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It is as if you are walking into a land of dreams!!!! Walt Disney World Park and Resort in Orlando, in the state of Florida, U.S.A. welcomes all travelers with open arms, ushering him/her into a world of fantasy and excitement. I had always had a fascination for this place and thus even the comfortable bed in the condominium in Polo Park, Orlando failed to give me the sound sleep expected after a long journey. The sheer thought of visiting this theme park made me get up every now and then to see the time!

After a hearty breakfast of crisp brown toasts, omelet with herbs, creamy white vanilla pastries and fruits, we set off in the direction of the Park. Magic World, till date the world’s most visited theme park, was our first destination. A huge arch with the words “Walt Disney World” welcomed us into their domain. A mono rail ride from the car park to the main entrance, plying over a huge man-made reservoir, was quite thrilling but disappointingly short. I could have been in it for hours. We definitely had other options like water taxis and buses, but we chose this in order to get a better view of the area.

Nowadays, in India, we have quite a large number of theme/entertainment parks. But one has to remember that this is where it all began. This is the world’s first theme park and it was opened in 1971. It’s indeed spectacular. Right inside is a gilded statue of the creator, Walt Disney, along with his favorite and most popular creation, Mickey Mouse, and the duo greets every tourist with two things – a warm smile and a customary hand wave!!

The Cinderella Castle, the icon of the Magic Kingdom, nearly takes your breath away as it ushers you into a land of fantasy, far, far from the madding crowd!! Places like Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontier Rail Road, Tomorrowland etc. are some of the main attractions. There is so much to do once you are inside. You can stroll down the streets in search of your favorite Disney character, purchase a memorabilia from a local store or take the numerous rides that this place has to offer. Or you can just walk, walk and walk, gazing, staring and gaping at things never seen before.

The Haunted Mansion is one attraction that no tourist should miss. A great lover of horror movies, I was more than eager to have a rendezvous with ghosts. Situated inside the Liberty Square section of the park, this “eerie mansion” sprung unexpected surprises. The attendant manning its main entrance asked us to wait and explained, “They are still wiping off the blood.” Interesting introduction, I must say! To help all in the dark interiors there were attendants not only dressed in old fashioned clothes but also sporting a creepy look on their faces. I could hear a tiny Indian tourist cry, “Papa dar lagta hai.” (Daddy, I am scared). I couldn’t blame him for this confession. Believe me, it was really scary inside.

Our ride began in a small 2-seater compartment. It was no ordinary ‘rail ride’ and in place of soft background music, there was everything from blood-chilling screams to spooky visuals. If that was not enough, at the end we were made to cross a mirrored hall. What’s so special about that? Well. It is here that the two tourists in each compartment, much to their horror/astonishment, will find a “friendly ghost” tucked between them whenever they look into the mirrors!!

It took all of us some time to get over the ghostly effect and move towards the “Pirates of the Caribbean” show located in the “Adventureland” section and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the “Frontierland” section. But the show that tops it all is the one named “It’s A Small World”. Being a water-based dark ride, it features mini audio-animatronic dolls representing various nations and cultures of the world. The audio-visual effects here are mind-blowing. Here we get into small boats in order to sail down streams in darkness and watch the dolls (beautifully lighted) dance to lilting music. The song that is played is “It’s a Small World”, which Walt Disney himself had selected after rejecting many pieces. One should visit the Magic Kingdom only for this ride, I feel.

Apart from the many joyrides and shows, the Disney’s Magical Moment’s Parade at 3 ‘o’ clock every afternoon is a real crowd puller. All the Disney characters walk through the streets of the Park, waving and shaking hands with enthusiastic tourists, all to the accompaniment of songs and dance. It is a mind- boggling spectacle, which one has to witness first hand to believe and enjoy.

Tired? Flop down for a while and rest. Hungry? No problem. Eateries and café line up the streets and lanes. At any moment, you can grab a bite and continue with your ‘journey’ in this land of thrills and fun. This is fantasy land, away from the harsh realities of life, away from sighs and tears. This is the place for the essential ‘break’ that we all need and this is where we can all taste sheer magic.

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