I’m about to tell a very self-indulgent tale, but it’s my story, a part of who I am. It’s a childish fantasy to be sure, but life often consists of pursuing our childhood dreams.
Soon after I turned 2 years old I was packed into a motorhome with the rest of my family and we traveled down to Walt Disney World. We stayed at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. During my childhood my family would go on two-week vacations every year to visit Mickey and the gang. In my life I never felt more safe or more at home than when I was within the confines of Disney World.
At my house, I sat in my room all day. At Disney I rode my bike to breakfast, ordered my favorite french toast, and made friends with another little boy as we sat eating our syrup soaked meals. I was independent and free to roam. Disney felt like home. When I neared adulthood I stopped accompanying my parents on their yearly pilgrimage. But eventually my parents retired — now take a wild guess where they moved? To a place not too far from Disney.
I was a young-adult still living with my parents at the time, so naturally I moved along with them. Within a month or two of arriving, my mother and my friend both got jobs working for the mouse. My friend and I were on a pretty tight budget so hanging out at Disney consisted of low-cost activities. Plus the house was a bit too far to go anytime we wanted. In short, it was no vacation.
Overall I was pretty unsatisfied living with my parents at that point. One day my friend told me to get in the car, she had to show me a place she saw while working. When we arrived at our destination my jaw dropped, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. It was Celebration, the town that Disney built. The quaint little neighborhoods, the Water Street canal, the brick-lined street of the downtown — I needed to live there.
My friend and I didn’t have much money but Celebration even thought of that too. They had something called “garage apartments”, little rentable studio apartments located above people’s garages. But unfortunately, we were a bit too unimpressed by the offerings. I continued looking through listings while keeping my eye on a particular top-floor condo overlooking Water Street.
By some miracle, I found a well-paying work-at-home computer-programming position and my budget increased significantly. I was able to rent the condo I wanted. My friend and I moved in. In the evenings we would often walk down to the diner, then sit at the counter eating meatloaf and coconut cream pie, or sometimes we’d go to the tavern and have blackened prime-rib sandwiches.
But unfortunately I was busy working most of the time, the condo was crawling with palmetto bugs, and the sound of leaf-blowers woke me up every morning. It wasn’t quite the fantasy I imagined. But no biggie, I simply moved to a different set of condos, the ones I envied from the very first day I visited Celebration — the ones named Mirasol. We lived in a top-floor 2-bedroom unit with a balcony from which we could view the fireworks.
From Celebration we could drive to wherever we wanted in Disney. We’d often head over to different resorts to have lunch or dinner and walk around. My favorite restaurant was Boma, the buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. As far as parks, our favorite activity was simply walking through the World Showcase in Epcot and finishing up with some sweet treats at the Boulangerie-Patisserie.
Eventually my foray into the business world began to crumble. I was going to lose my income so I was starting to sour towards everything in my vicinity. I left Florida not long after and returned to the region of my birth. I felt a sense of relief when I got back to snow-country, vowing never to return to that wicked land of hurricanes and heat.
It’s almost the ten-year anniversary of our Disney Fairy Tale Wedding. We were legally married in the northeast but my friend insisted on a fancy wedding at Disney. She received a discount since she worked for Mickey. My friend is a bit of an enchantress, so in the almost two-decades I’ve known her, she’s persuaded me to believe in magic. She’s recently convinced me that we should go back and live in Disney.
Yes that’s right, inside of Disney. I always wanted to live in Fort Wilderness, so it infused me with childlike delight when I first learned of Golden Oak, Disney’s luxury resort community located literally down the street from Fort Wilderness. I knew of its existence before I left Florida, I even drove past the newly constructed gate a few times, before there were any houses built.
I felt a bit emotional the other day when I thought about actually living in Disney World, like I had always wanted to do. It felt right, like I was finally going home. Disney was the only place I felt a sense of belonging and comforting familiarity. I can go on and on about Disney and all the places within it. But me and Disney, we parted on bad terms. But maybe, just maybe we were meant to be.
Of course it’s a fantasy to think I could ever afford to live in Golden Oak. But my friend made me believe in magic, and with magic anything’s possible. I would most likely need to win the lottery to make it happen, but I’m open to other windfalls as well. Why not, right? I’ve abandoned pessimism as my underlying philosophy of life, have I gone too far in the opposite direction? I really hope so.
I think of this not just for myself of course, since I’ve proven that I can subsist within a tiny room with minimal outside contact. But my friend asked this of me, the friend that removed the thorn of loneliness that plagued me throughout the first half of my life. For her I’m willing to restructure my concept of reality. Why not, right? And so they lived happily ever after….