I’m spending this morning thinking about the time my son and I were able to ride in the front of the Monorail from Disney’s Transportation & Ticket Center to EPCOT. It’s was as exciting an opportunity as you’d imagine it would be for a 4-year-old boy. As a mother, I look back at it and remember how happy he was, especially when the driver let him sit in the driver’s seat. I remember asking if it was really shutdown when Noah started hitting buttons. Moms worry. But, also: leave it to him to pilot that thing all the way back around without us!
With COVID-19 having such a hold on our world today, my mother’s heart looks back at our Monorail adventure as a reminder of one more thing that once was, but will never be again. In the blink of an eye, an event comes to change things forever, leaving us with the before and the after.
So this trip in 2003 was just about 18 months after 9/11. My son‘s entire world had changed. The future I had imagined for him had changed. There were the days before 9/11 and then there were the days after 9/11. But this afternoon spent riding the Monorail was a break from all of that for me. Family after family will tell you that Disney, for them, is a place where there are no worries. There are no thoughts of the befores and afters. There is only magic in that place, in that time.
There would be six more years of families experiencing a ride in the front of the Walt Disney World Monorail before a tragic accident would change that. Now we are in the days after the Monorail accident. There is a decade of little visitors that don’t know what it is to ride upfront. They don’t know that there was a before and so they don’t miss it. They live in the magic of the things that are in the after.
We have all had our last visit to a Disney park in the before COVID-19. We will go back and it will be different. We don’t know yet what changes there will be. We don’t know what the after will look and feel like. Right now we don’t even know when it will be.
For families, the quarantine is a difficult time in countless ways. There are parents who are mourning the world before the virus and the world they imagined for their children. Probably a world with a lot less hand sanitizer. There will be years of carrying those little bottles around and that will be okay. There will be losses, for some, which will take a long time to feel okay again.
One thing I know in my mother’s heart is that Disney will always be that place where worries can be left behind, where our children will always have their moments like my son found on the Monorail that day. They will find their own magic in that place and in that time.
I spend this Monorail Monday thinking about the many befores and afters and embracing the magic that is found in each of them.
Until you ride the Monorail again, stay well.