At first glance this sight may not seem all that strange. Perhaps not until you realize that this is, in fact, morning. We spent most of the latter part of our extra Disney day in Fantasyland, which was filled with adults. It wasn’t completely devoid of children but there was a different atmosphere with so many of us who refuse to grow up pressing straight on till morning. I must say though that I had a little trouble finding the second star to the right.
We were deeply saddened to learn of Robert Sherman’s passing on Monday. As I sat down tonight to pick out a picture to work on, I knew it had to be It’s a Small World. It’s difficult to imagine a world without the music that Robert and his brother, Richard, made together. Sherman brothers melodies are ubiquitous and rightfully so. I have never heard a song with more ability to linger in one’s head than one of theirs. The music so easy to sing to. The words so poignant and memorable. If you haven’t seen the documentary on the brothers entitled “The Boys”, you should. It gives insight to the lives of Robert and Richard that allows a much greater appreciation, which they are so deserving of. I read once that weeping endures for a night, but joy comes with the morning. While I mourn the loss of a great man, I know it’s because of him and others like him, who generously share their gifts with the world in order to make it a better place, that there is a great big beautiful tomorrow with joy just beyond the horizon.
Here is a quote I really want to share with you from Jeff Sherman, Robert’s son –
“My dad passed away peacefully in London on Monday night. He was an incredible man who loved life and lived it to the fullest. As he often said, he wanted to bring happiness into the world, and unquestionably he succeeded. His love and his prayers, his philosophy and his poetry will live on forever. Forever his songs and his genius will bring hope, joy, and love to this small world.“
Spending the night in Disneyland for the One More Day event was very much a dream come true. It was one night spent at the Park without that feeling of having to leave. Even better than that was seeing the sun come up in a place where magic is made for people, by people. Walt said that it takes people to make the magic happen. That’s truer I think than any of us realize. This special time in Disneyland, when the sun wakes Sleeping Beauty Castle, is a time typically reserved for those very special people who make Disneyland magical. Watching night turn to day. Seeing the sun pour its golden light across Disneyland the way milk falls across cereal before filling a bowl. It was a wonderful, humbling experience to share in. Next time you’re at the Park, give a Cast Member a high five and tell them how awesome they are.
When the sun is just above the horizon, the spires of Sleeping Beauty Castle glisten in radiant gold. It can be one of the prettiest spectacles at Disneyland. It’s a sight that lasts for maybe a few minutes and then without hesitation or apology it’s gone. If we make it to the Castle for this brief period of day, it’s easy to miss taking a picture because you become so taken by it, first by the beauty and then by the fact that it’s escaping so quickly.
The attraction poster for Storybook Land features a canal boat entering the monstrous mouth of Monstro with the title I’ve borrowed for my picture, “Gateway to Enchantment”. I don’t know how comical it was intended to be but that’s some sense of humor. Here you are Disneyland guests, the gateway to the enchantment you’ve sought after is just around the bend… in the mouth of a giant whale. I don’t know, it reads like a Jungle Cruise joke to me. Joke or not, I really appreciate the joy that’s been poured into Disney attractions.
I remember riding the canal boats at an early age and having wonder overtake me in the same way as Monstro’s mighty jaws, looking up at the massive teeth and ridged palate, not seeing any light at the end of the “tunnel”. It was mysterious, unnerving and exhilarating. The attraction poster made good on its promise. Being swallowed by a whale does have a way of enchanting. For those of us that have been touched by Disneyland and the memories we’ve made there, it’s very much a right of passage. Michaela and I don’t have children yet. When we do and the day comes that we take them to the Park, I can’t wait to watch wonder overtake them as we enter through a giant whale to a land of enchantment.
Christmas day has come and gone and I hope that yours was blessed. Mine certainly was, spending it with family, thinking of friends and reflecting on the tremendous blessings this year has held. Christmas brings warm feelings and optimism with it that tend to wind down as we enter back into our normal routines. I don’t want to do that this year. Too many days go by that feel like being alive more than they do like truly living. I’m dreaming of Christmas that carries on in the coming days with meaning and thriving and warmth because life is wonderful. There is so much to be grateful for and there are so many blessings to share.
The front of Sleeping Beauty Castle gets most of the love most of the time and Christmas is no exception. I’m not really sure why either, because the backside is beautifully adorned in Christmas splendor too. As I stood, however, trying to take this picture, countless flashes went off from folks taking pictures of the opposite side. I like to think of those moments as a duel and see who can wait it out longer to get a shot. Of course, that’s probably just me being a little crazy. Nevertheless, I usually outlast my competition. I think my favorite thing about this perspective is the contrast you get between the icy top of the castle and the warm glow beneath it. It lends a welcoming feeling to the fact that Winter is just around the corner.
It’s not truly Christmas at Disneyland without taking in the brilliant spectacle that is A Small World Holiday. It really warms you inside in a way few things can… and makes you step back and reexamine your own Christmas light display at home. The purity inherent to both Christmas and Small World combine to make something so perfect that if you let it, it will cause you to leave the original Magic Kingdom resolute to become a better person, filled with hope for a brighter future. Maybe I’m reading too much into these Christmas lights but really how can you not?