Friday, October 25, 2013

Mythbusting: Outgrowing Disney

Marilyn and I were married in 1986, and our honeymoon cruise took us to the Bahamas and then included a stay at Walt Disney World. Were were quickly addicted. By 1992 we were annual passholders and so were my parents. We spent many a day there with my youth groups, and many special occasions there as a family.  It never occurred to us that we were supposed to have children to really enjoy the place.  It was simply our favorite place.

Our son Will was born in July of 1995 while we were living in Kissimmee, Florida. If you are not familiar with central Florida, Kissimmee is the town you enter when you head east from Walt Disney World. While it is actually in neither place, it is far more accurate to say that WDW is in Kissimmee than it is to say it is in Orlando. So between his grandparents, his parents and his place of birth, Will never had a chance. He was an ultimate Disney baby!

My parents lived about an hour a way from us in those early years, and they would come over pretty much every Tuesday and take Will to "the parks."  I say that parenthetically because until we moved to Illinois in 2000, Will thought "park" meant WDW. He was there as an infant, seeing the characters and taking naps in his stroller. As a toddler he was there so often that some of the costumed characters seemed to recognize him. He developed his own favorite places to eat, his own favorite attractions, and his own places to play and act out scenes from his favorite Disney films- especially Beauty & the Beast. We often went as a family as well and developed our own traditions. He had seen the Christmas Candlelight Processional at EPCOT before he was 4 years old. And over and over again we heard from well-meaning friends about how much we needed to enjoy these years- because there would come a day when Will would outgrow WDW. In fact, we all would. The rides would become boring, the characters passe, and hanging out with family a thing of the past. We spent a number of years with this widely accepted myth hanging over our heads. I have to admit I was always a doubter, having taken youth groups from NC for a week on 3 different occasions and knowing that those teenagers had absolutely had the times of their lives - but the myth was still there. So we enjoyed, we waited...and we watched for signs.

After a brief stay in Chicagoland, we moved to Tampa in 2001 and quickly renewed our annual passes. WDW was once again our favorite getaway, even if it was just for a birthday dinner or to see the fireworks.  And Will was always first in line to go,often with his Gigi and Pawpaw joining in the family fun. As he got older he got to go with friends and with my youth groups, experiencing Night Of Joy and some of the other special events. As he headed into his teen years his excitement actually grew as he explored new rides and new adventures. He also began to develop a taste for the more expensive restaurants and often pushed to make sure we made reservations. Even after I gave up my pass in 2007, Will and Marilyn have continued to maintain theirs. They still go as often as they can on great mother/son days, choosing a park (or park-hopping) and spending great days together. They were at EPCOT just this past Sunday, and once again came home tired, but excited- which is how you know you had a great day at WDW!

So what's my point? Just this- as long as you keep your childlike spirit and believe in the magic of PLAY, you will never outgrow Walt Disney World. Or Disney movies. Or spending time together as a family.  Marilyn, my parents and I came to love the place as adults. We loved staying on property; we loved discovering new restaurants and returning to old favorites; and we always rode Pirates of the Caribbean first upon entering the Magic Kingdom. Will has now reached adulthood himself, and he has never been through an "anti-Disney" phase. In fact, because his girlfriend Michelle loves Disney movies so much, he may be in deeper than ever! The magic of WDW is what it does to your heart. I am sure for some it is easy to focus on the cost, the crowds and the commercialism.But if you truly get it, it never fails to light up your face and put a spring on your step. It is a constant reminder that growing older is inevitable- but growing up is optional. I am 54 years old now. If I am ever going to outgrow Disney World, I need to hurry.  :)  MYTH BUSTED!!!

1 comment:

  1. It's all about keeping things fresh and new. Disney is still the same place but over the years they have done special events, got new restaurants, updated old menus, changed the type of rides you go on, different fireworks and the list is endless. Things only become boring when it's exactly the same with no change. It's a bit like a marriage with no substance, if you know what I mean.

    54 years old, what you waiting for? Book that ticket mate.


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