15 May 2008

A dimension of mind

According to my good friend George, this article would be what you call rhapsodizing. You’ve been warned…

Sometimes Disney finds a way to creep into real life, and vice versa, and when that happens it can startle and jar even the most hardened of us for a moment. I don’t mean that instead of watching the action movie on television we opt for Robin Hood, I mean honest to goodness moments of complete overlap. Perhaps a couple of examples would remove the fog of confusion I have created.

Last year while my wife was at a conference for work, I found myself wandering through the lobby on my way back to the hotel room. The lobby was almost deserted as most every guest there was a part of the conference and the classes were back in session. This resort is one of these hotels that were built in the late seventies, remodeled in the late nineties, and try to feel as if they are more upscale than they really are. For that reason, this hotel chose to pick popular music from the 20s, 30s, and 40s. As I approach the elevator I find myself humming the song in the background and mouthing along to the lyrics. I suddenly realize that I am singing along to the lobby music, and that the song is Inside by fats Waller. For those of you whose knowledge of Disney music hasn’t reached an obsessive level let, this song is part of the queue loop for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I was so taken aback and entranced that I stood there for a few moments before deciding to take the stairs to our eighth floor room. Nothing happened to any guest that boarded the elevators, that day or any other, at the hotel, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

As spooky as that may have seemed, and believe me it was spooky just standing there, the overlapping realities I have found most intriguing are the ones that settle in as gentle reminders. The center where I work is situated on Warren Wilson College property, which is 420 acres of farms, horticultural studies, trails and rivers, with classrooms and dorms taking up very little space. It is on these trails that approximately once a week I take my preschool class to explore. Back beyond the woods, far beyond the reach of civilized roads, rests a meadow with a few trees that are strung with prayer flags. Prayer flags are believed to send thoughts and prayers into the wind, and can be found throughout the village of Serka Zong at the base of Expedition Everest.
Prayer flags have been around long before Expedition Everest was a glimmer in Joe Rohde’s eye, which creates an interesting cycle. The prayer flags inspired the Imagineers who created Expedition Everest, which in turn showcased prayer flags to a populace who may not have ever seen them before, yet now, for the enthusiasts of Disney, prayer flags in the wild often hold a memory or two from Expedition Everest. In a similar cycle, each and every time I see these prayer flags I immediately think back upon my experiences with Expedition Everest. Soon after, however, as I watch them sway in the breeze and listen to their rustling, I find that a calming sensation has washed over me which, in my humble beliefs, is the true intent of the prayer flags.

It is in this way that Disney is carried with us always. The Imagineers have gone to such great lengths to create an environment that is so realistic that occasionally the lines blur and we are left with a single tangible moment where worlds collide. That may sound like I am simply waxing poetic, but I am willing to bet that most of you have had one of this cherished moments as well, when Disney and the world around you blend together seamlessly.

To round out today, I thought it would be nice to highlight what Joe Rohde had to say about the prayer flags in Serka Zong:
“Even with Everest we came away with this, all the prayer flags, that was added rather late because when we went to the area of the Himalayas that it was based on, I’d been there before, but even I had not really thought through how much you feel the wind in these areas. And the reason you feel it is because there are these prayer flags everywhere, and they respond to the movement of air, and they give it a whole atmosphere. So, this idea of travelling, to go to these places, to have experiences, and to personally collect those details, which you need to tell your version of a story is part of what, I think, makes Animal Kingdom have that funny unique quality of feeling so weirdly kind of real.”


DD said...

Awww.... made me long for the Mouse House.

Today I suddenly burst into singing "How do you know" from Enchanted. No prompting, nobody was even awake. I was just walking and suddenly I was singing.

:) Great read as usual.

Greg said...

Nice angle on the Tower of Terror.

WBK, I too will sometime just break into Enchanted. Especially when I see Mrs. Doc!

Princess Fee said...

How true - it's amazing how even the smallest things can remind you of your time at a Disney theme park. And I think the more entranced you get with the smallest detail in the Parks, the more you notice the smallest detail outside the Parks that relate to the Parks (if that makes any sense at all!).

WBK - I now have that song on a loop in my head! Not that I'm complaining :)