May 10, 2009

Dreams do come true, but sometimes it takes a while

1983 was a fantastic year to be a new Disneyland Cast Member.

The drawbridge in front of Sleeping Beauty castle was raised for the first time since 1955 while the new Fantasyland was being built. It made working at the Park feel like being part of the original cast.

I remember stepping across the bridge for the first time into the new "world of imagination, hopes, and dreams" at the Cast Premiere. Twenty-six years and a couple of weeks ago, I was looking forward to that wonderful evening.

I look back on the old Fantasyland now as a little bit of a letdown, the most "carnival" part of Disneyland. As a kid, of course, I enjoyed it tremendously. Now that I appreciate why I feel the way I do about the old Magic Kingdom, though, I realize that the area was always far less than what it should have been.

Still, it had a marvelous innocence. While it looked a lot like a fair or amusement part with typical funhouse dark rides, kind of like Pleasure Island, it never felt dark. Plus, it had Welches grape juice, which I can still taste.

If I had a cup of that juice right now, I would raise it to the Imagineers who brought Walt Disney's Fantasyland to the life it was always supposed to have. Their work represents perfectly how Disneyland should evolve without losing any part of its unique identity.

If we wait another twenty-six years, perhaps we'll yet see Tomorrowland recreated in that spirit. Imagine Wendy as a Disney decisionmaker looking at the last two-and-a-half decades. "Let's all try, just once more," she'd say. And we'd fly on a magic Skyway back to a Park that would have come forward to become the Disneyland it could have been, just like it did in the new Fantasyland.


TokyoMagic! said...

I remember the opening day very well and I still have my button too! All the newspaper ads had listed Saturday as the "official" opening day, but it turned out that the dedication ceremony and opening were going to be held a few days earlier and that they weren't doing anything special on that Saturday. My friend and I found out about this and went down there that day. Not only did we get to see Annette Funicello, but we also got in some camera shots for, "Two On The Town" which was covering the opening. Great memories....I only wish they had found a way to keep or rebuild Captain Hook's pirate ship and Skull Rock!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Wonderful post, the '83 Fantasyland upgrade still stands out as the goal post for all other upgrade/updates. Unfortunately, that goal has not been met again! The '83 Fantasyland still looks fresh today, pretty amazing. TM; I loved "Two on the Town"!!!! and don't get me started on the pirate ship/skull rock removal! (link)

DIsney On Parole said...

So True!
The upgrades made to Fantasyland were great! It's just a shame that when it came to Tomorrowland...
It was such a let down!