I was not part of last week’s discussion, so I am putting down my thoughts and reflections from watching the movie clip.

Watching this Barstow Family movie clip was a walk down memory lane.  My first trip to Disneyland was when I was two or three with my parents and grandparents.  Apparently the Pirates of Caribbean scared me quite badly and had me crying.  My grandparents retired to Santa Barbara and taking me to the Magical Kingdom was a staple part of my childhood.  My last trip there was in 1979 or 1980, as I distinctly remember my grandfather paying for my brother and I with two twenty dollar bills and getting four newly minted Susan B. Anthony dollars back in change.

The Magic Kingdom was a small, anticipated part of my childhood for over a decade.  The fairy tale quality of the park, with everything being so neat and well orchestrated was a constant in the changing flow of childhood.  Books I read came to life. I have strong memories of The Swiss Family Robinson tree houses.  The land of The Jungle Book and the boat rides with hippos, alligators, and monkies.   Seeing that old Mississippi water boat.  Journeying through different cultures in It’s a Small World.  Buying the Mickey Mouse hats with my name embroidered onto them.  Movies I had seen came to life at Disneyland giving some credibility to the imaginary world of celluloid.  Riding the monorail around the park and looking at all of the buildings, flowers, theme areas, and the expanse of parking lots.  The ticket books for rides and seemingly different letters for different categories of rides.  The Electric Light Parade and fireworks at nighttime when all of the characters walked through the streets.

I plan on taking my son there in the next year or two.  I fear if I wait until he is too much older, the magical aura of the place may not have the same charm as I remember, as he will have outgrown some of that vivid imagination and the focus will be primarily on the rides.  I am almost hesitant though, in going back there and having what I know now, as blatant commercialism, attacking us from all sides.  The cost for tickets, food, and gimmicks will shock me and my conservative spending, I’m sure.  I realize I will have to keep my disdain with the commercialism at bay. Yet I do want him to experience the Magic Kingdom and have memories, albeit it different from mine which is all right, as we will each have a reference point from our childhood to keep in our memories.  In my mind, Disneyland is one of the American icons, like baseball, McDonalds, and Corvettes.

The movie clip I enjoyed for a variety of reasons.  First, I really enjoyed the creativity that the Barstow family demonstrated with the projects they made for the contest.  I also found the cinematography of the home movie to be very creative and I wondered who choreographed parts of it, who designed the “skit” or layout of the movie.  Was it done after the fact for the benefit of the tape company?  Or did the family create the movie on their own?  The movie also showed a glimpse of mainstream America – the house in the suburbs, three children, a mom and a dad, the proverbial family vacation, the clothes and other backdrops of middle class America in the mid 1950s.

The question of, “Are today’s children too jaded to appreciate a trip to Disneyland?” has me leaning towards no, but I feel it is how children are raised within their homes.  Yes, children won’t have their gadgets to play with, but the Magical Kingdom is a huge, interactive gadget.  I believe that seeing classics would be appealing.  Depending on the age of the children, taking their own movie clips and photos with their iPod touches or iPhones would offer them a chance to merge their experience with their “gadgetry” and creativity to create a cool memoir of their trip to the Magic Kingdom.  However, I can see how Disneyland could be low-tech, or slow for some children (but remember I haven’t been there in 30 years).  In that case, I would think a trip to Epcot Center in Florida could be substituted.  I went there once in the late 1990s and for me, it was like a grown-up version of It’s a Small World.  I felt that exhibits and displays focused more on technology, science, and the future rather than relics of nostalgia that Disneyland provides.