“Eyes Up, Jaw Down”: The Magic of the Disney Way

I started going first to DisneyWorld and then to DisneyLand when I was only 5 years old. The same age my small dude is right now.  But somehow, 30+ years and probably more than 20 trips later, I’m still awed by the Magic that is the Disney experience.

But here’s the thing…. that Magic isn’t an accident.  It is all part of an intent.  An intent first set by Walt Disney himself and carried out each and every day by the ‘Cast Members’ (not employees) of the Parks and Resorts and by the Imagineers – the men and women who first Imagine and then Engineer each of our moments…. the Resort Rooms, the Restaurants and the Rides.

Don’t you just LOVE the title, “Imagineer”?

I just spent five days at Disney World…. it was part fun-work (Disney Social Media Moms Conference), part pure-family-fun (we extended our stay and the conference offered ample family time) and ALL experience.

The night after a sneak-peek-behind the scenes look at what will soon be a completed new and amazing FantasyLand, I lay in bed with both of my small people….each tucked under one arm and we imagined.  I mentally walked them through what they will see and enjoy in Fantasyland and they listened, as though my words were able to draw a picture for them on our ceiling.

The next day, I took them to the area and showed them the illustration of what FantasyLand will be…. the Beast’s Castle (including a restaruant that will look EXACTLY like the movie), two new rides – one based around Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs and the other around Ariel…. shops, restaurants and more.

During my Fantasyland Tour, I learned a phrase that has stuck with me… one that is intended to define a Disney guest’s experience:

“Eyes Up, Jaw Down!”

Can’t you just picture it?

I asked my small people what they thought that phrase meant as we snuggled… they said, “It’s a WOW!, Mommy… when you stare with your mouth open.”

Right on.  It is also, pure, perfect, unadulterated joy…. like you see right here.  When I took this picture the next day, I knew… THIS is what Disney wants their guests..especially their youngest ones, to feel.


You know what else is a success?

When your kids reach for your hand as you walk through the parks.

When your daughter begs to go on Everest with you ‘just one more time’ (make that 4 in a row).

When your small people celebrate with a crazy dance because they have reached the height that allows them to ride the Rockin’ Roller Coaster.

When you can’t decide where to go next because there are so many options.

When the pool at the Disney Yacht Club (where we stayed) is an amazing option…and almost as much fun for the kids as the Parks.

When you see Mickey in every little detail.

When the parades and shows (I’m looking at you, Camp Rock) are as much fun as the rides.

When you go on Splash Mountain twice in a row and don’t even care that you are simply soaked.

When you beat your husband at Buzz Lightyear by scoring over 300K points to his measley 150K.

When you watch your husband experiencing the same joy as your children just because he is HERE.

When they fall asleep in your lap on the way back to the resort (your kids, not your husband)- just tuckered out from all that joy.

When you begin to invent ways and count down days until you can make the Disney Magic part of your life again….and you haven’t even left the grounds.

When the little ones can’t wait to tell their friends all about their trip.


When you are home and your littlest ones include a great big ‘Thank You’ for Disney World in their nightly prayers… right as they begin to drift off to sleep.

And all of this? Combines for a perfect, “Eyes Up, Jaw Down” moment for me.

Thank you, Disney.

Disclosure:  The Disney Social Media Moms event was a conference I paid to attend, though, as an attendee, we were treated to an extraordinarily magical experience.  My husband and children were taken care of and treated with great love and kindness the entire time I was in sessions… and each event we attended within the conference made sure all loved every minute.



  • http://brainfoggles.com/ ConnieFoggles

    If it’s possible, I love Disney even more now after reading your post.  Your words reminded me of what the most important part of the adventure is – enjoying it all as a family. And wanting to do it over and over. 

  • Jodifur

    I’ve never heard that expression but it so describes Disney!  And the conference!

  • Stephanie Precourt

    It really sounds so fabulous. I want to go next time!


  • http://www.4tunate.net/ QuatroMama

    LOVED this…brought back so many of our own memories of the magic.  So so glad it was a fantastic trip once again. Your little people are knock your socks off awesome! 

  • Haley Shivers


    This is a beautiful post that nearly brought me to happy tears. It was wonderful to see you again and meet your little people.

    So glad your family had such an amazing time.

  • http://lostandforgotten.wordpress.com/ Marta

    “when you stare with your mouth open.” That is the best description of Disney. We went in January for the first time with my kids and it was beyond magical. I honestly think I may have enjoyed it even more than them. Because not only did I enjoy it myself for how amazing it truly is, but I enjoyed it through them as well. I can’t wait to go again!

  • Liz Thompson

    Great recap, Danielle!  Would you believe, we may be the only family who has never gone to Disney?  Aaaaaand, after reading all these wonderful posts, it’s about time we did, dagnabit!!!

  • Danielle Smith

    Oh Liz…. I know you aren’t alone, but you really do need to go sometime.  Everything about the place is magical.  They truly care if you are having – not just ‘fun’ – but an extraordinary time.

  • Danielle Smith

    Marta – that is just how my husband and I feel – double amazement – not only does our personal joy return, but we get to witness the whole experience through the eyes of our children… and THAT is a special kind of magic.

  • Danielle Smith

    Haley – you are such a delight!  I’m so glad we had some time together – you truly make me smile.  Thank you so very much.  Hope your birthday was fantastic!

  • Danielle Smith

    Oh my friend – thank you!  You know I feel exactly the same about my adopted boys…. I do so adore them.  I know you understand the magic very well.  xoxo

  • Danielle Smith

    That was how Tim – the Imagineer who gave us a tour of FantasyLand – described their goal – and it really stuck with me.  I love it.

  • Danielle Smith

    You are such a joy!  Thank you for this…..  having the opportunity to experience Disney with both family and friends really made this trip a special joy.  And we do want to do it over and over again :)  We’re talking Disney Cruise.  Soon. :)  Thinking about booking in the next few days??!?? Crazy, yes?….. *sprinkling Tinkerbell dust on my husband as he sleeps*

  • http://disneyvacationspecials.com/ Thrifty Disney Dad

    You really captured the magic with this post… this is what Disney World is all about. Those who think it is just another theme park are missing out!