What Does Disney Mean To Me?

For my 40th article, I want to talk about Disney in my own way.
June 03, 2009
For my 40th article, I was originally planning on doing a piece where I would offer up my take on the "Solid Gold" episode "Countdown 1982".

2 things came up that recently put a spanner in the works. The lighter thing is that I wasn't able to find a picture of the dancers from the year 1982. The closest I came was a photo of the dancers from 1983, taken as the cover for the "Solid Gold 5-Day Workout" tape.

That was merely a trivial matter. The event that shook up what I wanted to write about was the recent death of Wayne Allwine, who voiced Mickey Mouse for over a quarter of a century.

It may not have exactly been big news, but for Disney fans, this was a complete shocker. It was said that if you were under the age of 30 years old, then you grew up with Allwine as the voice of Mickey Mouse. I turned 26 last year, and while I have seen plenty of the older cartoons from back when Walt Disney was alive, Allwine is the one I'm most familiar with.

Allwine's death got me to thinking not only about his sudden passing, but also about how the movies, TV shows and music of The Walt Disney Company have informed my life throughout the years. The company has had a tremendous impact on my life. In many of my previous articles for this site, Disney has been a recurring theme. I've talked about individual characters. I've discussed my views on the company. I've even interviewed men and women who have had experience with Disney throughout the years.

I would now like to break down what Disney means to me, and this is how I'll do it.

We'll all familiar with acronyms like G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) and J.O.S.E (Jealous Ones Still Envy). I would like to take the word "Disney" and give it that treatment.

Let's start off with the letter D. For me, when it comes to Disney, it stands for Dreams.

A recurring theme throughout Disney's assorted movies and TV shows, the work of Disney has appeared throughout many of my dreams, both sleeping and during the day. For example, in the final months of my 12th grade year, I visited the dearly departed Pleasure Island on my own for the very first time.

Many people say that this night-time entertainment complex wasn't part of the true Disney experience, but for an 18-year-old trapped in a special education classroom, it was wonderful to pretend that I was in a place where there were no teachers questioning my ideals and no fellow students going up my ass with a microscope over the pop culture I enjoyed.

Getting my boogie down at 8Trax (their dance club) was truly something I enjoyed. Up North, in my music classes, I had to deal with people laughing at my 80s fandom and worshipping at the altars of assorted musicians who met ignominious fates. Down South, though, grunge wasn't in vogue...Dance music was.

Spinning around on the floor without a car in the world...What a living dream that was.

On a more traditional tack, dreaming was also something the Disney Princess movies were known for. As such, they became my favorite Disney films.

These movies have been decried as unrealistic and outdated. Hell, even Disney seemed to agree with that consensus with the release of 2007's "Enchanted". It isn't unrealistic or outdated for me, though. Fantasy is something we all need once in a while. In reality, you need to make your own happy endings, but if you're in the right frame of mind, you can use these movies to help you out.

For example, my favorite Disney song is "Part Of Your World" from "The Little Mermaid", but it shares that honor with the song "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" from "Cinderella".

There's a great power to the lyrics:

"A dream is a wish your heart makes,
When you're fast asleep.
In dreams you will lose your heartache.
Whatever you wish for, you keep.
Have faith in your dreams and someday,
Your rainbow will come smiling through.
No matter how your heart is grieving,
If you keep on believing,
The dream that you wish will come true".

When I hear those lyrics, I get inspired to get to dancing, get to writing, get to feeling alive. It may only be a song, but words can carry great power.
Now onward to "I". For me, the "I" in Disney means "Integrity". I think that the character of Mickey Mouse has a lot of integrity. In my younger years, I viewed the character as real.

I was aware that the character, as originally designed, was very mischevious, but I grew up with the character being depicted as a stand-up animal, always willing to help out a friend. In a way, that's something I think is good to aspire to. Standing up for people who are being bullied, trying to do the right thing...In all the Mickey Mouse cartoons that came out during my youth, that's what I got from the character.

As stated, in my younger years, I viewed him as real. This was something that my fellow students eventually pounced on. A recurring line was "Mickey Mouse Is Dead". If you want to hit somebody in a weak spot, go after something they enjoy. They took that opportunity time and again, all the way into my junior high years.

I was young, and one of the privileges of being young is being able to pretend. As you grow older, that sort of slips to the side, and the pretending has to be turned into playing politics, covering your ass and talking bullshit. When you're younger, you can pretend for the sake of pretending. Before anybody says anything, I do not feel that the imagination of today's youth has been killed off by video games and TV shows. If anything, those can be used as fuel for further ideas. Anything can be used for pretending if you think about it.

Anyway, back to the ac.

I feel that the "s" in Disney can stand for "sublime". I'm talking about the feeling you get when watching something you enjoy, the feeling that says "this is wonderful...This is a work of art".

When I saw "Mickey's Philharmagic" at Walt Disney World for the first time back in 2003, I thought it was one of the best attractions I ever saw. I thought the detail was amazing, especially in the "Beauty And The Beast" sequence, where "Be Our Guest" was re-imagined as a computer-animated extravaganza.

It's full of ingenious touches, like when you can actually smell the apple pie in front of you. It's a wonderful attraction...I only wish I could find a screenshot of the "Part Of Your World" sequence. It worked great in 3-D, and I even welled up a little, but I didn't let my family know.

I would like to now mention what I feel the "N", "E" and "Y" in Disney stand for. I feel it stands for "Neverending Youth".

In a way, I feel this can be seen as a reflection on myself. I often feel like a child trapped in a man's body. I've mentioned my assorted emotional and psychological issues in my previous articles, and I often need things to calm me down. Disney has helped me a lot in relation to that.

Whatever your challenge may be, Disney can usually find a way to help you out.

One of these personal moments came back in 2007. I visited the Adventurers' Club, the interactive theater club at Pleasure Island. The idea was that it was a place for globe-trotters and people of experience to gather and tell tales of their experiences through their journeys. The guests who visited became acknowledged as adventurers through assorted songs and recitations. The actors and actresses employed there played their characters quite well. My favorite character was a female adventurer named Samantha Sterling.

The lady in the coat with the leopard trim, I forget if the actress in the photo was the one who was playing the character on the night I visited there in 2007.

Anyway, there was an open bar and jokes were often made about drinking, but this one person came in who was rip-roaring drunk and acting very beligerently. Several actors had to break character to help get him out of there.

I was so shocked by this that I started crying out of fear, much like a young kid who had never seen something like this might. The actress playing Sterling that evening got me some water and talked me back down to Earth. Speaking quietly, she broke character and we talked about dealing with dangerous situations like that. Reaching out to people in need, especially those who have assorted personal difficulties, is something Disney cast members are known for doing. I was feeling rather scared, but this actress calmed me down.

My experience with her sort of served as a microcosm of my experiences with Disney throughout the years. My life hasn't been easy...Pressure has gotten to me a lot...Things have often been uncertain. Through it all, though, Disney's movies, TV shows and music have served as a type of relief for me.

As Walt Disney himself said:

"I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing -
that it was all started by a mouse."

The man and the mouse have been a part of my life going all the way back to my youth, and I'm glad that Disney was alive. If he never existed, I don't know if the world would be as magical as it can be at all the right moments.

With that, the floor is open for discussions:

Has Disney impacted your life in anyway? Do you still like Disney as you've grown older? What's your favorite Disney movie(s)/TV show(s)?
More Articles From Caps_2-0
An unhandled error has occurred. Reload Dismiss