In addition to Beatrix, this is my first time at Disney World too. Bethany came when she was Beatrix’s age but has not been back since. Therefore, I had no idea what made it so special. I was completely laid back about the whole trip. I knew it would be magical for Beatrix but, then again, anything with Princesses is all she needs to be on board. But, then, as we drove down the highway heading to the Magic Kingdom and came up over the hill to see the gate to Disney right in front of us, Bethany and I lost all semblance of parental cool. The whole car became giddy as we oohed and aahed at every new detail…

And it did not stop for the rest of the day.

Our first day here filled me with observations, thoughts, and lessons learned. Many of which I have yet to quantify and I’m sure there will be even more to come. Here are just a few…

  • Plan the work then work the plan. — Everything at Disney is perfectly choreographed and orchestrated. Including you. They are just so expert at direction, crowd control, engagement, and organization, you don’t even realize you are simply part of the plan and have been since your car crossed that gate.

  • The price is always fair. — Everything at Disney is a bit expensive but never too expensive. You are never left feeling like the cost is greater than the value. You know you are not getting a bargain but that is because nothing is really “cheap” on either side of the perception. It is always perfectly fair. The food we had at Be Our Guest — the dinning hall in the Beasts Enchanted Castle — is a good example. Such a price for a sandwich seemed a bit high at first glance but then, when I received it, I realized that it was priced fairly. It was pretty decent and not too far out of line of what it would cost in the real world. This was true of everything I saw.

  • Details matter.— The attention to detail everywhere is simply insane. Let me suffice to say that anything you can think of, they have thought of it first and made it perfect. From the approach from the parking lot to the ticket booths to the ferry landing to the approach of the boat as it takes you across the lake — never out of view of the magic castle or stunningly pristine viewing angles of the on-property resorts you now wished you had mortgaged the house to stay in — they have imagined an ideal more perfect than you could have on your own. They are selling your dreams back to you at a markup and even that price is fair.

  • It’s a small world after all. — Every cast member has their home town on their name badge. With a few thousand cast members at any given time, you are likely to have an interaction with someone from someplace you have some association with.

  • Under promise and over deliver. — … And if you, by mistake, over promise, deliver even more. Here’s the thing, no matter how early you get there you will wait in lines for everything. Helpfully, they have the expected wait times at the entrance to all of the attractions. That posted wait time is almost always longer than the actual wait time. Therefore, you are always delighted the line went faster than expected. Setting such an expectation is a classic under promise and sets up the opportunity to deliver more. In the one case where that was not true, the Dumbo Ride, they had a kid’s play area while you waited that delivered as much fun as the ride itself.

  • Be a step above. — Everything at Disney is a step above any other similar experience you have had at any other similar amusement park (similar being a very loose term here because, I can now say with relative certainty, there is no such thing). The employees are more cheerful, friendly, helpful, and nice than anywhere else. I was even impressed that every other guest seemed unfailingly courteous and nice — every accidental bump or slight by a stranger was followed without prompt by an apology and/or rectification. The rides are all better than similar ones at other parks too. All the food I’ve had so far has been a notch above. The list goes on.

  • Everyone knows your name.— Beatrix wore a Belle (Beauty and The Beast) princess dress on day one. Therefore, every single cast member addressed to her as “Princess” or “Your Majesty” and Bethany and I as “King and Queen”. Every single time. They not only never missed it but went out of their way to make her feel like the most special guest of all. They realize that, for a girl of her age, doing anything else would chink the armor of her fantasy and enjoyment. When you know they do this for every single girl in a princess dress, instead of making it seem routine, blows my mind even more. Think about it. They can make each of tens of thousands of girls a day feel like an exclusive honored guest.

  • Cleanliness is next to godliness. — This is the most spotless amusement park I have ever been to. Even late in the day and a few hundred thousand visitors later I would dare you to find a single piece of garbage on the ground. Even the bathrooms all look like you could dine off of the porcelain and smells like a garden.

Suffice it to say that I love it here. There is so much to be learned for sure. And I know I will have more to think and write about. But, most of all, my little girl is being filled with good memories that will last a lifetime and nothing can make me happier than that.