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That Disney Magic

For Thanksgiving, we visited Kat’s parents in the West Palm Beach area, where they retired earlier this year.  When we left Cleveland on Thanksgiving morning, it was snowing—the first snowfall of the season for us.  It was clear that it would build up a dusting, and then melt within a day.  Where we were headed, it was in the seventies.  A part of me wished I could have stayed with the snow.

But off we went, and had a wonderful dinner with Kat’s parents and brother Neil.  After dinner, Uncle Neil taught Carolyn how to work the stacking-ring toy we brought along, and his efforts paid off in spades.  She’s been pulling rings off of the toy and putting them back on ever since, although she still hasn’t quite worked out that whole “largest-to-smallest” thing.  It’s pretty amazing to see how fast she went from not understanding to clumsy attempts to get it right to being an old pro.

Best of all, there was a prize embedded in the center of our trip:  we drove up to Disney World to spend the night at the Contemporary Resort and take Carolyn to the Magic Kingdom for the first time.  We had dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern, an establishment whose name strongly and incongruously reminded me of Thomas Jefferson’s dark aphorism.  After dinner we watched the Christmas parade go past.  Well, actually, Kat and I watched it; Carolyn slept soundly through the whole thing, thus proving my assertion that when she’s fallen into a deep sleep, you can march a brass band past her at full volume and not wake her up.  The parade marched two of them past her.  Snores galore.

The next day, we had breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, rode a few rides, saw the new “Philharmagic!” show (highly recommended), and then headed back to West Palm Beach with my father and his wife, who had met us that morning.

There were two things I observed at Disney that completely astonished me.

The first was that all the children, the same media-savvy world-weary jaded children we keep hearing about in the media, totally buy into the ‘magic’ of Disney.  They relate to the costumed cast members as if they were the real thing; when “Mickey” comes by the table to dance a little jig and pat the kids on the head, they don’t see quote marks.  It really is Mickey, as far as they’re concerned, and even if they know on some level that there’s someone inside a costume, they gladly ignore that knowledge and go along for the ride.

The second thing was that Carolyn, against all my expectations, totally got that the costumed characters were in some way special.  I expected her, even at nearly a year old, to regard the characters as slightly strange people, and not significantly more interesting than anyone else.  Not so.  At first, she was a little hesitant, but with each new character she got more and more excited about them.  You can see in the pictures just how comfortable she became: she’d only learned to give kisses the week before, and by the end of dinner gave Chip (or Dale) a kiss.

At breakfast the second day, she spotted Chef Goofy standing alone near the entrance to the restaurant.  She immediately let go of my hand and toddled toward him.  He sat down, and she went right into his arms for a big hug, then sat down next to him and looked up into his face.  As I took pictures, I heard several people behind me saying things to the effect of it being darned near the most adorable thing they’d ever seen.  A woman sidled up next to me and said she hoped I’d gotten it all on video.  I hadn’t, but that’s okay.  The pictures I did take tell the story well enough.

I don’t know what it is about Disney; maybe they put something in the water.  But it really does create a kind of magic.

All too soon, it was time to head back home.  Like any good parent, we want our child to be as safe as possible, so I was greatly heartened to see her taking the time to look over the important safety information printed on the card found in the seat pocket in front of her.

Carolyn, strapped into her seat on the plane, solemnly looks over the airline safety information card.

11 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Tue 7 Dec 2004
    • 0524
    Marc Jennings wrote in to say...

    You are so right about the Disney Magic. I remember the first time I took my (now) wife to Disneyland Paris. The look of wonder, joy, amazement and shock on her face as we walked down Main Street USA was a wondeful thing, escepcially coming from a grown woman.

    It’s good to know that in the cynical world in which we live, there are still things and places that can elicit this kind of reaction.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Tue 7 Dec 2004
    • 0551
    Da Scritch wrote in to say...

    You’re giving good habits to your child : She’s already reading security manuals!

    Eh! Here is the future of computing. Everyone is sympathical as Mickey, but bether see danger before ;)

    Sorry my bad French.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Tue 7 Dec 2004
    • 0553
    Eric TF Bat wrote in to say...

    That’s so cute… You know, before a couple of years ago, I’d’ve read that and thought “gosh, what an intelligent child… <yawn> what’s for dinner?” But now, I look at it and I think — well, I think: “That’s so cute…” I guess that’s what happens when you accidentally develop a slight case of step-daughter and a rapidly expanding dose of Spousus Pregnantius leading inevitably to the promise of insomnia and parental smittentude. It’s terminal, but at least it’ll take a long time to kill me…

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Tue 7 Dec 2004
    • 0722
    Matthom wrote in to say...

    Your Disney post inspires me, just like Disney does.

    I visit the Orlando Disney quite often. My girlfriends’ sister is actually a cast member – so she might have been one of those characters that made Carolyn smile! (We also get free admission to the parks, etc.)

    You’re right about the magic. It’s not just for kids, heavens no. Everyone – all ages – can take something back from that experience. The entire area is magical. Even the entire Lake Buena Vista grounds hold some kind of “vibe.” It’s really a great place to be.

    We were even in the area for one of the Hurricanes! We survived, thankfully..

    Here are some of my Disney topics, from my blog:

    Thanks for letting me share this “Disney moment.”

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Tue 7 Dec 2004
    • 0959
    Jemaleddin wrote in to say...

    Definitely Chip – Dale has a red nose. Which might explain his behavior.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Tue 7 Dec 2004
    • 1111
    cyfer wrote in to say...

    Ah… Winter wonderland.

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Tue 7 Dec 2004
    • 1143
    Chris Griffith wrote in to say...

    It is also so nice to see that along with reading her safety card, her mom and dad bought her a seat and used a car seat! Proud pop of twins…..

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Tue 7 Dec 2004
    • 2238
    Rob L. wrote in to say...

    This post made my evening; thanks! Looking more forward to the whole parenting thing every minute now…

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Thu 9 Dec 2004
    • 2029
    Tim Buchheim wrote in to say...

    LOL .. as soon as I read “Chip (or Dale)” I knew that someone would comment about the nose color.

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Sat 11 Dec 2004
    • 1854
    kalu wrote in to say...

    This post made me feel warm in an otherwise boring saturday in santa cruz.

    Thanks eric

    kalu

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Thu 23 Dec 2004
    • 1133
    Anj wrote in to say...

    That Disney magic… like you, not sure how it works. But it works for all ages. My wife and I went the Disney for our honeymoon – she’d never been and had always wanted to. It was amazing (and heartwarming) to see my 20-something wife crying happily when she got to hug Mickey “for real.”

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