During one of the best days of my life the Tuesday before last (http://scrapsofliteracy.blogspot.com/2011/10/rosh-hashanah-and-furlough-days-off-day_04.html), I listened to the entire soundtrack of Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress on my mp3 player while my family and I were at Fry's in Woodland Hills, the one with the Alice in Wonderland theming.
As a Disney fanatic who went to Walt Disney World every weekend and sometimes during the week just for dinner when he was a tyke, who owned a great number of Disney movies on VHS back then and now the same great number on DVD, whose favorite childhood movie was Flight of the Navigator and whose favorite movie is Mary Poppins, whose parents have Mickey and Minnie-shaped mirrors and a Mickey telephone, and a Mickey lamp that sits on a shelf in our house, this is normal for me. I could never let go of what I loved back then, and in the same vein, I also have the proper soundtrack for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom (not the stupid "Let's explain every single attraction in Tomorrowland that you've already seen as you were walking around before you got on this ride for a 10-minute break" soundtrack that's currently being used) on my mp3 player, as well as the narration for the Walt Disney World Express Monorail. I am happily incurable.
On Monday night, done with the freelance writing job newsletter I compile, and not feeling like doing much of anything to advance the writing projects I'm working on, I wandered through my memories on YouTube. I found video of the Carousel of Progress from 2010, exactly how I remember it, and video of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. After we moved to South Florida, we only visited the Magic Kingdom occasionally, never going to EPCOT or then-Disney-MGM Studios (Now it's just Disney Studios), and we had only been to Animal Kingdom once and that seemed to be enough. We had a deeper connection to the Magic Kingdom being that since we went so often when I was little, the monorail drivers recognized us, and performers in the parades stopped by on their routes to say hello. What more could my growing imagination want?
Even though Andy Rooney was the one who pushed me headlong into writing, I think Walt Disney World helped create the sparks in my imagination that started the process. In 2000, when Dad wanted to go to the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) at the Orange County Convention Center, Mom, Meridith and I went to the Magic Kingdom in the morning on the second day of his conference (He met us in the park later, or, likely, Mom and Meridith), and because we were allowed in along with the other hotel guests (Even though we weren't staying at a hotel on the property) for Early Entry, I rushed right to Tomorrowland and rode Space Mountain, my favorite attraction there, three times before it began to get crowded. But I didn't leave Tomorrowland after that. I had no reason to, because Tomorrowland contained everything I loved, in Space Mountain, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, the Carousel of Progress, and the arcade seen after you exit Space Mountain, which had a CD jukebox. Put money in, choose your favorite songs, and they're heard all throughout the arcade. I also loved that through one window in the arcade, you could see the train pass by. Incongruous, but terrific fodder for my imagination.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority was never crowded, always seen as a way to take a break from the bustle of the park, and I rode it many times. Vehicles used to pass by one another and I always waved at those who were on the other track, even though I didn't know them. I've always toyed with a story or a play involving that.
It was also fun to sometimes see Space Mountain with the lights on, since you rode adjacent to the hulking structure, which always looked like a jumble of metal when it wasn't working. And the soundtrack, oh that blessed soundtrack, always with proclamations such as, "Now approaching: the Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center," (It was first home to ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, and now houses Stitch's Great Escape, which is a waste, even though Alien Encounter really scared me when I went on it during Silver Trail Middle's 8th grade end-of-the-year trip. Now, listening to the soundtrack for Alien Encounter, I appreciate the detail that went into such an atmosphere) and the model of Walt Disney's city of the future, called EPCOT after the first tight turn of the ride where you could see Cinderella Castle from there.
Now the Tomorrowland Transit Authority has "PeopleMover" added to the name, though it will always be as it was for me. For me, spending the entire day at the Magic Kingdom inside Tomorrowland and among Space Mountain, the Carousel of Progress, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, there was such a wealth of imagination. And I also remembered my toddler self in a stroller with that sky blue top watching Mickey and Minnie in shiny gray space costumes at the Tomorrowland Theatre Stage when my TTA car passed by circular windows that offered a brief glimpse of the shuttered stage, which I think has now been demolished.
Watching videos of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority on YouTube that night, I decided that in writing my future books, in needing to be somewhere in my mind that's peaceful, that offers up a lot of thinking space, I'll keep not only Flanagan High School in 9th grade at the portables site in Pembroke Pines, near our condo, but also add the TTA via YouTube, to have those moments of remembering sitting in one of those vehicles, parts of Tomorrowland passing by, my mind fully active and energetic because of all that was around me.