We Need More Magic

renting a stroller at Epcot

We started the day with a stroller rental. It was bound to be good.

As we moved towards Epcot’s Spaceship Earth where we told the kids we were going to take a family photo, I envisioned a glorious day. I wrote a delightful storyline in my mind. We’d make a hundred magic moments. Maybe a Disney cast member would do something out of this world. Perhaps a fellow Epcot guest would be super inspiring and leave a mark on my memory for years to come.

I used to call myself a pessimist.

Now I know the truth.

I’m unrealistically optimistic.

Maisie hid her head for our family photo by Spaceship Earth. No big deal at all. Truly, no big deal. I moved on knowing we’d have another 10 opportunities for family photos this trip. One head hiding in the shoulder? No loss there. Just real life at Disney. That’s all.


I was resilient at this point.

But things didn’t turn beautiful and magical so quickly.

It was too hot for one of us.

Too bright for another.

Three people wanted to stop and look at Disney trading pins.

Another didn’t want to stop at all.

And another didn’t really care one way or the other.

Maisie’s morning fresh fruit cup wasn’t sufficing as breakfast. She was “hangry” yet again, while the rest of us were just fine. So we beelined to a cafeteria and bought her an Uncrustable, which turned her mood for a bit.

My husband went with the two oldest on Soarin’. But Maisie wasn’t tall enough, so we got a “parent swap” pass and I wandered with her over to the parent/baby-toddler-preschooler waiting area.

It was dark, full of little ones and caregivers just sitting and waiting for the rest of their party to return. I imagined the place remodeled and reinvented to meet the needs of busy little ones and ridiculously patient caregivers. It was all so beautiful in my mind.

The couple next to me fought hard. They yelled at each other for a good two to three minutes before I couldn’t take it anymore. A yelling match? At Disney World? In front of 20-30 people? Not okay. Even if you’re ticked. Leave the building and take care of the issue in an off-the-beaten-path place. I didn’t understand what was going down. They were yelling in another language. All I knew was that they were TICKED at each other. Big time.

Did I mention it was DARK down there?

I had to leave.

I took Maisie by the hand, up the escalator, around the long rotunda and we went outside. I texted my husband and told him we weren’t going to be able to wait any longer. That there were people yelling at each other and I had to get out of there.

We got some fresh air. We took a cute outdoor photo by Nemo and friends. My husband texted me back, told me they were almost on the ride, that we should come back. So we did.

We reunited quickly and went back outside to pick up the stroller. Things should have been looking up, but they weren’t. People seemed super crabby with their kids. There were wheelchairs all over the place, more than normal. Moms in wheelchairs. Kids in wheelchairs. People with amputated legs in wheelchairs. Sons who looked like they’d never been able to speak in wheelchairs. People just seemed off. I wasn’t feeling the magic at all. I started to wonder if I WASN’T supposed to see or feel the magic today. So I silently prayed that I would be able to experience what I was supposed to experience today, that God would show me what He wanted me to see in this place, whether that was magic, pain or a mix of the two. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t supposed to just blow it off and move right along through it as if everything was gloriously perfect.

Why was I just seeing pain?

Why wasn’t I experiencing the magic of Disney?

What was it with this day?

It wasn’t anything in particular. The day just felt off all the way around.

Four of us ate fast food Chinese for lunch. My husband didn’t care for Chinese, so he sat with us, then took a moment alone at a salad place while we got photos with Daisy Duck.


Our first Fast Pass for the day was about to expire, so we booked it over to Turtle Talk. We waited 10-15 minutes before the show started. While we waited, my eyes drifted nearby to a notably overweight father figure, and a young mama who was incredibly ticked off with her baby. “STOP!” she exclaimed, as her baby continued whatever it was that was ticking mama off. I saw the fire in her eyes. She needed a break. This mothering gig wasn’t living up to her expectations. I saw a sister figure look at the reprimanding mama with wonder. I wondered what the sister figure was thinking.

Turtle Talk was great. Funny. Relaxing. Good for all ages. A breath of fresh air. The best thing that happened to us all morning besides the stroller.

I think I saw what I was supposed to see in that dark room where brilliant technology allowed animated turtles to engage personally with people. I was beginning to piece together the puzzle. Today wasn’t about seeing and experiencing the magic. Today was about me seeing the REASON we NEED the magic, the reason we SEEK the magic, the reason we LOVE the magic, the reason we’re all so DESPERATE for the magic.

