From Moses and Mickey Mouse – How to Find Holy Ground in the Magic Kingdom and Other Unusual Places – recently re-released.
As soon as the school calendar paroled my children: Cayla, the eldest, fourteen; Abbie, nine; Nathan, seven; and our nephew, Jared, twelve, we packed ourselves into the van along with a sizeable portion of our belongings and headed to Florida for several days at Disney World. It turned out quite a few other people had the same idea.
As I moved through the masses of the different parks, I was amazed at just how many people were there. I did quite a few genetic observations while people watching, “So, this man and this woman produce these offspring. Fascinating.” Or, “Wow, you picked him for a mate. Was there alcohol involved?”
Then I asked myself, “Why do so many people come to Disney World again and again, bearing the cost, the hot Florida sun, the miles to get here, the congestion?” The answer seemed and still seems obvious – wonder, collective, shared, wonder.
Wonder is the Holy Grail of the Magic Kingdom, draped in a surprise, a thrill, nostalgia, or sweet sentiment. Whatever the form, Disney packages wonder, and our hunger for wonder draws Disney lovers from across the globe, into the parking lots, on the trams, through the gates, in lines, and on ride after ride.
I experienced that wonder on our trip to the Magic Kingdom. The rides and my children showed me the way, especially on my favorite ride, Peter Pan.
Peter Pan called out, “Here we go!” as our pirate ship left the boarding station with the long line of people behind us. Abbie yelled, “We’re flying!”
We sailed into the bedroom of Wendy, John, and Michael Darling
“We’re flying! Dad, how do they do this?” Abbie asked.
I started to answer, my hand pointed up at the rail above our heads, which attached ship to ceiling track, but I resisted, certain she’d figure the mechanics out soon enough. She did. She looked up on her own, saw the rail, but chose to ignore it as we flew like Peter, Wendy, John, and Michael, sprinkled with pixie dust, thinking our happy thoughts, through the bedroom window and into the night sky.
“It’s London!” Abbie squealed as we sailed around Big Ben.
“The cars!” she cried out pointing to pairs of lights moving along dark stripes on the floor.
I looked. I saw. The dark stripes became roads and the pairs of lights became headlamps. My daughter spoke. I heard her voice. And I believed.
She did for me what Peter did in the book, the movie, and the ride. She took this aging child, struggling to find his imagination, and gave me wonder. She took this land-locked, bed-bound child, and helped me fly.
By the end of the ride, with her as my guide, I heard the tick-tock of the pirate-hungry crock, fought with Hook, ran with Smee, danced with Tiger Lilly, and swam with mermaids. I was young again; I was amazed; I was flying.
Like my daughter, I saw the rail but chose to ignore it. We were flying. With her, I was sky high, and it was wonderful. Continue reading “The Power of Imagination”