I know a lot of people that don’t ‘get ‘ Disneyland.
They don’t enjoy it, they think it’s too commercial, they think it’s just too… Disney.
For them, they don’t see the Disney magic, the fine layer of pixie dust that changes even the sunlight the minute you walk under the arches and onto Main Street.
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” Walt Disney
The fine layer of pixie dust is invisible to those who close their eyes to it, but all it takes is a little clapping to bring it back to life.
Yesterday I went to Disneyland with my son and his little friend who’s turning three, and his mother, a good friend of mine.
Along for the day was her castmember friend, who had fun juggling burdens of a toddler- from the strollers to the boys to the tickles and giggles.
The day was full of good moments, fun rides, and little moments like this, when Wonder Boy met Minnie for the first time and could not take his eyes off of her. Minnie drew a heart in the air and blew a kiss after my son thanked her and waved goodbye. A small, loving moment in time where the pixie dust flies in flurries and my heart grows a little bigger.
He has such an eye for the girls.
But all of these moments, this happy day was not the definition of Disney magic, although it had a definite sparkle to it.
Seated a few people down from us at the parade was a young man with Down’s Syndrome, who our off-duty castmember ‘tour guide’ knew quite well. He comes to the park often as a reward, and our friend mentioned he was kind of a favorite among the castmembers.
While I watched over the McNugget-digesting twosome he went over with my friend and talked for a while, signing back and forth with a young man who had lived years beyond prediction, happiness beaming from his face upon seeing an old friend and making a new one.
When the Soundsational Parade started, colored lights beaming down on my son’s face and we sat to enjoy the parade, his first Disneyland parade and I took pictures of his upturned face in awe, watching him wave at Mickey, Goofy, Ariel and Mary Poppins.
But to our left was where the real Disney magic was happening, the light shining just a little bit brighter and more colorful, twinkling with magic dust.
Characters blew kisses, beaming down from their floats. Dancers winked and waved and mischievous monkeys scampered over crouching to eye level.
So many, signing ‘I love you’ as they swept past the boy with the glowing face and nasal cannula, each breath sending a swirl of pixie dust around him.
As they left Main Street he did too, following the ropes that mark the end of the parade and the surge of tired guests heading home.
I felt so blessed to watch the real magic of Disneyland yesterday.
Disney magic is not just fun rides, delicious churros and a stuffed animal to snuggle on the way home. Watching the day through a child’s eyes, bringing you back to that space in time as Walt Disney hoped his work did.
Neither is it the escapism of Disneyland, of walking through the gates and seeing the light shine a little more softly and the lights twinkle a little brighter, the outside world for the day the fantasy.
The Disney magic is a gift.
It is an action.
It is a blessing.
It was witnessing them show warm affection for a special young man, seeing and hearing that he is as near and dear to some of them as family.
It was applauding them with my heartbeat, making the magic a little stronger.
I hope that everyone has the chance to witness that Disney magic someday.
Want to know why I love Disneyland? It is my alternate reality.