Very late one evening I was hanging out by Monstro and enjoying the Storybook Land Canal boats passing through. I looked up, searching for Michaela, to notice that Fantasyland was almost empty. Across the way, the vacant Mad Hatter still had its doors open. The light from inside and the light from the lantern in front splashed across the ground, unspoiled by passersby. I was taken by yet another peaceful moment at the Park, all to myself.
As I understand it, there used to be motorboats in this pond at Fantasia Gardens in Fantasyland. They were before my time so I never had the opportunity to ride in them. That doesn’t stop me from trying to imagine what it would have been like when I’m there. As I stood there taking in this view and all of its tranquility, I knew I wanted to try and capture it. I set up the tripod, set my exposure, set my timer and off my camera went, clicking through three frames. A few seconds into the third shot, I heard the Monorail coming. “Dangit, I’m gonna have to take this again”, I said. Fortunately for me, Michaela had the sense to say, “Why don’t you just wait and see what you get? It might be really cool.” I find that things work out well when I take her advice. Thank goodness for my brilliant wife, who deserves credit for what I consider a happy accident with this picture. It wasn’t what I had set out to get but turned into something I love. When you stand here, the Monorail makes its way through with surprising frequency. I always enjoy when it does because it’s this beautiful, futuristic vehicle that just shines amidst the natural beauty of Fantasia Gardens and the magic of Fantasyland.
*Update* Apparently the motorboats were around until the early ’90s, so… not before my time. However, I don’t recall ever having gone on them. Some great information about them can be found over at Daveland – http://davelandweb.com/motorboatcruise/
I don’t know if all the horses of King Arthur’s Carrousel have names. I imagine they must with the amazing workmanship present in each one. This horse has a name, Jingles, after the beautiful jingle bells that adorn it. I’ve read that this was Walt’s favorite horse and that really wouldn’t surprise me. If I’ve learned anything about Walt’s Park it’s that he wouldn’t settle for anything that wasn’t beautifully detailed. If you look closely you’ll notice nods to Mary Poppins. That’s because this horse was dedicated to Julie Andrews back in 2008. Disneyland is not a museum, I know that. But I sure love the nostalgia.
This is not a picture of the literal last dance at the Carnation Plaza Gardens Stage, which took place last night. This dance was one of the last from the weekend before, the last weekend for Stompy Jones. Watching Twitter last night, buzzing with twit pics and sentimental journeys down memory lane, I was struck at how deeply we grow attached to things. Jumping and jiving near Sleeping Beauty Castle has been a Disneyland staple since near its start. Big band legends have graced this stage. Walt himself danced on this floor with his wife Lillian. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the transition that the historic Carnation Plaza Gardens will make into the Princess Fantasy Faire. I feel it’s important to state that Disney has said that the stage and the dance floor will not be changed, but rather the canopy to fit in with this new fantasy theme. This project, slated to open sometime next year, has displaced what may be the longest running swing dance event in the world to Downtown Disney. I have every confidence that swing dancing will return to this very stage and dance floor once construction has concluded and that it will do so with fervor and style.
The very nature of the Park promises change and at times change asks us to let go of some things we have enjoyed. This change seems to be asking us more to hold on than to let go. Hold on and see what the Imagineers have in store. I’m not a princess fan. I do have skepticism about an area dedicated to them. But I look at Buena Vista Street in awe. I marvel at Cars Land from a distance. Trader Sam’s is the most enchanted bar I’ve ever seen. I’m thrilled with the progress and improvements that seem to be taking place all the time around the Disneyland Resort. All these developments tell me that Disney is making progress and moving in the right direction. Walt loved nostalgia and hoped we never lost some of the things of the past. He was also one of the most progressive men in history. Finding a balance between those two ideals of preserving the past and pressing firmly into the future has never been an easy task.
What stands out most for me about getting to observe some of the final dances here is the unity. The mutual appreciation between band and dancers, skilled and novice, experienced and young. I’m grateful to have witnessed such an event. I’m grateful that so many made it here for one last dance.
The weathervanes of Disneyland are some of my favorite details. They have a way of encompassing what sits beneath them so well. Mr. Toad, riding wildly in the sky, is no exception. It’s not hard to see that this crazy amphibian is merrily on his way to nowhere in particular and with no time to spare. Making time to spare at Disneyland, however, is a must. The more you do, the more treasures you’ll find.
Today has been a full, crazy day. We broke form and went to the Park this morning instead of our usual Saturday trip. The weather yesterday wasn’t permitting of work we needed to do for a new project we’re really excited about. Naturally because today is April Fool’s, we spent half of it joking about things to post as a prank. “Disney hired us”. “Disney shut us down”. None of it really seemed that funny outside of the hyperbole we added to it. Sometimes it’s probably best to avoid the cheap gimmicks and just own up to the fact that we love what we do and we are fools for Disneyland. Without further ado, I* would like to welcome ye to the Castle Heraldry.
*Note: That is not me inside the suit of armor, though my wife has been known to mistake me for a shiny knight.