With tears of joy, Disney Enchantment brought a flood of unexpected emotions


Ian Mahoney

Cinderella’s Castle in all its glory during the light show Disney Enchantment

Weaving through numerous bags and backpacks, I was anything but thrilled. Instead, I was consumed with my self-regarding desire to eat, sleep, and take a shower all at the same time. 

In the moment, I was too overwhelmed with my tired and crabby mindset to appreciate the excitement of my peers. I didn’t care about what angle we saw the Disney Enchantment light show, and it didn’t seem worth the risk of suffocating in the sea of people to have an “optimal” viewing location. 

But suddenly, the lights started to rise along the castle and just like the fireworks, my heart burst. Lyrics about finding the magic within yourself—a song I usually would have cringed at—surprisingly had me entranced. I was transported back to the events of that day: starting and ending with the epic Space Mountain rollercoaster and marching down Main Street, performing in front of hundreds of people. 

All at once, tears began to spill over. The day truly had been magical, and while I had been to Magic Kingdom before, the experience was completely fresh and exciting with the new people I brought along with me. 

Just when I thought I had composed myself, the Disney light show plucked at my heartstrings once again—compiling a medley of the most climatic Disney movie moments and bringing me back to my childhood. 

It felt like the final scene in Inside Out when both Joy and Sadness press the emotion button at the same time—I was all at once submerged in a bubble of innocent euphoria.”

— Lauren Brace

I clearly envisioned a smaller, more innocent version of myself looking up at the castle in awe as I rode on one of my parent’s shoulders. While I wasn’t wearing the same mickey ears as my five and ten-year-old selves, the high school junior that I am today felt like that little girl again, enchanted by the fantastic show.

When a toddler shouted out a character’s name in excitement as they appeared on the projection, their adorable giggle broke the dam of tears and reminiscence. I was flooded with my childhood Disney joys and the pure happiness of belting songs with my family. 

Next, “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid filled the park, transporting me back again to a memory from my younger self who waited for hours in line at Disney World to see her favorite princess. Just thinking about that wholesome moment made me swell with blissful remembrance.

It felt like the final scene in Inside Out when both Joy and Sadness press the emotion button at the same time—I was all at once submerged in a bubble of innocent euphoria.

I had expected the Disney Castle light show to express brief periods of joy until the end; however, the next segment of the projection acknowledged that everything can’t always be sparkles and glitter. Grief, sadness, and loss are equally important emotions that constantly surround us. 

The people around me shifted as “Know Who You Are” from Moana weaved its way into the hearts of the audience as they all turned to one another and embraced. The grand spectacle reminded me that while I may be small, these emotions matter. The harsh reality of our lives pushes us to rely on those we love in difficult times. 

To top the fantastical experience off, Tinker Bell appeared in a splash of pixie dust at the tip of the castle. Of course, I expected this to happen, but my childhood dreams came back for their final bow. I reminisced over the endless stream of Disney movies that my sister Tara and I watched on car rides. Every time the famous fairy appeared on screen, we would together shout “Tinker Bell!” for no other reason than to express our magical excitement. 

I applaud Disney for creating such an all-encompassing presentation that left me bawling with the widest range of emotions I have ever experienced in fifteen minutes. Thank you to the Disney Enchantment light show for making me cry for the joys of being a kid and growing up. 

Considering the high bar I set for the show, I was impressed to say that my expectations were exceeded. The depth, complexity, and creativity of the experience were completely top-notch. I am so grateful for my friends who forced my tired feet to push through the crowd for an incredible viewing spot. This show proved to be one of my favorite moments of the entire trip.