Why vacationing at Walt Disney World is a basic necessity for my creativity.

About two weeks ago, my thirteen-year-old son and I went to Walt Disney World. Yes. Orlando, FL in July. Everyone looked at us like we were crazy. Isn’t it humid enough in New Hampshire at this time of year? Why do you need to go to an even hotter and more humid place—for vacation?

In part, the vacation was a last-minute decision. When we were talking about going somewhere, and WDW came up, I checked the prices. Actually pretty affordable, which I guess isn’t so surprising. I mean, who the hell goes to Florida for summer vacation??

Disney addicts, that’s who.

Cinderella's castle lights up at night as a glowing reminder of the hub of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

As some of you might know, the great Walt Disney himself is my hero. He sparked my creativity. Disney inspired me ever since I was learning how to tell stories. For me, “it all started with a mouse” is wondamagiliciously true.

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing … that it was all started by a mouse.” Walt Disney

I was about eight or nine years old when I began to really get into Disney and his whole story from when he was a young boy living on a farm. Before that, I only equated Disney as a name behind cartoons, animation, and amazing television shows. I never missed an episode of The Wonderful World of Disney that aired every Sunday night.

When I began to understand there was actually a man, a human being, behind all of that incredible magic, I was truly astounded. You mean, a person came up with all of that? I’m not sure exactly what I thought Disney was before I knew Disney was a real man, but the realization changed my life.

I saw exactly how imagination could start as a seed, a breath, and then be coaxed and nurtured into a form of reality that would matter to someone else.

I wanted to be a part of something like that.

Throughout my teen years, Disney was like therapy to me. I was sorely shy on top of being an introvert, and had painfully low self-esteem (not a good combo). Disney inspired me to write stories and draw cartoons. I was okay at the former and no good at the latter. But at the time, my creations were just for me, so it didn’t matter.

What did matter was that I saw an insane dream in there—to be a novelist. To write stories that I would eventually share with the world. There was magic in that dream, because it felt like something I couldn’t have unless I took very, very special care of it. Kind of like being given a golden egg, and you’re really not sure what you have in your possession but you know it’s something freaking amazing.

Disney gifted me with that dream.  And even though I resisted that dream for years (another blog post topic), it never truly left my heart. I may have turned what could have been a regular old writing journey into a Labyrinth of Self-Destruction, but the magic continued to pulse patiently. Waiting for me to be ready.

All of that is to explain why visiting WDW on a regular basis is so important to me. Vacationing at WDW is more than going on Space Mountain or Tower of Terror. More than indulging in a Dole Pineapple-Vanilla Float. More than swimming late afternoon while pirates sing to me.

Indulge in a Dole Pineapple-Vanilla float at Adventureland in Walt Disney World.

There is a magic I associate with Disney because Disney helped pull me through some painful adolescent days and some tough times at home. I have grown to trust that Disney will pull me through anything, revitalize me, clarify my vision, refuel me.

Disney sparks a writing magic that helped me forge my identity and my journey. A writing magic that hits me in the gut and reminds me of what I want to achieve with my stories.

But it’s tough magic too, getting me to dig deep, to challenge myself. Am I happy with my progress? Am I being daring enough? Am I taking advantage of opportunities?

Disney reminds me of all that is possible, even when there are plenty of obstacles and walls. He knew what he wanted to achieve, even before it had been done or dreamed. He was a man of invention, imagination, innovation. He believed in himself and what he could achieve, and he didn’t let anything stand in his way.

Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making his dreams come true.  This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of these is confidence.  When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way.  – Walt Disney

Believe and Soar reads the sign as you exit the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride at Walt Disney World.

I came home from my vacation rejuvenated and empowered. I have increased confidence in my ideas and my projects. My muse is ready to rock and roll, and everything that felt impossible mere months ago feels doable now. My writing magic has been sparked.

The writing journey is not easy, we all know. Most of us spend the majority of our time disheartened or frustrated or exhausted. These negative feelings almost always lead to quitting if we don’t take the time to do a mindset check to spark that magic.

So I ask you: What sparks your writing magic? Are you able to tap into it every day? Beyond that, how are you doing with your writing journey? Are you feeling fulfilled with your progress and your choices? What do you hope to achieve with your writing? Are you taking the steps appropriate to your dreams and goals? Are you daring yourself at least once a day? Have you pinned down a writing time so that you can make the most of your journey? What is it? Are you able to navigate the obstacles in a way that makes you feel challenged but not stressed or anxious?

The above questions are just a starting point for creativity mindset. Check in with questions like these on a regular basis, and more often if you’re feeling especially vulnerable. The connection you make with your mindset will actually spark the magic. This is also a great method to discover what it is that sparks your writing magic, as you may not even know! You will feel more empowered and ready to make the most of the opportunities you encounter.

Whatever your dream, goal, or wish, honor it every day. Make it a part of your daily life so that you are more likely to achieve what you want. The more of a “regular thing” it is, the easier it will be to cultivate into reality. The more your magic will spark.

18 thoughts on “Why vacationing at Walt Disney World is a basic necessity for my creativity.”

  1. I love Disney World too, though it’s been several years since we’ve visited since the kids are now older. I did get to spend one day in Disney Land a few months back and it was wonderful. Glad you had a rejuvenating trip.

