Wednesday, November 19, 2008

magic, dreams and believing

I remember when we first moved to Florida, somehow the subject of Disney World came up and Ethan said, now I'm paraphrasing but I think I got it pretty close: That will never happen. Baby, I will never go to Disney world. Oh come on I thought, eventually we'll go, we have children, we live in Florida for goodness sake! But I must say, I got the sentiment. Disney means many things to me, and most of them having to do with marketing and pastiche (sans satire), not magic love joy or beauty. So imagine my surprise when my sweet mama says to Jeanna and I last spring, we're going to Disney World! I got this package for three days and two nights and Disney tickets so let's plan a trip! I believe I audibly groaned, but when the abuela offers to take her grandchildren to Disney, there is one correct answer, protocol love and respect dictate, and that answer is "We'd love to go! thank you mom!"

The planning began and after months of knowing it was coming and asking and dreaming on the part of Magdalena, the weekend was upon us. Magdalena, Augustus and Frida's excitement was infectious and I got really excited. Who knew? We arrived at the park and the first thing we saw was the parade. And can I tell you, there is nothing as incredible as the look on my daughter's face when she saw Pooh, then Mary Poppins, then (GASP!), The Princesses! I cried the kind of tears that are all gratitude and love and wonder and thanks and goodness and awe. I cried because my daughter was with my mom and it was pure magic. I cried because who knew I could be so moved by spectacle? I cried because there is an innocence in us all, and it broke through my cynicism and I was filled with joy, absolute joy. Watching my mom up front with Magdalena and Frida was magical, the kind of magic that I imagine Walt Disney himself thought of when he dreamed up Disney. Disney's theme is "Where Dreams Come True!" and you know what, they do in a crazy veneer sort of a way.

As we entered the park, a park official asked Magdalena if she would be kind enough to autograph his book, to sign in for the day, and of course she was thrilled to write her name for him. He didn't ask us, he didn't ask the littles, just Magdalena. Imagine.

Bring on the magic!
Now, who'd the kid here I ask you?

Jeanna rocking the princess mouse.

In Toon Town, one can actually go visit the Princesses. Magdalena asked "where are the princesses?" so off we went to find them. In the strange world that is Disney, we waited in line watching snippets of the different animated Disney movies about princesses or the new fairy movies, waiting to go visit the princesses in their, uh, waiting rooms I guess one could call them. Each princess was perfectly the princess she embodied. Those princesses were the workingest women I have ever seen, hugging and speaking soooo sweetly and lovingly to child after child after child, squatting down to hug a child, asking questions, treating each little person as if they were the first little person they had seen that day, not the thousandth, and I think that is an accurate number. And not one ever broke character, not even an eyebrow raise.
So we get there, Magdalena jumps up and down with excitement, hides, giggling, behind me and won't go near a princess. She and Augustus crawl around on all fours and Cinderella says in a perfect high-pitched Cinderella voice, "Well it looks like you have two silly mice with you!"
After scoping out the scene thoroughly, Magdalena says, "but where's Ariel?" Did I mention we waited in line about 30-40 minutes? And Belle said, totally respecting Magdalena's question, "Well, Ariel is in her grotto of course, I'm sure she'd love to see you, you can go visit her there."
I do believe it was the last event of the day, our visit to Ariel's grotto. Imagine.

But wait, there's more...


Now, I thought I knew what to expect at Seaworld. I went a when I was little, I remember Shamu, I remember the amazing dolphins. But theater? Acrobats? It seems that Seaworld has taken a page from the Cirque du Soliel book and created a wonderful combination of theater and sea mammals and birds that takes magic to a new level because, basically, it's real! The theme or slogan of Seaworld is "Believe". Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, believe you can do whatever it is you want to do. Believe. And after a day at Seaworld, I believe.

Magdalena and Augustus dancing on the wall, ears a permanent fixture.
Have you ever seen a sea dragon? Only in Australia.
We were all taken by the pearl divers
If Disney is the fantasy of dreams, then Seaworld is the beating heart and soul of dreams, the visceral actualization of dreams. The dolphin and whale trainers were in love with their charges, working with them and realizing their dreams of swimming with dolphins and whales.
At the end of the day, tired and hungry and in need of good food, thank heavens for the tu tu tango cafe. A restaurant "for the starving artist", walls covered in local art for sale, beautiful live guitar music, a balloon man/magician entertaining the children, and an incredibly delicious tapas style menu.

Our weekend adventure turned out to be a stellar, smashing success that went beyond my wildest imaginings of what it would be like. I went braced for conspicuous consumption, staggering consumerism and the attack of a marketing juggernaut, which we got, but what I didn't expect, or what I forgot about or didn't know about, was the magic, the pure magic of the whole thing. The optimism of a place where dreams come true, the joy and pure fun of Disney and the unexpected brilliance of Seaworld. Think about it, all those people, all that machinery, all that energy just to make you, and you, and you, feel special and for just a moment, feel like all that magic is all there is and really, all that matters.


  1. Oh, sounds like fun! I'm definitely a Disney, no way, kind of gal. But you made me want to go!


  2. Oh, my kids would be in heaven. Seeing Magdalena's joy is so, so sweet!