Truth be told, I don't have a clear first memory of Disney. I have always adored Mickey Mouse and I have lots of nostalgic memories of watching Disney movies either in the movie theater or much more frequently on VHS. Disney seemed to be always somewhere just below the surface.
I do have other clear Disney related memories. My college bathrooms were Mickey Mouse themed. I moved often then, but each time I would hang my Mickey Mouse shower curtain I knew I was home. It was during this time I first visited Walt Disney World with friends. My most profound memory from this trip is taking a photo with Mickey Mouse. A photo that I cherish to this day.
A true devotion ignited when I first visited Walt Disney World with my family in 2010. My son was 6 years of age at the time. He has disabilities and up to that point being anywhere but home was a challenge. And then we went to Disney. We checked our bags at the airport and they magically arrived in our room, and that was just the start. Everywhere we went my son had cast members interacting with him. No one froze and wondered what to do. I felt seen and cared for. This was the first vacation that wasn’t so much work for me that I really needed a vacation after the vacation.
A very special memory from this first family trip took place at Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. At the time my son was into Special Agent Oso and he was one of the characters at the character meal. We didn’t know how he would react to seeing the characters from the screen in real life. He wasn’t quite sure what to think. There was a dance party during the meal and because we were trying to have the full experience I got him up and we started dancing. Up to this point, it was always one of his parents who would be sure he was involved in the fun. But this was different. June from Little Einsteins carefully approached him and danced with him. He smiled and swayed back and forth in his signature dance move. I completely melted, I relaxed, I experienced such gratitude to see him accepted.
And that was it. I was hooked. Outside of our home, I have never experienced the level of inclusion for my family as we have at Walt Disney World. We have been back several times now and have collected many memories such as this one. I invite you to join me on this Disney journey. It will be slow, but I promise all are welcome here!