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Teach Your Children Well
by Mike Scopa
AllEars® Feature Writer
This article appeared in the October 13, 2009 Issue #525 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Every time I sit down to write something for the AllEars® newsletter I always say to myself, "Mike, be entertaining. Be funny, be informative -- but above all write something that you yourself would like to read."
It's that last command that is most important to me. That requires me to try to be objective and really think hard and long as to whether I find that, after the first several paragraphs, I want to continue.
There are also those times when I find myself feeling very strongly about something and feel the need to convey these feelings. This is one of those times.
The inspiration for this newsletter came on one of my training runs in my preparation for the upcoming 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I've been playing with my iPod Shuffle, trying to figure out what music I want to run to. On a recent long run I found some unexpected inspiration while listening to Tapestry of Dreams.
The Tapestry of Dreams parade made its mark in Epcot's World Showcase. It was originally called "Tapestry of Nations" when it debuted in 1999. The name change occurred in 2001 and the parade was last seen in early 2003. While listening to "Tapestry" I heard the narrator say at one point, "Walt Disney once said: 'The age we're living in is the most extraordinary the world has ever seen. The human species is still reaching for the stars. Today, we are the shapers of the world of tomorrow. Often we can't explain what we see. But the era we are living in today is a dream coming true.' "
I've heard that quote many times before, but on this particular day, at about mile four-and-a-half, I began to think about how much of a disservice many of us are doing to our children when we take them to Walt Disney World without first taking the time to really explain to them just who Walt Disney is. For many children and young adults who are the "shapers of tomorrow," Walt Disney World conjures up images of very complex and enjoyable rides, great fireworks, and parades. Unfortunately very few parents take the time to educate their children as to who Walt Disney was and understand what Walt was all about and how today, some 40 years after his passing, how his influence still reigns over the Walt Disney Company.
All is not lost, however, because during one of my recent trips I witnessed something that truly touched me and gave me hope that the memory of Walt Disney will not fade away.
So what did I see?
Well, I happened to be touring Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios with a very bright and articulate 10-year-old-boy who showed an amazing interest in an attraction that's very near and dear to my heart. That attraction is "One Man's Dream."
Liam, my 10-year-old companion, is a Walt Disney World veteran, having visited the resort almost as many times as he has years under his belt. He was fascinated by this exhibit and as we went through and discussed everything we saw and heard, I could see the wonder in his eyes transitioning to an understanding of how all this came to pass.
The multi-plane camera portion of the exhibit had us discussing how back when this device was first developed it was innovative and how it brought a special aspect to Disney animated films. We spent a considerable amount of time talking about how Walt was the first imagineer, and how he would pass this talent and innovative approach on to those who would take on the Imagineering torch in his company.
Of course the history of Disney films always is a delight to recall. Both of us took that journey together and we rediscovered how the marriage of animation and Walt Disney pictures was truly a match made in entertainment heaven. One of my favorite parts of this exhibit focuses on the history of Disney entertainment in television. I have always felt that the television shows of the '50s and early '60s are to this day very underappreciated.
The Wonderful World of Color and the Wonderful World of Disney was always on in my house on Sunday nights. I was a huge Zorro fan, and of course the Mickey Mouse Club was a must-see.
This exhibit shows Disney on television and it gives parents a chance to explain how all the films and television shows are connected to Walt Disney World. Toward the end of the exhibit is the portion that talks about "The Florida Project" and how excited Walt was to see this project get started. Liam was curious about it and was sad to recall that Walt never lived long enough to see Walt Disney World open.
The film at the end of the exhibit is a film I have seen in many different versions. The first time I saw it was in the Magic Kingdom at what was called "The Walt Disney Story."
If you have never seen "The Walt Disney Story" then you probably have never seen the pre-show in which a cast member stood in front of an amazing mural that contained a huge number of hand-painted Disney animated characters. Each character had to earn its way on to the mural. This summer I asked a cast member if that mural was still there and I was happy to find out that it remains. Anyway, the movie spawned many questions from my 10-year-old companion -- questions that I knew would not ever have crossed his mind had he not experienced this attraction.
Of all the questions he had, the one that intrigued me the most was his fascination with Walt Disney as a boy. Of course we all know how Walt and his brother would get up at 3 a.m. every morning to deliver newspapers. Liam was curious as to what Walt was like when he was around his age -- what he did for fun, how he spent his day. Sometimes we rush our children through life and we do not take the time to build a proper foundation of understanding as to how things evolve. I applaud whoever came up with the idea of putting together the One Man's Dream attraction because it fills a huge gap and serves the general guest population, especially the under-30 crowd.
It's always gratifying to see children and guests smiling, laughing, and enjoying their times at Walt Disney World. But have you ever noticed a special gleam in the eye of the Baby Boomer guests, those people who were born between 1946 and 1964? They have a different look on their faces when they gaze on the castle for the first time. They seem to take a deeper breath when they are watching any of the parades go through the park. They are the ones most apt to be wiping some salty moisture from their eyes during Wishes or Illuminations. These are the guests who have a connection with Walt Disney.
I know those of you who are reading this newsletter "Get it," and there is a reason for that. You have somehow found a connection to Walt Disney and that connection has manifested itself in the way you feel about something wonderful that is an extension of the man himself.
As I continued my long run I heard yet another line that made me think, "Tonight we ask you to share your dreams with us in honor of our favorite dreamer, Walt Disney."
Could it be that we need to be sure we teach our children to be dreamers as well? If we teach our children more about the individual who has touched so many lives with his dreams, then perhaps our children will find that connection and will "Get it."
Liam gets it.
Teach your children well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and has served as keynote speaker for the 2006 and 2007 MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast and writes a
regular blog, The View from Scopa Towers, for AllEars.Net:
Other AllEars® articles by Mike Scopa: http://allears.net/btp/mikescopa.htm
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.