Forty years ago today Walt Disney World opened it’s gates to the world, creating, arguably, the last “greatest American establishment”. Steve Jobs and Apple (inexplicably entwined with Disney) comes close as a corporation but it’s not exactly selling “memories”, per se.
Covering more land than they know what to do with (27,400 acres of Florida swamp, or 6.5 square miles), Walt Disney was going to create a utopia (or dystopian to some) of modern living, community and recreation, where Disney himself (without any formal urban studies training) would oversee and maintain the city of the future. But after Disney’s death, WDW thankfully became a near-carbon copy of it’s Californian cousin, but with much, much more room. While his vision of a perfect community may never have come to fruition, he did create the means towards a company that brings happiness to millions of people (as well as bitter fodder for millions of others, and in a way, making them happy!).
I’m saying Thank You, Walt Disney World. And I’m sorry it took me so long to get there.
When I was a kid on a Sunday night, I, like SharkBoy, like so many others, would watch the opening of The Wonderful World of Disney on CBC and marvel at the over saturated video of DisneyWorld shown in the titles. Monorail across a beautiful Floridian sunset! Space Mountain! Smiling kids! Cartoons! GARRRAAAHHH!! I had to go!
Later in life, I chose to make animation my career and took to Sheridan College where somehow I shunned all things Disney, thinking it was too structured, schmaltzy and rejected it’s child-like sensibilities, favouring the insane comedy stylings of Warner Brothers (truthfully I still do but in my older age, appreciate the craft of Disney more).
Then I met SharkBoy – and he taught me that loving Disney isn’t a crime, even at 42 years old. He took me to WDW at a point in my life when I needed to believe in dreams and magic and all that shit. I do believe that if I hadn’t experienced Walt Disney World when I did, I might have gone down a really dark path in my life where I think I would have lost my youth. Truth be told, I *am* a 16 year old kid (emotionally) living in a 46 year old crumbling body but I seriously don’t care if people see that part of my personality as a negative.
In the course of writing this little birthday wishes card to WDW I’ve gone back and re-read most of my pre and post Disney blog entries. And I find they make me happy. Go up into the search bar and look for “Disney” and you’ll see it has more written about it here than gay sex, career angst or robots – and I know robots. You’ll see me gush about the anticipation I felt before the trip, the planning of the suitcase, the trolling for facts and for travel tips inside the parks, the scheming of surprising SharkBoy with a trip there without any fore-knowledge, and you’ll see it all made me giddy as a kid in front of a TV on a Sunday night.
I wrote so much about my experiences there that some days when randomly pick up WDW specific travel books, I think to myself, I could do better than that!
And I may…
So I have to thank Walt Disney World for their little resort they have down in Florida. I can’t wait to see you again, old friend!Wearing pictures of each other at 11yrs old. SharkBoy’s Shirt: “I married him!” Mine: A thought bubble of a cheeseburger
Added Bonus: CBC’s video effect happy early 80s intro:
Here’s the CBC’s 1984 groovy disco video version: