Standing near the International Food and Wine entrance of the Epcot Theme Park in Orlando Thursday evening, Michael Pearson looked forward to seeing what the attraction was “all about.”
It was Pearson’s first time at a Disney theme park. Meeting Mickey Mouse, watching fireworks explode into the sky at night, and spending hours in line at the Disney empire’s biggest physical stage has become a childhood rite of passage, an almost religious experience.
Except Pearson is 60.
One of his colleagues, he said, was teasing him on the bus ride to Epcot for never having visited a Disney theme park.
“I think it’s just a great place to meet people,” said Parrella-Aureli, just before the IllumiNations: Reflections on Earth light show at Epcot began.
Gin, who produced a few panels for this year’s Excellence in Journalism conference, hopes attendees will not only network and meet new people, but also gain perspectives on different topics of interest, such as the Roanoke shooting on live TV, which left two journalists dead.
“As journalists, we need to talk to each other, and maybe sometimes just commiserate and also learn from each other about those kinds of concerns,” Gin said.
Gin playfully pointed out that she was jealous when Mickey Mouse escorted Victoria Lim, whom she knows, on stage.
“I like Disneyland, I like Disney World,” Gin said. “I like Mickey Mouse.”
Back near the Epcot Theme Park festival entrance, Pearson, a self-described history buff, recalled that the season premiere of the American Experience series on PBS this week profiled Walt Disney in a highly anticipated documentary.
“So I said to my wife, Kelley, I said, ‘man, I can’t believe this is airing this week because I’m gonna go to…’ what’s this place called?”
“Disney World,” the photojournalist helped out.
“Disney World,” Pearson repeated.
Video by Matthew Criswell; reporting by Tina Nazerian.