When we found out we were going to be parents one of the first things I told Nick was that I don’t want to stop traveling. I love to travel and experience new places so for my own sanity and happiness I knew I wanted to keep traveling, but more importantly I wanted our child to be a global citizen. I wanted them to understand and accept different cultures and even embrace the good (and tasty) things from around the world.
Maybe that is why the traditional family vacation spots never came up. Not that I had discounted them as a possibility, but they certainly weren’t at the top of my list. That is why when we took a recent trip to Disney World I was amazed I hadn’t given the idea more credence and I was glad we made the trip.
Watching Olivia and all the other kids run around smiling and excited (except during the afternoon crash) I realized that Disney is a great place to take a child if you want them to be curious, creative, and engaged. This is an environment they feel comfortable being curious in because they understand the characters and places. We have taken Olivia on several trips without anything this child focused on the agenda – Mexico, San Diego, St Louis – and she has done well, but this was something completely different for all of us. She knows who Mickey Mouse is, she was excited to see the castle, and she even got introduced to a few new characters.
In fact, she met more than just new characters. We met people from around the globe because Mickey transcends barriers. During our few days there we heard languages and accents from all over the map and even chatted with people from Brazil, Norway, Ireland, and Guatemala, all without entering Epcot’s World Showcase. We had an amazing waitress from Vietnam give us a tablecloth to cover Olivia as she napped through lunch at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and watched a candy maker from Germany create amazing chocolate covered caramel apples only twenty minutes later. True she wasn’t getting a lesson in other cultures, but maybe she was learning another important lesson – that we aren’t as different as an accent or name may make us seem.
That sense of familiarity is another thing that made this trip to Disney so special. My husband and I were there ten years ago on a trip during college and long before us my parents and in-laws had been. Many rides and attractions had changed, but many had stayed the same and as we waited in line or wandered past a site the memories that came back and were shared with Olivia were something special. It is comforting to know that family and friends have experienced what we are experiencing and that maybe one day Olivia will bring her own kids here to see Mickey Mouse and remember when she stood with us in this exact spot watching fireworks above the castle.
We all want our children to believe that if they truly want something and they work hard enough for it they will succeed. Walt Disney is one of the greatest examples of that and his belief in the power of imagination and a mouse has brought joy to so many other people. Disney reminds all of us that growing up doesn’t mean shedding the creativity and magic of childhood. We should carry these gifts with us and exercise them daily so it isn’t magic for just a few short years, but magic for a whole life.
What travel is always about for us is introducing all of us to new experiences, places, and people and we accomplished that in a very special way thanks to the power of a mouse.