I’m home from my vacation now, wishing I’d taken another day or two off work to recuperate.  It was a long and wonderful vacation, but I’m sore and exhausted, and in dire need of a deep tissue massage.  On my flight home I was thinking back over my vacation and realized that I learned some things on my trip, not just about myself but about others as well.  Looking back now, having learned these things makes me even more glad I took the time and expense to make the trip to Florida.

Just a few of the things I learned are listed below:

  1. I learned that almost nothing in the world can surpass the joy of a little girl getting to meet her favorite princess.  Time and time again I witnessed young girls bounce up and down in barely contained excitement as they came face to face with the characters from their favorite Disney movies.  Unless you’ve seen it yourself, you can’t imagine the joy a little girl radiates when she walks up to Cinderella only to have the princess kneel down to give the young child a hug.  It is literally a dream come true for these girls to meet the princesses and hold a conversation, and to their credit, each and every princess had a smile on her face as she played the part to perfection.  I almost cried numerous times watching these small children, who moments before couldn’t stop talking, be struck speechless in awe of having just been hugged by Belle or Jasmine, or any of the others.
  2. I learned that the joy of a child meeting their favorite Disney character is only slightly surpassed by the joy of the parents witnessing it.  I saw parents over and over again with tears in their eyes as they saw unbridled happiness in the eyes of their children.  There’s something to be said about a bond between parent and child being developed on a vacation like what I had, and you can almost see it happening right before your eyes.  The mother and father are just as happy as the child is when they meet the characters, and then you hear them talking about it as they walk away, and you know they’ll remember that moment for a long time to come.
  3. I learned that not every parent is patient enough for the Disney experience.  For as many instances of children and parents having fun and laughing together, there were just as many times that I saw parents standing in line looking like they have a dozen other places they’d rather be, while the children did their best not to blink loudly for fear of being yelled at.  I saw one father yelling at his daughter to stop dancing around or else they’d turn around and go home – this was at 8:30 in the morning before the park even opened while we waited to be let in.  Nobody else was in line and she wasn’t hurting anybody; it was just very clear that she was overwhelmed and excited about coming to DisneyWorld and her father just couldn’t handle it.  Now I’ll be the first one to say that kids can be loud and fidgety (though Lord knows I’m the worst at both those), but when it comes to DisneyWorld, as a parent you just have to step back and tell yourself that your kid is going out of their mind with happiness and you need to let them enjoy it.  As long as they’re not bumping into people or being obnoxious, every other parent around you knows exactly what you’re going through and sympathizes.  Instead of being grumpy and frustrated, relate to the child.  Talk to them.  Ask why they’re so excited and share the experience with them.  I know I’m not a parent, but I’m smart enough to know that this is very important to developing a strong relationship with your children, and there were so many times when I couldn’t help but think that the parent wasn’t only ruining the experience of that moment, but potentially losing out on many moments left to come.
  4. I learned that for the most part, Disney employees are some of the nicest and most genuinely caring people there are.  The first day we went to the Magic Kingdom I saw a little girl who had been separated from her father.  A random Disney cast member had come across her and was holding her hand and walking with her, talking in a soft and gentle voice and asking her for small details to help them find her dad.  She provided all the information into a small radio, and then stood around with the little girl in the hopes of seeing her father walk past looking for her.  While they looked, another employee who worked in the candy shop right behind where they were standing had overheard the whole situation, and brought out a bag of snacks for the little girl to distract her and calm her down.  Only a few moments later another employee walked over with the father, having heard his description on the radio and located him, and the dad and daughter were reunited.  It was touching.
  5. I learned that I want a son.  Over and over again I saw infants and toddlers and my heartstrings were pulled.  I’ve always known that I want children someday, at least a boy and a girl, but never before has the desire been so strong.  And in this setting, it was only a son.  I kept seeing myself over and over again as a father to a little boy.  My heart broke over and over again the entire week as I saw parents holding their little kids, and I kept wondering “when will this be for me?”  I’m not ready now and I know that.  But it tears me up inside to know that it may be a long time before the timing is right and the opportunity is available.  Deep down I know that being a father is going to happen for me.  I just hope it’s not in the too distant future.

I enjoyed my vacation, both for the eye-opening and heartwarming experiences, as well as the general fun I had myself.  DisneyWorld is not just a place for kids, and anyone who thinks it is has either never been, or is not mentally in a place open to that kind of experience.  It sounds so hokey to say, but it’s just magical.  It’s like a whole different world there, and one I very much enjoyed visiting.