I never thought I would say this, but after visiting the Magic Kingdom for their Annual Passholder preview day, I miss the crowds at Walt Disney World. I mean not Christmas or Spring Break crowds. Let’s not get crazy here. But it was empty on that preview day (July 9, 2020).
I found myself like Ariel singing, “I want to be where the people are.” But there were hardly any people. I should be dancing down Main Street, U.S.A., because I’ve always dreamed about low crowds and having the park to myself. However, when usually it’s my place to forget about the world, it was a reminder that things really aren’t normal or magical.
As I walked down Main Street to a beautiful new Cinderella Castle, the first Cast Member to say, “Welcome Home” brought tears to me eyes. In that moment it was the release of emotions that had been building for a long time – joy, worry, hope, guilt, uncertainty, comfort. Since Mickey Mouse wasn’t going to hug me, “Welcome Home” was as close as it was going to get. And it felt good.
If the Most Magical Place on Earth opens then that means we’re back, right? Disney never closes, but it had closed for months as people died (and continue to die) from a pandemic.
In Disneyland (not the park I’m talking about) you’ll find a plaque with Walt Disney’s words, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”
And that’s what I was looking for. I wanted the world of yesterday of pre-COVID that no longer exists.
They gave it their all, and yes, there’s magic to be found. I got a little fantasy. For many moments, I forgot about today. I wasn’t thinking about the turmoil. When Mickey Mouse waved to me during a Character Cavalcade I was like a giddy little girl.
Disney is doing all they can to help prevent spread while being open. Is it perfect? No, there are still kinks to work out. The argument of well if it was safe, then they wouldn’t need masks, temperature checks, or plexiglass barriers. Maybe, but I wonder when that time will exist again. Not any time soon.
Listen, I am neither a doctor, scientist nor an economist; I’m not qualified as an expert about when something is safe to open during a pandemic or the economy as a whole. As I look at my character pictures I can see the smile under my mask. Though Tyra Banks would be ashamed of my smize. It’s a different kind of smile. I’m happy to be back, but I know what it took to be back.
I’m not gonna lie. I enjoyed not hearing the words, “Fill in all available space.” But with the crowds comes a certain energy and excitement. And I knew some of the Cast Members were missing guests, too.
So thank you, Disney, for bringing some magic back. And I’ll still be hoping for those crowds, because then maybe it’ll mean it is safe and we’ll enter the world of tomorrow.