1. A child who is way too overwhelmed for this
If you ever find yourself at Disney World, the name of the game is naps. Naps for everyone. You get a nap, and you get a nap…everyone gets a nap. Disney World is ten degrees hotter than the rest of Florida always and provides absolutely no shade unless you’re inside of a gift shop. Walking around a seemingly endless stretch of evenly-paved, artificial road will get you sweaty in a hurry, not to mention the line waiting and general crowd heat. It will exhaust you even if you’re just standing there. As adults, we know that we probably need to take regular water breaks, but children, once released into Disney World, will go all the way HAM and will not stop until they pass out (who can blame them?). Prior to the inevitable pass-out, though, you’ll catch a glimpse of a child just staring at Mickey Mouse with their eyes glazed over, just kind of wobbling in place. It’s a mixture of awe and possibly heat stroke. You might also see a child in a stroller just very quietly sobbing, as one does when all their dreams are coming true but they’re too tired to take it all in. My favorite is when a child just decides to start spinning around in place because there is so much to look at. The parents will be like, “Jimmy, come this way” and everyone witnessing this, including Jimmy, has serious doubts that he’ll ever be able to move in one simple direction ever again, now that his eyes have viewed such an aggressive array of brightly-colored whimsy.
2. Parents having a quiet, curt exchange with one another
This is one of my favorites to witness, because I know I’m roughly 10 years away from it being my life. The silent discontent almost always has to do with the child asking, “CAN I HAVE TWENTY LOLLIPOPS!?” and the dad saying “why not?” and the mom staring at the dad like, “there are literally 100 reasons why not” but it’s too late, and the fun parent has been decided yet again. I’ve also seen moments like this happen whilst leaving the park at the end of the night, where one parent has a child slung over their shoulder, and they’re discussing what went wrong during the day. This usually has to do with one partner critiquing the other’s #ParkStrategy or gloating about how they knew the location of the Jungle Cruise all along (it’s in Adventureland, in Magic Kingdom. Not Animal Kingdom. Like a Jungle Cruise should be. Just FYI).
3. Family members not speaking to each other OR yelling the most
Some families don’t know that disagreements at Disney world should be kept as low key as possible. I am not one to judge disputes and I don’t pretend to know anyone’s life, but some pretty epic miscommunications can happen within a place that claims to be WORLD SIZED, and some people think they’ll be spared I guess?? But no one is spared. You just shouldn’t get mad about it. I hear people on their cell phones all the time like, “Tommy you were supposed to MEET US AT THE DONALD DUCK TOPIARY!!! YOU IDIOIT!!!” and they fail to realize they’re surrounded by shrubbery shaped like anthropomorphized animals. Look around you, bro. When the voices of tiny mice singing are being pumped through speakers everywhere you turn, it’s not a time to call out our boy Tommy. Later, maybe. Not now.
4. A spoiled child
Every child is going to have a crying-in-a-gift-shop moment, but when you see one of those little girls who has clearly been to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (the most boujee salon on the planet) throwing their ten new stuffed animals on the ground crying about how they should be allowed to live in Cinderella’s castle, you start to experience bystanders’ embarrassment for her parents, who are just looking helplessly at their baby tyrant. Not hearing the word “no” does not make a child happy, even in the happiest place on earth.
5. A person who is having the most delightful moment of their entire lives
Fact: every time I watch the evening fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, I start crying. I’m not even that big into Disney movies, but for some reason that MUSIC and those shooting stars arching over the castle just take me back to simpler times. If you can look past the people listed in #2-4 above, you will see little moments of magic happening everywhere. Disney World is literally constructed to be unreal, and therefore it allows you the freedom to experience joy that reality has all but squashed by the time you turn 13. It’s like you get a little piece of your light, whistful, I-know-nothing-of-taxes-nor-standardized-tests heart back–and that is priceless.