We introduce this series to give our writers an opportunity to share their own experiences and stories with you. Each one will offer a different perspective of the phrase, “the way I see it.” Moe wanted to give his daughters a wonderful Disney World experience but was nervous his sight loss would interfere. He quickly realized he did not need full sight to make treasured memories with his family.
I was 12 when my family did what many families do – made our first ever pilgrimage to Disney World. My siblings and I convinced our parents to travel to Orlando during the August heat. The heat and humidity were more of a problem for the adults, while us kids were too busy enjoying ourselves. During that trip, however, I began to notice issues with my eyesight. I could not identify the Disney characters, and I could not follow the short movies played before some of the rides. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I engaged in every activity. Today, I would describe it as mildly traumatic but mostly a magical experience. A year later, I realized this was the beginning of my sight loss.
Twenty five years later, I again find myself at Disney World, this time with my own family: my three beautiful daughters and their mother. A Disney trip was a long-term goal for me. I wanted to experience Disney World with my daughters. I promised myself that this would happen before losing all of my eyesight.
As we prepared for our trip, I began thinking about my own first Disney trip with my family that seemed so long ago. The mixture of anxiety and joy resurfaced, and I became fearful of what it would be like over 25 years later with my drastically decreased sight. I was afraid I could not fully enjoy the experience with my daughters.
Our arrival at Disney was late in the evening and within minutes of getting to our hotel room, everyone was asleep. I stayed up a few hours anxiously planning out our first day at the park. I did not have to wait long to know how this trip would go. We entered the Magic Kingdom and my youngest daughter spotted Daisy Duck and just about lost her mind. I saw something that I had never seen before and I can only describe it as joy and excitement in the purest form. I watched my youngest daughter hug Snow White, swim with Arial and enjoyed dinner with Cinderella. My older daughters who were hard to impress and who thought everything was lame could not hide their emotions. My oldest daughter glowed when taking pictures with her favorite, Princess Tianna. My middle daughter could hardly maintain her usually stoic disposition bursting into tears of joy when Winnie the Pooh gave her a giant bear hug. I had to pry her off Winnie while explaining that she had to share him with the other kids.
We developed a routine by our third day. The kids were first to awake to list off the day’s highlights. The parents were the first to fall asleep while the girls recounted the best parts of that day. Disney World put on a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show that was the absolute highlight for me. The fireworks lit up the entire night sky in every color imaginable. I looked around to see the giant smiles on my daughters’ faces. I knew I was experiencing something memorable.
The trip was not without its difficulties. I became frustrated when trying to read the maps and signs while rushing from one attraction to the next. I also know that I missed some of the action. However, I was not bothered much because my daughters captured everything. They enjoyed themselves which meant I did too. I just basked in the excitement and pure joy radiating from them. I eventually realized that it did not matter how much or little I could see. During this second trip, the most important part of the Disney World experience was to witness my daughters’ reactions to what they themselves were able to see. Thankfully, I was there with them to witness everything.