When Disney Closes Its Doors, What Happens To The Magic?
On March 15, 2020, for the first time in Disney history, the gates that welcomed visitors from all over the world with open arms, closed indefinitely. I was a cast member in the Entertainment Department at Magic Kingdom when, on September 11, 2001, Disney had to evacuate all theme parks due to the terrorist attacks that took place in the ‘outside world’. We were in the middle of rehearsals during that time for a new parade and on that day, so much changed for us. Flags were at half-mast, security was up and for the first time ever, the ‘outside world’ contaminated our magical world. As an “entertainer”, we always presented guests with only views of our magical world in our own magical fairy tale, but it was no easy task trying to lift guests’ spirits on September 12th. I remember crying in my fish costume in the Little Mermaid unit, it was hard for all of us.
Since 1972, (our first visit), Walt Disney World has been a part of my life. My mother and I have so many memories as guests. Its magic still pumps through my veins. My mother gifted me with that. She always had a child like heart and told me to never lose sight of the magic of Mickey Mouse. I will keep that promise alive for her forever.
Now we have a more challenging dilemma. Walt Disney World, and its other theme parks around the world have closed indefinitely. (At this time, Shanghai Disney is slowly opening, the world is watching and waiting.) When Disney closed, it shifted our way of thinking about how we escape the real world. We now have no magical destination trip to escape to. Of course other beautiful places around the globe have been affected by Miss Coronavirus as well. She is going to be here for quite some time and our lives will be altered quite a bit because of her. It does something to our psyche. When will we ever be able to go? Will we ever do a Disney Cruise again? Will I ever get to hug Snow White? What will my magical place be like? And for the heartbroken Disney cast members…when will we get back to our jobs and how will our positions and be affected?
Aerial shots of an empty Magic Kingdom, no moving monorails, no Disney characters and empty hotels creates a helpless atmosphere of wondering if we will ever get back to our magical place. Children ask their parents ‘what is Mickey and Minnie doing right now?’ Adults are asking ‘when will we be able to book a trip again?’
Uncertainty and living only in the present is not easy for humans especially when it comes to Walt Disney World. It is all about planning, getting excited, and building up that expectation of what the experience will be like. Now there is none of that.
Television networks have had Disney Sing-A-Longs with famous singers, children have been posting Lion King dance recitals on TikTok, and there is even a Disney fan Facebook where guests post their favorite memories of Disney World. They all have one big thing in common…hope. They have hope that one day, in the near future, they will be able to return to their beloved Disney park, see their beloved characters and ride their favorite rides. Disney will definitely change when it opens back up and that is where the ‘outside world’ will again clash with our ‘magical world’.
The Disney phenomenon has and always will be alive and well in our hearts, not just in America but all over the world. When a huge park like them close, it affects how we all are feeling. If Disney is closing it’s gotta be bad! When Walt Disney World does open, the world will be watching with a dash of that pixie dust hope, that our world and everything in it, will be all right again.
If you had a trip that got canceled, was planning to go to Disney this year or just feel sad your special place is closed indefinitely (which sounds hopeless doesn’t it? indefinitely.), please remember this: magic is energy. Energy never dies. Energy shifts and changes, therefore magic can never really die or disappear. Pull out those old Disney memories, throw on your Mickey Mouse ears, post the goodness of a trip on social media and keep singing to the sing-a-longs, because just like during the 9-11 moments, we got back up, shook off some of the fear and let that magic seep back into our lives.
We are, for now, still in a serious pandemic but that Cinderella Castle is still standing. Main Street is still leading you to it. Dumbo is still flying. Winnie the Pooh is still searching for honey and at the Haunted Mansion, they are still waiting patiently for that one ghost to join them to make it an even 1000. The gates will open back up, the magic will return. It just might be a while and as humans, we are learning to be present. So hold onto that magic, because it never dies, it just shifts a bit. It lives in you. See ya real soon!
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