Alot of people claim a "coming home" sort of feeling when they visit Disneyland; I get that feeling when I visit Walt Disney World. It's the park I grew up with, the one that for me defined what the experience of a Disney park is supposed to feel like. And I'm visiting again in six days, for the first time in almost two years.
Since I now live in California, visits to Disney World are more precious than they used to be; here's what I'm looking forward to the most:
The new Haunted Mansion. Orlando's Mansion has always been my favorite version: the great "House of Usher" exterior, eerie entry foyer, and lengthier, more fleshed-out ride all contribute to making it the tops. Though I couldn't keep myself from reading up on the new enhancements before they premiered, I've religiously avoided any of the ride video and audio–even descriptions–since it has opened. From the little I've gathered I think it'll be very cool, and I can't wait.
Taking the boat launch to the Magic Kingdom. There's no better way to do it; a tram can't compare.
The Cinderella Castle tile murals. I think the best, purely artistic achievement in any of the Disney parks. They're beautiful.
It's A Small World. Small World, believe it or not, is my favorite attraction. Disneyland's is the best, but Disney World's presentation is different enough that it feels like its own experience, and I appreciate it just as much.
Speed boats. I always enjoy flying around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake in the tiny, two-person "water sprite" speed boats. When I was a kid I would ride in these boats with one of my parents and stare at the expansive shores of Bay Lake, all the time dreaming about the great stuff that would someday be built in those undeveloped areas. (How much better would Disney World be if all of the parks could have somehow been centered around these lakes instead of scattered miles apart from each other?) And it grants the opportunity for a nice, nostalgic look at Treasure/Discovery Island, one of the more fun things I remember doing at Disney World in the '70s.
Jungle Cruise. Though you're only in it for less than a minute, the temple in the middle of the attraction–missing from Disneyland's version–makes the whole thing seem like a deeper adventure; I love going through it.
Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. It's not so much that I dislike the Tarzan theming in Disneyland; I just hate that they took away what I liked best about the place: the clever plumbing system that was a joy to watch, but more importantly, the sense that someone actually lives there. Tarzan's Treehouse feels like a museum by comparison.
Electrical Water Pageant. The only nighttime show in any Disney park that I actually enjoy. No lines, no fighting for curb space, cool music, and some great visuals.
But the main thing I'm looking forward to is spending time with my extended family. My brother will be taking his two little boys (ages 4 and 2) for the first time, and I'll be visiting with my Mom for the first time in almost ten years and my Dad for the first time in almost twenty. Hard to believe that I ever would have been able to say such a thing given that family trips to Disney World were so frequent in my childhood.I can't wait.