Just over a year ago my friend George Taylor of Imaginerding invited me to take part in a series of interviews he was conducting called "Meet Our Neighbors." In the interview he would pose a series of questions and invite other bloggers to answer them for inclusion on his site. I enjoyed this opportunity as it afforded me the chance to give some real thought to specific aspects of my Disney Obsession.
I have gone back and re-read his questions and my answers and thought it would be good if I were to take some of the questions and go into a little more detail. You might call if "fuel" for a few posts here. So to begin with, and for this installment of Disney As Art, I thought I would revisit the question, "What is your favorite park?" I answered the question:
"As special as the Magic Kingdom is, and most every trip begins with a walk down Main Street U.S.A., my favorite park is Epcot. That is where I renewed my love for Disney as an adult. The icon is like no other. The moment it became "the" park was when I first heard the sub-woofers kick in during Saint-Saëns "Organ" Symphony in Impressions de France. From that moment on..."
This has not changed in the year since I wrote that, or in the years since "I first heard the heard the..."
For most of my life I have held a fascination with France and specifically with Paris. There was time when I could say I had spent more time in Paris than I had in Walt Disney World. It was the first stop on a trip my parents gave me as a graduation gift. It was the city where my wife and I spent our honeymoon. It was a quick trip on the EuroStar while we lived in England and it was the city I always tried to route my travel through whenever I flew back and forth to Europe to teach.
When I am in Epcot, specifically in France, I allow my mind to wander into the realm of fantasy. When that happens I think back to days when I felt that the bohemian lifestyle would have suited my artistic temperment. I feel this when I look up at the window above the wine shop on Le Petit Rue and see a lone flickering light. I am drawn to the tragic story of Rodolfo and Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme. And if I listen close enough with my imagination I can just hear Rodolfo's anguished cry as he cradles the deceased Mimi in his arms.
I can set on a bench and easily place myself in Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence. There I become Charles Strickland; a character based on Paul Gauguin. I am a painter exploring the reach of my creativity along side Van Gogh, and then finally journeying to the South Pacific to find a vision of "art" and "beauty." Or I can set with Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, Pound and others of "The Lost Generation" at the side walk cafe that once stood on the promenade. There we would pour over the morning papers, have a cup of espresso, a pastry, and decide what the day will hold.
Fanciful? Probably. But this is what is conjured up in my mind anytime I cross the bridge from the United Kingdom or step across the change in pavement from Morocco. Is this the real Paris in the real France? No, not by a large margin. I doesn't contain my favorite table at my favorite cafe on the Left Bank.
But, it is still magical. When I visit this little corner of the World Showcase I am transported, for however long, to a semblance of a place that holds many fond memories for me. I can travel, if but for a little while, to a place where my imagination can run free. And isn't that what Disney is about? A place where our imagination can be set free.
I hope this piece of Disney as Art can help you reach into your imagination and cause you to smile.
More to follow...