I just got back from my first trip to Disneyland and it was magical. The magic came in many forms - the excitement in my son’s smile, quality time with my family, the amazing help and service we received from Disneyland staff members, seeing places and going on rides I’d heard about for decades, my son’s beloved uncle joining us for a day… the list could go on.
But for me, the real magic came from the stories. As a reader and a writer it’s so wonderful to be somewhere where almost everything is based on a story. The story might be a beloved fairy tale or a novel, like Tom Sawyer, or the plot of a movie or cartoon, like Frozen. Some stories are purely visual. My son loved the roller coaster Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I loved how they created a story around it, with the mining town all around the roller coaster, complete with uncovered dinosaur bones, and the ride speeding through the mining tunnels.
And the characters! The writer in me gets misty-eyed thinking about how Walt Disney and his colleagues created characters so memorable that people line up to meet them every single day around the world. And those fictional characters have stood the test of time. Mickey Mouse was so busy you needed an appointment to meet him!
Characters - princesses, superheroes, pirates, and so many other fictional characters matter to us. Why else would we line up in a park to get their autographs and take photos with them, while knowing, logically, that these characters we’re meeting are simply people in costume? They aren’t real, but inside our hearts and our imaginations they feel real!
Being in the park made me think a lot about the power of stories in our lives. The line for the Peter Pan Ride was so long we never did get to go on it. People sweltered in the sun to wait for Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland, Indiana Jones and Winnie the Pooh. All stories. All capturing our imagination and transporting us somewhere else, to experience things we’ll never find in real life.
I left Disney more convinced than ever that stories matter. Fiction matters. Stories are such a big part of the magic at Disney. As a reader and a fan of those stories, I left happy. As a writer, I left inspired. I want to weave story magic too!
And I would love to know... what places or things inspire you as a reader or a writer?