Just Keep Swimming: AutismWonderland Goes to Walt Disney World (Part 3)
It should be every child's dream to visit Walt Disney World. Like in that Disney "Let the Memories Begin" commercial where all the kids are super excited: screaming, jumping up and down, giggling and short of breath. The happy music is playing in the background and the parents become equally excited at their child's reaction.
I'd be lying if I said, I didn't want that same reaction. That I wanted to The Boy to jump up and down. To throw his little arms around us and tell us he loved us and that he was really happy.
At Epcot about to get on the Nemo ride
We didn't get that.
What we got was a lot of crying, whining and "It's time to go back to car." The Boy was not impressed. In fact, all he wanted was to go back to the Nickelodeon Hotel and swim in the pool. But I was determined. We were going to see Disney, whether he liked it or not.
The first park we visited was Epcot. He sort of liked it. After a few hours of rides and attractions, we went back to the hotel for a few hours in the pool. When we returned to Epcot late in the afternoon, he cried. From the parking lot all the way to China! And after we had dinner and an ice cream he was fine. I cut him some slack - it was Epcot, after all. I assumed he would have a change of heart walking into The Magic Kingdom.
At the Magic Kingdom
But I was wrong. Even though he loved the monorail leading into The Magic Kingdom. But the actual park? Not so much. Sure we rode the Toy Story rides and It's a Small World and the Aladdin Flying Carpets. Oh and the Teacups - he LOVED the teacups! But he didn't really care about meeting Mickey or Minnie, Woody or Buzz Lightyear (and he loves Toy Story) and he certainly didn't care about getting their autographs. And while The Boy didn't whine or cry - he still asked to go back to the hotel after every ride. (It's the similar story for Animal Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios.)
Overall, I guess, The Boy liked Walt Disney World - some parts at least. Sure there were moments that were absolutely priceless. Moments when I caught him smiling or staring with amazement. But I got the sense that he could take it or leave it. Like Disney was no big deal. And that I was giving it more importance than what it deserved.
It was more my dream of taking The Boy to Disney. (And if I'm really honest, my own unfulfilled childhood dream.) Not his.
All The Boy wanted to do was swim. When he saw the pool and the water slide at the Nickelodeon hotel - that's the moment that was commercial worthy. So the next time - because there will be a next time - we go to Walt Disney World. We'll spend more time at the pool and less time at the parks. Or we'll have a happy compromise and do the Disney water parks.