I may be in my 30’s but I still get legit tears of joy in my eyes when I drive under the arch that says Walt Disney World. This gives my brain the signal I have arrived and what a joy it is to be able to share this happy place with people I love. At Disney, I can really feel the togetherness that we don’t always have as a family when we’re stuck in our daily routines at home. Nothing else matters there but my family (or friends), fun, and embracing the fact that we can still have childlike joy at any age.
Despite how good or bad you perceive your childhood to be, Disney was probably a part of it regardless. It’s so engrained in American culture that it’s difficult to not be nostalgic about at least one part of the Disney empire (especially since its reach has expanded so much with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars). As a child, I took one trip to Disney World and it was on my 10th birthday; just my Mom and I. That trip is one of my best childhood memories because I know we had so much fun. I thought I was the coolest kid in the world having the chance to meet characters, ride rides, and just have time with my Mom solo. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort and every time we mention this trip of old, my Mom still talks about how she saved me from the giant wave at Typhoon Lagoon just before I was washed out to Disney Sea. Curse those lifeguards for not warning a parent with a small child that it was a BIG wave coming. I am pretty sure they sound a siren to warn about the tsunami wave, but we’ll ignore that aspect of it and just realize that whether or not everything that happens as planned on a Disney trip, like a near drowning by tsunami wave, it can still be really fun. This trip was one of the most positive childhood memories I can recall. Pixar friends might even go as far as to call that a core memory. It was that memorable.
As I grew up, and had children of my own, I knew I wanted to share that experience with them. When we took my oldest daughter she was only 18 months old, she’s in elementary school now and has gone almost annually since then. Our youngest went for the first time when she was a little under one-year old. We aren’t in Disney’s backyard either; we’re in Michigan. There are a variety of reasons we’ve returned to Disney time and time again. One main reason we returned was because we found out both of our children had varying food allergies. Disney is known for being highly accommodating and over-the-top prepared to handle anything food allergy related. The extra care and caution they take toward accommodating food restrictions is AMAZING. We could eat at food carts, quick-service restaurants, and sit-down restaurants with ease. This is a major luxury for food allergy families. It was amazing that I could go there and RELAX on a vacation. Most wouldn’t consider Disney relaxing, but I did, and predominately for this reason. We started going annually and even added in two Disney cruises for good measure, which use the same care and attention to food allergies as Disney World employees but only adding the bonus of traveling somewhere tropical. I’ve also started going to Disney World with girlfriends to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I love running. I love Disney. It was going to happen eventually.
It would be great if we could all take vacations 24/7 and soak in all that Disney World goodness everyday, but alas we cannot. To make up for this drought of all things Disney World, I attempt to infuse Disney-isms into our everyday life, much to my husband’s laughter. I have a pretty extensive Disney coffee cup collection. I like the ones legitimately shaped as something unique – think Cinderella’s carriage, Hank from Finding Dory, or Chip the teacup from Beauty and the Beast. You better believe we signed up for Disney+ (and love it!) and when you add that availability in with all the movies we already own, we could have a pretty legit Disney party any day of the week. My heart is happy when I drive the kids to gymnastics class and we jam to the Aladdin soundtrack, Descendants, or Into the Unknown from Frozen 2. We also named our Golden Retriever puppy, Dug, after the adorable Golden Retriever in the Pixar movie Up. He has his own Instagram @dugthegolden1 and is already practically famous.
At this point I could plan a solid Disney vacation in about one hour and friends often come to me to basically do that. It is this passion that inspired me to start my new website, Love Will Thaw (www.lovewillthaw.com). True Disney enthusiasts will recognize that love will thaw is one of the sweetest parts in the movie Frozen. Elsa discovers that love is the only way to thaw the eternal winter and save both Anna and Arrendelle. Our hearts can be frozen not just from magical ice powers, but from blocking out the same types of joy that we experienced as a child. Through my blog I hope to share the joy of Disney that my family enjoys with you and yours, in the mission to create a believer out of you. Yes you, the I’m only doing that trip ONCE type person.
Until we cave and move from the frozen tundra of Michigan to Orlando where I can justify getting an annual pass, I’ll soak in all things Disney/Disney World in anyway I can. I encourage you to do the same. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Let’s bottle that Disney happiness and childlike joy and interject it into our daily life. When we do that, I think we can all make today a little more magical than yesterday.