On our very first trip to Walt Disney World over Thanksgiving of 1988, we spent five days exploring every crook and nanny of what then was only the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. By the last night, we were exhausted. We had walked all day. While we budgeted carefully for this trip, we splurged on a formal dinner at L’Originale Alfredo Di Roma in Italy. After a meal and Illuminations, we decided to sit down and enjoy our last moments in the park before the long walk back to the bus section at the front of the park. When it seemed that most everyone had filed out, we began to get up to leave. All of a sudden out of nowhere came one of the double decker buses that used to circle World Showcase.
“Would you folks love a ride?”
“Would we? Absolutely!” We got on board and soon headed around World Showcase—past Germany, China, Norway and Mexico. We figured he would drop us off at near the Port of Entry stores at entrance to World Showcase. But the jitney took a right turn through Future World and right up to the front of Spaceship Earth. It was a little thing, but how it meant so much to us.
We left our first trip at Walt Disney World on such a positive note. In the years since, we’ve spent many an evening on a date night at Epcot. We still stand in awe over Illuminations, and we’ve enjoyed nearly every restaurant in Epcot. But nothing will compare with that small moment when someone offered us a ride back to the front of the park.
I’ve wondered back to that moment. The buses are long gone–perhaps well given the safety challenges of getting past the crowds. But I often wonder about the intention in giving us that lift. I’d rather think that didn’t happen just that one time. The buses weren’t on their way back to the bus barn, as that location was back behind China. It would have been easy for management to cut those positions at park closing just as the fireworks were going off, keeping them from going overtime. No one would have noticed nor expected otherwise. But the gesture of going around and picking up the last guests needing a lift back to the front of the park is really what makes Disney different than any other operation. It is making magic to the very end.