You thoughtfully and strategically pack your suitcases the night before your departure. Okay, who are you kidding? You go around like a crazy person the morning of the flight throwing clothes in a pile on the bed, saying “This shirt looks clean!”You may be new to Disney World (one visit at age 11, and another as a flight attendant for a brief layover), but you grew up going to Disneyland. Your parents were divorced, and your dad lived in Anaheim. The Disneyland map is permanently encrypted in a special part of your brain called “Need to know forever.” Matterhorn is to the right, New Orleans Square is to the left, eat lunch at the Blue Bayou.
Except that Disney World’s Main Street is the mirror image of Disneyland, and the park has several completely different rides and is somehow missing others (like The Indiana Jones Adventure). You walk into Magic Kingdom with your family and are completely disoriented.One critical difference that you notice right away is the professional photographers lurking everywhere. Of course! Why had you not thought to bring your own personal photographer along on the trip? Obviously, these other vacationers are very smart. And photogenic. And rich. Then you realize that the uniformed photographers are actually Disney employees and that anyone can have their picture taken. The photographer scans your special photo pass (looks like a credit card), takes your family’s photo, and then you can look at it on your computer when you get home from your vacation. Genius! Gone are the days of handing your fragile camera to a French-speaking stranger and praying he doesn’t stick his thumb over the lens.
You vaguely remember that Disney had sent you your own personalized photo card along with your itinerary several weeks ago. But you left it in a very secure place in your hotel room: next to your return airline tickets in the wall safe—there are sure to be lots of photo opportunities in there. Not to fear, though, you ask the photographer if there is anything that can be done (short of returning to the hotel room to retrieve it), and he assures you that you can combine a new photo card with your preregistered card. You are good to go! You can now have photos taken in front of the castle, like your own personal backdrop.You decide to make the photographer work hard. You posing on the left, okay now The Husband on the left. You in front, The Husband with his arm around you. Oops, you blinked, please take another one. And maybe you should probably get at least one photo with the kids in it.
After about one thousand photos, give or take, you decide to go on your first ride: Splash Mountain. And guess what: since it is hard to take a picture of yourself screaming in terror as you barrel down a water track at a physically impossible 90 degree angle, the thoughtful folks at Disney take on for you. At the scariest moment of the ride when you need your wits about you most, a neon-bright flashbulb goes off in your face, and then when you get off the ride, you get to see how silly you look. Some people even buy the photo. Others stand there with their iPhones taking a photo of the photo.And you stand in lines to go on more rides. You eat ice-cream sandwiches shaped like Mickey Mouse. You find a great spot on the bridge to watch fireworks. You overhear your younger son say to the older one, “I love this day.” And you realize that you are permanently encrypting memories in the section of their brains called “Need to know forever.”
You don’t need a camera for that.