Well, we are back from Florida. We flew down last Thursday, spent Friday at the Magic Kingdom, Saturday at Downtown Disney (which should be called Hideous Suburban Sprawl Disney), and Sunday at Animal Kingdom, before flying home on Monday. I spent yesterday in an exhausted fog, but am beginning to feel a little more human today.
I was ill-prepared for the impact that the Magic Kingdom would have on me. I did not realize how much and how deeply the characters in the Disney movies had affected me all this time – the strong and beautiful princesses, the villains who are always defeated, the handsome and brave princes, the goodness that always prevails, the love that transcends all else. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom about a half hour before the park opened. After fifteen minutes or so, we scanned our tickets and approached the entrance gate. Shortly after, the welcome show began, with cheesy songs and dances, followed by Mickey’s grand entrance on the train. I had tears streaming down my face by the time the show ended and the rope dropped… and we hadn’t even laid eyes on Cinderella’s Palace yet. When we were riding the carousel later in the morning, I caught a glimpse of one of my favorite characters, and I gleefully pointed and shouted, “TIGGER!” But alas, Tigger was too far away for us to get to before he moved on. While we were standing in line for lunch, my son hugged me tight and whispered, “Mom, this place has turned you into a little kid again!” And it had. I was blown away by being immersed so deeply into the Disney fairy-tale world, the world of dreams and archetypes, and I began to see why people spend the outrageous sums of money to go back there again and again.
The Animal Kingdom was breathtaking. The landscaping was beautiful, and the Imagineers had put so many intricate details into every place in the park – no matter where you looked, you saw a representation of an animal. The Tree of Life was amazing, and we’d never experienced anything like the safari ride before. I was awestruck by this park, but it didn’t reduce me to childhood as the Magic Kingdom had.
I am very, truly, deeply thankful to my mother’s family for making this trip possible. It was a family reunion, and will be the last travel experience that my 94-year-old grandfather gets to take from his home in Jacksonville. There were four generations of the family together at Disney, sharing the hotel, sharing meals, sharing our park experiences. It was wonderful and inspiring to see the children all together, especially my 15-month-old niece. I haven’t even downloaded all our pictures to the computer yet, much less posted them on Shutterfly, but there are some I can’t wait to see.