Disney and the Imagineers Bring Us to Tears

Disney and the Imagineers Bring Us to Tears

After writing an article about being brought to tears on the Flight of Passage ride at Walt Disney World and anticipating some “big boys don’t cry” feedback, I was amazed that what I got was exactly the opposite.

Now, of course, admitting to crying on a ride was not easy, especially a Disney one. And, believe me, I was this close (holds fingers up 3.7 millimeters apart) to not doing it. But, of course, upon further reflection, the tears were the most important part of the experience for me.

First, a quick recap

During a recent visit to see our son in Orlando, after watching The Imagineering Story, my wife and I rode Rise of the Resistance for the second time and Flight of Passage for the first time at Walt Disney World.

Rise of the Resistance was just as cool, if not more so, turning me back into a teenager, not only with its amazingly detailed and complex design, but because it really was more of an “experience.” But Flight of Passage did something more, turning me into a five-year-old − as it dropped me suddenly into a grand and glorious journey. Most surprising to me, at one point, my eyes actually brimmed with tears as I was overcome with wonder.

True, honest-to-goodness, kid-on Christmas-morning wonder.

Now, when it happened, though, I must admit that I felt a bit embarrassed, and quickly tried to wipe at my eyes, struggling to get my fingers under the 3-D glasses, even though no one could see or would possibly care. But, after getting so many responses to my article that were filled with similar sentiments, I realized I had nothing to be embarrassed about – and most certainly was not alone in my reaction.

Other voices of wonder and tears

So, with that, here are some of those responses from men and women alike (I’ve slightly edited them for length and clarity – and also removed the emoji hearts, faces and castles to make it safely past my spellchecker):

  • “Flight of Passage makes me cry when I get off. It’s breathtaking!”
  • “I’ve told people (who didn’t ask, btw) that it’s what i would imagine Heaven to be like.”
  • “Made me ‘well up’ just reading that. I really relate.”
  • “We have been visiting Disney World since 1992 (I was 9). We were due to visit this April, but due to COVID-19, we cannot fly (UK). However, this time will be the first time I will be visiting without my parents. That alone is rather emotional for me. I know that I will be able to see in my mind’s eye my dad being carefree and being so immersed in it − unforgettable.”
  • “100% agree and pray that everyone gets the opportunity in life to experience the masterpiece that is Flight of Passage!”
  • “I felt so much the same on Passage. I haven’t gotten to do Rise yet but am sure it’s amazing. I definitely agree that the queue was one of, if not the, best I have ever been in. The ride was absolutely amazing. One of my favorite rides in the whole place, for sure.”
  • “So, this time I will be seeing it through the eyes of my children and experiencing that wonder for myself. I literally cannot wait.”
  • “Omg!! I had tears in Flight of Passage too!!! It hits you with all the power that Disney has!!! They are so incredible at what they do all the time, in every little detail.”
  • “Flight of Passage had me in tears! Loved it!”
  • “Yes!! My thoughts exactly − we had been to Disneyland many times but the first time going to Disney World was absolutely magical for me for all the reasons listed.”
  • “I agree, the Imagineer show is top notch. This last trip we made was my first time to ride Passage and it was truly beautiful.”
  • “Rise of the Resistance is unbelievable. I’m 45 and was transported to the 12-yr-old girl version of myself. Best ride I’ve ever been on in my life and I’m only a halfway Star Wars fan. Completely epic!!”
  • “I’m 72 and looking forward to being 5 again when I ride Flight of Passage!”
  • “Exactly! I did cry after Rise of the Resistance. It was such an Amazing Experience!”
  • “You managed to put words to my speechless reaction to Disney. Thank you!”
  • “I’m a full-grown adult & my daughter always tells me, I act like a kid at Disney! Full from pure excitement & joy the entire time I’m there! My response to her, ‘where else can I act like this?!’”
  • “I had no idea what I was getting on when I rode Flight of Passage two weeks ago. And the tears just kept coming down. It truly was breathtaking.”
  • “Every time I see the castle… tears roll down my face, and I’m 59. Hubby and I arrive there soon, looking forward to those tears and the magic of Disney.”
  • “I cry every time I go on Flight of Passage.”
  • “I felt exactly how you felt on both. I cried on Flight and was grinning ear-to-ear and just amazed. Rise is just amazing. Like you said most complex immersive experience ever.”
  • “Reading your review, I had tears. You captured not only your feelings but feelings of so many… including me. Stay magical!”
  • “I’ve only ridden Passage one time. But I felt like you did. It was… incredible. It’s been over a year since my one ride and I can still capture that feeling in my memory. I can hardly put it into words. I’m looking forward to riding it again and seeing if that wonder and amazement is there waiting for me.”
  • “Hands down the 2 best rides I’ve rode in my whole life.”
  • “Every time I ride Flight of Passage, I cry because I don’t want to return to reality.”
  • “Rise of the Resistance was incredible and so much to take in!”
  • “I cry on Flight of Passage, too! I love those moments of Disney Wonder- it’s what hooked me in. Can’t wait to visit again!”
  • “Wonder & excitement are great words depicting any visit there. Walt used the term ‘suspended disbelief’ and these two experiences epitomize it from arrival and even exit.”
  • “Yes! That feeling of being a kid again is the best!”
  • “My daughter was a cast member at Flight of Passage from January through July of 2019 during her participation in the Disney College Program. Your description brought me back to those special moments of us riding with our daughter and her getting the biggest kick out of seeing it through our eyes. Yep, I cried too!“
  • “This weekend was probably my 5th time riding FOP and I teared up.”
  • “I love your last paragraph about the power of Disney regarding both children and adults. Perfectly stated on why it is so magical and why I love it so much too.”

Not just a song title

Looking back at these responses again also made me realize that, whether it’s a ride, castle, movie, TV or radio show, book, song, or whatever method or medium, the Walt Disney Company and its Imagineers have a way of reminding us that we’re not alone. And that, no matter how different we might feel, in the end, to paraphrase a song you may know, “it’s most certainly a small world after all.”

And that, unlike baseball, there is most definitely crying at Disney.


(I’d highly recommend that anyone who has Disney+ watch The Imagineering Story. It shows just how passionate and talented these people are — and how committed they are to creating moments of wonder for everyone who loves Disney.)

Main photo courtesy of  Erik Mclean on Unsplash


Contact me at james@jameswarda.com and learn more at jameswarda.com.

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