Friday, July 22, 2011

Most Magical Place on Earth

It started with one question:  “Why do families go to Disney World?”

First, I grew up on Disney, in fact, my first experience with Disney was in 1986, as a kid, when I lived in France and we flew all the way to Florida, it was like a pilgrimage (1986). Disney was my introduction to the American culture, just as Paris is the introduction to French culture for many tourists. I thought all Americans were like the Disney employees. My parents loved it and we had some wonderful memories. It would be hypocrite to say I didn’t understand the exciting experience provided at a Disney park.

That said, 25 years later, with 2 boys and my love for community and simplicity, I find myself at odd with one thing: is it my duty as a dad to take my family to Disney World? A friend of mine , an avid Disney fan, seem to think so.  What am I really looking for in a Disney experience that I can’t get 60 miles from home? Is it a packaged experience? A connection with a World of Fantasy? or fulfilling my kids’ dreams? It could be a little of all three but is this sending the wrong message: does true magic only exist in one place on earth? and what does that make the rest of the earth? Where does Disney rank among all the amazing experiences you could have as a family?

One of my favorite movies, Finding Neverland, tells a different story. The movie shows a world where J.M. Barrie,  Peter Pan’s author, finds adventures with children anywhere. The movie shows a world of fantasy that can be captured at any moment, even in the most dire situations. The truth is that in the eyes of children magic exists all around us, sometimes it just needs a little push here and there, but it’s there. As parents, it takes work and patience to bring the magic out around us but it is well worth it.

Of course it’s not that black and white but I would love to hear from parents who believe that the most magical places on earth are all around us and sometimes we just need to do a little extra work to lift that curtain and uncover the magic.

Going back to my experience as a kid, I honestly liked the fake Cinderella castle more than the real castles that scattered France and I ended up living in the US... how much of that was influenced by that first experience?


  1. I totally agree that kids bring magic to almost any outing or experience.

    Just lask week as my boys and I (6 and 8) were hiking down to a lake in northern Idaho, they assumed the roles of characters from a book series they have been reading (the Deltora Quest) and adapted the different parts of the trail to be places in the story (Forests of Silence, Lake of Tears). They debated the monsters we would meet along the way and how we would handle them. They even side-tracked into a looooonnng conversation on how to create a play or movie based on the book and this hike and their love of the characters.

    It was super fun to hear more about what they are reading and see their imaginations at work. It was also a great way to see the forest and lake in a new way. They were so fired up they didn't complain once about the length of the trail or the steady upward climb from the lake at the end!

    Sometimes, as a parent, all it takes is picking a destination and getting there with your kids (and some snacks!). They typically bring the magic.

  2. Snacks and stopping for snacks is also a highlight in their adventure :) We picked a gigantic boulder for them to sit on and snack on in our last adventure and they were so happy.