I love the idea of wishes coming true.
To this day, whenever I hear the original 1940s version of “When You Wish Upon A Star,” I’m transported back to 1975, a wide-eyed boy of seven or so, kneeling in my pajamas in front of the tube model TV as the opening credits to The Wonderful World of Disney begin to play. I inhale slowly until I can take in no more breath, a sort of electrifying crackle in the air. Magic is real and I am part of it for the next hour.
My first trip to Disney World came a few years later. Though nearly 35 years has passed since then (and having only been back once in all that time), I can still envision exactly how it looked to me that very first time I entered the park, the enormous castle from the television show rising up to beckon me.
Even before experiencing a single ride or attraction, meandering slowly through the souvenir store at the head of Main Street was a wondrous and wide-eyed occasion. The rows upon rows of identical character figurines – unsullied as of yet by the awareness of concepts like commercialism and minimum wage jobs – was almost intoxicating, like a vast hall of mirrors. I pick many of them up and feel their heft, running my thumb and fingers gently over the smooth and shiny ceramic surfaces. I study their expressions, which seem meant just for me. I have a sort of fluttery feeling inside, like when you’re falling upward very fast in a dream – a feeling I couldn’t identify then, but which I now recognize to have been joy.
My first ride was “It’s A Small World.” In order to provide that link for you, I watched the video of the ride again just now. Not gonna lie – I cried. I cried because I still remember so vividly how that ride made me feel as a kid; and just now, it struck me that, while I can enjoy it and be nostalgic, it’s impossible for me to ever really see the world again the way I did the first time, as a child. I didn’t see veneers and dolls and moving parts and gears. I was being personally welcomed by an entire world of characters who were interacting with me of their own volition, happy that I had come. It might seem silly to you, but I think my lifelong love affair with people and culture and language began on that ride that day in 1982.
Why all the reminiscing?
I guess for me, the idea of wishes coming true has always been inextricably associated with Disney. I still find myself singing that old theme aloud often:
When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are,
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.
If your heart is in your dream,
No request is too extreme;
When you wish upon a star
Like dreamers do.
Fate is kind.
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing.
Like a bolt out of the blue,
Fate steps in and pulls you through;
When you wish upon a star,
Your dream comes true.
So inspirational and uplifting.
Unfortunately, it’s also complete rubbish.
In fact, when you wish upon a star, what actually happens is …