Sunday, June 17, 2007

Walt's Dream

One of my childhood memories centers on the Magic Kingdom, my first amusement park visit.

Not, however, the first amusement park. In medieval Europe pleasure gardens hosted dancing, fireworks, and even some rides. I cannot imagine what kind of ride, but yes, rides. Copenhagen is still the home of Bakkan, the world's oldest park opened in 1583.

Even in the late 1800s US, parks were popular with added attractions of picnics and vaudeville acts, usually located at the end of trolley lines, or the one built at Hershey Park.

But Walt Disney had a dream. On this date in 1955 Disneyland opened and started a new species of amusement park. I was there -- not the first day, but that summer. I remember the entrance decorated with a pansy portrait of Mickey Mouse. I was enchanted by the flowers and the beautiful castle that greeted us just inside the gates. It was a princess land, and that day I was a princess.

That feeling was dashed when I wasn't tall enough to drive the old-fashioned cars around the track. I tried so hard to add an inch to my height, but I was not tall enough at six years old. It's funny that memory stays with me. When my son David and I were at Disneyland years later, I had grown. But it didn't really matter.

It was a good dream, Walt, and children of all ages around the world thank you.
Disneyland was a Magical Kingdom, and we were all princes and princesses.

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