Disney, Wonder, and a 2 year old: Reconnecting with the real world
Beautiful people, I have just returned from my honeymoon – hurrah! Lindsey and I spent a week in the most magical place on Earth: Walt Disney World.
The only catch for me with theme parks is that I get deathly motion sick. Therefore I am unable to ride roller coasters, motion simulators, or anything that spins/rocks. In WDW it’s really not that big of a deal, because most of the rides are slow moving. Out of the goodness of her heart, Lindsey avoided those rides all week even though she enjoys them, so that we could spend all of our time together.
On our last full day we took a second trip to Magic Kingdom and found ourselves near Space Mountain, one of the most famous and beloved rides in WDW that, of course, I have never been on. It was clear that Lindsey wanted to try it, and so I told her, “Go ahead! Don’t worry about me. I’ll wander around.”
So she embarked on a 90 minute wait in line (we were out of Fast Passes) while I strolled around Magic Kingdom alone, for the first time all week. Eventually I found myself getting on “It’s a Small World,” a classic Disney experience. I’d already done it once that week, but it was hot and the ride has a special place in my heart, because it is my Grandmother’s lifelong favorite and I enjoy the history of Mary Blair’s artwork.
I ended up sitting with a mother, grandmother, and 2 year old who was introduced as Asher. It was Asher’s first trip to Disney (or at least the first trip he’d remember vaguely). Chubby cheeks with freckles, short curly orange hair, and sitting very quietly. I introduced myself to the family, explained that my wife (my wife!) was on Space Mountain and I was waiting for her.
“You are your wife are having two very different experiences right now,” the mother joked as our slow moving boat entered the first room and that song (you know the one) started playing.
As we turned the corner and the first room came into full view, Asher’s face turned to pure awe. He jaw dropped, his eyes went wide, and he started looking around slowly, taking in the colors, the whimsy, the music, and the experience.
The expression on his face was one of unadulterated wonder, joy, and excitement. It’s a look that we recognize in ourselves less and less as we get older, and children are losing it earlier than ever, thanks to the world of constant technology and “everything at my fingertips.” Hardly anything is wonderful or magical anymore. Everything is just *there*.
As a magician, who is in the business of creating wonder, and a youth speaker, who is in the business of encouraging real world connections, it is a moment I will never forget.
I’m not going to tell you that smartphones are bad, or that the Internet is bad, or that social media is bad. It’s not that black and white. There are many great benefits to the digital world. What I will say is this:
Every so often, put it away. Look up. Look around you. Look into the eyes of your partner. Look into the eyes of your friends and family. Look into the eyes of the world.
You just may recapture a moment of pure wonder.
P.S. Oh, and by the way, Lindsey ended up waiting 2 hours for Space Mountain. And she hated it. Can’t win ’em all.