Screams of glee, eyes filled with wonder, and a newfound appreciation for Mickey ears. Sounds like a scene from the memory of a 6 year old? Well, oddly enough, this was what I experienced at the age of 16 when I first set foot in the Magic Kingdom.
At a lanky 6’6″, with the shadow of stubble on my face, I certainly didn’t fit the traditional image of a newfound Disney devotee. The year was 2006 and my high school band had the privilege of performing in Tomorrowland. At the time, I was just grateful to have the chance to play my instrument with my friends in front of so many people. It should be noted that until this point I could probably have been classified as a casual Disney fan. I grew up watching the likes of “The Sword in the Stone”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aristocats”, “Toy Story”, etc. and enjoyed them (Who wouldn’t?!), but had never made the pilgrimage to Disney World.
Growing up, our family trips were focused around seeing family in Louisiana, so I didn’t ever have that shared Disney experience with my peers. Don’t mistake me, I don’t feel deprived in any way. It actually serves to solidify my belief that Disney is truly for anyone, at any point in their lives!
When I stepped from backstage at the Magic Kingdom, instrument in hand, ready to play some concert music, I’m not sure what I expected to find, but it certainly wasn’t what I encountered. Disney was like nothing I had ever seen. I had been transported, somehow without realizing it, to an entirely different world. I’m sure subconsciously I knew I was still in Orlando, in central Florida, in the good old US of A. However, for those hours, those days, I was somewhere else. Somewhere meticulously and painstakingly created to provide an escape for the young and old.
After our performance, my friends and I were released to enjoy all Disney had to offer. I won’t lie to you. This was completely overwhelming for me in the best way possible! My friends laughed good-naturedly as I excitedly dashed from land to land, ride to ride, and restaurant to restaurant. Anna, then my girlfriend of just a few months, patiently listened to my thrilled babbling. She held my hand as we rode “It’s a Small World” (at the time I had some anxiety about animatronics, haha. I have since fallen in love with the timeless attraction!)
Little did I know then, this would spark a passion for all things Disney. Now, over ten years later I feel a rush each and every time I enter the parks! I consider the time spent in the parks as some of my happiest. There is a quality about that place. A quality that can only be described appropriately by one word: Magic.