A Grown Man’s First Disney Experience–from Australia

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So pleased to have Jason from Islands of Investing guest posting today!  He’s traveled across the world to see Disney, and had quite the experience.  If you’re interested in contributing your own Disney guest post, please contact me.

My very first Disney experience was late 2006, as a 25 year old. I was lucky enough to have my then-girlfriend now-wife’s family invite me on one of their very special family vacations to the US. Turned out they were pretty huge fans of everything Disney – especially the theme parks, and this trip was to involve no less than 10 days at Disneyworld.

I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, or what to expect. As a young boy, I had always pictured Disneyland as a mythical, magical place, that no-one really visited. It genuinely didn’t seem like a real place to me, living on the other side of the world, in my own small sphere of reality. It certainly wasn’t something my own family ever talked about. grown man disney


I was simply blown away by my first visit. I vividly remember every ride and experience at the first park we visited, Epcot. The attention to every detail, the atmosphere of fun and magic, and the sheer quality of everything was like nothing I’d seen before. And all the other Disney parks had the same impact.

What made the experience even more amazing was my wife’s incredible planning around what rides to do when, and her family’s knowledge of all the tips and tricks (including optimisation of fast-passes!), being veterans of the Disney parks. It really pays to be prepared and organised! (That also included being up super-early and at the park about an hour before it opened – lucky I’m a morning person ☺)

grown man disney

Little did I know how scary it would really be!

A terrifying (but eventually enjoyable) ride

My wife and family played a nice little trick on me, on the Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood Studios (or MGM as it was known when we were there). I knew nothing about it, and was happy to just go along for the ride. I assumed there might be some riding up and down in an elevator – sounds fun!

All was going great until our elevator came off the rails, and drifted forwards towards a pitch black room, with the doors closing behind us. Then – the DROP! I have seriously never, ever screamed like I did on that first ride. It was blood-curdling. The only time so far in my life I genuinely thought I was going to die. Stupid as it might have seemed, the free-falling experience was totally unexpected.

I was shaking for about 30 minutes afterwards, barely able to speak. But after a few more brave rides, it has since become one of my favourites! I’ve definitely overcome a few fear-factors on some of the more extreme rides, and now I just can’t get enough of them!

“We came all the way from Australia!”

We arrived at Animal Kingdom (another Disney theme park), bursting with excitement to experience the “Expedition Everest” roller coaster for the first time. When the gates opened, we couldn’t contain ourselves – we all started running towards the ride (you’re not really supposed to run!), which was all the way over the other side of the park. When staff yelled out to us “You don’t need to run – the ride isn’t going anywhere!”, we replied “But we are! We’ve just come all the way from Australia, so we’re making the most of every second!”. And it was worth it – we got about 3 rides in before it started getting ridiculously busy! Definitely one of my top 2 or 3 favourites.

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Expedition Everest at Animal Kindgom – an awesome ride!

I could go on and on about all the other amazing rides and experiences, but I’ll spare you the details – and let you discover them for yourself one day if you haven’t yet been.

We will return again!

I’m so grateful to my wife and her very generous family for that first experience. It’s definitely one I’ll remember forever.

I know it often seems weird to people who either haven’t experienced it, or believe they’re too ‘mature’ for a theme park, that a grown man can have such a brilliant experience at a place like Disney. But I think when you really do immerse yourself in it, you really see what an amazing, fun, joyous place it can be. It’s great to be able to awaken you’re inner child! (but there are still plenty of more daunting adult rides too). Although I must admit – I’ll probably never get quite as excited as the rest of my family about all the parades, even though I will admit they are pretty spectacular.

I’ve been back to Disneyworld / land a few times since with my wife – including a visit to Tokyo Disney (which is amazing!). But we’re most excited to take my 2 year old daughter in a few years, and hopefully start a new, wonderful family tradition and create some more unforgettable memories!

Jason is the creator of the Islands of Investing, a quiet place away from the constant noise of the investment world. His blog is focused on learning about the important things for becoming a better investor and living a good life. He’s striving towards financial independence – and balancing this with occasional family trips to Disney!

