Flowers of Disney

Growing up on the Space Coast of Florida near the Port Canaveral home of Disney Cruise Line and just an hour from Walt Disney World, it was probably inevitable I’d become a bit of a Disney fan. Being so close, I’m sure I went to the parks at least a dozen times before I graduated from high school. When I moved away after finishing college, there was at least a dozen year gap before I returned with my six year old son, and could rediscover the parks through his eyes. From the rides, to the parades, to the hidden mickeys to the deep theming, I watched him find joy for himself as I had. Sharing in his experiences I found happiness there too. In high school, I never expected I’d be visiting Disney world as an adult much focusing on the flowers of Disney World.

Since that first return, I’ve been back at least another dozen times with my son. Now he is grown, and I continue visit, but now with my wife. On good days it is a place for us to escape the pressures of daily life. It is somewhere to be present without worrying about what comes next and to feel joy without judgement. However as a survivor of childhood trauma who lives with PTSD, the crowds can overwhelm, the enclosed queues can make me feel trapped, and frustrated parents yelling at their children can trigger me.

Fresh Orchids grace the lobby of the Contemporary Hotel at Walt Disney World.

I’ve found my typical coping techniques can sometimes work in these situations, but not always. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a very specific distraction which I’m currently enjoying. I pay extra attention to the flowers of Disney. I find if I slow down a bit and try to notice, the detailed landscaping becomes more visible. I wander the parks with my camera handy in my backpack looking for flowers, and find they are everywhere.

Snapdragons almost under my feet in the hub as I wait for the Festival of Fantasy parade.

They offer calm in the middle of the maelstrom. They are indifferent to the lives of those around them. They only car about sun, water and soil. For years, I missed the thousands of blooms present in the parks every day. Then I started to look. Now I find planters everywhere full of common varieties – well tended greenery crowned with color.

Impatients covered with dew in the town square.

Sometimes I find something a bit more exotic. In either case, I pull my camera out and search for what catch my eye, for bursts of color which make me feel something. Then I carefully frame and capture them as closely to how I experience them as I can. I soak in the beauty around me which others walking by a few feet away miss. The calm focus helps keep me present.

Hostas along a path outside the entrance of Disney Hollywood Studios

I breathe, I absorb the calm, and feel better, ready for the next thing, able to be fully present. As my collection of photos grows, I’ve wondered – why not share them with others? So here some from my last trip, and hopefully there will be more to come. I want to share both my calm and my joy es expressed by nature’s fireworks close to the ground.

A bed of flowers in the Magic Kingdom.

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