Hey John, Harry here...
I don't know if you're aware, but I've recently been hit with a miraculous event in my life. I just had an incredibly amazing spinal surgery where suddenly dead parts of my body started coming to life. I will be walking again. Instantly, when we heard the diagnosis, my wife and I looked at each other and said, DISNEYLAND!
You see, it's this thing my wife and I do. Lots of others do. So I hear. But our shared love for the Magic Kingdom is one of those things that just makes us giddy. Now, it is pretty well known that at this particular moment - as I'm being destroyed and put back together. As I reach out to my former mostly dead left leg and pull up a foot that was designated as Drop Foot - and I am already pulling it right tonight... for the first time in 7 years. About 3 hours ago. And as I did this, it completely confirmed for me the sheer magic of what is happening to me.
But then, before my wife left my side tonight, she said, "Harry - did you hear what they're doing to Disneyland?" And she sent me to THIS LINK.
I've been radiantly upbeat about everything. The pain and torture that I feel every second of rehab, it's like kisses - to feel this intensely after years of lowered sensation. Today, I sat and chatted with my Octogenarian Roommates about their lives, made them laugh and as there was some weird shared history... It made me feel so great. Especially as I consoled ANN about her son's battle with Diabetes, her own hunched back and battle with shingles. She hates the way she looks now, but honestly, as I talked to her, got her smiling and laughing as her husband fights back from a seriously debilitating stroke... I told her as she admitted her self disgust, that she's still beautiful. And it isn't a lie. I told her, that she reminded me of Dale Evans. It was no lie, the resemblance was eerie. She stared in disbelief at me. And burst out a confession, that when she was a girl back in the day, her father was a big Texas Rancher & Farmer. And as she rode out into the prairie each day she dreamt that she was Dale Evans, she terribly wanted to marry Roy Rogers. About an hour of talking later her husband was doing walking therapy past our room door and as we saw him walk by, she was looking at him. So sad to see him in that shape. And I said, "There goes your Roy, he's doing better than me!" She smiled, a tear came out, she gripped my hand and said, "Thank you!"
This is a kindness I learned at DISNEYLAND.
When I was 4 years old, I got separated from my parents at DISNEYLAND. I sat down in the middle of Main Street crosslegged and just began to cry, because I couldn't find my Mom & Dad. Turns out they had just spotted me, but had noticed the wandering Mickey Mouse walking up to me. They held back, the cast member took a knee to get down to my level, and asked me what was wrong, and I told Mickey that I lost my Mommy & Daddy... Mickey looked up, saw a group of redheads heading in my direction, one snapping a photo - and Mickey said, "Cheer up, nobody is lost in Disneyland" and pointed to my parents.
I have a beloved polaroid of this chance encounter with Mickey. My favorite cartoons as a kid were LONESOME GHOSTS, MICKEY'S TRAILER and CLOCK CLEANERS. And here I was, lost - only to have Mickey Mouse - my favorite character reunite me with my parents. It was truly the happiest place on Earth.
On my wife & mine's 1st wedding Anniversary we spent 3 days and nights in DISNEYLAND - exploring every nook and cranny. Each day we delighted at running into different characters around the park. My wife had an extended body language conversation with CHIP or maybe it was DALE. Which cracked me up beyond belief when they literally bumped into one another.
Me, one day as we were headed past WINNIE THE POOH's ride, I caught sight of Br'er Bear - and the resulting picture of the two of us is actually my wife's favorite photo of me, that doesn't have her in it. (knocking me out) But what makes the photo - is the genuine shock and utter delight as I met this awesome roaming character.
We found out that apparently y'all have a Br'er Fox running around too! And at that point, I swore to my wife, no matter how many times it takes, we will find Br'er Fox - and get a photo with him, doing my best Br'er Rabbit gulping impression.
But you know what will kill my love and enthusiasm for DISNEYLAND?
This policy. The MAGIC of the MAGIC KINGDOM isn't in the technological marvels that have been created or the set-up photobooths which make a MAGIC place seem like a Mall at Christmas. A crass, unspontaneous experience where you just buy a map and a corporate photopass and in one trip, you get everything that I've been spending a lifetime going and returning to Disneyland to do. Find the characters. The Disneyland Cast is a precious thing, but I've noticed a difference when I see the characters in specified locations with backdrops and lines.
The enthusiasm of the children diminish. The parents tend to say things like, "This is outrageous" - and me... Well, I've never gone to a single one of those areas. My wife took a photo with Ariel, but it was, frankly, a terrible photo $$$. I'm serious, she's glowing, but Ariel has this dead sort of mannequin face, because the job becomes sitting there, ushering through kids and dorks like my wife - and the real magic is the wonder of the interaction when you bump into them.
It's the part of Disneyland that is constantly new and refreshing. You never know who you'll run into. I ran into Maleficent in our last trip. I was wearing a black & purple shirt and she came at me cackling about finally, someone with class. My wife had this Japanese Wallet Size Polaroid camera and snapped a photo of us talking about how the Prince ruined everything by kissing her. How is the story SLEEPING BEAUTY if it is actually WAKING BEAUTY. It's called SLEEPING BEAUTY because of Maleficent - and she agreed completely - it was magic. Other than getting to ride in reverse through THE HAUNTED MANSION and through the Behind The Scenes... It was the greatest moment for me, that trip.
In an ever tightening economy, this just reaks of the worst of profiteering. And I know DISNEYLAND is a business - but once it was a dream - and Walt's dream is being perverted. Those CAST MEMBERS were the backbone - and remain the backbone of the DISNEYLAND experience. Don't let them be taken off the streets, and out of the magic that lives a lifetime.
I already get said to think that no kid that goes to Disneyland now, will ever be rescued and consoled by MICKEY MOUSE. It was that moment that sealed the bond. Mickey will always be my hero, bust him and the others from their Brothel'd lives.
The cast members have more fun, the audience has more fun - and true magic lives in those moments at DISNEYLAND.
My wife and I go every year. This news brought up a discussion tonight about our kids (in the future) - and how without that environment of magic, we'd probably scale back to once every 5 years or so. But Patricia and I looked at each other feeling... that's so sad. But it is the truth.