This year for Aubrey’s 5th Birthday we decided to “do Disney”. One does not merely “go” to Disney you must “do it”, complete with special experiences, Fast Passes, Disney attire, and Mickey Mouse ice cream treats. We decided to do it with my parents (who live near Orlando), my Aunt Cathy, my daughter’s best friend since she was a baby, and my colleague Breanna and her crew. We took off for an extended weekend and bought two day passes to the parks.
The first day the weather was gorgeous…a December day in central Florida at its finest, sunny and warm with no hint of winter chill. Apparently everyone else thought it was great too, because the park was absolutely packed. We had to stand in long lines for everything – rides, snacks, tables, bathrooms, etc. Despite my normal modesty I nursed the baby everywhere. When an infant is hungry, walking across the park to stand in a line for the one nursing lounge is just not an option. We waited 60 minutes to ride Small World – normally a ride you can just walk on anytime. It was a fun day, but by the time we left I was ready for a break from the crowds. I live in the middle of a big City, but Disney crowded is on a whole other level.
The second day’s weather was the complete opposite. Before we even got to the park it was somber gray and pouring rain – so hard I thought we might have to pull over. Despite the fact that our tickets would have expired I still found myself questioning whether we should turn back. A day in the soaking rain with two little kids seemed like a big mistake. My imagination simply could not picture how this was going to end well. We all talked it over and I called Disney customer service to see if an exception could be made on account of the weather. In the nicest, happiest way possible, they said no.
So we decided to push through. Breanna was already there and had texted me that there were NO LINES and her boys had just finished riding a roller coaster four times. Their rain gear was completely soaked through, but they were having fun. Eric did his best to convince Aubrey it would be like Ariel’s under the sea ride all day, ha! 😂 – and she agreed we should do it. I think we were all less sure than we acted that this was a good idea, but it was in the car we all agreed to give it our best shot.
Sure enough, as soon as we arrived and stepped out of the car we were wet. Our shoes and hair were soaked by the time we got to the front entrance to the park. We were wet and sloshing and yet… moving fast. Breanna was right- no lines anywhere! We did everything we wanted to do and zipped around, no Fast Passes needed. Our families didn’t even have time to coordinate meeting up on Day 2- we were too busy hopping from awesome ride to awesome ride in our separate corners of the Magic Kingdom. It was so much fun!!!
Later that evening we met up for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs and with frizzy wet hair and smudged mascara we raised our cocktails and toasted to “Disney in the rain!” It was perfect – a day I will remember so fondly.
I’ve been thinking about this experience and how I’m usually a Day 1 kind of person. I like when the sun is shining and conditions are predictable. I like being warm, dry, and comfortable.
Yet life keeps inviting me to Day 2 experiences…
To press forward in moments that don’t make sense when everything in my natural self wants to cubby up and wait out the storm.
I’m not a get up and go girl when it’s raining. I’m a fair weather chic all the way! And yet… real life means sometimes you’ve just got to go for it and brave the weather. I think there are some parallels to being a full-time working mom in America right now. It’s not exactly 75 degrees and sunny – our company maternity and paternity leave policies are severely lacking, hard-working women still get “mommy tracked” for having kids, and we’ve got a long way to go before society values the hard work of parenting as much as we value the 9-5 jobs. In some workplaces it’s raining – a lot.
But life is too short to wait out the storm. And despite the less than ideal conditions, for those who persist there are real rewards – we build our personal and professional capacity (and resume), develop resilience, and learn that we are able to handle more than we ever dreamed. The great Walt Disney liked to say, if you can dream it, you can do it. Sometimes for me the practice comes first, more like:
If you can do it, dream it.
I think it’s a sweet secret about Disney that for the die-hards who show up in their yellow ponchos with Ziploc sealed personal belongings and waterproof backpacks ready to face the elements – they find they get the magic all to themselves.