I have made a lifetime of great memories at Walt Disney World in the twenty-two years I’ve been going there. I remember I was sitting at Chef Mickey’s, back when it was at the Village (now the Marketplace). Mickey was going table to table greeting his guests. When suddenly an adorable little blonde-haired girl, maybe about five years old, ran up to him. She threw her arms around him him and shouted loud enough for the whole room to hear, "Mickey Mouse, I love you!" That was one of those magical moments that I will never forget. It was almost like Walt himself had orchestrated it, just to spread the magic.
But silly moments are the best. My favorites are the ones my family and I always talk about. Year in and year out these stories keep getting told to anyone who will listen. My family has a casual reunion each year at Walt Disney World. There’s always an open invitation for anyone who wants to go. And the group always seems to be different.
One year, there were about three or four families in our group. My uncle, Bill, who is a pilot, flew into MCO to meet up with us as we were beginning a trip. He, however, had to work the rest of the day. Bill and his family live in Texas and it is rare that we see him. We had hugs all around and then headed for the luggage carousels and then to our bus to take us to our rental car company. (I’m not sure why we used to do that when we could rent at the airport…but I digress…) We were so excited to start our trip that we jumped on the bus and left Bill on the curb with a pouty lip. Later, a few in our group claimed that they thought he was going with us. But to this day, we laugh about how we were more excited to go and see Mickey than stop at the airport and have dinner with him.
On another occasion, we all stopped at Auntie Gravity’s at the Magic Kingdom for ice cream. While we were stopped, we decided it was a fine time for a photo of the group. My Uncle Joe, sat on a retaining wall to relax and finish his ice cream. My Aunt Sue, ice cream in hand, stood up behind him to pose for the picture. He looked up at her as only a brother could and said, "Don’t drop that on me!" He turned his head forward to say cheese and PLOP, SNAP. The melted mess ended up on his head and shoulders as the photo was snapped. Poor Sue still gets in trouble until this day for that one!
Then, there is the ketchup and mustard story. This one was so silly that we immortalized it on a scrap page for my uncle’s 50th trip to Walt Disney World. My mom, her brother Joe and I were hanging around at the Magic Kingdom on this day. We were a bit tired from the sun and dare I say, very punchy!! We took a break at Pecos Bill’s for lunch when Joe decided to challenge Mom. "Name the countries in the World Showcase at Epcot going clockwise from Mexico." Now, we had been playing this game on and off all trip long and for some reason, my mom just couldn’t get them in order. That’s when Joe ripped open the ketchup and mustard packets and drew a map. Blops of ketchup and mustard morphed into our beloved World Showcase before our eyes and we broke out into a severe case of the giggles.
Okay, so maybe you had to be there. If you’re not rolling your eyes at me by this time, I do have a point. These stories are examples of how very adult and often serious people become little kids at Walt Disney World. It is freeing and fun and magical. Walt Disney World is the kind of place that draws out your silly side and opens you up to the kind of memories that I really don’t think you could have elsewhere. So if you’ve read between the lines, you’ll know that magic of a Disney vacation doesn’t happen just when you’re on the attractions or at the shows. Sometimes the magic happens inbetween the lines. Anytime life gets a little too serious for me, I pull out these memories from the back of my brain and laugh. And I remember the phrase on that tee shirt that I bought all those years ago at my favorite vacation spot in the world…."I’m never growing up".