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.