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Erica LandreneauBlog

Last time we looked at how certain restaurants in Walt Disney World can make you feel nostalgic. This week we are going to look at how WDW incorporates that sentimental feeling for those born during the “Renaissance Era.”

For those of you who are wondering, the Renaissance Era of Disney Animated Classics are the movies that were released from 1989 to 1999. This includes films from The Little Mermaid to Tarzan. As someone born during this era, I’ve got a lot of personal ties to nostalgia of this period. I remember watching those movies on VHS tapes with my sister when I was little. WDW has taken those amazing films, and brought them to life in an incredible way.

See the stain glass window from Beauty and the Beast at Be Our Guest Restaurant Photo by: Mike Billick

Be Our Guest Restaurant

“Be Our Guest” first came to us in the 1991 film, Beauty and the Beast. When the new Fantasyland opened in Magic Kingdom in 2012, Be Our Guest Restaurant brought the Beast’s castle to life. Just walking up to the castle makes you feel like you’ve stepped right into the movie.

My experience at Be Our Guest Restaurant was from my trip in 2013 with my best friend when I was 15. We were going for lunch, and I was super excited. After we ordered our food the Cast Member told us to have a seat wherever we’d like, but not to go to the West Wing, even though it has some of the most interesting things to look at. We made the logical decision of going to the West Wing.

As we started walking, my head was down, and the first thing I saw was the Ballroom floor. I stopped dead in my tracks and told my friend, “It’s exactly like it is in the movie!” Her response was three words, “Erica, look up.”  I wanted to cry. The ceiling was the most beautiful of all.

Once I finally got my feet moving in the direction of the West Wing, we were able to find a table and sit. I was taking in all the details of that room: the torn bed, the portrait that changed from the Prince to the Beast when thunder struck, and of course, the enchanted mirror and rose.

Going to that restaurant really made me feel all giddy inside. The icing on the cake was when we were leaving the restaurant after our meal. Near the exit was a mosaic of the stain glass image of Belle and the prince dancing. Just like the movie. It is details like that, that make me feel really nostalgic for my childhood and the joy I felt when watching Beauty and the Beast for the first time… and the hundredth!

End your day at Magic Kingdom with a colorful bang watching Happily Ever After Photo by: Laurie Sapp

Happily Ever After

Fast forward four years to when I was 19 and my sister chose to go to WDW for her senior trip after she graduated. We were in Magic Kingdom and she and I stayed in the park to watch the new fireworks show, Happily Ever After. We didn’t know what to expect, but the moment it started, we both got pretty emotional.

There were parts of the show that made my jaw drop, my smile was as wide as the Cheshire Cat’s, and the tears flowed. The moments where this happened were when clips from certain movies were shown. When I heard Quasimodo singing “Out There” as he climbed the tower of Notre Dame or saw gorillas from Tarzan swinging around, I was stunned.

I’ll be honest, I cried almost the entire time. When I finally stopped, “Happily Ever After” hit me right in the heart when I heard the horns sound, Ba-ba-ba! Ba! Bum!  – “I Can Go the Distance” is my absolute favorite Disney song. Oh, did the tears come down again.

When the show ended and my sister and I got back to our resort, we told our mom everything about it. The show had clips of movies we watched together as little kids. We had that warm, fuzzy feeling inside for the rest of the night.

Those memories of watching certain movies and getting to experience them in real-life or on a larger scale is what makes me feel nostalgic. My friend felt the same being inside the Beast’s Castle. My sister and I created memories together we won’t forget from watching “Happily Ever After.”

It’s all in the details, and WDW can make us feel nostalgic by recreating details like a ballroom floor that only true fans would notice, or making fireworks dance in time to songs from our favorite movies.

If these bring back some 90’s nostalgia, then so might these:

Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid: Walk through Prince Eric’s castle to board a clam shell and see the story of everyone’s favorite mermaid.

Festival of the Lion King: Head on to Africa is Disney’s Animal Kingdom and get ready to sing along while watching Broadway style performances of the songs from The Lion King.

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin: In Adventureland you can ride in your own magic carpet just like Aladdin and Jasmine did.

Go through Prince Eric’s castle to “sea” the story of The Little Mermaid Photo by Wayne Wood

Stayed tuned for the next installment of this series, in which we will take a look and see how some of our favorite attractions make us feel nostalgic.

By Erica Landreneau

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