I’m so excited to share this guest post with you from a client! She recently traveled to Walt Disney World with her children for the first time and this story is just magical!!
My child had a sad kindergarten year. She learned that Disney characters were not real and that magic was not possible. I understand that this is a rite of passage, a normal part of growing up in school, but five seemed young to me for this lesson, and the first thought I had was about our upcoming Disney trip. How would it affect her joy in the Most Magical Place on earth? Could she somehow forget the cynicism of both children, but also adults, who confirmed her fears? The most magical little girl you could ever meet deserved all the magic she could get at Disney, especially after her traumatic year at school. Because of these circumstances, she had questions about the characters immediately upon arrival, which we welcomed, but we still wanted her to have a chance at any innocence she still had.
Within our first hour at our first park (Hollywood Studios), we met Donald. I had brought my 21 year-old childhood autograph book (!) and when we were waiting in line, my daughter began asking me her questions, full of doubt and skepticism. I took a leap of faith, went against my own natural personality (realism) and said to her, “Just wait and see…Donald is going to remember me.” We got to the front and I, feeling like a star struck child myself, shyly showed Donald my autograph book and asked, “Do you remember me?” He all but fell on the ground, kissed my hand, grabbed my face, hugged me. My daughter SHRIEKED with excitement and amusement and I held back tears watching both my kids so filled with joy.
This is the magic of the characters. Donald DID remember me. He even had the same signature that he did over 20 years ago. The tradition, the commitment of the characters is so rich and authentic, that it can withstand the most potentially damaging blow: doubt. Disbelief. I am 32 years old and Donald is as real to me now as he was when I was 10 years old. The realness is in my heart, and it is now in my children’s hearts.
As silly as it was, that moment was probably my favorite of the trip. It’s something I’ll never forget. It also accidentally ended up being just me and the kids somehow–the rest of the family was on a ride–and I was selfishly glad, relishing that moment in all of its glory. I suppose I needed it just as badly as my baby girl needed it.