What is the definition of a hug? I found three, but the first one, which is my favorite, is this: to clasp tightly in the arms, esp. with affection; embrace. It got me thinking how MUCH I like to hug while I am in Walt Disney World… but do you or I realize how much power a hug has? Join me as we explore this well known affection action.
A Christmas of a different kind, 1991, my parents announce that we FINALLY get to go to WDW!!! I am super excited, knowing I have waited my entire childhood to walk those famous steps down Main Street, U.S.A. I was 17, but you would think I was 7. The whole REASON you go to WDW is to see Mickey himself, right? You have to meet him at least once! So I headed to his house, then his area to meet him… all by myself. My parents weren’t interested, nor my brother, so I made the journey on my own. I was so nervous, I know, it’s just Mickey… but I was on his turf and I wanted to get the best pic possible. I smiled, told him how happy I was to meet him finally, and I was overjoyed with that first Mickey hug ever. The power of this hug would create the excitement in me to want to come back someday with my family… and I would.
June 1995… Craig and I head to Walt Disney World for the first time together. Craig has never been, and I am nervous if he will truly like it or not. Magic Kingdom was beautiful as always, but we had to meet the Mouse himself to get the entire experience. Walking into Mickey’s dressing room, I was giddy as all get up while Craig was being the guy he was. But, the minute Mickey hugged Craig… he did something to Craig that he will never know. That hug would start a chain reaction that would lead us to follow our dreams here in 2011. Just. Wow.
It would be February of 1999 when we would take our first child to Walt Disney World. Kyra had just turned 5 years old, and we were over the moon excited for Kyra to meet her first character. Would she be happy? Would she be scared? We headed to Disney’s MGM Studios for our first park day, and out in the courtyard in front of the Main Gate stood Meeko from Pocahontas. Kyra was very fond of this movie, but yet she seemed a bit hesitant. I mean, Meeko was technically supposed to be the size of a small raccoon… not the size of a full human being… I always wonder why more kids don’t freak out actually. Anyways… Kyra took Meeko’s hand as she stepped towards him, and the MINUTE he hugged her… she had the biggest smile. The power of that hug told Kyra “You are ok, you are safe, and welcome to WDW.” Had that hug not happened, her FIRST Disney character EVER, maybe future interactions wouldn’t have gone as well as they did. Thank you Meeko.
Fast forward to December 2005. Emily falls in love with her Jessie doll, from “Toy Story 2” and has made it her mission for each Disney trip to make something personal for Jessie and give it to her when meeting her. Emily drew a picture of her and Jessie, we framed it, along with a picture of herself in her Jessie costume that Halloween. Jessie was so overjoyed with Emily’s gift, she kept hugging her over and over again. The power of this hug was a clear message to Emily “You are my friend Emily, you will always be my friend, and I love you.”
We had a crazy idea to drive our car down to Florida in October of 2007. We had always driven our roomy mini-van or flown, so a little car with little space had us all a bit nervous. We would make it down just fine, but the close accommodations made getting there that much more sweet. We got out of the car in front of All-Star Movies, and we took our first picture on Disney Property. It was of both girls hugging… so excited and elated to finally be there. This is one of our favorite top 20 Disney pictures of all time- so far. The power of their hug was of “We are here, we made it, and I am so blessed to have made it here with you.”
The Fall of 2008 Craig and I would head back to WDW where we would celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary. After an incredible dinner at the California Grill, we had to literally run to get changed, hit the monorail, run through the Magic Kingdom to find a spot for Wishes. I couldn’t understand for the life of me why we had to get there so fast… my food had barely settled! We are fond of catching Wishes in front of the Pooh ride because the fireworks surround you in this area. Right before Wishes is to begin, my Craig pulls out a ring, a beautiful diamond Mickey ring, with hidden Mickey’s all over it. I won’t repeat what he said because that’s just between him and I, but the hug after that was incredible and magical as the Wishes music began. This hug would strengthen a wounded marriage and give hope to our future.
Last but not least, the power of hugs that I experienced this past trip in November of 2010. The hug from a friend when I finally got to meet her at MCO after a flight I was so nervous about. I was so excited to meet this special gal that I gotten to know over several months, I practically ran her over hugging her- the power of that hug was of pure friendship. I would be at the Magic Kingdom for the next power hug, and it would be the sound of someone saying “Amy Falk Petermann” followed by me screaming “LOU!!” and hugging him. Seeing Lou was like seeing family, a very “Welcome Home” hug. The following hugs from Tim Foster and Scott Otis were of “You are a part of our group, kid!”- and boy, did I feel that way! More hugs would come my last night at DHS, where I would say goodbye to Todd and Cheryl… hugs that had the power to make me feel special.
So as you can see, the power of a hug is not only magical, but it does things to people. You may think that small squeeze is just routine to you, but in other people’s eyes, you may have changed their life in some small or big way. So I encourage you… hug your family and friends as much as you can… you never know what may come of it.
P.S. Enjoy a random montage of more hug pictures below that we have enjoyed.