Life is great. Yes.

Fun. Yes.

Beautiful. Yes.

Lovely. Yes.

Life-giving. Yes.

Holy. Yes.

But it’s also painful.





And very real.

We need an escape.

We need something, someone, anyone to take us away.

We need hope.

We need a little magic.

Disney’s all about the magic. They work their magic every time without fail.

Honestly? I don’t think it’s magic that Disney creates. It’s a sense of hope, a sense of purpose, a sense of peace, a sense of fulfillment and enjoyment, love and connection, a sense that everything’s gonna be alright. Disney reminds us that we’re making it. That things are good. That life is incredibly hard, but it can be incredibly beautiful, too. That we’re loved and cared for, gently and tenderly received. Just as we are. Wherever we are.

Disney Magic. It’s hope. 

Adults and kids alike, we filed out of Turtle Talk into the hot, Florida sun. The mood hadn’t shifted outdoors. But we knew better. Good things, magical things were going on inside that Turtle Talk building. We’d been there. Done that. And it was good.

As I watched the people file out, I was reminded of the crazy-thick Walt Disney biography I’ve been plodding through for the past two years, how the author surmised that Walt intended to create a magical, alternative world where everything was as it should be. I remembered how that struck me, how that captured my attention as probable truth. Perhaps that’s why Disney has been so successful all these years. Because it is an alternative world, an escape of sorts.

Maisie got her “hangry” back on. And I sensed the older kids’ tiffs getting my husband in a bit of a tizzy. So I suggested we separate again. Me with our baby. My husband with our oldest, in pursuit of the next big-kid ride Fast Pass that opened in 15 minutes. We knew we were going to have to separate for this part of the afternoon, anyway.

They went their way. We went ours.

We went on another ride where we sat in clam shells and were transported to an underwater world with Nemo and Friends. I watched Disney cast members stop the shells to load a boy in a wheelchair. He was the most peaceful and grateful looking boy I’d seen all day.

We escaped, me and my baby, to the underworld, an underwater world with Nemo. For five minutes, maybe six or seven. I took a deep breath. Leaned into the hard, clam shell. Hummed with the delightful tune that drew me in like nothing else. Bathed in the moment.

After, I gave my daughter my snack allocation for the day. She chose an orange creamsicle pop. It melted fast with the hot sun. I got a couple of the first bites, then a bunch of licks to help a dripping girl out.

She was thirsty after she ate.

We’re still hungry after we eat.

Still thirsty after we drink.

I was suddenly wishing for a glass of wine. Or maybe a frozen margarita. It is Epcot’s annual Food & Wine Festival, you know. The line for wine was long. I stood in line for a frozen margarita, but their Magic Band machine was broken and I didn’t have cash or credit along, so the margarita was a no go for me.

My husband and two oldest were still on Mission Space.

I was with the “baby,” searching for more magic, waiting for the day to take a turn.

We began the long walk around Epcot’s lands. Donald Duck was hiding in Mexico with a long line. So we kept walking.

And there it was, the moment where the day took a turn for me, the moment I heard the magic before I saw it.

A little mariachi band. Heck, I don’t know what it’s called. All I know is that it’s what I needed.


It was a quaint little something to delight my heart. Lovely. Pure. Music. A live performance by three. For a small audience of five, six, seven. We were tucked away behind the Mexican souvenir shop where most passed by. But I heard. I knew I needed this kind of magic, this kind of hope, this kind of peace.

It was beautiful. These guys were so in it to win it. So in it for the sake of their art. So in it for the few. So in it because that music was the right thing to do.

I made myself comfortable on the ground, and we listened to several tunes, my baby and me. I smiled at the dudes and clapped generously after each song. Every song was an invitation to be present.

I loved it.


They announced that they were done, that they’d be back at 2:30 to play again.

I thanked the men. Each one. They acknowledged us personally. One smiled, called my daughter princess and asked how she was today.

Do we really need anything more?

Walt Disney found a market. He filled a niche.

A niche where people can stop. Pause. Just be.

A niche where people can love and be loved.

A niche where people can wander and wonder.

A niche where people can listen to a song, sing a tune, hum along a little longer.

A niche where we can hang with family and meet new friends.

A niche where we’re all in this together.

A niche where things are a-okay.

A niche in which we can come as we are, and no matter what ugly we bring, we’ll always find a little magic.

