It seems almost cliche to say this, but Disney World is a place full of magic. Whether it was the feeling of flying through Agrabah on a magic carpet in Mickey’s Philharmagic, watching Elsa cover Cinderella’s Castle in ice and snow, or the sight of snow falling over Main Street during the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, you can’t help but be enchanted by everything around you. But in addition to the magic, it is a place of hope and awe.
If I am remembering correctly, the Carousel of Progress was the 3rd attraction we went on in Disney World and since then, There’s a Great Big, Beautiful Tomorrow has been stuck in my head. My friends and I left for Disney World the day after the election. It did not feel like there was any sort of good tomorrow in our future. People were hurting and scared and everything felt very uncertain. But despite all that, I couldn’t help but be moved by the wonder and optimism found in both the song and the attraction. Our technological progress over the years is undeniable (though we’re still not talking to our ovens, thankfully) and it has shaped and changed our lives in countless ways.
But it wasn’t only in this depiction of our progress that I found a sense of wonder and appreciation for what we are able to achieve and create. Festival of the Lion King is an explosion of creativity and talent and you cannot watch those performers without being amazed by what they are able to do and mesmerized by the new takes on familiar and loved songs. You can’t go through the queues of Expedition Everest or Toy Story Midway Mania without appreciating the work that went into making them a truly immersive experience. Spaceship Earth is basically a love letter to the progress we’ve made in the way we share information and the ways it will continue to change and grow in the future. Illuminations is an abstract and important tribute to what we can achieve and the power that comes from standing together.
There were a lot of things to love about the actual experience of Disney. Mickey waffles are in fact as delicious as everyone says. The Tangled bathrooms are gorgeous and I’ll never be over how cool it was to see a giraffe eating just a few feet away from me. The music everywhere is beautiful and I would be perfectly happy just sitting and enjoying the atmosphere in several different places in Epcot or Animal Kingdom. The German bakery smells amazing and both the cookies and the caramel corn are fantastic. More than anything else, it was the renewed belief in humanity that this trip gave me at a time when I most needed it that will stay with me forever.
As much as the Disney atmosphere helped with that, it was the women I got to share this trip with that provided the true magic. It was in the enthusiasm of an 11-year-old as she tried to get all the princesses in the parade to wave at her while also heckling the bad guys (and Prince Phillip). It was in the seemingly simple act of being able to actually give each other a hug in person instead of virtually. It was in our introduction to Dole Whip and the fact that none of us could keep our eyes open for all of Expedition Everest. It was the pure enjoyment that came from being in each other’s company, no matter what we were talking about.
As uncertain and anxiety-inducing as these past few weeks have been for our direction as a country, this trip reminded me of what we can accomplish when we stand together and celebrate each other and everything that makes us different. Never forget that you can make a difference and that your voice is a powerful tool. Use it to protect the most vulnerable around you and lift each other up. That great, big, beautiful tomorrow is still possible and it is up to us to work toward that in whatever way we can.