Where to begin?
Then I had one image come to my mind above all else, and it was the memory of a huge, heavy, hardcover book my family used to have in our living room when I was a teenager. It was called, in fact, The Art of Disney.
Inside were images from many animated shorts and films and stories about Disney history and all that you’d expect in a book so heavy it took every ounce of strength my (then) skinny body had in it just to lift it. I remember it being a very expensive book as well; I believe it was actually a hundred dollars when it was purchased, and so anyone who touched it was very careful with it.
If memory serves, there was an image in the book that particularly fascinated me: a picture of The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio; about to bestow life upon the little wooden puppet with her magic wand and whispered words: “Little puppet made of pine, wake; the gift of life is thine.”
Even though the movie itself had scared me half to death when I saw it as a small child, I still was mesmerized by that fairy. I am to this day. And maybe, in that fascination lies the depth of my love for all things that are part of the world of Disney.
I was raised on it all: given Disney toys before I could speak, and taken on It’s a Small World for the first time when I was still young enough to ask for my bottle and little else (there is, supposedly, reel to reel film footage of this in existence somewhere in the family archives…)
There has never been a time in my life when I don’t remember knowing where Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World was in relation to the hotels and the rest of the Magic Kingdom.
I knew it since before I could speak: and that place feels like home to me.
We visited frequently when I was a child and while it was never an inexpensive vacation (My father worked hard for those trips, and my Grandparents chipped in as well) it was different than it is now. There was only one theme park. We often stayed in a ‘villa’; a Disney rented house that we filled with relatives and in the kitchen of which Grandma made wonderful dinners every night, devoured because we were starving from swimming all afternoon.
Not only was it a different time, but in that place, my unhappy family was a different family.
People smiled. There was even laughter.
We made memories.
The best memories of my childhood all took place in two places: my grandparent’s modest home, and Walt Disney World.
Little wonder I ended up working for the company for a time in my late teens; had I been healthier, I would, I am sure, still be working for them today. I never felt more pride in any job than when I put on my Disney name badge; I was part of the magic, then. I could make special things happen for the people I encountered, even in the smallest gestures.
I felt like the Blue Fairy.
Just two weeks ago, feeling in a particularly bad place emotionally and physically pent up after two months in the apartment recovering from major surgery, I was in such a state all I could do was cry.
With my surgeon’s blessing (and without my husband’s company since he had no time off from work) I was dropped off at the airport with a kiss and wish that I would enjoy my visit home. And I did.
Even though I was extremely limited in what I could do; little more than visit with a few characters, lounge around the resort hotel, sit in the sun, and watch a fireworks show or two from the seat of a scooter, it was what I needed.
I needed to visit the memories, and ghosts of those gone now that I loved so well that seem the most alive within the confines of those acres and acres of Disney property.
I’ve lived most of the happiest times of my life there—going back, especially alone, always helps me to sort things out, think things through.
I came back much more like myself than I had been in a long while.
So, you ask, why do I love the art and magic of Disney?
Simply put, because it is as much a part of me as my blue eyes and my writer’s spirit.
It’s the home of my heart, and somewhere I always hope to return to, no matter how many times I’ve been or how things change.
Because even though everything in life changes and we cannot hold on to the people, and places we love forever, as long as there is a Walt Disney World, I will always feel like I have a home to go back to.
Find out more about February Grace and her writing by visiting her at: www.februarywriter.blogspot.com
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