FAMILY TRAVEL – VIAGGI
I love Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The first picture that comes into focus is when the pink horizon that is distinctly Floridian meets the spire of Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom. You step onto Main Street, which represents America’s greatest potential and sweetest charms. It just may be an America that never was, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it ever had been? If it ever could be?
Mickey balloons whip against each other in the wind. The handlers carrying them seem almost as if they may float away at any moment. Cotton candy, popcorn, and Casey’s hot dogs leave the delicious scent of childhood hanging in the air. Newcomers have no idea where to train their eyes. Yet, the magic isn’t as obvious as many presume. It’s subtle, but you are still immediately aware of its presence.
The Power of Pixie Dust
I love Disney World. My people worked the land as both a way of life and a way of making a living. My father is an old-school Italian, a bit of a curmudgeon from birth. He’s a hard worker with busted shoulders to prove it. He has always been a homebody, who preferred his house to a restaurant, his routine to thrills. But he never missed a chance to bring us to Disney World when we were kids. He was a father most of all at Disney. That’s not to say he doesn’t love us at home. He does. But on vacation at Disney World, he was devoted to us. Us alone. There were no landscaping clients or employees or headaches about this and that.
Instead, there was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Magic Kingdom and the original imagination ride at EPCOT replete with Figment and Dreamfinder. Yes, those were the days when it was EPCOT with all capital letters and the spirit of the future – a bright, beautiful tomorrow – was just around the corner.
A big fan of Michael Jackson and early MTV, my father could hardly wait to see Captain EO. Right outside the theater, we kids would try to catch the water from the dancing fountains. When Hollywood Studios arrived, we would look forward to seeing the Golden Girls house facade and feeling the burn on the Backlot Tour. One time my brother and I rode the giant bees and made a video as though we were the stars of Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
No attraction captivated us as much as Peter Pan’s Flight in the Magic Kingdom. My mother hated it. She did not like any ride that made her feel as though she was flying. In fact, she still begrudgingly joins us on this one, closes her eyes, and clutches my father until the ride is over. My father, on the other hand, still loves it explicitly because it allows him to fly. And he spreads his wings over Neverland, a world with no cares and no responsibilities, a world of fantasy and whimsy. It is a world we could never really know except in our wildest imagination. But soaring over the wide-mouthed Tic Toc Crock and Hook, the neon flashes, and those Lost Boys, you feel as though it is all too real. You feel as though you are somewhere else.
Indeed, that is the magic of Disney World. Once you step on property, you can completely shut out the rest of the world. You get the rare opportunity to open up the corners of your mind that you long ago locked in the name of becoming a grown up. So, you can visit beloved stories of princesses or pirates, talking animals or lovely mermaids. There are superheroes and jungle cruises and the chance to ride an elephant. You can take a leisurely walk from one country to the next, all the while sampling their food and chatting up their natives. Living in this world for but a moment, you can twirl and spin and roller coast. You can step into a favorite movie and sing at the top of your lungs with a Dole Whip in one hand and a turkey leg in the other. It’s marvelous. And indeed you can fly. Oh yes, you can fly.
Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10. For more handmade crafts and party gear, visit the Italian Mamma store on Etsy.