It’s finally time. We’re officially on teenager watch. Our oldest will be 13 in mere months, and there are those usual changes we are all experiencing: mood swings, voice changes, clothes that aren’t as “cool” as they were the day before, etc. Teenage years are going to be a gem, I’m sure. But, he’s still the same warm, loving, kid I feel in love with when he was born. There is one big change that scares me, though. He’s outgrowing Disney.
When we were stretching every dollar, trying to get out of debt and create a better life for our then-only child, I vowed to take him to Walt Disney World. My parents took me when I was 7, and it changed my whole life. Disney IS magic, and my child needed to experience that magic. So, that was the goal. Take Brandon to Disney World by the age of 7. Friends. That very first time we took him set our family on a trajectory we could have never imagined. He loved it almost as much as his mother, and with every time we’ve gone since, I’d seen the glimmer in his eyes. He was my big boy in our regular life, having fun with his buddies, growing older everyday. But, when we went back to “home,” he would still hold his mama’s hand when we ran the Disney Parks together. Magic.
The Disney Difference
During our last family trip, I noticed the difference. The attractions he used to run to, weren’t as exciting. The traditions we usually had (Columbia Harbour House for lunch, chilling at our resort for a day before hitting the parks, etc), were somewhat boring for him. Being the good older brother, he made sure his siblings enjoyed themselves, never once ruining the experience for them. He was a little removed from it all. He’s growing up, and out of it.
Here’s the thing: I know there’s nothing I can do. I went through it, as well. From the age of 7 to 17, I frequented Walt Disney World like it was my job. That last year, the time I visited as a teenager of advanced years, was rough. I felt torn. I didn’t want to look like a little kid around my friends when I spotted Mickey, Donald, and Daisy walking the streets. I didn’t want to ride it’s a small world, because it was for “babies.” I didn’t want to be judged for loving something so dear to me. This is where my son is headed, and it makes me sad.
So, where do we go from here? Toy Story Land will open soon. He grew up watching those movies, pretending to BE Buzz Lightyear, so maybe that will re-kindle his love of our place. Being a Star Wars family, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is sure to get him back in alignment with the most magical place on earth. He also hasn’t seen Pandora: World of Avatar yet. That may be the ticket. Or heck. It just might be time for he and I to take a quick trip to the original place where dreams come true: Disneyland.
I don’t know, friends. I’m hoping for the best. He’s outgrown Disney, but maybe Disney can grow within him again. I’ll miss the glimmer in his eyes, and holding his hand. The cool thing is, you never know what Disney magic might be right around the corner.