    The writing journey can indeed wear us down. When I’m feeling that way, I say to myself, “You don’t have to do this, you know.” But the thought of not writing novels is so disconcerting to me that it gets my mojo back.

    • I felt so lucky that my son was willing to spend a whole week with me, in a place that most boys his age would turn up their noses at. 🙂

      You’re right, Carrie, the simple thought that I don’t have to write is chilling enough to make me stop worrying about the outcome and just get cracking at it.

  2. I’m an even bigger fan of Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Orlando. I could get lost in that magic forever, especially Knockturn Alley. I get chills just thinking about it! Whenever I need that kind of inspiration, I take a little visit in my head. Great post, Kate!

    • We spent a couple of days there, too! While Universal Studios in general doesn’t quite “do it up” the way WDW does, they absolutely nailed it with Harry Potter World. I agree that kind of magic is special too, and it really does the creative self so good doesn’t it?

  3. I’m glad you and your son had such a nice time together, Kate. My family went to Disney World when my sister and I were in high school…needless to say, we were teenagers and didn’t appreciate it as much as a child or adult would. I think it’s changed a lot since we were there.

    • Hey Jill,
      Some aspects of WDW are timeless and have not changed at all. Others, very much so, in order to cater to the ever-changing attention spans of people. I think teens appreciate it if they’d vacationed there as children.

      My husband never went to WDW as a child or a teen. When our kids were toddlers, I insisted we vacation at WDW. He was not impressed; I was so disappointed. (But the kids and I had a blast! 🙂 ). There really is an indescribable magic that hovers throughout the “lands” that would be more appreciated by someone who had spent time there as a child. 🙂

  4. What a fabulous experience that was Kate. I gotta tell you, that pineapple float looked devine! I’ve never been to WDW but I can tell you one thing, if I ever went it would never be in the dead of July lol. I’ve been to Florida many times in the summer when I was a kid. I still remember that heat. 🙂

  5. Kate,

    Great, inspirational post! I grew up watching The Wonderful World of Disney and Disney movies as well. 🙂 I can relate so much to your teen struggles. I, too, was painfully shy and introverted and wrote stories and drew. It was a great place to go to release my imagination, which had no bounds then, as I’m sure yours didn’t either. 🙂

    That pineapple float looks delicious! I bet it was! I’m glad you had a great vacation with your son and that it rejuvenated your creativity and writing. What a joy.

    I’ve not written much fiction the past month. I’ve been concentrating on my college course work and am eying the finish line at the end of October, and then I’ll have time open to me for writing.

    • Hey Dorothy!

      I wish The Wonderful World of Disney was still an ongoing program. I’m nostalgic just thinking about it.

      Disney really helps creative introverts, I think. Not only can we be inspired by storytelling & animation, but also the belief we can do anything if we put our hearts and minds to it. We’re the kind of species that needs that kind of encouragement. 🙂

      Wishing you luck with your college course work. I’m sure you’re eager to get back to writing fiction! 🙂

  6. Dear Kate,
    I loved this piece as it gave me some insight into what makes KJ, my writerly
    muse ,tick. You are always so self-confident when you teach a class or share your writing tips and strategies with us. It’s reassuring to know that you, too, sometimes face the same problems that we all struggle with. I admire your sharing your very personal thoughts and how you translate those thoughts into action. Oh, if I could only be like that. Instead, I work myself into a sulk…and those 4 Cs that you mention seem to slip away. But you’ve inspired me… and I know that my writing has to be an integral part of each day.
    And about summer? I just blinked and August is just a few breaths away.
    Best!
    Nancy

    • Once I get into the zone of jib-jabbing about the writing process I lose all sense of worry and fear. It’s quite strange, really. Took me a long time to get to this place of action, though. I fully believe that the most vulnerable writer needs to write every day, whatever that entails. I don’t think it has to be the same project every day and I don’t think it has to be anything you ever plan to share. Journaling counts. Writing a letter to a distant family member counts. As long as you’re putting your thoughts into written form. That daily practice honors your creativity and sends the message that you care about the job your muse is doing. In return, your muse will continue to provide inspiration. 🙂

  7. As a society, we’ve become very cynical, of late. It’s beautiful and inspiring to hear about this charming getaway you took with your son, Kate. And how lovely that it rejuvenated your writing self, too! It’s funny, how other people’s creativity can spark or rekindle our own. The rides and attractions at WDW have changed over the years, like the updating of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, but I’m sure the singular Disney magic hasn’t.

    Like you, I watched “Wonderful World of…” as a child (I seem to remember it being on either before or after “The Muppet Show”). “Escape to Witch Mountain” in particular stuck with me for many years, and informed a lot of the way I viewed myself and my relationship with my sister. We liked to think we were special, even if we weren’t magical alien kids. 🙂

    I’ve lately enjoyed, in addition to the dedicated time of my train commute, some retreats to the university library to do some editing and rewriting. That’s not quite the same as new writing, I know, but it keeps me in story mode, tweaking the voices for my characters.

    • WDW has had to undergo some changes to meet the demands of current society, but you’re right, the core, the heart, hasn’t changed a bit. I love the addition of Jack Sparrow in the PofC ride, and they cleverly modified it so that the ride itself remained the same. (Although I have to say I like how they did away with the scene where the captured women are for sale and replaced it with a female pirate.:) )

      I’m glad you’ve been able to find some private writing/editing time. I do think when we make our time to write special, we write special things. 🙂

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