Last night (my birthday no less) was the final performance of one of the most iconic fireworks displays across the Disney theme park universe. Wishes has been enchanting the Magic Kingdom park since 2003 – and me since 2006.
The first time I saw Wishes I was a sour faced teenager who had been dragged on holiday, and therefore away from her friends, by her parents. We’d been to Walt Disney World twice before when I was still a child and this was our first visit for eight years. I took it for granted – oh boy, did I regret it. As soon as we came home my love of Disneyana gripped me and it’s never let go since.
Whilst we were there I purchased the CD soundtrack of Wishes from the Emporium on Main St. This was before the days of YouTube, where you could find the Spaceship Earth soundtrack and any other ride soundtrack you so wished at the touch of a button. It was before you could Bluetooth your phone to your car and play whatever drive time music you pleased. Heck, it was before you had to frantically ensure your phone was in airplane mode throughout your entire holiday for fear of it accidentally connecting to the internet and draining your credit.
So amongst others (Fallout Boys From Under the Cork Tree and the All-American Rejects Move Along to name a few!), the Wishes soundtrack became our driving CD. Even though we were immersed in Disney at every turn, we’d listen to that soundtrack driving to and from the theme parks all the time. Before long I knew every word and whimsy.
As a 14-year-old I try to remember what I must have been wishing for? To go home, maybe? I was probably wishing some lame wish about boys and boyfriends. But maybe it worked – because the next time I came back was in 2009 with my first boyfriend and my parents. It was a holiday before we went off to university. We were going to separate universities, and we were going to break up on his behest (though I didn’t want to). So what was I wishing for then? Probably that he wouldn’t dump me! But that’s a wish I’m glad didn’t come true…
Because the next time I came back was with a degree and a different boyfriend. I’d met Liam during the second year of university. We got together during September 2011 (our first month of third year) and my parents were eager to book an Orlando holiday for the following year. They’d always promised me we’d go back at the end of my degree to celebrate. Over the years I’d pictured different university friends joining me, never really knowing who I’d be going with – in the end I met Liam, and the very first conversation we had was about our love of Orlando, the theme parks, Disney, the fact we’d both been four times before. It was meant to be. He must have thought his luck was in when a month into our relationship I announced my parents were looking to book a holiday to Florida in 2012 and could he please tell me whether he wanted to come so they could book for four instead of three?!
So in 2012, maybe I was wishing that Liam and I would be together forever, and have many magical holidays to Walt Disney World. And that time it must have worked! We were back in 2014, this time our first trip alone! We were masters of our own destiny. That time I’m sure I was wishing hard not to have to go back to work.
In 2015 we packed up our bags and went travelling. But we’re not your average travellers, no sirree. We lugged our bags around North America but before we went home we obviously had to spend seven weeks in our favourite place in the world! We lived like locals – planning each day as it came and doing whatever we wanted with all the time in the world. It wasn’t long into our seven weeks that after a night-time ride on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train Liam ushered me towards Rapunzel’s tower and got down on one knee as the explosions of Wishes started going off around us.
So I guess I didn’t have too much to wish for anymore but in 2016 we were back like the loyal fans we are. We watched Wishes twice and both times we had spectacular views. In previous years we had been disappointed to have our views blocked by kids on shoulders, balloons, and people pushing in front when we’d staked out a spot. But both times on that trip we had perfect views, and though the show was getting somewhat tired, I brought myself the Wishes Pandora charm to commemorate the luck we’d had. But I did ponder when they’d retire the show altogether.
It wasn’t too long after that Disney announced the end of Wishes. It was sad, I am sad – I don’t know how a soundtrack, or a fireworks display for that matter, will ever match up to Wishes. But I’m excited to see and hear. We won’t be back until September 2018 now. We’ll be getting married at our favourite place on earth. And the new fireworks? They’re called Happily Ever After, of course! Thank you Walt Disney World, for making my Wishes come true – I can’t wait for my own Happily Ever After.
Were you sad to say goodbye to Wishes? When’s your next trip?
Find me here!