27 August 2007

Closed for Refurbishment

Exhibit Closed

I don’t know everything, or even most things, about Disneyland. In fact, I don’t rapidly seek out news, trivia, and rumors about Disneyland as I do about Walt Disney World. After all, I am a son of WDW. So this wasn’t something I had planned to write about. In fact, I didn’t even know about it until I was doing some digging yesterday about my honeymoon. My fiancée are heading west to Disneyland, a first for both of us, before heading north to Sonoma. I have been most excited about seeing things I never have, and being able to walk in the footsteps of Walt. Among the attractions that topped my list were Indiana Jones, a longer Pirates of the Caribbean, Sleeping Beauty Castle, New Orleans Square, the Matterhorn, the original Main Street U.S.A., and The Disney Gallery. To tell you the truth the Gallery was probably third on my list overall, falling just behind Club 33 (which I have no way on earth to get into, but wish terribly that I could find one, even if to just look around) and Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Imagine my surprise when trying to discover what exhibits were going to be showing in the Gallery during my trip, only to find that the Gallery had been closed for good on August 7th. After all, the Gallery was currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. I honestly felt like I had been struck in the stomach, and I couldn’t altogether tell you why I felt that way. This was not an E-Ticket attraction. It was not there on opening day. In fact, it hadn’t even opened until 11 July 1987 after being occupied by both the Insurance Company of North America and Disneyland International. My hero Walt had never hand picked the exhibits I would see; true some of the artwork had been seen by him before going on to find its legs as an attraction, book, or other entertainment enterprise, but his hand had never intentionally built this showcase for this purpose. No one but those deep within the Disney culture even paid it much attention. I myself had never even seen the place except in pictures. Yet, none-the-less, I was stunned.

They are gutting The Disney Gallery to make room for “an entirely new experience.” A little more digging and it appears to be another suite for the Year of A Million Dreams Redux. Details at this point are few and far between, some seem to think it will be a replica of the Cinderella’s Royal Suite from Walt Disney World, while others are under the impressions that it will be more along the lines of completing the original plans for Walt’s Apartment. Of the two I would rather see Walt’s Apartment, although the likelihood that I would ever be able to stay there is in the same vein of ever being let into Club 33, because it brings another piece of Walt back to us. Yes, I am positive that if this were to come to pass, that the Apartment would look almost nothing like what Walt intended, but it would most certainly bring back the charm of the Disney era and probably have substantial piece of Disney History somewhere within its walls.

This does create a problem for Disney Purist, because how do you argue against something Walt himself had planned, even if it was never fully realized in his time. To explore this argument you have to suspend, off the top of my head, at least two topics: Walt’s own belief that the parks would be ever changing and never finished and EPCOT.
From the perspective of the Purists the Gallery has long been a peaceful corner to escape the crowds and heat, and to find a bit of perspective on the world of Disney. It is a vital piece to the history of the park, if not the entirety of the company. On he other hand, this was an idea that Walt had, but never saw finished. By those standards alone, how do you get any closer to a pure Disney idea? These aren’t questions for me to answer, or the Disney fan community as a whole (though discussions on the topic are fabulous to read over), or even the company. The real answer will come with time, when the Disney History has rewritten itself, as it is continuously doing.

Whatever happens to the site formerly known as The Disney Gallery, I will be waiting, hoping, daring to dream that it contains a piece of the Disney History its processor was so proficient at showcasing.

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