… had me mostly misty-eyed.
It’s true; I officially cried at least five times while visiting the New Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Now considering that it was MY first time at a Disney resort, I expected that my emotions would run high. And while I experienced everything from euphoria and nostalgia to simple child-like wonder, I couldn’t deny the lump in my throat on several occasions. With a casual dab at the corners of my eyes, I always smiled through the happy tears.
Want to hear more about the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history? Oh, I’ll get to that another day. Today I’d love to share with you my Top Five Misty-Eyed Moments at Magic Kingdom.
1. That Humble Little Abode Known as Cinderella’s Castle
Perhaps this one is a given; setting eyes on Cinderella’s Castle for the very first time is enough to make any girl teary with joy. How I dreamed of this castle as a young girl! Whenever life was difficult, I could always escape to this magical place; dreaming of my Prince Charming waiting high up in the fortress. The iconic castle comes alive during the Christmas season with 200,000 Castle Dream Lights and Celebrate the Magic – a new nighttime spectacular featuring projection mappings, pyrotechnics and lighting. And then, it’s finished with a luminous fireworks display. Yes, I was crying – but so was everybody else. It truly is magical.
2. Going Down in History: The Opening of the New Fantasyland
Amidst the fanfare – Jordin Sparks serenading the audience, Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs officially opening the park – a very poignant thought occurred to me. As the crowd cheered and the confetti floated to the floor, I realized that my family was part of history. Years from now, when the boys are older and the Fantasyland expansion is just another part of Magic Kingdom, I’ll be able to tell them that they were there. They were there when it all began; they were one of the first little children to ride Dumbo, The Flying Elephant; they were one of the first to sit next to the beautiful Princess Ariel. When the trumpets sounded and the fireworks shot into the sky, we were there, making history. Being able to give my children that experience – and the memories captured on camera – makes me burst with emotion time and time again.
3. Living in the Moment – From Age 2 to 102
Before leaving for Disney World, I often questioned if the boys were too young to fully appreciate the experience. “Reid’s too young to remember any of it”, I complained. However, once we arrived at Magic Kingdom, I realized that all of my pre-conceived notions were dead wrong. Because it’s not about what they’ll remember; it’s about what they are experiencing in the moment. Seeing the joy on Reid’s face as he traveled along The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh made my eyes glisten with happiness. Hearing Ryder scream “I want to do that again!” after racing through the Tomorrowland Speedway confirmed that Disney World is for all ages, from 2 to 102. We were surrounded by families of all ages and sizes, taking in the magic and splendour in their own way. No matter how old your children are – or how old you are – it’s always the perfect time to visit.
4. Two Little Boys and a Beautiful Princess
As we walked along Fantasyland, little Reid kept telling us that he wanted to see the “beautiful fish”. Confused, we tried to find Dory from Finding Nemo, and then showed him pictures of Flounder. “No, no, no!” he cried. “I want the Bootiful Fish!” he said, pointing at Ariel’s Grotto. Ah! The Little Mermaid! We journeyed under the sea and stood in a short line to meet Reid’s new favourite character. Once inside, he became bashful; putting his head down and hiding behind me. It was so enduring! His first crush – on a Princess, no less! After a little coaxing he gave her a huge hug and then sat down beside her, grinning from ear to ear. (Ryder, who’s too cool for school, was also convinced to get in the picture, though he was decidedly less impressed.) Watching Reid blush, smile and flirt was definitely a tear-jerking moment – but can you blame me? My little boy is growing up!
5. The Conversation that Changed My Perspective
Riding home from Magic Kingdom back to our hotel, I fell into conversation with another mom. Her daughters were 15 and 17, and she told me that she had been saving for fifteen years to experience Walt Disney World with her family. Every overtime hour she worked; every bonus or holiday pay she received, she put it away to the Disney fund. And now, after many long years, here they were. It was in that moment that I felt incredibly humbled; I was at Disney World on a press trip, riding alongside someone who was at Disney World as part of a life dream. It brought forth the incredible realization that for so many families, a trip to Disney represents years of hopes, dreams and savings – all for a chance to experience the fairy tale elegance and enchantment. It truly became both our “happily ever afters” – and gave me a new appreciation of just how fortunate my family was. Cue the tears!
And that, friends, is how I spent about 10% of my vacation in a teary (but happy) state. Our trip to Disney World brought about so many magical moments that we’ll never forget. I’ll be back later this week with a rundown of some of my favourite features of the new Fantasyland, including attractions, dining, shopping, character interactions, recreation and more.
Want to start planning your vacation? Visit www.disneyworld.ca.