In the United States, a trip to a Disney theme park has become a rite of passage for many families. My parents took me twice in my childhood, and the memories stayed with me into adulthood. I've now returned a number of times with my wife, almost every year since our engagement in Cinderella's Castle in 2006. And we have since ventured overseas as well, visiting every Disneyland park around the world.
What has fascinated me is the almost universal embrace of the spirit of Disney, originating from Walt Disney himself. His words of dedication at the opening of Disneyland in 1955 have withstood the subsequent decades as a guiding spirit for what a visit to a Disney theme park is about. Some say it started with a mouse, but it actually started with a father's wish to spend a day with his daughters at a place where he could play right alongside them. And to set it all in a place that recalled the magic of his youth and his parent's youth, so that any child could connect the past, present, and future in a way not apparent or easily achieved in everyday life.
To follow the growth of Disneyland is to follow the hopes and dreams of economic prosperity around the globe, from the post-WWII "American Dream" to the "China Century" of current day. In between, something formulaic has proven not just durable but translatable across continents and cultures in ways that are difficult to comprehend initially but start to make sense in the context of that famous "magic of Disney."
I'll share more as the writing progresses. In the meantime, leave a comment to share your interesting connections with Disney and your trips to Magic Kingdoms around the globe.