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My husband and I recently visited Disneyland, also known as the “Happiest place on earth.”  It had been a long time, nearly twenty-two years since I had been to the Magic Kingdom. Many things had changed within the park and there were new additions since my last visit including an entire theme park called California Adventure.  Disneyland is still magical even though changes have made their way into the park. Walt stated: “It’s something that will never be finished, something that I can keep developing…and adding to.” While my childhood memories include rides or elements no longer featured or available, new creations have made their way into the magical land for a new generation to experience and remember.

Walt Disney was a visionary. He had a concept that was and is simple, to create a place that all could come to experience joy and inspiration. When we are there we are able to tap into our inner child, play and experience all that is good in the world. Walt said, “Disneyland is the star, everything else is in the supporting role” when we go into the park we respect the magical land and our hearts take great delight in taking it all in. He wanted us to experience beauty everywhere in the park and watch good triumph over evil.  He wanted, if only for a day, for us to be immersed in laughter, cleanliness, beauty, great storytelling, fun, and memory making in an idyllic setting, to step out of our ordinary world into an extraordinary world. He wanted us to be entertained. To this day it still works.
Now, I am not going to say the visit cannot be trying, stressful and tiring.  It can.  It is after all still an amusement park filled with thousands of people all trying to get in line and ride the rides.  There are children, strollers (I have never seen so many strollers in one place!) and parents everywhere. However the intent has been established before anyone enters the park….It is the “Happiest place on Earth” and happy behavior is expected.  There is also a spirit of cooperation that exists within the park that if taken with us when we exit, would make for a stronger community outside of the park.

My experience on this recent visit, was that people were looking for the magic and that led them (myself included) to find it.  The cast members (all the people who work at the Magic Kingdom) are friendly and reach out to speak, smile and help those attending each day. This creates an atmosphere of good will that spills over to the public. People remember their manners…for the most part. An effort is made to keep the magic alive and the kingdom clean by being ambassadors of fun and imagination. As Walt said, “It has that thing – the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement I knew when I was a kid.” We all plop on our mouse ears (available in a wide variety of styles these days) and embark on a journey of wonder and discovery.

Walt Disney said, “When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it’s because he’s so human; and that is the secret of his popularity.” We see in Mickey and his friends the same human qualities and frailties present in ourselves, our family and friends. I believe when we are in the park wearing our “honorary ears” we are more accepting and forgiving of each other, we are looking for the good…and we find it.

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage” said Walt. I am very happy he had the courage to make his dreams come true. He believed and when we enter the Magic Kingdom we believe too. To keep it all in perspective, Walt said “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” Yes Walt, a mouse and a man with a dream.  Thank you.

Lisa Joiner

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