[CONTINUED FROM PART III]
First movie theater experience ever for me was the animated feature The Jungle Book. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old and loved it! I also recall in the early 70's really looking forward each week to watching The Wonderful World of Disney on television. But this was the extent of the Disney influence in my life.
Childhood family vacations never included trips to Anaheim or Orlando. No affinity existed with Mickey Mouse or any of the other household icons. When in middle school a group of girls started singing It's a small world after all, I knew the tune sounded somehow vaguely familiar, but I truly had no idea where it came from or what it was associated with. That memory faded away until 26 years later when on my first visit to Fantasyland, I finally discovered that the song originated from the It's A Small World ride. I was quite unaware of Walt Disney's life story and the extent of his creative genius.
My wife Ti on the other hand did visit Disneyland once and Walt Disney World twice as a child as well as a third time as an adult. She owned books on the parks, videos like The Little Mermaid and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and it was she (not me) who went to The Lion King when it first came to the theater in 1994. Only after the film landed at the dollar cinema did I agreed to go. We both thoroughly enjoyed the story, music and animation, and we ended up going back to see it at least 3 more times. Still I was no fan of the Disney canon.
So here it was...December 2000. Holiday music and decorations enhanced an already dreamlike atmosphere at the Walt Disney World Resort. Three days of rides, shows and stimuli had successfully expunged any remaining mental resistance I may have held toward the parks. Consciously, I was having a ball, enjoying a childlike essence I rarely allowed myself to feel. Beneath the surface, my psyche was in a singularly open state, prepped and ready to connect with something deeper.
The Magic Kingdom was indeed magical. Splash Mountain. Space Mountain. The Haunted Mansion. Pirates of the Caribbean...and on and on. As much fun as the other three parks had been, this was the crowning jewel. Attractions like The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and The Enchanted Tiki Room were just as delightful as thrill rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railway. I was expecting more of the same playfulness when we lined up in the queue for Snow White's Scary Adventures.
[CONCLUDED IN PART V]