American Adventure, Illuminations in Oct 2001
Music is definitely a Wonder of WDW. Thanks for recognizing that and exposing folks to the idea - I've oftenthought that the real richness of Disney parks is in the way they engage all your senses, and let's face it, music is the fastest way for most of us to alter our mood. I happily submit to the emotional manipulation of the Imagineers in this way! :lol:
So glad to hear I'm not the only grown man whose eyes well up at the American Adventure and Illuminations. I was welling up just listening to you guys talking about it.
My first WDW trip was in October 2001. The airlines had been flying again for less than 30 days, the crowds were very thin, you could tell all the cast members were a little sad (but smiling thru it) and anything patriotic raised a fierce pride and a huge lump in the throat. On our first evening, we watched the Electrical Water Pageant from the Wilderness Lodge dock. Disney had added the "patriotic tag" onto the end of the show, usually reserved for 4th of July. As I looked around at all the other grownups while the old traditional American songs played and the eagle and flag danced before our eyes, we were all trying to cheer through our tears.
Some of the words George W had recorded months before for his animatronic to present at the Hall Of Presidents were eerily appropriate, talking about the American spirit always prevailing during trials and adversity.
At the American Adventure, "Two Brothers" was surely touching, but "Golden Dream" was almost too much to bear. Several specific lyrics were just so painful (but in that good, healing way, if that makes any sense). "Restless one, in a world of change, keeping dreams aloft in the rain" "America, you must keep dreaming now" "Search for brighter days, soar through stormy skies with your head held high" Those lines really got to me. Honestly, it was a little difficult not to break out sobbing but I had to draw the line somewhere. I felt foolish at first, but then I heard lots of sniffles around me in the sparse crowd. Could that happen at Six Flags?
The hope expressed in Illuminations was a wonderful antidote to the sadness, but again lots of wet cheeks could be seen (including mine). We watched from a waterside table at the UK pavilion, on a wonderful starry night, having just enjoyed berries and lemon cream (said to be one of Walt's favorites). To say my wife and I were "in the Disney Zone" would be putting it mildly. I love how the melody from We Go On is woven into a couple moments of the Reflections Of Earth music. It's a beautiful way to connect the song and the "soundtrack." I remember feeling hugely reassured, oddly. The show and song seemed to be saying, "We're going to be alright. Not tomorrow or the next day, but we'll be alright again." Then the Promise song takes the same ideas and tightens the focus down to family and friendships. It's lovely. It's really quite amazing to realize how much thought and care went into the content of this music. I appreciate it all the more for that richness - you just don't get it in mere theme parks. Big ups to composer Gavin Greenaway!!
Looking back, I'm quite glad that we decided not to postpone the trip. It was a unique time to be there. The national mood made the whole experience a bittersweet blessing rather than just a fun time. It made the privilege of being there all the more special, and we felt the gratitude. There was also a certain air of defiance in being there at all, as if we were thumbing our noses at those foolish enough to think they could scare Americans into submission with anything less than destruction of Biblical proportions, which is the province of God alone. If it's possible that a trip to WDW can be meaningful, that one was.
Something not really mentioned in the podcast was the fact that some music selections are subliminally echoed elsewhere across the property - for example, a version of Golden Dream plays on the Space Mountain concourse, adding a subtle layer of the ubiquitous "hope for the future" and "igniting the imagination" themes you find everywhere in Disney. Nice touch.
And Soarin' - Jerry Goldsmith was a filmscore legend, and I love that the Soarin' soundtrack is among the things he completed just before he passed away. It plays dozens of times a day on both ends of the country. By the time Disney has retooled Soarin' on both coasts, more people will have heard that one composition than probably all his movie scores combined. How cool is that?? Thanks Lou for the story of how deeply he was affected by the images. You can hear that a person put a lot of himself into that music. Not to minimize the ridiculously cool ride system, the inspired idea of inverting an IMAX dome, or the fantastic cinematography, but Soarin's success at getting that visceral reaction in us owes a lot to Jerry Goldsmith.
Comments/Questions on What I've Heard So Far....
Only up to about the 40 minute mark...
Years of a Million Lanyards - I'm sorry Lou...but when is this lame promotion going to end? While I'm happy with the "Magical Moments" that the CM's are able to do....they were always able to do this so this really isn't part of the promotion. This promotion has run it's course and needs to go away. This begs the question...do we have to have a celebration every year? Even if you're in favor of this current promotion....Disney couldn't come up with something new and original?
I do wonder how this affects the legalities that were involved in the promotion. Everyone made a big deal about how on the "up and up" this promotion was yet now they're going to extend it another year. Are there going to be more big "give aways" or are we getting the Dream FastPasses and Lanyards that they didn't give away? Or....is it really going to be the "Year of a Million Magical Moments" since all the prizes from the original promotion should have been given away...right?
Gift Cards - I know Lou mentioned that DVC resorts were included but is this for regular bookings of rooms or will DVC Member reservations be included. I'm not going to assume that we will since whenever these things come out...DVC Members tend to be an after thought.
Seven Wonders - I loved the segment and the great roundtable discussion....well...except for Jonathan's singing.