I knew I’d enjoy my trip to Disney World and Maryland but I didn’t expect it to be the most interesting trip of my life. I don’t think people go to Disney World for “interesting.” Escape, child-like-fun, thrills…that’s pretty standard Disney fair, but interesting? And when people visit their family (as I did in Maryland) well, they do that out of love and maybe obligation but I don’t think very many of us skip over to our aunt or uncle’s place with the expectation of being fascinated. To be fair I didn’t just go to Disney and visit family, I also spoke at a book signing event at Orlando’s Barnes & Noble and attended a private book signing party thrown for me in Virginia but even those happenings weren’t meant to be eye-opening reveals. They were supposed to be work…a hell of a lot of fun, but still work.
Which is why everything took me by such surprise.
As it turns out Disney World isn’t just a theme park. It’s a psychological treatment center. For my son it accomplished what years of nurturing, encouragement and counseling had never been able to do…it helped him overcome many of his worst anxieties. My son has always been a bit nervous. He shies away from risk and frequently passes up things he really wants to do because he’s afraid. He’s been afraid of dark places and of things that might jump out at him and turbulent rides. He’s been afraid of getting hurt, of getting water in his eyes…it really is a long list. But somehow Disney managed to flip a switch for him. It started with Epcot’s Mission To Mars ride. They have an “intense version” of the ride and a “not so intense version.” I expected we would go on the latter but he was so wrapped up in his excitement about being at Disney World he seemed to forget his nervous nature and become a daredevil. Disney makes a major point of warning people throughout their wait in line that Mission To Mars is going to be an “intense experience” and they continually invite people to get out of line and choose a more mellow experience.
But my son never faltered (even though the constant warnings were enough to make me nervous). We went on and he loved it. Two days later he went on Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom; a somewhat turbulent ride that bumps you about in an extremely dark cavern like space. Periodically dinosaurs jump out at you. My son was nervous about that but he loves dinosaurs and he forced himself to do it. Notice I said he forced himself. I didn’t apply any pressure. It was all him…and he loved it. He even insisted that we go on again! A day or so later we went on Test Track, the fastest ride in Epcot. When we got off my son said thoughtfully, “All the fears I’ve had have been over nothing.” And then he just smiled.
His bravery increased every day. It was even apparent at Disney’s water park, Typhoon Lagoon where he went on water slide after water slide and waded out to his neck into their huge wave pool. It produces six-foot waves and he let them roll over him again and again, always catching his breath at the right moment and ducking under the water. It was at that point that my brother said I should write a book about helping your child overcome anxiety. But the only thing I could write is “Go To Disney World.” I’m not sure if I know of any publishers who would print a four word book.
I have a lot more to say about this trip; about my boyfriend’s part in it and about the signings and my visit with my family who are technically my ex-husband’s family. But I think I’ll save that until tomorrow. Otherwise this blog will become a book.
But I’ll wrap up today’s post with a comment my son made to me this morning. He said, “Who knew Disney World could change your perspective on everything?”
Exactly. Who knew?
Bestselling Author of:
The Sophie Katz Murder Mystery Series,
SO MUCH FOR MY HAPPY ENDING
Order LUST, LOATHING AND A LITTLE LIP GLOSS on Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com today!