Guest Writer: Mackenzie Fair
Maybe you have heard it said that Disney World is the “Happiest place on Earth,” and if you are anything like me, you may find that hard to believe. It seems like many of us live in a state of believing that there isn’t enough to go around, so how could somewhere so expensive make so many people happy?
My Christmas present this year was going to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and I could not have been more excited. Yes, you read that right. I am a junior in college, and when I opened the MagicBand my parents had wrapped and put in my stocking, I squealed with joy. I could not believe I got to go back to Disney. It really is full of magic and wonder.
Since life has the audacity to be complex and full of the unknown, most people love the chance escape their reality, even if just for a minute. Generally, that looks like scrolling on social media for a while, reading a good book or binge-watching a show you love.
It may not make sense then that one of these ways of escaping is paying a large sum of money to spend a day in an overcrowded, steamy, loud theme park. A place by that description alone may not be desirable to most people, but what if that place also had the power to transport you into a world dedicated to your favorite childhood movie or story?
The Disney theme parks seem to constantly evolve in order to include a perfect mixture of characters and stories from the past and all the new stories and adventures they are creating.
This ability to change and grow is what keeps people coming. Young and old, we are drawn to the fantasy of it all. For at least one day, you are a part of a magical story someone else created and not in the middle of your own mess. You can fly on a pirate ship to Neverland or ride a magic carpet like Aladdin. You can even have a conversation with Mary Poppins and Cinderella.
That kind of euphoric joy and nostalgia, even if it only lasts for one day, is really what people are paying for.
Especially today, when it seems like at any moment anything and everything can be turned from sweet to sour or from innocent to sinister.
There is so much pain and suffering in our world that it seems unreal that a place exists where you can go and be reminded that joy and new life in the mix, too.
Now, I am not saying we should all pack up and move to Disney to avoid our problems—hello overpopulation and overpriced foods—but I think Disney could be a reminder for some of us that something beautiful still exists: imagination.
Somewhere along the way we decided that in order to become an adult, we have to hand in our imagination cards and stop creating worlds in our minds where anything is possible. We started locking our imaginations away and tried to live full lives without them.
How much better would our lives be if we unleashed our imaginations and harnessed the things we could create with it in order to change our world? That might sound naive, but some of the best inventions and biggest advances in our world would not be possible without someone daring to imagine that there was an answer to the unanswerable.
So, no. I do not believe Disney is the happiest place on Earth. I think a better description of it would actually be the most nostalgic place on Earth. Going to Disney is like stepping into a forgotten dream. It’s a sweet reminder that we all have access to our imaginations and that there is still light and joy in our world.
Mackenzie is a junior social work major from Fort Wayne, Indiana.