A Magical Escape With The Grandgirls

The author at Disney World with granddaughters Emma and Charlotte PHOTO FROM SUSAN PAGE

The author at Disney World with granddaughters Emma and Charlotte PHOTO FROM SUSAN PAGE

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.” — Walt Disney

For four whole days, no thoughts of a world beset with manmade conflict, naturally occurring disasters or hate-filled accusations found their way into my blissful brain. After all, I was with my two granddaughters, Emma, 7, and Charlotte, 3, at the happiest place on earth: Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

Traveling through Atlanta and Washington, D.C., with lots of moving parts to coordinate, husband Jerry and I finally made it with sanity intact to Orlando with two excited little girls in tow — hugely relieved that no “issues” had occurred on our watch.

The parents, coming from other directions, met us at a Marriott Resort where, as it happens, the entertainment our first night was a luau.

Next day we were off to the Magic Kingdom, where all things “princess” would come alive. The anticipation for our little princess wannabes had built up so that every crowded, ponderous stage leading up to the actual park was excruciating.

“Are we at Disney World yet? Are we there yet? Is that it?” Spying a simple “Goofy” sign in the parking lot a mile from the park elicited deafening squeals.

Eventually, after car, train, boat and ticket line, we were almost there. First, a scan of our entry pass. The girls went giddy when their magnetic card turned Mickey Mouse green. Then came finger printing, which they thought quite cool. (I imagined Mickey Mouse as

Big Brother with his yearly collection of 60 million fingerprints.)

At last, we were on Main Street with Cinderella’s castle in sight, and live Minnies and Donalds everywhere. To my surprise, seeing the Magic Kingdom through Emma and Charlotte’s first-time eyes dislodged a long-stored mental scrapbook of another time. An 8-year-old child began to emerge: me, Susan Kay Logan.

It was the summer of 1955 and I’d just turned 8. Our family home was in dry, hot ranch country in Central/West Texas, which was a prime motivator for my parents to seek cooler, prettier refuge every year during Dad’s two weeks off.

Avid readers, Mom and Dad also strongly believed in “education through vacation.” Hence, we usually headed for some well-planned visit to historical sites on either coast. But that year Daddy and his inner kid became obsessed with going to this new amusement park just opening in California called Disneyland. He was more excited about this adventure than my sister and I, who barely survived the drive across 120-degree Arizona in our unair conditioned red Dodge. Our picking and whining resulted in Daddy’s long arm flailing at the backseat, rarely connecting a whack, but keeping us quiet for a stretch.

I don’t remember much about my life before the age of 8, but the feelings I had upon entering Disneyland are clear as the blue California skies. In 1955, television was a new thing, but we had movies: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp. Just like Emma and Charlotte’s today, our Disney animation vocabulary was extensive.

But the Disney parks are miles more than movie characters conceived by Walt and his team of “Imagineers,” far more than Main Street parades, Space Mountain, the tea cups or

Dumbo rides. They are where happy lives: gratitude happy, childish happy. That’s what I remember: feeling happy.

If only all the warring, complaining, cynical and mean-spirited could be shuttled into Disney World, I’d like to imagine that eventually a mouse named Mickey could change their hearts to happy. Walt Disney said, “The worst of us is not without innocence, although buried deeply it might be.” He also reminded us, “Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever.”

We can dream, can’t we?