Too many people grow up, they forget
If you and I have been connected for any length of time, you are aware that I LOVE the “House of Mouse” and call it our home. When I mention my Disney-ness, there are two responses: rolling eyes thinking “here we go, another Mouse nut” or a resounding “me too!”
Would it surprise you that my first trip there was when I was 12? Then I didn’t go again until I was 22. Are you familiar with the term “Disney Adult”? It is often used to describe people of a certain age that frequent Disney without children. Oftentimes the term is used to throw shade at those of us who have a child-like affinity for all things Disney.
We are told we are taking away the magic from the children and families who are there and such. I retort, what about my magic?
It IS where my heart is. I was recently asked “WHY”? And honestly, I wasn’t sure. Once I sat quietly with the question, I realized it was many things. And I would like to share some of that reflection with you.
That first trip when I was 12 is actually a blur. I remember a few small moments. One specifically while getting in line to rent a wheelchair for my dad and hearing a group of college kids say they had to get in the wheelchair line before they were gone because that is how you skip the lines. *Side note, yes my advocacy for disability equality started WAY before I had my own disabled child.* I was furious! You see, my dad had a “bad knee” and the trip had taken a toll on him. At the time we were not aware that it was cancer and we would pass away a few years later.
I didn’t have a “troubled” childhood, and I had supportive parents. Like many others of my generation my upbringing was independent, goal and work focused, not overly playful and a bit lonely. Especially around the age of 13-15 with my father’s illness and death when I became an adult immediately.
Then I went back in college with a “new” boyfriend. Being able to go and feel part of his extended family was the real magic. As someone from a VERY small (not super close) family, this was a feeling of belonging that I had longed for.
In the 25+ years since that trip, that boyfriend and I got married and had two medically complex children. The eldest is severely disabled. The roller coaster of parenting through these complexities and staying in love and married puts all the Disney rides to shame! It has been a doozie and he is still the grounding rock in my world. And as a family (and just a couple) we have been to Disney (Cruises, California and Paris) dozens of times.
As I reflected on the trips and that we often discuss traveling elsewhere - and occasionally do - more often than not, we “just do Disney”. We are magnetically drawn there.
The simplest explanation is just JOY and EASE.
Our hearts are lighter, the stress of medical needs drift away and it is one of the few places we get to BE just us, all together. In our medical home, we spend little time together as a family unit. Where others may see everything as “too fake”, “too hectic”, “too expensive”, I don’t feel that at all. I see families connecting, being playful, and I get to be playful, creative and relaxed.
In a childhood and adulthood filled with trauma, for whatever reason, Disney is my “safe space”. It fills me with a feeling of happiness, balance, grounding, and hope. I AM A DISNEY ADULT!
I hope that next time you see a Disney Adult (Marvel nerd, Harry Potterhead, Whovian, Fantasy lover like me), you don’t think it's frivolous or silly. Honor that there are deep emotional attachments for many reasons. What is your “safe space”? Please reply and let me know your place or thing that you have deep emotional attachments to! I love to really get to know you!
Life is hard, Travel can be easy, Amy
P.S. Check out all the ways we can create magic together: Vacation Planning - Retreat Vision - Entrepreneur Travel Assistant - Accessible Travel "Amy Flo-Yo, my favorite Disney (And everywhere) Travel Agent, set up plans for us for Universal Studios and Disney, and I didn't have to do anything at all! No charge - she gets paid by Disney and Universal. Same price for me, no work on my part. Amy Flo-Yo also specializes in helping families with Special Needs so they can have the smoothest plans possible!" - Elizabeth Madigan