

Still, as a kid, you just couldn’t help but think you might be the chosen one who might get to fly down Splash Mountain with a flume full of Disney princesses…

4. You expected characters to remember you

Cinderella meeting a very, very happy little girl
Image: Disney

Speaking of characters, there’s another adorable belief you probably had as a Disney kid. This is one I’ve actually read a few parents sharing, and it’s so true.

Kids 100% will walk up to Mickey Mouse and ask if he remembers them from a trip years ago—and they will leave that encounter convinced that he does.

The characters play this scenario so well because it’s so common. Disney already does an excellent job making sure characters only appear at one place at a time, so as not to break the illusion (“But Merida, dinnae you remember?! I became yer wee squire a’fore lunch! Did ye’ crack yer noggin’?”), but they really go a step further in making every kid feel like they’re being remembered personally. Kids leave these encounters so excited that you’re likely to hear about it for weeks.

Oh, and on a side note, how many of you were certain that the animatronics looked right at you?...

5. You wondered what was hidden over there

Mickey climbing the Matterhorn
Image: Flickr, User: AprilAndRandy (license)

While some budding young Disneyphiles might know about Magic Kingdom’s utilidors, that’s not what I’m talking about. Rather, as a kid, you genuinely wondered, “How do I get over there?”

Over there could have been just about any area in the park—onto the banks of the Pirates of the Caribbean town, into locked off rooms of Fort Langhorn, onto the top of Spaceship Earth. Kids spot things that adults just don’t, and I remember imagining many times just what Disney might be hiding behind closed doors. From Toontown to Horizons to The Great Movie Ride, kids can’t help but wonder what’s hiding behind the curtain, and some of the ideas they come up with are just amazing. Moments like Mickey Mouse climbing the Matterhorn made this speculation even more tantalizing.

After all, some of those dark corners in Spaceship Earth would make for an epic ninja battle…

6. You thought everything was free

Chef Mickey hugging little girl
Image: Disney

You know you were thinking it…

We must tip our hats to the parents who year after year decide to make the investment to give kids a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Magic can be expensive, and for many families, planning a Disney trip is a complicated affair that involves careful budgeting, deal hunting, long hours on the computer or phone, and years of saving.

And the kids just have no idea sometimes.

As kids, the reason you get to have a nice Disney trip is because Mickey is just such a nice guy. There’s a precious assumption that Disney princesses simply throw banquets for merry subjects, that Savi chose you with the Force to build a lightsaber, and that hotel rooms are paid for with pirate gold. While it is good to teach kids about money management as they grow, there is something sort of sweet about kids’ naivete in this area.

It’s the magic of being young, care-free, and still seeing the best in humanity… While it may pain parents whose kids have moments where they just don’t get it, to the parents who ride this out with quiet patience, waiting for that day in years ahead where the kids will remember the magical vacation you helped make happen, we salute you.

Enjoy this article? Keep reading to check out our Ultimate Book Lover’s Guide to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

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Comments

I think the biggest thing kids think is that the ride is really located inside the fascade-- the biggest one being the belief that when you ride Haunted Mansion, you're really going through the house that you see outside. Disney does such a great job of hiding the massive show buildings that you don't realize all that's happening behind the scenes! (And yes, as a child I really believed I was riding a hydrolator down to Seabase Alpha!)

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