Since January of this year, my articles focused on the “Classic” Disney attractions. Why? because every once in a while I get into the old nostalgia mood. These attractions are what made Disney the greatest entertainment venue, perhaps in all of history. Which made me think…” Why is Disney the foremost “Go-To” vacation spot (Well, spots with all the parts worldwide!). What is it that makes Walt’s vision so prevalent today? Well, this is my take on that elusive question and answer. There is no scientific evidence, nor studies, no way at all to prove or disprove my “Conjecture” But if you think about it, when Walt first proposed his “Mickey Mouse Park” which evolved into Disneyland, he had no scientific studies, evidence or even historic data to fall back on. He relied on his gut feelings, his love of children and childhood, remembering his own. So here are my ramblings…
My fondest memories as a kid were the summer jaunts to the amusement parks, circuses and carnivals. The rides, games and shows were what summer was all about. I could never get enough of them. But when I made my first trip to Walt Disney World in the late ‘70’s, they all faded away into distant memories, for here I had found my nirvana! There was just something about the World, a feeling that cannot be put into mere words, it eclipsed everything else. Disney has always been a part of my life; the Mickey Mouse Club, Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and all those Saturday afternoon cartoon shorts. But that first walk into the Magic Kingdom was a whole new experience.
For all who love Disney, you understand. But try to tell the uninitiated, to explain the magic (No pun intended) it holds for us sometimes can be impossible. Years ago I asked my friend what was so special about the motorcycle he owned; He never stopped talking about it. He looked at me as if I had three heads, and with a haughty tone said…” If I have to explain it to you, you’ll never understand!” I was quite miffed, but he was right, no matter what he said, to me it was just another motorcycle.
A while back, my friends were asking me why I spend so much time at Walt Disney World. “All you do is talk about Disney; go on Disney vacations and cruises, what’s so special about the parks?” Annoyed that no one could understand the magic, I was ready to explain when that old conversation came back… And I finally realized the dilemma my friend was experiencing when he tried to explain his bike to me. It’s easy to explain the tangible things…attractions, plays, fireworks. But Disney’s most important attributes are the intangible things; that special feeling you get walking down Main St. USA, or seeing Mickey Mouse and imagining you are his personal pal, or dreaming you are a pirate searching for buried treasure, or being a real Princess, at least for a little while!
The feeling of being a kid again, to imagine and forget the real world, to engage in one’s own fantasy world came straight from the mind of the world’s most creative and imaginative genius, Walt Disney himself. After the success of Mickey Mouse, many children would write in saying they wanted to see where Mickey and the characters lived. In 1948 Walt had planned a small park at his animation studios in Burbank, at first just a place for his employees to take a break, play baseball and relax. But he realized this would be a perfect place for the park the kids wanted to see; where Mickey and his friends lived. He planned on calling it “Mickey Mouse Park”
Although this park was never built, it was the beginning of the magic and wonderment Walt would bring to millions of people around the world, in the form of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and the other Disney parks around the world. There are many “Theme Parks”, Zoos, roller coaster parks and other entertainment venues and they all can be explained by the tangible things, but only Disney garners that special “Intangible” explanation that eludes others. No other place can attract so many millions of fans. There are thousands of blogs, forums, websites and fan activities that are exclusive only to this magical place.
But again, how do you explain it? Many people, like me understood the first time, many people who experience Disney several times, still just think it’s an entertaining place to visit, nothing more. The Disney experience is akin to a child seeing Santa for the first time, or your first true love. For myself, there is nothing quite like walking into the Magic Kingdom, and have all my childhood memories and dreams come to the surface, and be blanketed with a peaceful, contented feeling! Walt was always a “Kid” at heart and his goal was for people to leave the real world behind, and enter a place where you can be anything you want, or do anything you can imagine. Walt Disney created a fantasy world, a place where all adults can become children again, without feeling sheepish, because everyone else is doing the same thing! In fact, I believe Disney is more for adults than kids, because for those of us who truly understand, it is an escape from the realities of life, and a chance to relive simpler, happier times.
This perception of Disney again, is not something that can be explained, or shown to anybody. It is something that is in your heart and mind, something that reaches the inner child in everyone, yearning to get out. Indeed, the more complex life becomes, the more the need for play, imagination and escape. For the fortunate who understand, this place exists at Walt Disney World and its parks around the globe. I hope this clears things up a bit, because “If I have to explain it to you” …