Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Disney Hangover

I’ve had a Disney hangover since we returned from Florida last week. Part sadness, part exhaustion, part common cold, part reluctance to return to reality, part inability to process the experience. We packed so much into five days that like a liver on New Year’s Day, my soul is struggling to process the experience.

I’ll spare you the blow by blow—it would exhaust you just to read it—and rather just list some favorites. My favorite sound of the trip wasn’t Finding Nemo, When You Wish Upon a Star, or God forbid, It’s a Small World Afterall, but rather the sound of the lovely Sophia, now 21 months old, saying “Hi Julie!” with the sweetest exuberance ever heard, 400 times a day. My favorite sight? The giggling nervous excitement of the three kids waiting to hug Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore ties with the sweet, trusting look of 13-year-old Alyssa when she asked me to sit next to her at dinner. My favorite touch? The feel of Sophie taking both of my hands in hers once the Buzz Lightyear ride started. My favorite taste? The Prosecco from “Italy,” the crazy almond covered sweet pretzel from “Norway” and a surprisingly good grilled veggie sandwich on olive bread with sun-dried tomato paste from a fast food stand at Hollywood Studios. My favorite smell? The roses that bloom everywhere in Epcot, even in January. Yes, I stopped to smell them.

Add to the above the shared stories, meals, walks, bus rides; the shared adrenaline rush of Everest, Rock n Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror; talking and laughing with Andy and Nat at the beach; chasing Sophie down the hall as she laughed her head off; trying out castanets and headdresses with Alyssa, and you’ll get a fuller, yet still incomplete picture of what made the trip so special.

So why sad? For one thing, knowing that Sophie woke up in California the morning after she’d gotten home and said, “Mommy, I go see Julie now.” If that’s not bittersweet, I don’t know what is. Coming back to a cold, gray, snowy Philly doesn’t help matters. Neither does the block I have against working on the book. And though I know I couldn’t have kept up the Disney schedule much longer, though I know I have to get back into my routine, to my structure, and yes, to work, it still feels hard to accept that my world no longer revolves around what time Illuminations starts.

I know there are Disney haters out there and I can understand that. But as an artist, I have a lot of admiration for the imagination and vision of Walt Disney and the Disney corporation. Say what you want about it, but Disney knows how to put on a show. They know how to create characters that people relate to and love. They know how to tell stories, create spectacle, and to create a world so magical that people spend thousands of dollars just to spend a little time within it. And God bless them, they know how to market.

Is their marketing to children nefarious? Are we all just hostage to the influence of their evil advertising? I don’t know, maybe that’s part of it. Maybe I should protest, resist. The younger Julie did. But now I think, if all of my in-laws love going to Disney World, and I have a great time every time we go, why fight it? Why not suspend cynicism and disbelief for a few days and just enjoy? More and more it feels like how much I enjoy myself wherever I am is up to me. So I decided to have a great time in Disney World, and I did. And yes, I came home with a pink Mickey Mouse t-shirt, which reminds me to take life a little less seriously, try to be more child-like, and believe in the magic, at least some of the time.


Anonymous said...

Just returned from Disney and am in SERIOUS Disney hangover. I can related to your experience fully. I have decided not to rebel and to embrace the Magic of Disney.

My 2 and 4 year olds have shown me the fun again. Now the return home is twice as difficult.

LuZi said...

ugh me too. every time i see a disney world or universal studios commercial, I die a little on the inside :(