“All your dreams can come true, if you have the courage to pursue them.”

~ Walt Disney

I recently visited Magic Kingdom with my family at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida. It was our first trip there. We were excited and wondered how the experience was going to be. We’d seen the “Castle” and watched the Walt Disney documentary on television, but our expectation was from what we had viewed in the comforts of our family room, not live.

Getting into Magic Kingdom was amusing. Never mind the traffic on Hwy 4, once in the park; we were surrounded by a vast parking lot that just continued on as far the eye could see. We found a space two miles away.

From the lot, we took a shuttle bus to the ticket counter, and then climbed aboard a ferryboat across a three-mile stretch of man-made lake surrounded by the hotels on the premise. At the dock, we walked in a single-file through a roped pathway to the security checkpoint, and then strolled to the ticket validation counters.

Going under a tunnel we entered the town square and made it onto Main Street, U.S.A. Suddenly, we were transported to the 1950s. There was an ice cream parlor, an old-fashioned Coca-Cola stand, a town hall building, a theater, diners, and countless little shops along the most well-known street in America.

It was here we observed a parade of all the characters on floats and then stood mesmerized gaping at the “Castle,” where at night a magic show of lights and animation reflected off the enormous structure, followed by a magnificent firework show.

Amidst the crowds and crazed moms with their sweet daughters dressed up as Princess Belle, Tinker Bell, and Anna and Elsa, we managed to see several attractions. There was even a steam train that ran around the whole park, taking passengers to different lands: Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland.

The lines were long and it was hot out, but we used our time efficiently. Note to self: Wear good walking shoes. A day won’t cut it, either. The park is so large; you need at least two-full days, if not three. We did the two-day pass. It was enough for my children.

What was fascinating to me is that for a brief moment during my experience, I completely forgot everything outside of Magic Kingdom. Its seclusion enveloped me and brought me solace and peace, even though there were some screaming kids and crying infants around. It allowed me to focus on my two girls and participate in their joy and excitement. I was impressed with the organization of how things were run, cleanliness of the rides, and the smiling faces of the staff and characters. If those people were having a bad day, they didn’t show it. Their goal/job was making each and every child smile. Giving them a memory of imagination to remember.

Yes, I know this is not the “real world” and nothing is this perfect. That’s okay. My kids get it. Mr. Disney built a huge enterprise. He was an innovator and creator. The Mickey Mouse cartoon is an icon and is known all over the world. This is a billion-dollar industry, but it doesn’t come cheap when the machinery for the attractions has to run perfectly, all the time.

Walt Disney may have been a savvy business man, but I think deep down inside he was a child at heart, a man who persevered to fulfill a vision where kids and adults could come explore and get lost in a world of magic.

As the last of the fireworks flooded the sky over the beautiful castle in Magic Kingdom, and my girls stared in awe, Mickey Mouse’s voice crooned over the intercom. “If you just believe in your heart, dreams do come true.”

I closed my eyes and grinned. Thank you, Mr. Disney. That is the best piece of encouragement anyone can give a child because the first step in any endeavor is believing it can be accomplished.