If you’re interested in booking your own Disney vacation, request a quote from my affiliate Laura.  She’s got all the best deals, works for free to you, and will save you a ton of money on your magical experiences.

22 thoughts on “A Grown Man’s First Disney Experience–from Australia

  1. kay ~ frugalvoices.com

    We went to Disney World when my son was 4. I’m not sure who was sadder when we left, him or us. We wanted to live in that park forever! Great post. Brought back wonderful memories and has me ready for a very long overdue visit this coming year. 🙂

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Ohh exciting! Feel free to submit a guest post when you get back! Would love to hear how it goes the second time around! In the meantime, it’s worth doing the request a quote thing. Laura’s whole job is to save you money…and stress. 🙂

    2. Jason @ Islands of Investing

      Thanks Kay! I expect my wife will be exactly the same when we take our daughter – she is always incredibly sad to leave! I really hope you make it back again this year. The fantastic thing about Disney is that they’re always working on something new within the parks, so hopefully you have a few new experiences and make some great new memories!

  2. Alicia

    I went to Disney as a child (about 8?), and then again when I was 25 and in town for a family members wedding (also went with my parents then). I really enjoyed it more as an adult. Sure it isn’t quite as magical as when you’re a child, but there’s no concern on whether you’re tall enough to go on rides, and you (hopefully) have more patience to wait in line. Plus, since it was in late November there weren’t very many lines 🙂

      1. Jason @ Islands of Investing

        It’s extra special when the lines are much shorter and the park isn’t as crowded – we always try to aim for quieter times of year. Although in saying that, we once went around Christmas / New Year when it was crazy busy, expecting not to enjoy it anywhere near as much. But despite queueing for around an hour on average for each ride, it still turned out to be one of the best experiences we’ve had! Most of those rides really are worth waiting for 🙂

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  4. debt debs

    I’ve been to Disney World ten times but haven’t been for about 11 years now and feel I’m long overdue. We took our kid three summers in a row when they were young. Great memories for sure. I had to train them the first year about how you skip the less popular rides to head directly to the good ones to ride before the crowds came and queues got long. They didn’t really understand and thought I wouldn’t bring them back to the ones they were seeing with big open eyes. So funny because then they learned and the next year it was like “Kay, where are we going, Mum? “. Chop chop. They totally respected me as guide leader after that. Thanks for sharing your great experiences, Jason. 😀

    1. Jason @ Islands of Investing

      Wow, you definitely sound like a Disneyworld veteran Debs! Planning what attractions to do in what order / at what times really is important to get the best out of your days there. Hope you get to go back again one day soon Debs – there’s been heaps of changes and new attractions since 11 years ago!

  5. Messy Money

    I have never taken my kids to Disney. I have had people tell me I a cruel for not taking them. Cruel? Really?
    We did go to a different/local theme park with them and it did not go well at all. They both have sensory issues – so that probably explains it.
    I went a couple of years ago as part of a conference for work. I enjoyed searching for the Mickeys but otherwise I was underwhelmed. I hate to admit that publicly because it confirms for people that I am nuts.
    I went to the one is Florida and the Orlando airport was a complete disaster and I nearly missed my plane home. It was kind of an awful trip. Wow, don’t I sound like a negative Nelly.

    Glad Jason had a great time though. I have heard about that elevator ride and that it is epic.

    1. Jason @ Islands of Investing

      Sorry to hear your experience wasn’t great – sometimes things just don’t quite work out like you hope, and obviously Disney isn’t going to be a highlight for everyone. I know for me it definitely helped going with a family who are hugely enthusiastic about Disney and have grown up with it being a special event for their family – and that really rubbed off me for sure when I was there! And if your kids didn’t enjoy the local theme park, it just might not be their thing (which probably isn’t the worst thing in the world!).

      Hopefully you and your family have plenty of other experiences that are special for you and that you all enjoy much more 🙂

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