Cinderella's castle is as I imagined. The silver is set. The tables and furniture of dark wood. The coats of arms hang proudly from the perimeter of the dining room and the light streams brightly through stained glass. The familiar 'magic' of Disney seems to float across the air with the melody sung by our dinner hostess, the fairy godmother and accompanying mice. I chew my prime rib slowly, enjoying a break from the typical theme park food, anticipating my poached pear for dessert. I look across the table to a pile of blond curls laying on the table. Somewhere underneath lies the face of my daughter, now at rest after 2 days of theme park fatigue. She held out as long as she could. It appears the intense early summer heat, dehydration, and poor nutritional content offered by the park restaurants have led to this moment, what was to be the culmination of this once in a lifetime event. 30 minutes ago I was enjoying a respite from the heat, taking in the sights and smells of Disney from the cover of the castle as Arin was confirming our reservations. A slight, cool breeze was a welcomed accompaniment to the shade. Music was playing overhead as I began to study the construction of the castle, marveling at the detail of it. To think that a sketch of a mouse started all of this...suddenly I feel a strong tug at my right hand. Looking down, I see the wide eyes of my daughter, currently a replica of her princess heroine-Cinderella, excitedly trying to get my attention. Looking at her, I smile. Daddy, she urgently implores, 'Will you be my prince!' The numbness in my brain from 2 days at the Magic kingdom was pierced by these words. An awareness that a signpost had just been raised, indicating the presence of something significant crept over me as I took her hands and danced with her in circles beneath the shade of Cinderella's castle. Moving in circular rhythm, our eyes were locked and the joy on her face moved the deepest places of my heart. No one was watching that moment. It was only us. As the waltz was replaced by some goofy cartoon song, I knelt in front of her and whispered, 'Lillian, I will always be your prince.' The glow of her smile indicated a signpost had been raised in her heart as well.
After a week of time-share presentations, thunder mountain and splash mountain (both with Lillian), jungle cruising, meeting princesses, eating turkey legs, etc-my lasting memory from Disney will be this moment at the castle. It is the love between father and child that adds the magic to the Kingdom.