The easiest way for me to see how I’ve grown up over the years is to compare photos of myself at Disney. I said this aloud the other day and realised how lucky I am to be able to say that. For so many, a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida is a distant dream, or a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Thankfully, I had parents who were willing to put aside a lot of money to go on international trips to America and I am so glad that they did.
Some will say that it’s a waste of money, and they might be right. I definitely can’t remember exploring Minnie’s house when I was three years old, and neither can I differentiate between the time that I met Mickey Mouse aged nine versus the time that I met him aged 12. What it has given me, though, is knowledge of the wider world, the knowledge that there is somewhere close to utopia on earth, and that there will always be a place I can call home across the Atlantic.
Some will laugh at how much Disney meant to me while growing up. But if you dig a little deeper, it makes a bit more sense. As a child, the only places you consistently go are around your hometown; to the shops, your grandparents, your school. Orlando became one of those places that I would recognise and add into my routine. Even though there weren’t weekly visits, or even yearly ones, it became familiar. And that familiarity makes it home.
Some will laugh at the fact that I think biennial trips to America has had a wider impact on my life, but I think it has made me into a more positive adult. I always see the bright side of things, even though I do love to moan, and I try to treat people as I would like to be treated. I believe there is a magic in the world. I try to see the beautiful in the everyday. Above all, I know that working hard and saving harder can get you what you want. This year, I’m paying for a two-week holiday to Florida for the first time in my life. It will be the produce of months of hard work at my first ever job. I already can’t wait to sit on that plane and know that I have earned everything that is coming my way through my own efforts.
I’m so glad that my parents thought it would be a great idea to take three-year-old Lisa on a plane for nine hours, and love it so much that they decided to take me back three years later – this time with my baby sister in tow as well. While I may not be able to remember every detail, I know I’ll always be thankful that I was able to grow up at Walt Disney World.
Did you ‘grow up’ at Disney? Do you think it has had an impact on your wider life?