Dec 16, 2011

This Happy Place

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"You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world but it takes people to make the dream reality." ~ Walt Disney

I hear a lot of people say that Disneyland has lost its magic for them, or that because of x, y or z change it isn't magical any longer. I've heard people mention the behavior of someone else as destroying the magic as well. Is the magic really Disneyland's though?

I've thought quite a lot about this over the years. So many people believe that Disneyland is imbued with this ethereal magic that makes them happy or feel peaceful. I actually disagree with that. As Walt said on a number of occasions, Disneyland is just the stage. It is just facades and buildings and mechanical components. Set dressing. It is made from the same materials any old house is. Wood, bricks, fiberglass, mortar. None of these have any magical quality to them. It isn't in the painting, or the landscaping either.

The opening quote from Walt might lead you to believe that it must be the Cast Members, the people of Disneyland who make it magical. Again, I don't think they are where the magic is either. I also don't think that is what Walt meant by people.

I believe that the Disneyland Magic actually lives in each one of us, the park guests. We are what bring the magic to the park with us. It isn't in the park. Take away the guests and all you have is an empty shell of fake things made to look real. One of Walt's favorite stories was Peter Pan. Peter was the boy who never grew up, who always held onto his childlike innocence and wonder. In many ways, this was Walt. He saw the world through childlike eyes. The world was full of wonderful things to be curious about and to explore. You can see it in his eyes and his grin. He built Disneyland as a giant sandbox. A place for him to play. Disneyland was designed from the very start where that spirit of innocence and curiosity and awe could come and thrive. That spirit, that feeling, is in all of us. Sadly, most of us grow up and leave the nursery. We forget how to see the world that way, repress those childlike emotions and urges.

When we go to Disneyland though, we are in a place where it is safe to let that inner child out. You can let yourself believe you are flying over London in a pirate ship, or that you are deep in the heart of the Jungle. Pirates are real and a ghost may actually follow you home. That wide-eyed excitement and very simple, easy joy just come gushing out of people when they are there.

Walt, and J.M. Barrie both recognized the difference between being childlike and being childish. Walt built us a place where being childlike is encouraged, but in the end it is still just a stage. He knew that no matter how incredible a job he did making it without the inner child of the guests, it was just a stage without a play.

So if you're not quite feeling the magic like you used to, maybe it's time to let go a little and have a crazy adventure. Let the little kid out to play. Go and slay a dragon, discover treasure, and find your laughing place.

Dec 15, 2011

Jolly Holiday

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A charming name for the new bakery coming to The Hub area at Disneyland. Its theme will be based on Mary Poppins. This, apparently, is one of the signs of the apocalypse. Who knew, right?

Complaints range from Mary Poppins having nothing to do with Main Street to it being yet another character based thing to Mary Poppins flies and is magical and belongs in Fantasyland. I've even seen complete misunderstandings of what the name "Jolly Holiday" refers to.

Let's be perfectly frank and honest here. This is not the first reference to London to take up residence on Main Street. Pongo is apparently the mascot of the Main Street Firehouse, and 101 Dalmatians took place in London in the 1950s. This is a far more egregious slight to theme than Mary Poppins. The Disney Poppins is from 1910, the same era as Main Street. It was very much the fashion to copy London in those days. There was much travel (cruise ships) between America and England as well.

Jolly Holiday has been misinterpreted to have something to do with Christmas. Nope, it's British English for a happy vacation. Holidays in England are vacations here.

As for being character based, who really cares? Given the high traffic nature of the bakery, it's highly unlikely that it will become a character meet-n-greet location. As for theme, there will more than likely be only a handful of references to Mary. A portrait, some knick-knacks and the weather vane. It will be subtle, not in your face. This is not an attempt to bring Mary into Main Street. She's already been there for years. This is just a bakery, and Mary Poppins provided a cute theme that worked within the area.

To be perfectly honest, it isn't really Main Street even. It's the Hub. This area is a confluence of all the themes. They kind of join and mash together here which only further allows for the whimsy and magic of Mary Poppins to join with Main Street.

This is not corporate branding or trying to shove a character down our throats. This is not the erosion of the company and name Walt built. Walt broke theme as well, and not just for monetary constraints. He did it because it worked better. He was not building historically accurate places, but idealized, dream like versions of them. The best bits and nothing else. Your happy fuzzy memories. That allowed him leeway on theme in the broader lands while he could still be very accurate in small details like trim, and architecture. This allowed him to create a place that felt real and recognizable while still being able to have it his way.

I think Mary Poppins belongs in the Hub Area. It will look splendid and be a very popular, great location.

Dec 6, 2011

Pixar Goes Where No Man Has Gone Before!

That's right, the geniuses at Pixar are, for the first time ever, exposing the inner workings of the mind of a girl. The film is untitled as of yet, but it is being helmed by Pete Docter, the guy behind Monsters, Inc. and Up.

Not a lot of info on this yet, but for a brief concept description, head over to