Every man should visit a Disney park five times during his lifetime.
The first time is when he is a child, so he can appreciate the magic of this amazing fantasy world through the eyes of a young person.
It’s a Small World
The second trip is years later, with high school or college buddies, done as a lark during spring break. This is a rite of passage between childhood and adulthood because what once caught your imagination now becomes an object of sarcasm and scorn. Everything Disney must be ridiculed and mocked as childish and commercial. The only reason for being there is to score some over-priced beers at the Germany pavilion at Epcot and then vomiting behind the PeopleMover as a sign of a triumph over your childhood.
The third excursion is after graduation, now as a male adult, his youth behind him, holding hands with a date, a lover, or girlfriend. This is his attempt to transform the Disney experience, once a symbol of childhood and teenage angst, into one of maturity and romance. More on this later.
The fourth visit is mid-life, with your wife and kids, hoping to see the joy in the bright faces of your children, so as to remember your own sense of awe at first stepping into the Magic Kingdom. Of course, now as an adult, you will also other thoughts, such as how this family trip, with travel, hotel, food, park admission, and food on the Disney property, is costing you more than a down payment on a new Prius, but once you overcome this urge to worry, this visit can be the most beautiful, depending on the behavior and brat-level of your offspring.
The fifth and final trip should be in old age, during the twilight years, preferably on your own. While standing in the middle of Disney’s old-fashioned, Norman-Rockwell type Main Street, you thank God for allowing you to visit a Disney property five times in your lifetime. Many come to Disney as a last wish as sick children, and never get to see it again. You were one of the lucky ones who got to experience Disney through all five stages of life.
And then, after counting your blessings, and with the Main Street trolley clanging by, as it does so efficiently ever few minutes, you should curse Walt Disney for every myth that he planted in your weak brain. It was Walt Disney who ruined your life. Your Prince or Princess never did come, did he? You never met a sexy mermaid or a talking lion, true? And the only time you saw a real mouse, he wasn’t cute with big ears, but a disease-ridden pest, and you smashed it dead with a golf club on the linoleum of your kitchen. No, Mr. Disney, during your entire life, all you peddled was fakery, like the Morocco’s cheap façade at Epcot, and you profited from it. And now, after counting your blessing and cursing the memory of Disney, there is nothing left for you to do on Earth but to die, facing Cinderella’s Castle, right in front of Goofy’s Souvenir Shop, and as you fall to the ground and take your last breath, you realize that even in death, you were conned by Walt Disney, who has cleverly frozen himself in a secret room in Burbank, California, so one day, in a true Tomorrowland, he will return to life, the richest man on Earth, laughing at your for his ultimate con job, a prank that even a Cruella Deville couldn’t imagine.
But, anyway, back to my recent trip to Walt Disney World with Jana. It was my “third category trip” to a Disney property, the “romantic trip.” While I had been to Disneyland while living in Los Angeles, it was my first time back at Walt Disney World since I went there in the late 1970s with my parents, before Epcot had not even been built!
Walt Disney World, late 1970s
I know the question you are asking yourself. Can romance be found at a Disney theme park, a location crowded with crying children, stressed out parents, and senior citizens aggressively driving their rent-a-scooters like the extras in a Mad Max film?
Walt Disney World, today
It’s not easy, especially if you are running around to go on rides you haven’t been on in decades, catching the buses back and forth to your hotel, and running races at 5AM (Jana was involved in a charity race).
Princess Race Finish Line Bleachers, Walt Disney World
Surely, by nightfall, even under the fake romantic moon in the Disney sky, most couples are less “Lady and the Tramp” slurping pasta together at a Italian bistro than Sleepy and Grumpy, wanting to hit the sack. That is mostly true. But yes, romance CAN be found at a Disney property, in small doses, but only if you go with the right woman who can magically turn the most cynical of men into believing in fairydust.
So, thumbs up, Walt Disney World. I prefer Disneyland in California, it being smaller and more a part of the the actual city of Anaheim, but I had a good time. And I didn’t expect to enjoy it. Next time I need to come with kids. Anyone’s kids.
And please, don’t ever tear down the corny Country Bear Jamboree, no matter how few people still visit it.
Walt Disney World, Main Street