“Disney World is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced,” friends told my husband and me at dinner one night. “You have to go.”
We met with our travel agent. “It seems strange to go to Disney without kids,” I said.
“Get yourself a pair of Mickey ears,” she said with a wink. “You get to be the kid. Immerse yourself in the magic.”
It was good advice. While waiting for our Disney Magic Express to take us from the Orlando airport, we studied the buses’ brightly lit destination signs. Most named a resort, but one made my husband and me chuckle. “Refilling my pixie dust,” it flashed.
Refilling my pixie dust. I pondered that phrase for a while and then, in the spirit of Disney, anticipated the moment when Tinkerbell would sprinkle her magic my way.
I didn’t have long to wait. When I viewed the iconic castle at Magic Kingdom, I felt tingles. Sprinkle, sprinkle. I marveled at the minds that had imagined and created this. More incredible architecture and costumed characters in a parade added to the magic.
It was easy to believe in pixie dust as I wandered around Epcot’s charming English cottage with its Shakespearean garden, Italian villa, Swiss chalet, Moroccan pavilion, and more. Many other visitors had their magic on too. A little girl in a princess dress twirled for her daddy who sported a t-shirt with an image of Goofy on the front.
Simulated rides such as “Soarin’ Around the World” made me feel like I was hang gliding over the majestic Swiss Alps, viewing a mother polar bear and her playful cub in icy Greenland, swooping past sailboats, weaving between elephants, viewing the Great Wall of China, looking down on the Eiffel Tower and surrounding myself with the lights of Paris. The Peter Pan ride magically gave me a sensation of flying and the little mermaid ride made me hold my breath, sure I was under water. “How can they do this?” my husband and I kept asking.
When a maintenance worker pulled us aside and said, “You might want to stay right here; in a few seconds something magical is going to happen,” I felt tingles. Rare, unexpected pixie dust was in the air.
A pair of brightly colored scarlet macaws flew toward us from the south. Five more from the north. Several more from the east and west until twenty-some brilliantly colored parrots landed on platform rails right ahead of us. I let out the breath I’d been holding. Incredible!
Flights of Wonder trainers appeared and gave the macaws a nugget. The sunlight flashed off their radiant deep red, blue, and yellow feathers. The iridescence of their deep red and metallic gold tail feathers made them appear to twinkle.
When my husband and I walked through a screening checkpoint, the woman taking my temperature smiled and said, “You have an abundance of pixie dust.”
That was soon to change.
On our last day, we sat on the runway in our delayed plane in the Orlando airport. The pilot explained. “I apologize for this additional delay, but air travel controllers are rerouting us around a storm. We expect to arrive in Chicago at 5:15.”
I groaned. Final boarding for our connecting flight ended at 5:40. We’d never navigate the Chicago concourse, find our gate, and make it in time. Our friends who offered to pick us up in Madison will have already left for the airport. They’ll have made the trip for nothing. We’ll need to spend the night in the airport or scramble for a room or have to rent a car and navigate Chicago traffic at night in our exhausted state. The magic was gone.
We landed at 5:15, but since we were seated in row 30, agonizing minutes ticked by as passengers ahead of us gathered their carry ons and deplaned. 5:21. 5:23. 5:25. My husband and I talked about how maybe if the gates were close together and we sprinted, we could still make it. A woman ahead of us heard and said, “You two can get off ahead of us.” An elderly couple in front of them heard, and said, “Yes, go.” A third family with a small, fussy child chimed in. “You can go ahead of us too.” Had I just felt a sprinkle of pixie dust?
Juggling carry-on luggage, we had to make it from Chicago’s concourse B to F. We jogged, zigzagging left then right then left. I kept hoping we’d get to the gate, but it felt unending. When I finally spotted “F” in the distance, no one stood in line. The ticket agent bent over the microphone. “The doors are now closing—“
“Wait!” I waved my arms and sprinted toward him.
He put down the mic and reached for my husband’s and my boarding passes. As he waved us through, I felt a tingle. My pixie dust was refilled once again.