A week ago, my dad was in Walt Disney World and sent me a text with the following picture:
He followed with, “Where’s Whity?” My backstory with this particular curb is a short one, and probably not of much interest to the average person. When I was seven (7?!) years old, and nighttime parades still existed, my mother would make us wait an hour for the parade to start. As a seven year old, she could not ask me to do a less fun thing. I did not want to sit there for an hour when there were rides to be ridden and princesses to meet. I wanted to play. But, I sat, because I was a kid and didn’t have any power. Of course, I did what any other child would do when asked to do something they didn’t want to do, I pouted. For a long time. I curled up in a defiant ball and refused to look at anyone as I buried my face down into my arms. My bangs covered my face, so you couldn’t even see the true look of contempt describing how I felt. Behind me, my mother giggled.
People walking by would have no idea the significant moment this would become in my life. Over two decades later, every time we walk past this spot, my dad will say, “there’s Whity’s curb.” If you think about it on the surface, this is a spot that gets walked over, sat on, trash gets thrown, kids throw fits, someone steps on this exact spot when leaving the Magic Kingdom, or a million scenarios later, and it’s still just a curb and it obviously still remains in the same exact spot.
But in my family, this is not just a curb and it won’t be ever again. I’m 28 years old now, and when I close my eyes and picture this exact place, I can feel myself going back. I can see daylight leaving the park as they light Main Street up. I can hear noises around me of shuffling feet and other kids joyously giggling as they skip, their parents trying to wrestle them into doing the exact same thing I am. The smells of Main Street fill my senses, because even after all this time and all the changes that have occurred, it’s still familiar.
There’s been an awakening of quick evolution throughout the parks in the last few years. Change has always come, but it never seemed drastic, and it was never for the wrong reasons. It was always to enhance the experience, not take away and try and replace. Things like a simple curb on Main Street hold significant value, especially now, when the experiences that diehard Disney Parks fans were raised with are being stripped away one by one.
As fans of the parks for decades, we’re asked to accept the new changes as they come along, letting go of historical value that certain rides or memories may hold and adjust without argument. Meanwhile, the visitors with no emotional attachment to the things leaving can’t understand why this is such a big deal and why there are some of us have good reason to be unhappy.
For the ones who grew up in the parks, like I did, it’s the place we fell in love with. It remained the same for a long time, so any time we’d revisit and come back, the memories of all the magic still existed and gave you the feeling that you were coming home. You felt a deep connection to being in the park, because you knew it so well. You learned the ins and outs of it quickly. When the time came to leave your “real life” behind, you stepped foot onto Main Street and it felt like you had never left. And that’s why we hold on.
There’s an entire list of things I could talk about that’s been unfairly kicked out or replaced, but I won’t. Here’s my point, many paragraphs later: for those of us who were raised in the parks, changes such as scenes being altered in a ride and experiences like The Magic of Disney Animation leaving, matter. Little things like places you always sit for parades on Main Street and exciting adventures when you could once walk through Mickey and Minnie’s houses are pieces of our history. For a lot of us, they shaped us and blossomed our appreciation for the historical aspects and original visions of this place we like to call ours. Change isn’t always bad, but when you start eliminating everything that made the parks what they are today, it’s difficult to not feel left behind in the dust as they evolve without you.
Something small and insignificant to the vast majority like a curb ushers me into Magic Kingdom every time I’m back and despite everything that has left or is on its way to being replaced, this one spot takes me back to a time when creating magic was the top priority and I wasn’t another number on a visitor count. I see the place that I once sat so defiantly and I picture a little girl with awe and wonder in her eyes as Ariel waves from her float during SpectroMagic. For just a moment, time stands still, and I’m welcomed home.
Do you have any special places in the parks?