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Andrea's column: Magical music

My preferred vacation spot has always been Florida's Disney World. I know, I know: You're going to tell me it can't compare to France, Italy or Hawaii. Maybe not, but I loved the rides, restaurants, parades and the story book characters who happily posed for pictures.

My last trip to the Magic Kingdom was 17 years ago. I'm sure many attractions have been added since then but no matter how exciting or fun they might be, my favorite would still be the one with the small wooden dolls representing children from around the world. It's a Small World.

The first time I encountered the ride was in 1970. My then-husband and I visited relatives in California and took our tots to Disneyland. I had goose bumps as our boat made its way through the underground tunnel and we were greeted by the animated little ones.

Each segment represents a different country. The dolls, dressed in the costumes of their land, sang "It's a small world," in their native tongue. At the end, dolls from around the globe, each wearing white, sang the song together in English. We sang along.

Eleven years later, on vacation in Florida, we were thrilled to find they had replicated the attraction in the Sunshine State. Again, we sang, "It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small, small world."

The lyrics have been running through my head lately. Not because I've been thinking of the Fantasyland ride but because the truth of the words has been proved twice in recent weeks.

The first time was a couple of days after my initial visit to a new dental clinic. The decision to leave my former dentist, a man I had entrusted with my teeth for over 25 years, had been gut-wrenching. But the drive to his office could take an hour and he wasn't in my dental insurance network.

Everyone at the new facility turned out to be as nice as could be. The dentist made me laugh and he took care of a small cavity without Novocain or a drill. To top it off, I learned the hygienist is my son-in-law's cousin. "It's a small world," I told my husband as I began to hum the song that touts that very idea.

The second "small world" incident was the result of an article on meditation that appeared in the "Star Tribune" last week. I had hoped to have a meeting I'm planning for September focus on the practice, so I phoned a place mentioned in the story.

The call resulted in the contact information of a local teacher who agreed to do a presentation and told me of her journey to mindfulness. Something she said sounded familiar and made me think we had attended the same grade school. I asked if she was so-and-so, using what I thought might be her maiden name. She was. I told her my name, using my childhood moniker.

"It's a small world," she said. I agreed, which cued the words to the song to replay in my head for two days.

I've returned to Disney World four times with my present hubby; the first visit was on our honeymoon. We never tired of the ride with the charming audio-animatronic dolls from around the world. Just as I will never tire of the words to their song. No matter what the language, they remind us we are all closer to one another than we think.