I have a secret I've been keeping for a very long time. One I know some of my friends and family will not understand. However, I can no longer keep this to myself. It's too big of a burden to bear.
I am a Disney World Sceptic!!!
There. I said it, and that felt good.
Let me explain before you hit the unfriend button.
I went on many family vacations as a child, but none of those trips were ever to Disney World. We went to the beach, or to Williamsburg, or to my grandparent's cabin in the mountains.
"You've never been to Disney?" My friends would gasp in horror. "That is the saddest thing I've ever heard. You will love it!"
And so my senior year of college I finally found myself in the most magical place on earth, and It rained.
I've been back to Magic Kingdom a few times since and every time it rained.
See how drenched I am. Despite my smile, my dreams did not come true.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from one of my cousins inviting me to join them on their vacation to Disney World. I accepted their invitation, and as we neared Hollywood Studios I couldn't help but get excited. I was moments away from truly experiencing a "magical day."
Except that magical day never came. Sure, Hollywood Studios is cool. The rides were fun, and most importantly for the first time in my life it didn't rain on me at Disney. But no matter how hard I searched I found no magic.
There were so many people, it was hot, I had a headache, and I couldn't understand why everyone got super excited over a concrete Hollywood backlot. After all, it wasn't even real! Wouldn't going to New York, or San Francisco, or any city be even more magical than the fake ones at Hollywood Studios?
The next day I found myself back in Magic Kingdom again. Goofy picked me out of the crowd and tried to give me a high five. How terrifying! The perpetual smile on his face disturbed my soul. There is no way on God's green earth something could be that happy. What is Goofy hiding? The fact there was an actual person underneath that thing, drenched in what I can only assume was the sweat of a hundred Disney cast members, kind of grossed me out.
Things I also don't understand about Disney: Why do they charge a small fortune for a bottle of water? Why do so many people bring babies there? Do all these dads actually want to be here pushing strollers? Why does everyone have Disney pins? Is this place a cult?
That evening, everyone went back to the hotel except for me and Lucas. Lucas is my cousin's foreign exchange student from Brazil. He wanted to stay and watch the castle show and the fireworks, and since I had never seen it before I stayed with him.
It was crowded, but we found a spot up close, and when the show started everyone gasped in wonder. Every few minutes Lucas would turn around and say, "That's amazing."
I started watching the people around me more than the show in front of me. Little kids were singing a long, parents were laughing, and even 16 year old Lucas was singing at the top of his lungs when "Let It Go" came on.
Maybe it was the fireworks, or maybe it was how excited the people around me were, but I think I felt it. It wasn't what I thought it would feel like, but I know exactly what it was. It was a flicker of magic.
I think I finally understand why people love Disney. It isn't the castle, it isn't the characters, or the rides, or even magic. It's the way it makes you feel. People love Disney because it's a chance to see the world like you did as a child. Lucas said it best when he said, "Everything here is so perfect, unlike the real world."
Disney World is a chance to let it go. It's chance to relive those memories you love so much. I understand that. When I go on vacation to my grandparent's cabin, it's the same feeling. It's reliving those childhood moments, and it brings back distant memories. That is what Disney World is all about.
I can't say I have been converted to a Disney fanatic, but I can at least say that while standing in front of that castle, even if it was just a flicker, I had a magical day!