Perspective articles allow me to do a lot of thing. I get to offer up my blue-sky suggestions for attractions, expansions or improvements, review books and experiences, give my opinion on any number of topics, and relate some of my personal history with Walt Disney World with you, the reader. My favorite thing to do with a perspective piece, however, is to use it as a platform to sing the praises of an underappreciated area of Walt Disney World.In Trails cast I did just that for the Flights of Wonder show. In particular I went on at length about the benefits of volunteering for such a show. I’ll say this, I will never forget my time with Flights of Wonder.
We’ve talked before about volunteering for entertainment, from Streetmosphere to shows like the American Idol Experience, and we’ve touched upon what an illuminating production Flights of Wonder is. Today, we’re going to merge the two and show you how to have one of the most inspired experiences in all of Walt Disney World.
For starters, Flights of Wonder takes place on the border of Asia in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Caravan Stage. With the ruins as a backdrop and a quilted canopy enclosing the auditorium, the show features miraculous feats from a variety of feathered creatures. The narrative helps a skittish adventurer overcome his fear of birds, while the audience laughs and learns along. Toss in a couple of scenarios where a guest can join in on the antics, and you have a show that is a True Life Adventure and the embodiment of edutainment rolled up into one.
One of these moments where guests get to take to the stage involves the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, a gigantic bird that swoops down onto a perch just behind a couple of guests. The hosts of Flights of Wonder ask the audience for volunteers who have a camera out and ready for the ‘picture of a lifetime.’ Once onstage, the selected guests are shown where to focus their cameras just as the hornbill goes soaring out to the back of the theater from offstage.
The next few moments are a whirl of activity. The hornbill dives towards its perch behind the seated guests on the stage. Those same guests hastily snap a photograph or two during the flight and duck, or fight the instinct to flinch, as the hornbill settles onto its post. A moment more to take a picture of this massive bird at rest, and then the guests are ushered back to the audience, along with a certificate proclaiming them a member of the ‘Trails Cast.’
It isn’t until they really look at their photographs later that these guests, of which I was one in March, truly understand what it is they captured. Yes, there is a bird in soaring along, wings outstretched, in the center of the photograph. However, surrounding the bird are the images of the audience. Some ducking, some in utter awe, some determined to capture the best shot they can of this majestic bird. Each guest in the audience is having their own cocktail of emotions, as guests at any production in Walt Disney World do, but aside from the actors on the stage it is rare to be able to witness the entire audience as a guest. Rarer still, is the ability to capture that moment in an image.
Volunteering at Walt Disney World can be a truly terrifying experience, especially if you’d rather stay unnoticed as I do. However, there is so much to be gleaned in those moments when you are the center of attention that it is worth taking that step outside of yourself. As in the case of Flights of Wonder, you become a part of the story, you learn something about the world around and about yourself, and your efforts never go unrewarded.