When I was little, my family came to Disney World to meet Mickey and all my favorite princesses. Like pretty much any little kid, I absolutely loved it. As I got older, my preferences shifted to the thrill rides so Busch Gardens and Universal Studios became my favorite parks.
Earlier this year I started working at a kiosk in Disney Springs and, for the first time, had access to the Disney parks without paying crazy expensive prices. Where do I start? I've heard of a few rides and shows here and there but I didn't know the parks at all. It was going to be a whole new world...
My mother and I had been talking about her maybe visiting Orlando so I thought, how about we go to Disney? We'll be the blind leading the blind but why not? I intended the parks to be mostly meet-and-greets with characters and cute family friendly rides. It's a kid park but we could still play and have fun.
As we gawked at the floating mountains of Pandora and cracked up at the awful comedy of the Jungle Cruise, I couldn't help but experience deja vu after deja vu. So many clips of memories were flying through my head as we ventured throughout the parks. I walked past the PhilharMagic sign and randomly teared up, recalling a glimpse of how much I had loved that show back when my middle school orchestra took a field trip there.
When our boat approached the first scene of the Pirates of the Caribbean, I could remember shushing my cousin back in the day because I wanted to hear what they were saying. A little girl in a Belle costume ran by clutching an autograph book and I remembered the blue one I had that was filled with numerous Disney characters signatures. I couldn't believe how many pieces of the park I remembered. And here we were, making new memories drinking authentic beers in Germany and appreciating the parks in a whole new way.
While inhaling a delicious sundae from the ice cream parlor on Main Street, we watched the parade go by. Classic Disney songs boomed and from our seats we could see the tops of floats, carrying waving princesses and princes and dancing animated characters. My heart feeling fuzzy, I looked over and noticed my mom was crying. Embarrassed, she admitted how many memories of me growing up were flooding through her mind. I asked her about who my favorite characters had been back when they were all new. I honestly couldn't remember. Ariel and Tinkerbell were apparently the favorites. Mermaids and sass? That makes a lot of sense….
The magic of childhood was in the air we breathed. I had figured many of the parades and attractions would focus on the newer generation of Disney but that couldn't be further from the truth. My generation of '90s Disney classics were everywhere the eye could see and everywhere the ears could hear. The animatronics were old and obviously outdated but I wouldn't have it any other way. That gave it that nostalgic touch that makes it perfect.
It's incredible how powerful nostalgia can be. People, myself included, will roll their eyes at the idea of paying so much money to go see some twenty-somethings in princess costumes or waving mouse animatronics. But once you're there the game changes. When you hear "Look at this stuff…," an entire story of a girl yearning for a different life and pursuing her dreams of being human floods through your mind. When you hear "You can fly!," an entire story of children being scared to grow up but learning the beauty of it plays across your eyes (and heart). These stories transport us to another place and this park transports us to them.