Ladies and gentlemen, the eighth wonder of the world – the backside of the castle! This often overlooked side of Sleeping Beauty Castle was once meant to be the front side. It’s strange to think of, isn’t it? It’s a challenge to imagine our beloved Disney icon as being anything other than what it is. I was giving that a little thought while standing in Fantasyland one day. It was a beautiful day and the sky was filled with dreamy clouds, which always makes time in Fantasyland that much better.
When Disneyland opened in 1955 Fantasyland was in a much different form. The Matterhorn didn’t exist yet, The Mad Tea Party (Tea Cups) sat where King Arthur’s Carrousel is today, and the Carousel was squeezed between the Tea Cups and Sleeping Beauty Castle. The overall theme of the land was dressed with tournament tents and had a very medieval fair atmosphere. The original drawings of Fantasyland by Herb Ryman looked like a small village with a fairytale like theme, which is much of what you see today. Due to economic factors, and time constraint, the original much cheaper theme was implemented. In 1983, Kim Irvine, Director, Concept and Show Design at Walt Disney Imagineering, re-opened Fantasyland with the village theme that was intended in the first place. It’s amazing how much Disneyland has evolved over the years, and how naturally accepted the changes have been. It is a great testament to the future of the Disneyland Resort.
It was very quiet in this area of Fantasyland during the Matterhorn’s refurbishments recently. No waterfalls. No screaming bobsledders. No abominable snowman growls. Worst of all, no yodeling. It was nice though to see the bobsleds getting some much deserved rest. I found this one particularly interesting, parked all on its own, glistening in the afternoon sun. If you’re like me and find yourself at some point suffering Matterhorn withdrawals, I find that alternating chocolate and Ricola helps. If all else fails, bust out the lederhosen.
Staying out late at Disneyland can be exhausting. It’s rare, however, that the payoff for postponing a date with your pillow doesn’t make you deaf to the barking of your feet and forgetful of how tired you may be. From being able to run around the Park and practically walk on the E-Tickets to those quiet, deep moments of self reflection, Disneyland after dark is it. It’s my perfect place and I imagine if you are reading this that it’s yours too. If you find yourself fortunate enough to be the last soul to bask in the radiant glow of Sleeping Beauty Castle, cherish that moment and take it in. There is nothing like it. Standing there in front of that icon, that tangible proof that dreams really can come true, it’s as though someone somewhere cues the line from Walt’s opening day speech, “Disneyland is your land”, and it carries oh so softly on the night air. I have never felt so much that Disneyland was mine as when standing at the castle in solitude.
One of the great things about Walt Disney was that he shared the rewards of the risks he took. Few thought Disneyland was a good idea in 1955. It was a tremendous risk. But it was also a dream. Walt shared his dream of Disneyland with the hope that it would be a source of joy and inspiration. It serves as an appeal to everyone who walks through its gates to never quit dreaming or taking risks to pursue them. We each have a purpose in this life and no one can replace us. We each have the power to make the world a better place, whether it be for one person or a multitude. No person is insignificant. Michaela and Kevin and I know that these are just pictures that we post, but we pour ourselves into them with the hope that we might inspire you and bring a little joy into your life every day. These are the kinds of things I think about, standing at the castle in solitude. These are the dreams that take form in Disneyland after dark.
This whimsical guy can be found on the King Arthur Carrousel, basking in its glow and innate charm. He made me think of the beautifully detailed architecture you might find in places like Italy or France. He reminds me just how refined Disneyland is. Sure Disneyland has cartoon characters and fantasy around every corner but it’s also one of the most elegant places around. And it’s filled with works of art.
I remember exactly where I was ten years ago when I first heard what was happening in New York. I’m sure you do as well. I was at home getting ready for school. It was the strangest school day I ever had. The dean made an early announcement that we were all to go about the day in a normal fashion. Of course no one listened. Teachers all had their televisions on in an attempt to cure the desperately confused state we all found ourselves in.
My first thought for a picture today was to do something patriotic. Something saturated with red, white and blue. But I couldn’t get It’s a Small World out of my mind. A World’s Fair exhibit turned Disneyland attraction that was a call for world peace through the understanding that we are not that very different from one another. Above all, what unites us across the globe is love for our children, the hope of tomorrow.
At the D23 Expo, there was a Small World panel where Richard Sherman shared some history about the song that he and his brother Robert wrote. They were given the task to come up with a song for the World’s Fair exhibit by Walt, with very little time to get it done. The sentiment they came up with was simple enough, “let’s not kill each other”, but not very singable. What the two gifted men came up with is the song we all love or hate. Either way, we know it. Either way, its words ring true.
“It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears. There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all.”
The part that has resounded with me today is the part about hope. We need it. It’s the anchor of the soul. If we remember that and embrace hope, fear cannot shake us. Though the world is full of fears, hope can overcome them all. Hope gives us the strength and the courage to pursue our dreams. If you’re like me, you’re dreaming of a better tomorrow, a better future for the generations to come. That’s something we all share because it really is a small world after all. So let’s make it a world of hope… together.
The little details in Disneyland make it so complete. The little statues of woodland creatures around Sleeping Beauty Castle are adorable and you really can’t help but smile and reflect once upon a dream. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to hang out by the Castle all day everyday? Can you imagine all the moments these bunnies could share? Proposals, first trips, first pictures in front of the Castle. All rites of passage in a society enamored with the ideals Disneyland is dedicated to. We hope you enjoy our perspectives of these lucky little guys.
Upon entering the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-through, you are greeted by this magical, mysterious staircase. Curiosity is certainly sparked and climbing the steps is an inevitability. Exploring castle corridors is a thrill you wouldn’t expect in Southern California either. Thank goodness for Disneyland!