In 2002, when my son was about three years old we took a trip to Walt Disney World. My son was very shy and if a stranger approached him he would hide behind his mother or me and cling to us for dear life. My wife and I were very concerned about that behavior and had been talking about what, if anything, we should do about it. On this particular day we were in Epcot and had been on our feet most of the day. We wanted to take a break from walking and found a nice shady spot near a patch of lawn and sat down. My son wanted a few minutes of freedom without being in a stroller or carried and to just run around on the grass, which he did. These were the months shortly after the attacks of September 11, and Disney, as most places had heightened security in the park.
Not long after we sat down one of the security guards strolled by and started walking toward us. I was concerned that we might be in an area where we shouldn’t be and he was going to ask us to move on. At the same time my son came over to get a drink of water and the security guard walked over to say hello. True to form my son began clinging to my leg and the officer–obviously well trained–knew to give him his space. He asked if we were having a good time and if we’d tried Test Track yet. We said yes, then he did something I was shocked to see…he did a magic trick.
He reached in his pocket and pulled out a little red ball and made it disappear. My son thought that was the coolest thing…and that is when the real magic happened. My son let go of my leg and started asking about how he did the trick (a good magician never tells his secrets). The two talked for 5 minutes or so while my wife and I sat there with our jaw in our laps. We’d NEVER seen our boy take to a totally new person like that. After a few minutes the security guard had to continue his ‘beat,’ but he asked my son one more question. He asked if he’d seen Mickey yet, my son said no, so the guard said “We’ll have to fix that.” He reached into his pocket again and pulled out a roll of stickers and took a Mickey sticker off and handed it to my son. Then he pulled out a whole arm’s length of stickers and folded them neatly and gave those to my son. He said “Now you’ve got Mickey with you when ever you want him.” And with that he continued his beat.
My son was smiling from ear to ear and my wife and I were wiping tears from our eyes. After that day my son didn’t cling to us nearly as much as he did before and eventually he stopped all together. That was the first of many magical moments at Walt Disney World, and many more to come. My son is 16 now and he still has the arm’s length of Mickey stickers.
- Jeffrey Lewis, 44, Northville, MI