I didn’t visit Walt Disney World until I was 29 years old. My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, invited me to go on her family vacation, even though we were only dating for one month. It was a little awkward at first, but her family soon found out I was indeed a child at heart (perhaps it was my overalls).
I immediately bought a Mickey Mouse watch and sunk right into the Disney culture. It truly was like stepping into a movie. What made the biggest impression was how deeply the children believed that the characters were real. It choked me up, actually. How precious was their innocence.
Ever since that vacation in 1999, I still take a trip to Disney World every few years with my in-laws. My wife was pregnant when we went in 2004 and felt our baby’s first kick. We had a second child and returned in 2009 with when our girls were two and three years old. I brought a video camera because I wanted to capture the innocence of my girls, as I had witnessed in those other children years before.
One of the things that separates Walt Disney World from other amusement parks is the way they use music throughout the different themed lands. Wherever you are in the park, happy music is always around you and it fades in and out of different genres and styles as you move between the lands. There’s never a discordant mix. They also mix the sound of the parades and events in proportion to where you are from those events. For example, if a parade passes nearby, the background music is subsequently turned off. If you decide to walk away from the parade, the parade audio fades and background music fitting your location fades in. This ingenious sound design is is the secret why Disney World is the happiest place on earth. I knew then and there that I should employ the same sound design with my family video.
We all know how difficult it can be to sit through boring raw video footage of a vacation, so it was important for me that the documentary of my children’s first trip was fun to watch. I removed all the crying and waiting in long lines! This 2009 video is the result of that trip and, as of this writing, has 313,515 views, the most of any of my YouTube videos.
Some viewers commented on how they will never be able to go to Disney World and appreciated the glimpse into what it would be like. One mother in Australia said that she used my video to get her daughter excited about their upcoming trip. Some even used it to watch as a lullaby for their children!
In 2012, we went again. You will see that the girls got older and we introduced their little cousin, Jackson, to the video. We were happy that they both still enjoyed the magic. Their sense of innocence was still apparent as we visited all the characters and experienced the parks. I was inspired to make the 2012 video due to the large amount of views on the 2009 video. I felt like I was on a mission to show the Disney magic to those who had never been, or may never get, to Disney World. I edited for hours with new music, concentrating on showing a non-stop flow of Disney magic.
We took our most recent trip in January of 2015. Sometimes it feels good not to have to carry a camera with you, but I had subscribers and family expecting another video. So, I added a GoPro to the production, and with the help of my sister-in-law, I was given all new music for the 2015 video.
I, once again, set to work to edit as usual, but something was different this time. We see their new cousin, Mason, in the video, and my girls are now holding him, instead of being the ones held. I also noticed that the child-like innocence that my girls possessed during the last two trips was not as prevalent. I couldn’t help but notice that over the years, these videos not only captured the magic of Disney World, but it also documented the growth of my family. At 6:35, the 2015 video shows my 10 year-old looking into Minnie Mouse’s mouth, attempting to see the cast member inside. My girls were almost 9 and 10 years old at this point, and it was apparent that they no longer believed that the characters were real.
When did that happen? When did she come to realize the mundane and lose the magic? This saddened me. Where was my baby (at 15:37 on the 2009 video) who looked at Minnie admiringly and believed? I knew where. She grew up. Why was I sad? That’s what we want for our kids, right? Wouldn’t I be a bit worried if, at ten, Isabella still thought that Minnie Mouse was real? What I came to realize is that I was sad because she grew up so fast…too fast.
I continued editing 2015 when it suddenly hit me. I could go back in time an watch it again! I still have the 2009 and 2012 videos to re-watch! Technology allows us to quickly capture moments in time, which because of time, become precious keepsakes. That’s the treasure I found. While editing the first video in 2009, it didn’t occur to me that experiencing my children’s innocence again would be such a treasure. I didn’t realize how precious that footage would be years later. I am so glad that I took the time and put forth the effort to look through each frame of footage and immortalize those moments.
I now see that, although my kids are older, it doesn’t mean we stopped making treasured moments. We’re still making moments – different kinds of moments that will become treasures in the future. As nostalgic as I am for my 2 and 3 year-olds, this process had made me realize to take stock in the current 9 and 10 year-old moments. Soon, we will be making tween and teen moments, then young-adult moments. This means that right now is awesome and I need to stop and fully experience these current moments with my children. In Stephen Sondheim’s words from Into the Woods, “Best to take the moment present as a present for the moment”.
The next time you wonder if you should bring the camera, remember the hidden treasure in the moments.