Going to Disney World

By Vanessa Bano After weeks of planning and anticipation, we were finally on our way to Disney World. I could not believe I was about to become one of those kids who could say, “I’ve been to Disney World.” I imagined the warmth and sunshine in Florida, glad to leave behind the winter in Toronto. I thought of tall long trees and bright sun. And it was just as I imagined: palm trees everywhere, and the sun felt so good on my skin. And the rides! There were spectacular rides I would never see in Canada’s Wonderland. The rides at Disney World were animated with my favourite Disney characters and scenes. Cinderella Castle looked exactly like the one in the movie. Watching the film, Alice in Wonderland, I used to imagine how it would feel to be Alice, surrounded by small everyday things like teacups that were made fantastically large. The Mad Tea Party ride inspired by Alice in Wonderland, were large teacups that spun around. Going on the ride gave me a sense of how small Alice might have felt. I loved frolicking around the magical Disney parks, but my mother did not share my interest gallivanting through the theme parks. She would have preferred to stay in the hotel room, even though we had taken this trip and had flown for two hours to escape Toronto’s winter. I wanted to spin in tea cups all day, but she’d rather be in the shade because being in the sun and spinning made her dizzy. I, on the other hand, loved staying under the beating sun even though it was scorching hot. I disliked doing nothing, and wanted to do many things in a day. If I were invited to three events, I wouldn’t want to settle and pick one. At nine years old, I was full of energy. My mother had always been mellow. Despite our differences, my mother walked around all the Disney theme parks in Orlando to make sure that I went on the rides I wanted – the rides that I saw on my Disney Sing Along VHS tapes, like The Mad Tea Party. While going through the parks each day I had come to the conclusion my mother simply detested travelling and going outside. She never wanted to go on any rides and always wanted to come home early. I felt like the trip to Disney exemplified the differences between my mother and I. However, on the one day we went to Sea World Park my perception of my mother changed. We were nearing the end of our trip and Sea World was our last stop. To me, Sea World was quite boring because they only had one exciting ride, Journey to Atlantis. Nonetheless, that ride was the most electrifying and thrilling out of all the rides I went to in Florida, and the only ride my mother went on. As I was racing towards the line that would soon result in giving me a rush of adrenalin, I saw my mother following me. Was she going to stop me from going on this ride because the cliff is too high? “Wait Vaness, I’m coming too!” my mother said. I was stunned because the whole time I expected she wouldn’t go on any ride. With a confused looked I asked, “I thought you didn’t like roller coasters or scary rides?” “I haven’t gone on any rides because your dad always wants to go on with you. Also, I have to watch our bags. You never know someone might steal it. I don’t trust their cubby system.” Surprised, I rethought all the labels I had put on my mother. I would normally characterise my mother as mellow, conservative, and shy. I stood in line rethinking my impressions of her. The last few minutes of anticipation had also unveiled a mother who held back on adventure to nurture her family first. My mother also explained to me that the only reason she wanted to go home early is because she knew that if I really wanted to go to all the Disney parks I would need to have good rest. She wouldn’t want me to get up grumpy, not able to appreciate the trip or the rides. I never saw it through those lenses. Fortunately, this unexpected opportunity to see things in my mother’s perspective unravelled an unfamiliar side to a very familiar person. As the wheels of the log ride creaked, my mother and I clenched each other’s hands, knowing full well that we were going to drop a steep 18 metre cliff. We cradled on the tip for a few seconds, and then we finally dropped down an 18 metre drop at a ridiculously fast speed. A wave of water interrupted us from the high of the thrill. My mother and I had shared a moment of fear, excitement, and joy. These simultaneous eruptions of feelings given by a thrilling ride I thought I would never share with her. After riding the Journey to Atlantis, my perception of my mother had changed. I did not view her as a mom who was restricting and putting boundaries to my fun. She was now a person I knew that I could share exciting and fun moments with. Also, I did not see my mom and someone who likes to do dull things, like stay at home, but a person who also relishes in intensity, like me. There are still a lot of differences between us, but through this ride, this trip, I was able to see her in a different light. I believed that crossing the border to go from Toronto to Florida would be an experience of warm weather and extravagant amusements parks. Instead the trip had heightened the differences between my mother and I but also unveiled the similarities. Although, my mother and I have different dispositions, I saw that my mother would always nurture who I was.  My mother understood my desire for this Disney trip to encapsulate the fun and joy that my VHS tapes displayed. My mother continues to supports me in living my life the way I wish – of course, at times with a wary eye. My days on the trip were not necessarily about Florida’s wonderful weather and rides, but it was about change, understanding, and growth in the relationship I share with my mom. [Final version. An excerpt from an earlier version was previously published here on April 3, 2013.]

Vanessa Bano has completed a double major in International Development Studies and Political Science at UTSC. Vanessa was also a part of UTSC’s Beckham Buddies indoor soccer team, where she discovered that it’s never too late to surprise yourself when you pursue new interests. Vanessa loves creative writing and is excited to take on a new writing position in a media group, and to develop her skills as a writer.


Further reading suggestions

Aitchison, Cara C. 2003. Gender and Leisure: Social and Cultural Perspectives. London: Routledge.

Dallen, Timothy J. 2008. “Genealogical Mobility: Tourism and the Search for a Personal Past.” In Geography and Genealogy: Locating Personal Pasts, ed. Timothy J. Dallen and Jeanne Kay Guelke, 115-136. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

Foglesong, Richard E. 2003. Married to the Mouse: Disney World and Orlando. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Obrador Pons, Pau. 2003. “Being-On-Holiday: Tourist Dwelling, Bodies, and Place.” Tourist Studies 3 (1): 47-66.

Zukin, Sharon. 1993. Landscapes of Power: From Detroit to Disney World. Berkeley: University of California Press.



  1. How to contain my emotions was difficult as my own childhood memories of Disney World surfaced in reading only the first few lines of this essay. Travelling to Disney World with my childhood best friend Tracie and our mothers, was a trip I will never forget. Author Vanessa makes such a valid point, that all “Disney-goers” were there to recreate feelings that were originally relayed through VHS. I must say my own trip successfully did recreate those feelings. It is claimed that Disney World can satisfy any age, so would the place give me the same excitement 30 years from now?

  2. Vanessa’s epiphany during her trip is a feeling I think everyone experiences about their parents at some point in their life. I used to have similar feelings about some things that my father did but at one point, we realize that our parents are only looking out for us and our well-being. In Vanessa’s story, she illustrates her mother as the parent that she is having mixed feelings about. Vanessa wants to have fun at DisneyWorld but is conflicted with thinking that her mother isn’t having fun and doesn’t want her too either when in reality her mother was trying to be responsible and careful by not leaving their bag unattended or by resting the night before so that they’ll have fun the next day at DisneyWorld or staying out of the sun.

  3. When taken into perspective, adults often enjoy places that are meant for children. During a high school basketball team trip to Disneyland, I noticed that the supervising adults had released their inner child mind set and became one with us to a certain extent. Just like Vanessa’s mom, adults still have to be responsible in an environment known for youth minds. The inner child is something that tends to be underestimated in adult behaviour but is widely expressed in a place designed for children. Sharing the Disneyland experience with family and friends creates unforgettable memories. Great Story!

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