MJ Meets: A Fond Farewell For ‘Wishes’
By Mollie Jo Swendrowski
Hi, I’m Mollie, I am addicted to Disney, and this is the story (that, of course, features back stories because that’s how I tell stories) of the time that I booked a trip to Florida to say goodbye to a fireworks show.
My addiction started at a very young age. I am an only child raised in the Disney Renaissance who spent countless hours growing up watching what are now classics like “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, and “The Lion King”.
Like most children I fantasized about going to Walt Disney World, meeting Mickey Mouse and his pals, and being immersed in the stories I loved. I was never able to go as a child because I was kept locked in a tower until I was 18 and escaped with the help of charming thief....wait…..
Wrong story, sorry.
...Growing up I was incredibly fortunate to have had a cottage on Hess Lake for as long as I can remember. I would not trade the memories I have there for anything, and I am still lucky enough to call the lake home since we moved before I started high school. But because of the cottage my parents and I never really did “vacations” aside from coming up north. Again, not even close to a complaint.
So when in the midst of my junior year of high school my mother said to me, “We are finally going on a Spring Break trip this year and we are going to Disney World”, I had zero arguments (probably a first for 16 year old me talking with my mother).
That trip was pure magic. Experiencing all the attractions and seeing everything for the first time was actually a dream come true. I remember seeing fireworks at Epcot, but I do not remember the Magic Kingdom fireworks, which are actually the basis of this story. I fell in love with Walt Disney World on that trip and have never looked back. I remember talking to a Cast Member at one point and after we walked away my mother said to me, “You’re going to work here someday, aren’t you?” It was less a question and more a statement, and she was right.
Fast forward to the middle of my freshman year at GRCC, when I was directionless in a career path and scholarship money was running out. On a whim I applied for the Disney College Program, was accepted for Food and Beverage, and almost didn’t go. At Easter that year one uncle was chanting “We want the discounts!”, while my godfather took me by the shoulders and all but shook me saying I would be throwing away the greatest opportunity in the world. I accepted and moved to Florida (for the first time) in August 2008.
This is when I remember seeing “Wishes-A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams” for the first time. I was placed in an apartment with five other girls and to “bond” we decided to head to Magic Kingdom with our cool Disney ID cards and watch Wishes. I vividly remember one of my roommates exclaiming that a woman near us had made a shirt with lyrics from the show on it and thinking how impressive it was that she had the show memorized, not knowing I would reach that point. Watching that show together truly did bond us all from that point forward, and almost 8 years later we are still friends and keep in touch.
After that night Wishes became one of those random “Hey we’re bored, let’s go watch fireworks!” events. (One of the perks of being a Cast Member for Disney is the ability to go to the theme parks for free whenever you want. Anyone who has worked for Disney and tells you that this is NOT cool is lying because it is the absolute coolest, and I tell you this with no shame of sounding nerdy.) It wasn’t long before I had the entire show memorized word for word and could conduct the fireworks.
When I moved home after that internship I knew I had to go back to live and work in the most magical place on earth. I missed the magic, and took at least six trips between the fall of 2009 and winter of 2013, with each one ending by watching Wishes. I did move back to Florida (it didn’t work out for many reasons), and going to see Wishes regularly still never got old to me.
Hearing Jiminy Cricket narrate a story about dreams coming true never got boring. Tinkerbell flying from the castle never failed to be thrilling. I never got less giddy when Cinderella, Snow White, and Ariel told us of their wishes to go to the ball, to meet a prince, and to be part of our world. When Peter Pan chimes in wishing that we never had to grow up, and Pinocchio wishes to be a real boy, and Aladdin wishes for the Genie’s freedom I would get choked up. When the Evil Queen’s voice enters in and you think all hope is lost for a happy ending, Jiminy and the Blue Fairy remind us that “just when things look bad, fate steps in to see you through”.
I have watched Wishes with family members, friends who are family, and two different boyfriends. I have watched it with people who, like me, also have it memorized, and with people who were viewing it for the first time. I have watched Wishes alone. I have watched it standing guard in front of Cinderella Castle while being paid. I have watched it standing on Main Street USA, behind the castle, from the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, from the beaches of the surrounding resorts, and through car windows driving down the road. It never got less inspiring or less magical.
The amount of fireworks photos I have is no doubt excessive. But on the last night watching Wishes, I didn't take any photos. Instead I took it all in: every bit of song, every starburst through the sky. I held my friend's hand and tears fell, but not from sadness. The tears were all happy ones from the memories I associate with that show.
It might seem silly to you that I took a trip to Disney for a weekend to say goodbye to a fireworks show, and that’s fine. It may sound silly that this fireworks show saw me through immense joy and crippling heartbreak, but it did. May 12 ushers in a new fireworks spectacular at Magic Kingdom, “Happily Ever After”, and I am excited for all of the new memories that will be made. But I’ll never forget Wishes. It’s like Jiminy Cricket says, “And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside of you. 'Cause that my friends is where the magic lives.”
Features and Fun
Concerts, Plays, Happenings, Local Recipes, Gardening, Entertainment, Charities, Fundraisers, upcoming events, Theater, Activities, Tech, and much more.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
- Eric Qualman