Never growing up

Paul Martucci

An architectural work of genius lies mere feet in front of me. Standing at almost 180 feet above the ground, the white, blue and gold castle glistens in the night sky. To my right and my left, the lighted buildings create an almost heavenly glow. The hundreds of people crowding the streets, meanwhile, are all appreciating that glow, with a few even trying to capture the moment in a picture.

The friendly aroma of smoked turkey legs and cotton candy fill the air and in front of me, vendors hold neon necklaces and bracelets, trying to secure the interest of every young child around. As the crowd finally begins to take a seat on benches and curbs, the lights of Main Street dim and a voice becomes audible over the public address system. It’s the voice of Jiminy Cricket.

“Pretty, huh? I bet a lot of you folks don’t believe that – about a wish coming true, do ya? Well, I didn’t either. Of course, I’m just a cricket, but let me tell ya what changed my mind. Ya see, the most fantastic, magical things can happen – and it all starts with a wish!”

With those words, Wishes, a twelve-minute firework extravaganza, begins on Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

Since my first visit to the Orlando destination (which actually occurred while in my mother’s stomach), I have been fascinated by Disney World. The lights, music and magic create an excitement that is unmatched by any other destination in the world.

What really makes Disney World a magical place, however, isn’t simply the majestic nightly firework shows or the memorable rides of four massive theme parks. Unique to the Walt Disney Company is its ability to attract guests of every age.

From a pre-school aged child seeing Mickey Mouse for his or her first time to an elderly adult floating on a boat through the history and highlights of Mexico, Disney World features attractions that appeal not only to the young and the old, but to everybody in between as well.

Many students at Villanova share a similar love for Disney World. One Facebook group, entitled “Disney Dreamers and Diehards,” has 121 ‘Nova members. Some Villanovans even sport a full collection of Disney classics amongst their set of DVDs. For Nicole Mainardi, a sophomore, Disney World presents her with an evolving yet consistently pleasant experience.

“Disney has this impressive way of staying the same at the core but being different every time you go,” Mainardi said. “Going to Disney never gets old. You can go time and time again because the experience is always evolving and the atmosphere is always spectacular.”

While Mainardi recalled how the thrills never grew old, other students’ love for Disney World circle specifically around the emotions evoked by the magic of the parks. Sophomore Michael Cali reminisced on the emotion of entering a Disney park.

“I think the nostalgia of having been there so many times when I was younger has a lot to do with my love for Disney,” he said. “There’s just a feeling you get when you walk in that feels like magic. It’s indescribable really, but it’s like the perfection of reliving my fondest memory.”

Some students, on the other hand, felt the need to differentiate between the experiences obtained by a child and by a young adult. As sophomore Lauren Hazlett admitted, those experiences are significantly different.

“I remember [Disney World] being very fun and a great place for kids to go with their families,” she said. “As kids, the parks are like a fantasy land of all the characters we loved and watched in addition to hundreds of rides and games.”

“But as young adults, or even as adults, we still have that child within us that loves all of the Disney characters still, but in a different way than we did as kids. By going to a place like Disney World, we are allowed to release our inner child and let loose to relive our childhood.”

While not all Villanovans have had the opportunity to experience Disney World, those who have been to the Orlando destination were left with a deep memory. The parks have succeeded where other amusement parks, such as Six Flags and Dorney Park, have failed. At Disney World, regardless of your age, a person can have an unforgettable experience.

“Disney tries to appeal to the kid in everyone by having rides certainly geared towards younger children,” Mainardi said, “but also mixing in roller coasters, shows and things that will interest the old as well as the young.”