Since the Dallas shooting, and now the Nice attack, I have been needing to rely on things that pull me up from the darkness, and shine some light once again inside my goofy old head. One thing that always seems to make things right again is looking back on trips to the Magic Kingdom. Some of the happiest times of my life revolve around family at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in Orlando.
You see, being an Iowa boy, born in the 50’s, raised in the 60’s and early 70’s, I had one of those rustic, bucolic lives that involved hard work, being frugal with money, and (like I told you yesterday) being around a lot of cow poop. A great deal of my life was about what the future held, imagination and possibilities, and The Wonderful World of Disney in color on Grandma Beyer’s RCA color TV every Sunday night. Those Technicolor dreams about things with no cow poop involved came true for the first time when my family went on a summer vacation to Florida and Walt Disney World when I was in high school. Oh, how I loved those E-ticket adventures with the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain! I got to see Country Bears sing and play music on empty moonshine jugs. We used C-tickets for Snow White’s Scary Adventure and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. We saw Mickey’s Cartoon Musical Review. Did you know those last three things no longer exist?
We went back to Walt Disney World when my family was young, the eldest was six, the middle child was a cranky two, and the Princess was not yet born, though already causing my wife discomfort with six months to go before she made her debut. That was the time we learned how much my mother really loved It’s a Small World. We had to take that boat ride so many times that the song still plays relentlessly in my head every time I even start to think about Disney World. We managed to go back to Disney World again when the oldest was a teenager and the other two were primed to be Disney fanatics. That time we learned how slowly the other set of grandparents walked. We also learned that you have to be a master planner to see everything that is good in 5 different theme parks that you just have to check out because, heck, you’ve already mortgaged the future to pay for it.
And we have been to Disneyland in California a couple of times as well. We were there, in fact, when the Anaheim earthquake happened, knocking down a couple of Los Angeles buildings nearby and shutting down several rides in the park while damage checks were made. In fact, it happened during the Star Wars lightsaber battle in Tomorrowland, making us think at the start that it was just a really cool special effect. It also shut down the food vendor before our expensive hamburgers were cooked. That part was not so cool.
You can see now at least part of the reason I am such hopeless Disneyphile. Memories of times spent at Disney parks are the exclamation points on my whole creative life. It influences my artwork and storytelling to a noticeable degree. And it takes my mind off my troubles a bit just to stop and reflect, “Once upon a time I visited the Magic Kingdom.”