After coming home from the most Magical Place on earth and its number 1 tourist destination, the world seems rather empty. Yes, I did the pilgrimage to Disney as any good red blooded American with two kids, who have only been speaking slightly longer than they have been defecating in their own pants. I return exhausted, broke, convinced of my fatherly devotion, a strong distaste for Florida heat, proud to have landed a better job than being stuck in a fur costume, and with plenty to muse over concerning the state of Disney World now closing in on its 40th year.
Disney World claims time and time again about the power of the imagination to change the world for the better. Yet everything we see is imagination come to life: real princesses and life size dogs; electric lights and chipmunks that dance. Time and time again around every corner you turn, you are faced with a real life horror of what Alice in Wonderland experienced. And everyone there seems to love it. There seems to be no problem with melting our children in the horrendous sultry sun for eleven hours as we run around to stand in line getting autographs from fictional characters. It is not a place of imagination; it is a place of pure insanity. How else would you explain spending thousands of dollars for a warm pool, greasy food, and sweating through three shirts a day while sitting on a bus or having coaches hack away at your ankles to get a better view of Tinker bell? It is just a short chick, dude, so back off; there are no such things as fairies.
But going to Disney makes as much sense as being a parent, and those children at the park ate up every single life size duck, mouse, and façade with the same nonchalance of belief that was displayed in the sly smile of my youngest telling me, “I told you so.” You don’t have to go to Disney to show your love, but you might to see them truly believe in something you know does not exist. A belief displayed with such intensity that you forget about reality, money, or economic recessions, and you end up giving Buzz Light Year a hug because he made your kid feel as special as you want him to feel everyday.
Disney exists because it is does not exist anywhere else. And if you are cynical and a bit based in this reality we call existence, you will be so overwhelmed with the ironies, super superficialness, and the endless exploiting of consumerism until you don’t care and you say you are on vacation to forget just that, and you brought your family to forget just that, and you finally realize what a vacation actually is: forgetting reality. And if there is a better definition of imagination than that, well this writer doesn’t know it.
It was truly my first vacation and though I could not bring myself to buy a stupid Mickey Mouse t-shirt, I could see myself maybe sporting one in the future when the kids are gone and my wife and I go back to remember when we forgot. Those mouse ears make sense, those lines, that heat, that mouse because everyone was on vacation and forgetting. And if America ever needed Disney more than now, to forget and maybe just to believe, well it was before my years and perhaps, before Disney World.