Friday, September 9, 2011

Twenty-Five Life Lessons Learned at Disney Parks

Hard as they may try, bless their hearts, this
doesn't count as Disney in New York City.
So I'm about to get real witchyall, a'ight? I need a vacation. New York is a hard place to be. After close to nine years in the city, it is starting to really wear me down. There are still things about it that I love and I am lucky to have great friends, a supportive family, and an amazing fiance (two weeks 'til the wedding!) that help me keep my wits about me, but I'm nearing the end of my rope. New York is all concrete and steel and sometimes it feels like a lot of the people here are, too.

The good news is that on Saturday, I'm going on vacation!!! Hallelujah! Tom and I are visiting his friends and family back in California and, of course, considering our mutual adoration of all things Disney, we are spending two days at the Disneyland Resort (thanks to some help from his lovely mom). One day at Disneyland park, one at California Adventure, and overnighting at the Paradise Pier Hotel. I couldn't be happier.

I popped my Disneyland cherry last November on a fantastic trip with Tom. He's a great tour guide, who's as enthusiastic as I am about Disney Parks. Our trip was very short and so we only had one day there. It was one of the best days of my life. Yes. Really. It was that awesome. I have no doubt that this little pre-wedding quasi-honeymoon trip will be just as rad, and I can't wait.
Like I need a map. It's all up here. (taps noggin)

As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I started to think about all of the things that Disney Parks had taught me. They have brought so much into my life and being there makes me so happy, it made me consider that my life on the other side of the berm would benefit from the application of some of these lessons learned. My goal is that when the magic ends, and it almost always does, I want to bring what I've learned back to the Big Bad City with me.

I thought it would be fun to share with you guys a list of twenty-five things that Disneyland reminds me about my life after the pixie dust has faded, the fireworks are over, and the park closes for the night, sending me back out into the world.

1. Main Street U.S.A. reminds me to honor the past. Because it is the gateway to our next big adventure.

2. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh reminds me to embrace the gentle things. Because when the greatest thing you have to fear is a heffalump or woozle, then you're doing well, indeed.

3. The Haunted Mansion reminds me to find something to laugh about in things that scare me. Because I am just a foolish mortal, after all.

4. The Pirates of the Caribbean reminds me to be bold when I'm going after what I want. Because I'd bet you a bright, shiny nickel than one of those blokes gets the redhead in the end.

5. it's a small world reminds me to embrace and respect everyone despite our differences. Because there is no more basic truth than that through the laughter and tears, the hopes and the fears, we are all worthy of respsect and love.

6. Space Mountain reminds me to blast off into the dark unknown without fear. Because exhilaration often lies on the other side (and sometimes a souvenir shop).

7. The Disneyland Story featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln reminds me that there are great people who helped shape this country. Because I need to keep the faith that more will follow who can continue that work.

8. Splash Mountain reminds me that after every great drop there is a greater reward. Because I love me a showboat packed with Marc Davis inspired audio-animatronics.

9. Snow White Grotto reminds me that wishes really can come true, despite our own skepticism. Because some day my prince did come and he's more than I ever could have imagined.

10. Mickey's Toontown reminds me aspire to live in a world where silliness is accepted as the status quo. Because when even the buildings squash and stretch, it's impossible not to find something to make you laugh.

11. The Mark Twain Riverboat reminds me to be proud of where I come from and my Southern heritage. Because I'll be walking in the steps of the great Louis Armstrong, who played on the very same boat, and it just doesn't get better than that.

12. The Jungle Cruise reminds me to keep my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. Because you know the speil wouldn't be nearly as fun if we took it all seriously.

13. Dumbo the Flying Elephant reminds me to be grateful for the simple things. Because after years of avoiding it because I thought it was lame, riding it filled me with unbridled joy.

14. The Mad Tea Party reminds me that no matter how fast the world spins, you just have to hang on. Because the ride will stop eventually and sooner rather than later if someone yarfs.

15. Peter Pan's Flight reminds me to let myself be amazed. Because every time I fly over London in a pirate galleon, my jaw drops like it did the first time.

16. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride reminds me that even if some people think I'm going to Hell, at least I can have fun getting there. Because I'm not going to be able to convince them otherwise and they aren't worth my time.

17. Captain EO reminds me despite all of the awful things that the eighties did to its subsequent generations, it did leave us a few nuggets of excessive fabulousness. Because when Anjelica Huston, Michael Jackson, lasers, and furry aliens co-exist in world where people dance battle to bring about positive change, you gotta admit they were doing something right.

18. The Storybook Land Canals reminds me to pay attention to the small things. Because sometimes they are the things that are the most impressive.

19. Snow White's Scary Adventures reminds me to be prepared for things to get terrifying without warning very quickly. Because y'all know that you all get caught off guard at the sheer volume of heebie jeebies you get on that ride no matter how many times you've been on it.

20. Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters reminds me to let myself engage in a little bit of healthy competition. Because nothing feels better than beating my video game aficionado fiance at a video game adjacent competitive attraction and holding it over his head for the rest of the day.

21. The Matterhorn Bobsleds reminds me not to be intimidated by the mountains in my path. Because they are always scalable and sometimes they have awesome roller coasters that will aid you in that climb.

22. The Disneyland Railroad reminds me to be ready for anything, no matter how benign things seem. Because something that can take you from the future, to the Grand Canyon, to the age of the dinosaurs, to the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, to New Orleans, to a world of cartoons, and a land of fairy tales all under twenty minutes makes you realize anything is possible just around the corner.

23. The Enchanted Tiki Room reminds me to believe in the power of magic. Because, all in one place, technological wizardry, ancient island voodoo, and a healthy dose of Disney pixie dust swirl together to make birds put on a show that will make you grin from ear to ear.

24. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reminds me that I should always look for the gold in them thar hills. Because the journey you make to find it is usually as valuable as what you discover when you do.

25. Sleeping Beauty Castle reminds me to believe in the power of fairy tales. Because for the day that I am in Disneyland, I will be living in one.

I cannot wait for my feet to finally be planted on Disney soil once more. I have literally been counting down the days for months (4 days left) and cannot wait to feel the way that only being on Disney property can make you feel. Since this will be my first time going to Disney's California Adventure, I look forward to expanding this list for myself in the very, very, very near future.

What reminders do going to a Disney Park give you? I'd love to hear your own additions! Holla atcha boy!

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