“Real Life Land”

by Allyson Carangio Brandt
AllEars® Guest Columnist

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 2, 2010 Issue #580 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

My favorite place in the world is Walt Disney World.

My husband takes me there every year, and then patiently deals with me reverting to a maturity level I haven't outwardly been in years. I could easily spend a day sitting on a bench in Fantasyland, just soaking up the atmosphere.

My love for Disney started long before I met my own Prince Charming. My nursery was a brightly colored Pooh Bear theme. I grew up watching classic Disney cartoons. My first real memory is from when I was 3 or so, standing in a darkened room watching the end of "Sleeping Beauty" with tears pouring down my cheeks. I still think "Lady and The Tramp" is the most romantic movie ever, hands down. And I'm still terrified of the Wicked Queen from "Snow White." When we're at WDW, I avoid her at all costs because I don't want to look like a fool when I hide behind my husband.

Disney had always been a part of my life, be it through music, movies or TV — but I had only visited the parks once, as a very small child. Then, when we were engaged, my husband took me there for the first time in my adult life. A year later, we were married there, in the Wedding Chapel, with the picture-perfect view of Cinderella Castle. Since then, we travel from our home in Atlanta to Orlando yearly, and I will admit — I'm completely and utterly obsessed.

We have been home from our most recent visit for a week or so, and I have to say it was one of our best trips yet. We stayed at one of the many hotels on Disney property, Coronado Springs, which is a beautifully landscaped resort with its own lake and intricately themed buildings. We took time to enjoy the resort — the hammocks by the lake and the strips of white beaches, the walking paths, and the pool. We meandered through the theme parks and enjoyed long dinners at restaurants all over the property. I was sad to leave, but knew we would be back again.

We flew home on a Tuesday night and I was up bright and early on Wednesday to go to work. It was cool and crisp in Atlanta, and I was feeling refreshed and pretty good about life. Then I got cut off on the interstate — so close in fact that I swerved off the side of the road to avoid a collision. As the offending vehicle whizzed past me, I saw the bumper sticker on the fender: "Peace and Civility." Nice.

When I arrived to work, my boss bit my head off. Multiple times. Then I had to fight downtown traffic to retrieve a very heavy box, that I then had to haul back to my car, which was several blocks away. By the time I got back into my car, I was ready to cry. My re-entry into the world from the Most Magical Place on Earth had been very rough. Why, I wondered, couldn't everyday life be more like Disney World?

— At Disney, there is always someone to take you to and from locations. Whether it's a nice, air conditioned bus with a smiley bus driver or zipping in between parks and hotels on the monorail, you never have to worry about traffic or being cut off.

— At Disney, you get to wear pins on your shirt declaring a special moment: "Just engaged!" "Anniversary!" "First trip!" and everyone congratulates you.

— Every morning starts out with a song and dance number, and every evening ends with a fireworks show.

— It is perfectly acceptable to run around wearing matching T-shirts with your spouse or family and to wear silly things on your head, like Goofy ears or a giant sorcerer hat.

— Your shampoo and towels get replaced every morning.

— When you come back to your room from a park to take a nap, you find your bed is made and everything is put away.

— You can have a daily wake-up call from the likes of Mickey Mouse and Stitch.

— You can hug a trashcan in public and people don't think you're crazy — in fact, they think it's cool that you got to meet PUSH, the talking waste disposal unit.

As I was driving back to my office (and calming down), it occurred to me that perhaps I needed to look at things a different way. Maybe the kick-start everyone needed was for someone to be nice to them. Since then, I've been trying to incorporate that Disney feeling into my everyday happenings. While it is impractical to wear mouse ears to work, or to expect your house to be clean whenever you come home, I have found a few little things that make a big difference:

— I try to tidy up the house before I leave, so it's fresh when I come home. It's easier to relax after work when everything is clean.

— I try and answer the phone with a smile on my face. Really, it makes a difference.

— I have a soundtrack at home. Some of it is Disney music, some not, but it's all music that makes me happy. Live365 has some great online radio stations that play music from Disney movies and the theme parks. They're so much fun to play in the background while I'm at home or at work.

— I record Travel Channel shows about the Disney parks and watch them when I need a Disney World fix.

— And instead of bemoaning being away from WDW, I've started thinking of my life at home as an extension of the "lands" at the Magic Kingdom we all love — Real Life Land.

While I might not have a chance to have breakfast with Mickey and Pluto every morning, Real Life Land does come with some pretty good perks. Like Sebastian, my cat, who I love dearly but cannot bring with me to Disney. Real Life Land has my own bed, and all my clothes — not just the ones I can fit in a suitcase. It has my family, and the jobs that fulfill my husband and me. And of course, Real Life Land has some magical touches — the Mickey statue we got for Christmas last year, our wedding photos with the fantastic view of the castle, and all my Disney scrapbooking supplies. It has the Cinderella Castle dollhouse my husband bought me on our honeymoon. In Real Life Land, it's the little things that count.

So all in all, Real Life Land isn't such a bad place to be. After all, half the fun of a trip to Disney is the planning and anticipation, and the memories you bring home with you.



New mom Allyson Carangio Brandt is a writer and longtime Disney enthusiast who lives in the Atlanta area.


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.