03 April 2008

Do you remember

It’s funny, I think that sometimes we, we as members of the Disney community, the average guest, or those somewhere in between, forget why we are drawn to Walt Disney World. We forget that, above all, these trips are about sharing with one another. A flower you shouldn’t have picked for your wife, the utter awe on your sons face the first time he sees Peter Pan, meeting a long-time friend for the first time.

We have all seen the parents threaten to take their child back to their resort, sitting on a bench while children cry because they are too exhausted to move on, or a couple walking feet apart (usually with a crowd walking through them) because of a silly argument. Now, I know the world isn’t perfect, and that these imperfections have found many ways to seep into Walt Disney World, but it seems to me we should also know when to put those aside and pull a smile or kiss out of our pockets.

Many of us have succumbed to the details. One more picture of a sign, or a sidewalk, or a crate, an argument over what does or doesn’t constitute best practices at Disney, and it is one more story you didn’t know from an Imagineer. I, myself, am guilty as charged in this category. It is getting caught up in what is Disney rather than what makes Disney. While a photo safari on one’s own can yield many rewards, isn’t it more fun to have a picture of yourself with your child(ren), spouse, significant other, or friend? Someone you can, years down the road, show the picture to and smile, asking them if they remember taking the picture, and what you were just doing.

The older I get, and I understand I am still a young one to a lot of people, in a lot of ways, the more I treasure these moments, and want to gather as many of them as I can. Looking back over the years, my father has taken a lot of heat in my family for starting me down this road when I was but a baby. Looking back, my father and I have very rarely seen eye-to-eye on any subject. We are both very different men, who have led very different lives. Yet, looking back, I cannot recall a bad time with him at Walt Disney World. In fact, there is no one I would rather tour these parks with than my father. Sure, he grumbles more now than he used to, especially when planning a trip, but once there, I see a man twenty years younger in stature and spirit. Once you can get him through the front gates, which does take a while some days, he cannot be stopped, save for fireworks and feedings. Once upon a time, he showed me the magic, now I show him pieces of the magic he never noticed. It is for these reasons that I enjoy his company, above anyone else, in Walt Disney World (For those of you who know I have a beatdown coming from my wife for the last comment, let me say, I love my wife, and she knows I travel better with her than with any other human being, but she also knows she doesn’t see what I see in Walt Disney World, and that my father, at some point in his life, did).

Last year, right before my wedding, my father and I took a father and son trip to Walt Disney World. We had been planning father and son trips for various places and reasons for years, but something always came up. It was the first time we had been in Walt Disney World, together, in about five years, and the first time it had been only us guys on a trip in almost a decade. It was, to say nothing else of the trip, an experience I wouldn’t give up for anything.

Today, while reading through articles from Lou and Major Pepperidge, I was caught off-guard when I realized that some of what made all of my time at Walt Disney World so special, had begun to slip away. I hope that today is the start of a new trend, where I take time to cherish the moments I have been given there, with the people who mean so much to me. That, by the way, includes all of you who take time to share a piece of your days with me. So, if you see me in Walt Disney World later this month, feel free to stop me, and share a moment of the magic with me.

Below is a picture I dedicate to all of you who never let go of the magic inside, to Lou and the Major for helping remind me of these moments, and why they are so dear, but mostly to my father, the man who started it all.


Greg said...

This is a wonderful post Ryan! My father and I only had one trip to Disney World, back in 1972. I was young then and didn't fully appreciate what was happening. Oh, that I had the opportunity to share that love with him now. Many thanks for helping us all to remember!

Unknown said...

Great essay, Ryan...

Made me think of all of my trips with my boys and what memories they will have someday.