7 Observations from Disney World

1. Disney World is the complete opposite of New York City.

Disney World is a multicultural melting pot, in the least authentic way possible. Walking through the World Showcase, all I could think of was that Norwegians must be so upset about the Frozen ride, Mexicans furious about the Donald Duck ride and Dia de Muertos merchandise being sold as another doo-dad for the display case at home. It’s completely fake which makes it so much more interesting- it’s Disney’s version of a nation. It’s an illusion. New York City’s multiculturalism is a result of generations of immigrants coming to the US with a glimmer in their eye of a dream, carrying the weight of their ancestry on their shoulders.

Disney is pristinely clean, people wait on lines, and transportation is quite excellent. New York City hasn’t been clean since it was colonized, people do not know what lines are, and transportation is a total tossup between being just functional enough and a literal public disaster.

Disney is unironically enthusiastic about everything, everyone from the security guards to the cleaning staff to the animatronics are selling you happiness, excitement. In New York City, cynicism is vogue.

2. Watching children react to every little detail is the best part.

Have you ever seen a child meet their idol? It’s amazing. They clap, squeal, poke their parents, and yell “LOOK IT’S ELSA” while wearing their own Elsa dress and it’s pure. Or they’re on a ride and they spend the whole time excitingly narrating the entire ride and asking a million questions. What’s a winter melon? Look it’s a baby polar bear! (Okay, that one may have been my husband.)

And no, I have not forgotten about the meltdowns. Little kids having meltdowns in Disney  World is only half as a good as adults having meltdowns at Disney World. They’re so overwhelmed they literally cannot function. Imagine being 3 feet tall, everything is quadruple the size it is in the real world and you are surrounded by more people in 15 minutes than you’ve ever met in your life. Every attraction is set up to be a completely immersive experience, you forget you’re at Disney World. Suddenly you’re in space. You’re in Africa. You’re in every Disney movie. How do you deal with this when most children have spent most of their time in familiar places: school, home, the local park, the library, family and friends homes?

3. Having good health is a privilege.

It is really difficult to spend 12 hours walking, waiting on lines, in simulations and rides that are going to nauseate you. Most people probably do not stay at Disney for the entire day, but it is the best way to ensure you get to do everything you wanted to do and more. At the end of the day, I was exhausted. That being said, it would be so frustrating to pay for an experience and not be capable of achieving it all. Accessibility is an issue I have the privilege of not worrying about, so I’m not going make sweeping statements about something I inherently take for granted. Being in good health increases one’s quality of life. Having that, I am grateful.

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4. Illusions are not lies.

When I was a little girl, I spent most magic shows trying to figure out how they did it. My natural reaction to any fantastical is to try to see how it was done, break the experience or illusion down piece by piece. I never enjoyed these experiences because I never trusted them… they were lies!

An illusion is the nicer cousin of a lie. Illusion takes you down a road you never would have explored otherwise and lets yourself let go. Illusion likes long walks on the beach that end with a punchline, jokes that end with a sunset. Illusion would never lie- it takes one person’s dreams, another person’s perspective and makes something different and unique. It’s teamwork.

5. Good habits inspire good deeds.
The parks are clean because people are constantly cleaning the park. The parks are also clean because people actually throw out their trash. People in Disney World are kind and courteous. They are also being emotionally pampered by dozens of workers during their visit. Good places inspire people to give what they get. 

6. Parents are the strongest people in the world.

I spoke about meltdowns before. Watching parents patiently take care of their children, stand with them for hours for rides they couldn’t care less about, watching them observe the pure joy emanating from their children is awe inspiring. Parents do this every day, in the real world, without the distractions and fun. That is next level.

7. Dreams do come true here.

Being a designer, all I wanted to ask about was how many people did it take to design this ride? Where are they from? What did they do before designing for this park? What do they do now? Having your work be used to create amazing experiences in one of the most frequented places in the world for decades to come must be a dream, even if it doesn’t have your name on it. I am so grateful for the thousands of people who put one, fifty, three hundred, eight thousand hours of their lives into maintaining this wild, complex illusion which is Disney World. Even though many visitors dream of going to Disney World, its greatest accomplishment of all is the grand creative experiment the parks are.