11 May 2017

A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams

A couple of weeks ago I said goodnight to Wishes. Tonight the fireworks spectacular will give its final performance ahead of tomorrow’s debut of Happily Ever After. My goodbye included my father and my wife, a dessert party, and very few photographs. I wanted one final memory, giving Wishes my absolute undivided attention, and I didn’t want to watch it through a viewfinder.  The show premiered on October 9, 2003, and has been a staple of nighttime entertainment in Walt Disney World for more than 13 years, save for a minor interruption here or there. More importantly, however, is that it has given us so many memories to hold on to.

The first time I saw the show, I was living in Florida as an early twentysomething, and I would go over and watch it from the beach at the Polynesian or from balcony atop the Contemporary, without ever stepping inside the Magic Kingdom. While the view from Main Street, U.S.A. may have provided more of the projections, it was the fireworks and the music that I had come for. I also, maybe once or twice, used these other viewing areas to impress a girl.

In early 2005 I would meet a girl who would change my life. In fact, she would become my wife and we will celebrate 10 years of marriage this coming fall. She had been to Walt Disney World once or twice with a band in high school, but had never done the Walt Disney World experience right. That summer we took our first road trip together and I showed off all the nooks and crannies of my second home. One our first night, I took her to see Wishes. I remember less about the show and more about her expressions as I watched her take in the show, the changing shade of glows on her face, the new types of fireworks that she would become enamored with, and all the emotions that ran through her eyes. This would be the trip where we would find out we could travel together, and easily, but this is one of those memories I will always remember.

Over the years I have had many, many fantastic experiences with Wishes. From another dessert party with my friend Elizabeth and her daughter, Glenn pretending to watch the show looking in the wrong direction on Main Street, the night I spent on my own in Frontierland and Liberty Square just trying to capture a single photograph that summed up my feelings of the show (for the record, I failed miserably), letting my mom watch the show with many of the firework bursts blooming over Beast’s Castle, and even Lou’s touching quip of “that doesn’t suck.” If you’ve spent an evening with me in the Magic Kingdom, chances are that we’ve watched the show together, and the chances are that is another memory I cherish, whether I’ve told you that or not.

There are a lot of individuals to thank for the creation and longevity of Wishes, Steve Davison (show director), Erik Tucker (pyrotechnics designer), and Steve Skorija (music director) to name just a few. I want to take a moment, however, to thank composer and arranger Gregory Smith. I think that my experience of being a preschool teacher for so many years, in particular during those first few years of Wishes’ run, made the music he crafted for the show touch me just a little deeper than it might have otherwise. Basing the theme of the show off of Star Light, Star Bright, definitely reminded me of all the children in my care on a daily basis and made me pause to not only consider my personal dreams, but what dreams they had for their tomorrows.

With all of this waxing poetic about the show, you’d think I would lament the showing ending, and I do, but I am also excited to see what comes next. Fantasy in the Sky, Wishes predecessor, had a 32 year run and I have many, many fond memories of that show as well, but if it hadn’t ever been retired we would have never had Wishes. Fireworks are always going to have a special place in our hearts and reminiscences, and Wishes is no exception, but I also cannot wait to make new memories with Happily Ever After.

I think we sometimes forget that Wishes had a subtitle attached to it, A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams. I think this may describe my feelings and attachment to Wishes even better than its headline name. While it may be referencing all of the various Disney productions that are presented over the course of the show, I personally feel that it has given me a collection of magical moments I will always hold near and dear. Thank you, Wishes, for everything you’ve given me, and all of us, over the years. We’ll never forget you.

1 comment:

Mini-V said...

There's an interesting side note to the show director, Steve Davison. Mr. Davison told AP holders during a special event that when he was assigned to create a fireworks show for Magic Kingdom, his internal response, "But, I don't LIKE fireworks." There were many creative ideas that came and went, but the final product has kept crowds cheering for many nights. I don't take many, if any, photos of the fireworks. I prefer to actually watch them and see it all exploding around me. One of my favorite experience was talking to a family, from out of state, who had not experienced Wishes before. They really enjoyed the fireworks in the pre-show and were ready to leave when we told them, "Wait. There's More." They were glad we suggested that they stay.