The sun has just set over Walt Disney World Resort as I am boarding the Admiral Joe Fowler ferryboat. The cold wind blowing across the water hits me like a punch in the face as the boat begins the one mile journey across Seven Seas Lagoon to Magic Kingdom.
Overhead, there is a perfectly clear blue sky. To the east, the light blue sky from the day progressively darkens to a deeper blue and purple as the night sky approaches. To the west is another flawless Florida sunset filled with the most incredible combination of purples, oranges, yellows, and reds. The reflection of the sunset on the water is beautiful beyond belief.
Just above the horizon in the western sky, I see a northbound airplane. I wonder who might be on the plane, where they departed from, and where their next destination might be. I have to imagine many of the passengers onboard are returning from a vacation and are disappointed to be headed to a colder, snowier, more northerly latitude.
As I enter Magic Kingdom, I am immediately greeted by the smell of hot, buttery, salty popcorn. I am surrounded by dozens of families. Some are entering the park to begin an amazing and adventurous evening of Disney magic. Others are exiting the park. The exiting families look exhausted from a long day in the park. Kids are screaming and crying and begging to stay. Parents can’t wait to get back to their hotel so they can eat dinner and relax and recovery from the chaos of the day.
I am arriving just as the “Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party” is ending. I stop and wait for the street party to pass by before continuing into the park. From the other side of one of the floats passing by, my favorite street party/parade performer (yes, I do have a favorite) sees me and yells, “HI!!!!” and waves to me excitedly with a big smile on her face. I yell and wave back. She makes a heart shape with her hands and holds it over her heart, then blows a kiss. I do the same in return. Immediately, I feel any stress that has built up over the past few days completely melt away. I now have a smile tattooed on my face and know that I am back in my happy place. This is my home away from home. This is a typical beginning to most days or evenings in Magic Kingdom for me, and it never fails to instantly make my day infinitely brighter. It is truly amazing how such a brief interaction with another person can make your whole day better, whether you actually know that person or not.
As I continue toward Main Street U.S.A., the bright, flashing lights grab my attention. The first view of Cinderella Castle from the front of Main Street is absolutely stunning. No matter how many times I see the castle, that beautiful, breath-taking view leaves me in awe. The scent of countless candy creations fills the evening air as I pass by Main Street Confectionery. I am trying my best to maneuver between groups of people posing for pictures while others are searching for the perfect angle for their four hundredth selfie of the day.
At the end of Main Street, I am stopped and stuck trying to get through the line that is backed up out the door from Starbucks. The coffee odor coming from inside the store makes me cringe. I hate coffee. Finally, the crowd parts and allows me to pass through and continue further into the park.
I am now sitting behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. This is a spot I regularly stop to take a break from the constantly crowded park. I feel like I can relax here and not be in the way of the crowds.
After a couple of minutes, I am greeted by two ducks. These ducks have become familiar with me since I visit this spot so often. They swim to the edge of the water, walk up the hill, and wait patiently next to me to see if I will feed them. One duck sits on each side of me and looks at me like a friendly, well-trained dog. On a rainy day, these ducks will occasionally take cover from the rain under my wheelchair seat.
The ducks soon realize I do not have any food to share with them, and they walk away. They will take the time to visit me again next time I stop and sit in that spot. Typically, I will also be greeted in this spot by some small, friendly geckos. Tonight is too cold though, so there are no geckos to be found.
It is now time to cross the Liberty Square bridge to the hub and take my place near the Partners Statue (Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands and overlooking Main Street) and wait for the fireworks to begin.
A friend I met while waiting for the fireworks one rainy night last summer is waiting in our favorite spot. We haven’t seen each other in weeks, so I am thrilled to be able to catch up with her while we wait for an hour and a half for the fireworks to start.
This part of Magic Kingdom is wide open, and the brutal, bone-chilling breeze is much more noticeable. The familiar scent of cheeseburgers and fries from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café is starting to make my mouth water. I am getting hungry. I add another layer of clothing and put on my gloves in an attempt to stay somewhat warm while we wait for the fireworks to begin.
At this point, my hands are numb from the cold winter wind. My gloves are no help in my desperate attempt to warm up. The feeling of needles stabbing my fingers starts setting in even after I put on my gloves. Questioning our decision to brave the cold weather, we continue to wait. The fireworks never disappoint. No matter the weather, they are always well worth waiting to see. Something seems to sneak up on me and take me by surprise every time I watch this show. I have now watched the show more times than I can count, yet I always find something I have never noticed before.
After the fireworks finale fades from the frosty Florida sky, my friend and I proceed further into the park to enjoy a few of our favorite rides. Our first ride is one I have never ridden before. The wait time is always ridiculously long. Tonight, we manage to avoid the long wait and quickly get onto the ride. It is a fun first experience, and it will definitely not be my last. We then proceed to my two favorite rides and enjoy no wait whatsoever when we arrive at both rides.
The park will be closing for the night shortly. The feeling in my freezing cold hands is finally starting to come back after enjoying a couple of warm indoor rides. We make our way back toward Main Street, then proceed through the tunnel under the Main Street train station, and exit the park. I arrive at the ferryboat docks right as the Admiral Joe Fowler is departing. After a short wait, I board the Richard F. Irvine and enjoy the calm, cold one mile trip back across Seven Seas Lagoon.
This ends my evening at Magic Kingdom. I hope you all enjoyed this journey through the park with me, wherever you may be in the world. I hope my detailed descriptions of the evening helped you to feel like you were enjoying the evening alongside of me. As much as I was able to do so, I actually wrote this post on my phone while I was inside the park. This post is very different from anything I have written before here on Positively Rolling Through Life, and the idea came from one of my first ever assignments in college nearly 14 years ago. The idea is a paint a picture with words and try to include all of the senses people can experience. This is meant to tell a story that can take the reader to a place where they can see it playing like a movie in their mind while reading it. If I wrote this effectively, you should have been able to picture my evening in Magic Kingdom, almost as if you were there yourself. The assignment I did in college was to go to a quiet place where there were no other people around and write about my surroundings. For this post, I wanted to enhance it, and I can’t think of a better place to focus on the senses than in the world’s busiest theme park. I experienced full-blown sensory overload while writing this. I hope you enjoyed this post, and I would love to read any feedback you may have for me. Thank you for reading!! 😀