Walt Disney World, people often think I am a Disney Fanatic. In some ways I cannot argue this with them. I own a few T-shirts with the park logos or the cartoons. I own a number of the trading pins and some various other memorabilia. I also would choose to visit one of the parks over many other possible vacation options. I don’t have a kitchen full of everything Mickey. I don’t have a Mickey Mouse rug or sheets for my bed. I guess having grown up in Florida near the Mouse most of my life I have seen my share of true fanatics and I just don’t see myself in that roll. I do, however, LOVE spending time here. I can’t explain what the magic is in a way that would make someone that has never been here understand it. It is kind of like trying to explain the difference between blue and green to a color-blind person or maybe the flavor of an exotic food to someone that has never had anything like it. To me, Disney is the most Magical Place on Earth. This may be partially due to their marketing but I can also say it is due to experience.
I can walk around the parks and see things I do not see as often in other places. I am not saying the Disney is the PERFECT place on earth. Babies cry, kids throw tantrums, parents lose their minds, but in my experience people smile more, they laugh more, maybe even love more.
I am a people watcher. I LOVE sitting on benches all the places I travel and watching people go by. I like watching their interactions; I like watching their faces. In the past several months I have had the luxury to do this in some beautiful and amazing places. I sat for hours along the riverfront in San Antonio. I have sat at restaurants over-looking the Las Vegas Strip, I have sat and watched people go by in Phoenix, AZ everywhere I go I see similar things. Some people are smiling, most are not, some stair at the ground as they walk by, most stare at their phones texting, or emailing, or calling. They sometimes seem content, more often seem harried, very few seem happy. When I come to Disney I sit and people watch and I see something different. I see the amazement on children’s faces when Mickey Mouse comes around a corner. I see the laughter in their eyes when they ride Dumbo up in the air. I hear the screams of joy when the ride does something surprising.
The other day I took Bill to ride Dumbo. It is a ride most adults wouldn’t bother with but I think everyone should experience it once. We got on and rode it and Bill played with the lever that moves you up and down while we giggled. When we exited the ride a little girl about 5 years old turns to her dad and in the sweetest voice I have ever heard says, “That was AMAZING!” I giggled all the way home that night. The next night we stood on Main Street watching Wishes: the Fireworks Spectacular. I have seen this a dozen times now and even know all the words to the song (getting back to the fanatic thing heh) and so I stop and watch people’s faces. I listen to the gasps when something beautiful happens or the awes when something sweet occurs. I feel the tension when the Evil Witch takes over and the sense of relief when the music turns light-hearted again. I love the children when they see firework hearts blast in bright red over their heads and the adults too. I love seeing couples hugging and snuggling smiling at each other enjoying the fireworks or the parade.
When we visit the Resort I always wear my Mickey ears, partially for me because as a kid my parents were never able to afford to buy me ears and it was one of the things I wanted most in life but the other reason I wear them is because people smile more when they see them. The percentage of adults that wear funny hats at the parks is sadly low and kids think it is fabulous when they see an adult who is willing to look like an idiot to have fun. Adults even like it. Today I was walking through the crowd tired and a little haggard and a little boy about 3 came around the corner, took one look at my ears and burst into giggles in that moment I went from exhausted to ecstatic. There was once again a skip in my step, that step being the 14,987th I had taken that day. People wear funny hats where in normal life they wouldn’t dream of it. They eat new things that if they were presented at home they wouldn’t touch. They are friendly (generally) and nicer. They are how they should be in everyday life. People talk to each other while standing in line, making new friends. They socialize in ways they would never do at the grocery store or mall. It really is magical. So I guess maybe I am a fanatic… but I don’t really mind, who could mind being addicted to something that brings smiles to so many faces?