Family vacations are fun, thrilling even. Often they go non-stop, however, and moments of pure relaxation on a family get-away can be rare and therefore even more precious for busy parents. We asked four of our Disney Dads bloggers to share a story of one perfect moment of peace, solitude, or complete transportation they experienced on a Disney family vacation — a moment that was all their own.
WHEN OUR FAMILY WENT TO AULANI, there was one moment I remember as being pure magic. The whole world seemed to freeze in place for a moment, and the whole vacation, though completely fun-filled start to finish, could have been summed up in that one blip in time. I was snorkeling in Rainbow Reef with my daughter, Emma. It was feeding time and the fish came swimming out of every nook and cranny. We were just floating there, absolutely still, and the world faded away. It was just us and the fish. It seemed like there were hundreds of them, in all different shapes and colors, their scales glittering in the sun as they made their way around us. It was so incredibly beautiful and in that moment I truly felt I was part of creation instead of intruding in on it. Just amazing. –Craig Yoshihara
LAST YEAR, MY WIFE, TWO DAUGHTERS AND I TOOK A DISNEY CRUISE. We were aboard a ship called the Disney “Fantasy.” Our cruise stopped at St. Maarten, St. Thomas, as well as an island that is owned by Disney called Castaway Cay which for me was the highlight of the whole trip. Castaway Cay is a nearly perfect place. It has this gorgeous lagoon type bay, with that postcard-crystal-clear water. Similar to the cruise ship, the island has different areas and beaches and activities that are geared toward different age levels. For adults, there is a quiet adults-only beach where you can really relax, get a massage if you want, or rent a private cabana. For kids, there’s the same high level of supervision and intensely fun and active stuff to do. There are waterslides, and snorkeling, and bicycling and any number of other things. And the actual construction of everything on the island — it’s all designed to look like it’s weathered and has been there for 25 years. There’s real synergy in the way everything looks and feels on Castaway Cay. Namely, it feels good. You get off the boat, and it’s very calming. It’s the place where I finally had that moment in the vacation where I felt—okay, this is serenity. –John Flynn
Why was he sobbing uncontrollably after an experience that was so completely gratifying? As I looked about the passengers, I could see different messages on faces: elation, exhaustion and certain dread of going back to the real world.
I have to admit, Walt’s vision was overwhelming. For myself, I was just astounded at the detail and the order of things. Wandering, nary an imperfection is seen or at least one that’s permanent. The attitude of employees is warm and welcoming, not overly hurried. The resort that we stayed at was expansive.
Thinking from my child’s point of view required me to shed years of baggage created by the trappings of this world. Children absorb what they experience manifested in an array of emotion. The Disney World experience traipses a range of emotions, including some rather intense ones, such as fear of the Yeti on “Everest,” dread of entering the “Tower of Terror,” the joy of singing with the Polka band in a German biergarten.
A sympathetic tear rolled out of my eye. I now knew the heart of a child that I had lost inside me so long ago. The chains of modern life, with the ugliness of strip malls, crime and mercilessness had been perfectly counterpointed, albeit for a price. Walt had a construct of beauty, a certain perfection that for each and every one of us, makes a fantasy or a dream come true. –Doug Liles
DISNEYLAND ISN’T A VACATION DESTINATION FOR MY FAMILY, since we live only about 10 minutes from the park and have had annual passes since 2006. Instead, “The Land,” as we call it, has become a frequent destination that lightens our hearts and helps relieve some of the pressures of everyday life. My wife and I have celebrated many an anniversary and all of us have celebrated birthdays there. Disneyland has been there when we’ve struggled with personal moments and when we’ve needed solace. Once we pass through security and make our way through the gates, I breathe a little easier and the weight of a bad day at work or whatever other stress that may be on my shoulders at that particular moment lightens. My focus shifts to wondering how long the wait is at Star Tours and BAM: I’m a kid all over again.
Walt Disney once said that “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me.” I like to think he created The Land, so that while we grow through those troubles and obstacles, we have a little bit of fun along the way. –Frank Matijevich
You can read a more complete version of John Flynn’s Disney cruise to Castaway Cay here.