Welcome to the last day of your 2018 adventure.
Today I come to you, my fellow Disney-loving friends, from the future. Well, as close to the future as one can get. See, here in Sydney Australia, we are on UTC+10 time which means the new year has already hit with the bang of hundreds of fireworks booming over Sydney Harbour and all the enthusiasm of Wishes, Fantasmic and Happily Ever After combined. Beaten to the new year only by a few New Zealanders and some of the Pacific Islands, I wanted to be the first to wish you a wonderful new year from the other side of the international date line.
As the final moments of your year tick away, I wanted to have a little chat. New Year’s Eve is a time of much celebration and great reflection. We have all survived another year of our lives. We have endured another twelve months of all things that make life so tumultuous and unpredictable. Some of us have been able to enjoy the parks and resorts that Disney has to offer this year, others have lived vicariously through photos, videos, and reviews until their time to visit edges closer in the months to come. Wherever you are in your Disney countdown, I hope the year in your rear view mirror was one that you can find memories to cherish, lessons to learn from and inspiration to carry on into 2019 for your best year yet.
2018 changed where my life was heading. Having gone through many personal trials in recent years, I had lost a part of who I was along the way. I became so used to focusing on other people’s pain and suffering, trying to improve their lives and help them to survive that I had forgotten about my own. Doing so allowed a darkness to sit quietly in the background and slowly eat away at all the parts of my being that made me who I was. Since I began contributing to the DIS, that part of myself has slowly started to rebuild. My longing to travel and see the world has been renewed and the connection with like-minded Disney-lovers has reignited that spark within my soul that makes me tingle when I think about adventure.
Having children with special needs can be quietly exhausting. Parenting at any level can be exhausting, though when you have children that require a higher level of conscious care than most, the path you take in life can be lonely. Interacting with those of you that share the same struggles and the same goals has given me pause to realize that nothing can hold us back. We are limited only by the things we allow to limit us. Self-imposed barriers that dictate what we can and can’t achieve tend to originate in fear and a lack of support. I want you all to know that the sharing of our experiences, ideas, and thoughts has given me a new outlook — one that isn’t as lonely or restricted as I once felt.
Thank you for reading along through my heartfelt observations, my seemingly pointless sarcastic ramblings, and my genuine encouragement to seek adventure and travel. Exploring the world and making the most out of your days isn’t out of reach. All you need is a bit of determination, a lot of planning and the commitment to sacrifice the little things we spend money on to save for the bigger ones. Understanding the long game is vital and finding a community — like this one — that helps you achieve your goals and motivates you to set your dreams in motion is something we all have to be grateful for.
At a time when I felt 2018 had taken so much from me, this platform introduced me to new friendships that I hope I can have the privilege of holding on to for life. I have met people that inspire me and those that challenge my thoughts and opinions for the better. I have been lucky enough to sit down with those whom I admire and respect, sharing conversations and endless laughs. I am fortunate to have had the year now behind me.
The world has changed, and though we all enjoy complaining about the current political climate or the economic downturn here and there, the truth is, the people of this world are changing for the better. Slowly and quietly, yes, but it is happening. Yesterday my family was watching a documentary on a band my husband likes, and while the lead singer was describing a relationship she had with her ex-girlfriend motivating their new album, I watched my children as they followed along. Their faces remained unchanged. When I was their age, it was common for people to react as though someone had said something shocking, maybe not because you believed it to be shocking in the early ’90s but because it wasn’t commonplace to publicly talk about. But there they were, indifferent to the casual mention of a same-sex relationship.
It made me smile as I can see through them that the future of the world that divides us is less confining with every day. Not because kids today are for or against it, but because they don’t care. Who you love has started to join the ranks of hair color or eye color where it’s no more important than what color your t-shirt is as to how you will be treated. In years past your sexual orientation or skin color once dictated your place in society and now, in many parts of the world, it has become hard to explain to our children how things used to be as they are unable to fathom a world where anyone cared. I know this isn’t the case for all parts of our earth, but I bring you these thoughts as a reminder that change is upon us. The world is starting to understand the error of its ways and shift in a positive move forward and even the smallest of advancements need to be recognized and celebrated. It can be seen in all aspects of our lives, even our Disney-lives with the company taking on more and more opportunities to support and celebrate different ethnicities and traditions.
January 1st, 2019 is a new day. I know because I am living it as you read this. It is bright and full of unharnessed potential. The year ahead can contain anything we want it to, and although life may throw us a curveball or two during that time, we hold the power to catch it, spit on it, and throw it right back. Life isn’t about what comes at you so much as what you do with it. We are in this together, connected by all that we have shared and yet not divided by that we have not. We are different. We come from all over the world, from all different perspectives and lives to join together here because of our shared love for Disney or Universal. Some may think that is a trivial topic to make such life-changing connections based upon, but to those people I say, does it matter?
The year ahead is ours for the taking no matter where in this world you are headed. If we all make an effort to be understanding, kind and open in our thoughts, we have the ability to change the future. Embrace your family, biological or chosen, chase your dreams and start planning your next Disney adventure.
May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Disney days be cool, calm, non-crowded, dry and enjoyable.
I’ll see you on the other side.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.