A niche where we’re called princess. Where we’re asked how we are. A niche where someone will play us a little song and say hi at the end of the day. A niche where we can sit down and rest for a while. A niche where our burdens are eased, if even for a few moments. A niche where our senses are delighted and dazzled in unique and glorious ways.


It did all those things for me today.

But what about the days we’re NOT at Disney. What then? Can we fill a niche, create a little Disney magic right where we are? I don’t know about you, but I need to do more of that myself. I need a little song, a place to rest, a place to be called princess, a place where someone stops to look me in the eyes and ask how I am today. Yes, I’d like more of that for me. And I’d like more of that for you. How are we going to do this, friends?

I saw the ugly, the downtrodden today. The worn out. The weak. The disabled. The meek. The mad and the angry. The hungry. We’re hungry for more, something more. We’re hungry for magic. We’re hungry for hope and connection, peace and place.

Walt Disney filled the niche right here. In the parks. He got it. He understood the need. Let’s bring it right out of these parks, friends. Let’s get a little magic stirring in the real world.


Because once that magic’s stirred, you never know what might happen. Today, a brother and sister decided they want to be friends. A near teenager put his arm around his mama and walked with her in public. A family had a delicious dinner after a long, kind-of-off day. A hangry “baby” enjoyed a swim followed by an early bedtime. And a mama felt a little more sure of her mission. To bring this Disney magic OUT into the real, everyday world. Because Lord knows, we need more magic.





31DaysofDisney_medium2This post is part of a month-long series titled 31 Days of Disney! If you’d like to read more posts from the series, click here and you’ll be directed back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page. ALL posts from the series are linked within the body of that post. Find a title or topic that intrigues you, click on it, and the post will pop up for your Disney reading adventure!

I also placed the series graphic on the right sidebar of my blog’s home page, so click it anytime and it’ll bring you back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked.

You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/AmyBPederson where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days, and I’d LOVE to connect on Facebook at facebook.com/AmyBPederson. You can also find me on Instagram at instagram.com/AmyBPederson, and I might even do a few scopes live from Disney World, so follow me on Periscope at @AmyBPederson to see if I get brave!

So glad you stopped by! Make yourself comfortable. Take a peek around the place, and know you’re welcome back anytime.

  1. Tara Dorn says:

    Hi Amy! I’m going back through your 31 days of Disney again like I mentioned I would, as I am preparing for our trip–we are into the single digit count down now! This post really resonated with me tonight. I had a very not magical day and night in the real world and using your words, I’m hungry for more! Peace, place, connection, magic, hope…being called a princess. I sat down with your blog for much needed me time – been feeling like I’m taking care of too many others and not getting my bucket filled back up. Reading your words stored a little magic in me. Reading this post made me remember (even though you didn’t explicitly mention it), that my Father always cares for me and it is Him whom I need to turn to, to be filled – am I not his princess? Thank you for bringing the magic into the real world!

  2. Kelly S says:

    I hope it’s not weird that I keep commenting! Haha. I am just making my way slowly through 31 Days series this month, and tonight is your night! 🙂

    This is beautiful!! So well written! And yes, we do have those “perfect” Disney days and then the ones where it doesn’t feel worth it!

    If you ever get a chance to visit the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, I highly recommend it! We went last week and it gives great insight into him as a person and his legacy. (It’s biographical in nature – the first room covers his birth/family and the last room is his death/obituaries.) Sounds like the biography you’re reading is a good one!

  3. Traci Gasho says:

    I just shared your post on my Facebook page. This post is beautifully written. For me Disney magic is both hope and joy!

  4. Traci Gasho says:

    I just shared your post on my Facebook page. This post is beautifully written. For me Disney magic is both hope and joy!

  5. Tom Baunsgard says:

    Amy,This was a realistic post of daily life happenning all around in the Disney Magic. Happy to hear you and the fam got the Magic on, regardless of the all other non-magical moments. It is true that everyone does not “Get It”. Crowds of hot thirsty and the occassional very angry and hangry people can strip the magic aura away. Isn’t it so true how a musical moment can just take you away, either on one of the rides or having a live music concert in a small venue with only a few people around. That’s all part of the Disney Magic. Walt Disney expressed it best with his Disneyland opening day speech, “To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” He knew there would be a market for Magical Moments.
    P.S. Hope the stoller worked out well for your little one 🙂

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