Some people grow up going to the beach every summer; a long-standing tradition. Other kids go to some obscure summer camp, far away from civilization. My family went to Disney. We didn’t go every summer, and we definitely still went to the beach, but most of my favorite family vacations involved going to Walt Disney World.

My parents came up with the tradition; both of my siblings and I would get to go to Disney World on our fifth birthday. We ate dinner at Chef Mickey’s, went to the parks, and stayed at Port Orleans Riverside. But the best part of the vacation was that we got to see our entire family; they all came to celebrate our special day. I guess that’s how my love of Disney came to be, because it reminded me of a time where we all were happy and together as a family.

I can’t imagine my life without those Disney vacations.

Now that I am older, people would expect me to think the parks are childish. I couldn’t disagree more. Walt Disney World still has something for everyone, and will always hold a place in my heart. The characters may not be the first thing on my mind, but Disney’s food and theming is superb. There is no doubt in my mind that Disney has some of the best culturally diverse foods for a theme park.The hotels immerse you in whatever lifestyle you’ve always wanted to be a part of. From watching a luau surrounded by longhouses or jazzing it up in the French Quarter, no two resorts are the same. It also doesn’t hurt to mention the fact that Disney is not just a theme park, but an experience. From the moment you drive under the sign, the reality of the world around you washes away, and all that’s left is childlike wonder and fantasy.

I think at the end of the day, my favorite part about Disney is the true Americana atmosphere. It is a classic family vacation spot, filled with timeless rides while also incorporating innovative technology. There is absolutely nothing like watching the fireworks in front of the castle with my family surrounding me, eyes lit up and faces glowing. Disney is one of the only places I can see my dad truly laugh; leaving behind work and enjoying quality family time. My sisters and I get along, and my mom is able to relax with the love of her life and her daughters. My grandparents and extended family are able to see us all together. It is someplace where I can still go to remember my uncle and my grandfather, and the time we spent together in the parks before they passed. Where I can stop worrying about planning my entire life and focus on the beauty and fun around me. Disney is where I will always have a home, no matter how old I get. I only hope that I have the chance to work there one day and share the love of Disney with others, as the cast members there have done for me. I am so incredibly grateful that I was given the opportunity to go to the parks so many times, and I can never thank my parents and family enough for the memories we’ve shared. Walt Disney World means so much to me, and I am proud to be a Disney kid.