Happy last day of WDW50! Personally I found the protracted, alleged 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World (okay, the Magic Kingdom really) was celebrated… barely at all, really. So I’m not that broken up about it. But it does get me to thinking…
I am not a parent. I never worked as a babysitter and have held a baby twice in my life. You could say I have no experience in this subject matter. But I’ve seen enough that I feel ready to argue this: if you want to see the all time BEST and all time WORST parenting of your life, Walt Disney World can deliver, particularly in the Magic Kingdom.
No need to pull out examples of the bad parenting; I’m sure you’ve seen it, so why dwell on it? I think it’s way more fun to observe the families who are having an amazing time in the Most Magical Place On Earth. With that in mind, let me tell you about a boy I will forever think of as the Ice Cream Kid.
This story takes place in May of 2012, but it could’ve been yesterday, or 1972 – the availability of ice cream is, I think, the great equalizer across time and space in Disney parks.
The place: the Magic Kingdom, specifically (if memory serves) Adventureland. I’m on a solo trip, so I’m just wandering along. You know, vibing, like the kids say. My eyes and ears are open. There’s an ice cream cart to my right.
A kid and his dad cross my path on the diagonal. I’d say he’s around ten; I remember he was wearing a ball cap. “Dad,” he said, “can we get some ice cream?” A mundane statement, to be sure, but it caught my attention due to its tone: this boy wanted ice cream. He was asking for ice cream. Yet you could hear that he did not expect to get any ice cream. No wheedling here, no whining – just a sincere request, made with half a hope.
“Sure,” his father replied, because duh, vacation, and the kid replied, “Really?!” with the shock and delight of one whose every wish has been suddenly and unexpectedly granted.
That’s it. That’s my whole story. I don’t know; maybe you had to be there. But it’s stuck in my mind for years… something about the sweetness of a family vacation gone right. Yes, the people having a bad time stand out, what with their shouting and crying, but if you look for it you can see the happy memories being made all around you.
And that’s the interesting thing about a Disney vacation, to me – the rides are why you go, but in my experience the rides are not the memories. The memories are in between. Your dad buying you ice cream. An unexpected singalong. Making new friends in line. Soup.
So I’m thankful to the Ice Cream Kid for adding a dollop of Disney magic to my day. And I’m thankful for the magic Walt Disney World adds to every day. Perhaps the 75th anniversary will fete that magic properly?
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