Do You Believe in Magic?

Do you believe in magic? I most certainly do. No, not the magic that involves sawing some poor woman in half or pulling a rabbit from a polyester top hat. Not even magic involving the words “hocus pocus” or the supernatural. No, I’m referring to magic found in memories created with the ones I love. Confused? Let me enlighten you… (M. Pigliavento) As a child, I spent at least one week of every year in the sunny town of Orlando, Florida. I wasn’t there to golf or to get splashed by Shamu, or even to get a nice tan. I was there to experience the “magic” of Walt Disney World. Vivid memories flood my mind as I write this entry…

The first night is always the hardest.  At seven years old,I sit on my bed  memorizing the various maps of the amusement parks and water parks and boardwalks that fill the “globe” of Walt Disney World. I run my finger from the grand entrance of the Magic Kingdom map, stopping at every attraction and envisioning myself, as I map out my course for the following day like a practiced navigator, boarding a roller-coaster train or sitting down in an interactive theater. We have been settled into our condo for a few hours and haven’t yet entered the parks. I have no idea how I am going to get any sleep tonight knowing that in a few long hours I will enter the gates for real, not just with my index finger on a glazed piece of parchment paper.  I decide to go to bed on the spot.  So what if it’s seven o’clock and we haven’t even eaten dinner yet. The sooner I go to sleep the sooner I will find myself waking up, jumping into the back-seat of our mini-van rent-a-car, and driving under the colorful arches reading “Walt Disney World.” I close my eyes and picture it all happening.

Before I know it, I am dreaming of Mickey Mouse and his trusty dog Pluto. Mickey and I are just sitting down to lunch with Minnie when my internal clock kicks in, telling me that the sun should be rising any second. My eyes fly open and I jump out of bed. I run around to every door in our condo and bang furiously. I glance at a clock on the wall and notice that the little hand hasn’t quite made it to the 5 yet (whatever that means) as I run to the bathroom to brush my teeth furiously with my Lion King toothbrush. My father, looking as ravishingly as always in the morning, clomps out of his bedroom and turns on the coffee machine. On his way back to his room he mumbles something about me never getting up this early for school back home, but I don’t really pay attention. I’m already on the hunt for the SPF 30 sun block, knowing that if I even dare to walk out the door without putting it on will cause my mother to scold me on the harmfulness of the sun’s rays. This, of course, will delay the commencement of our adventure, so I decide to get the procedure out of the way.

I’m already fully dressed in my cargo shorts, Pluto-themed t-shirt, and Pluto hat as my older sisters stumble out of their bedroom towards the bathroom. The five million-hour process it takes them to get ready drives me absolutely crazy, but I’m too happy and excited to pick a fight. I grab my see-through plastic backpack (this allows me to get through the bag-check line with ease) and pack all of our out-dated maps. I know that we’ll get new ones as soon as we enter the park but I decide to bring them with me, like old friends. I sit at the kitchen table and glance out at he clouds just becoming visible as the sun creeps over the horizon. In these clouds I see tall castles and menacing pirate ships and a classic pair of Mickey Mouse ears. Soon, yes, very soon I will be there, in the home of these great shapes in the clouds, in the most magical place on earth! Before my young, seven-year-old self even sets foot on Walt Disney World property my entire being is already filled with the magic of what will come.

Now, as a young adult, I have sorrowfully faced the truth that there is more than one Mickey Mouse walking around the parks, and that Tinkerbelle doesn’t really fly out of Cinderella’s castle during the fireworks show, and that Space Mountain doesn’t really launch riders into outer space. All these things may have been revealed to me, but the magic is still as alive as ever in my heart. I don’t find myself in Walt Disney World as often as I used to, but I still take out my old maps and trace the worn route with my slightly-larger index finger every once and a while. So when posed with the question, “Do you believe in magic?” my answer has always been, and forever will be, yes—a different kind of magic found in memories made with those I love.

I believe in magic, do you?

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