By Jennifer M. Sauer, M.D.
Where is Your Happy Place?
If anyone were to ask me “Where is your happy place?” my immediate answer is Disney World, The Happiest Place on Earth.
My obsession with anything Mickey Mouse began in 1989 when my family was able to take our first planned vacation. I happened to turn 16 while we were there, but the trip was NOT for my 16th birthday. It just happened to occur while we were there since my birthday is around spring break.
My mom has had Multiple Sclerosis for as long as I can remember. Anyone can tell you that living with, or caring for someone with a chronic illness isn’t easy. But for those four days in Disney World, my Mom wasn’t sick. Disney took care of everything. Mickey mouse shaped ice cream bars, a birthday cake with my name on it, fixing the door in our hotel room and then leaving a porcelain Mickey as a gift for the inconvenience. I just remember a sense of calm and pure joy!
Some of my most precious memories have happened at Disney World.
I’m blessed with a husband that takes all of my Disney passion and embraces it. We went to Disney World for our honeymoon, and on the first night we had a nice table overlooking the water. But as soon as Mickey came in the dining room, I was jumping up and waving him down. The waiter had to come reassure me that Mickey would be over in a minute.
I’ve been able to watch my kids light up when seeing the characters and run to hug them as young children. And then taking pictures in the same places many years later, but no longer being held on my hip. Within Disney World, they’ve watched many firework shows and parades, have overcome their fear of roller coasters, and continue to eat Mickey shaped food items and wear Mickey ears.
A recent visit to Magic Kingdom was like getting a history lesson.
Carousel of Progress is my all-time favorite attraction due to its sentimental/nostalgia value to me. Walt was intimately involved in this exhibit, and it is the only ride in Disney World that he actually rode. The exhibit was originally developed for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair,. It was originally in Disneyland and then moved to Disney World in 1975. (Walt died approximately five years before Walt Disney World opened.)
While riding the Carousel of Progress, the song “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” plays between the scenes. Our tour guide said if you change the word “Man” in the lyrics to Walt, it has a new meaning:
Man (Walt) has a dream and that’s the start.
He follows his dream with mind and heart.
And when it becomes a reality,
It’s a dream come true for you and me.
Walt Disney was a visionary and a dreamer. He believed “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I was inspired to be able to follow my dream of becoming a doctor. Naturally, I needed to be a pediatrician so that I never had to grow up and can still wear Mickey Mouse shoes to work.