Oh, Look! A Shiny Thing: The magic of loaner children
Disney is fine and all, but sometimes you need a kid to show you what's amazing.
Some tasks require very specific tools. For example, I need a hammer to break apart the ice in the bag in my freezer, I need kitten photos to feel better when I’m sad, and, as a childless single person, I needed loaner kids to help me experience magic during a recent family trip to Florida.
Fortunately, my two excellent nephews were there for the borrowing: Willy, 7, a tech-savvy, kind-hearted math geek, and Philly, 3, a cheerful, determined attention-seeker with a love of teasing and being teased.
At the Magic Kingdom, which is Florida’s equivalent to Disneyland, Willy, his parents, and I all headed to Space Mountain, an all-time Disney classic with the straightforward gimmick of being a roller coaster in the dark.
Willy likes roller coasters, but as we neared the front of the dimly-lit line, I could tell he was getting a little bit nervous. His mother, Theresa, promised him that he’d love it, and that she didn’t want him to miss out on the fun. When the space-shuttle-themed ride vehicles clacked up to us, Willy got in too.
I could hear him screaming the whole time, but it was the happy kind of screaming of someone completely caught up in the experience — that giddy moment of weightlessness at the top of a hill, the feeling of being mashed against the seat at the bottom, and the absolute inability to brace for anything because no one can see what lies ahead.
He wanted to go again, of course.
Willy has good taste. Space Mountain is awesome.
And with Willy there, it was magical, too.
On a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is like a super-sized zoo, we saw fancy birds, lions, giraffes, gorillas, crocodiles, and many, many other creatures of various shapes and sizes. On a bus tour of the park, Philly’s attention was caught by butts.
On Pirates of the Caribbean, the robotic pirate figures always face the tourists, but live wild animals have minds of their own and for some reason, a lot of them ended up facing away from our bus. And being a small child, Philly seized his opportunity to helpfully point out all the butts for us.
After a while, his parents managed to dissuade Philly from continuing as a tour guide for an animal-posterior safari through the back end of Animal Kingdom, but for a little while that day, even ungulate butts were kinda magical.
In the evening we’d go back to the rental house and swim in the little pool there, the boys with floaties on and me with the buoyancy of a few extra pounds.
I showed them a somersault and a handstand, and they made the pool magical too, jumping in repeatedly, pushing off from the sides, splashing, and paddling back and forth in the water.
Disney likes to take credit for magic, but even Disney magic itself doesn’t come from the MegaMouseCo. No, no.
The magic is from the kids.