I spent most of the last week in Orlando*, having a vacation with the Husband. As it was both of our first time in the place, we did a bunch of the usual touristy stuff. Theme parks and shopping, mostly. And lying by the pool in our swim suits, smiling every time we remembered the snow on the ground at home.**
Our personal favourite, and the one that was on our list over all the Disney stuff, was Universal Islands of Adventure. For career nerds like us, this was awesome. We drank Butterbeer, screamed at the T-rex, and got our pictures taken with Marvel villains***. It was a great day.
One of the best parts was wandering through the Harry Potter section, where they built a nice chunk of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts itself. It’s very impressive, though crowded. I’ll admit that I daydreamed about writing something that would inspire such a real-world homage. What writer wouldn’t love that? Well, maybe some of the literary crew, but let’s face it: no one will ever make a Gravity’s Rainbow theme park.
Everywhere I went in that part, I saw kids—and adults, too, though it was less common there—who looked bloody awestruck.**** They were amazed to just be there, to be in a place that they’d imagined so many times. A place that, until quite recently, existed only inside the pages of a book and their own heads. There was a great sense of wonder about those people.
And, on the other hand, there were people who looked fucking bored. Teenagers, mostly, and of that particular age where showing enthusiasm for anything is second only to wearing last year’s hideous trend in the hierarchy of social ridicule. They’d seen stuff like this before. They were jaded, cynical. Honestly, they looked like they’re rather be elsewhere.
These were the two sides of the park: wonder and cynicism. And, given the choice, I’ll take wonder any day. It’s the font of all creativity, because what person would ever undertake to create anything without it? It’s the first step that takes you into the long fall from the cliff.
Don’t get me wrong: the theme parks are very clear that they exist only to part you from your wallet. The fact that every ride exits through a gift shop reinforces this, as do the prices for just about everything. But that didn’t matter to some people. All that mattered was that their imagination had come to life around them, and they were happy. They had chosen wonder. And that’s the same wonder you can get from a good book, or a beautiful view, or an amazing piece of machinery.
Cynicism is always easier than wonder. But wonder makes the world awesome again, no matter how old you are. And who doesn’t want more of that in their life?
*Yes, I was away again. My ninja posting skills fool all.
**Which I just got in from shovelling. On the upside, it was a good way to burn off some of the junk I ate on vacation.
***Yes, just villains, though there were heroes about. Up to you what you want to read into that.
****All right, we were those people, too. The ones giggling and pointing at things and just watching.